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'SHIRLEY, 1 ...,. 56 








QUIET AVS AT HAWOKTIf, * . . * .194 


A MONTH IN LONDON, * . , . * .211 


LONELY HOUES, * , * . * -253 








THE LAST NOVEL, . . . . - 3 2 




MARRIAGE, . - . . . 34 2 


MARRIED LIFE, ....... 366 


LAST DAYS, . . . . . .382 


THE AFTERMATH, ....... 392 





ANGUS M, MACKAY, . . , ,424 




STORES SMITH, ...... 433 



INDEX, '. .463 



EMILY BRONTE is the sphinx of our modern literature. 
She came into being in the family of an obscure clergy- 
man, and she went out of it at thirty years of age 
without leaving behind her one single significant record 
which was any key to her character or to her mode of 
thought, save only the one famous novel, Wuthering 
Heights, and a few poems some three or four of which 
will live in our poetic anthologies for ever. And she made 
no single friend other than her sister Anne. With Anne 
she must have corresponded during the two or three 
periods of her life when she was separated from that 
much-loved sister ; and we may be sure that the corre- 
spondence was of a singularly affectionate character. 
Charlotte, who never came very near to her in thought or 
sympathy, although she loved her younger sister so deeply, 
addressed her in one letter as * mine bonnie love 1 ; and 
it is certain that her own letters to her two sisters, and 
particularly to Anne, must have been peculiarly tender 
and ia no way lacking in abundant self-revelation. When 
Emily and Anne had both gone to the grave. Charlotte, 
it is probable, carefully destroyed every scrap of their 
correspondence, and, indeed, of their literary effects that 
she could find ; and thus it is that, apart from her books 
and certain fragments, we know Emily only by two formal 
letters to her sister's friend. Beyond these there is not 
one scrap of information as to Emily's outlook upon life. 
In infancy she was with Charlotte at Cowan Bridge, and 



was described by the governess as 'a pretty little thing/ 
For three months she was at Miss Wooler's school at Roe 
Head ; but there, unlike Charlotte, she made no friends. 
She and Anne were inseparable when at home, but of 
what they said to one another there is no record. The 
sisters must have differed in many ways, Anne, gentle 
and persuasive, grew up like Charlotte, devoted to the 
Christianity of her father and mother, and entirely in 
harmony with all the conditions of a parsonage. It is 
impossible to think that the author of 'The Old Stoic' 
and ' Last Lines ' was equally attached to the creeds of the 
churches; but what Emily thought on religious subjects 
the world will never know. Mrs. Gaskell put to Miss 
Nussey this very question : * What was Emily's religion ? * 
But Emily was the last person in the world to have 
spoken to the most friendly of visitors about so important 
a theme. For a short time, as we know, Emily was in a 
school at Law Hill near Halifax a Miss Patchct's. She 
was, for a still longer period, at the H^ger Pensionnat at 
Brussels. Mrs. Gaskell's business was to write the life of 
Charlotte Bronte and not of her sister Emily ; and as a 
result there is little enough of Emily m Mrs. GaskelFs 
book no record of the Halifax and Brussels life as seen 
through Emily's eyes. Time, however, has brought its 
revenge. The cult which started with Mr* Sydney Dobell, 
and found poetic expression in Mr. Matthew Arnold's fine 
lines on her, 

' Whose soul 

Knew no fellow for might, 
Passion, vehemence, grief, 
Daring, since Byron died/ * 

culminated in an enthusiastic eulogy by Mr* Swinburne, 
who placed her in the very forefront of English women of 

I have said that there are no records of Emily, but 

1 Haworth Churchyard, April 1855, by Matthew Arnold. Macmillan wad Co. 


there are the two scraps of ' Diary ' that are published in 
their chronological order, and there are also a few frag- 
ments, all written in that tiny handwriting which the girls 
affected, and bearing various dates from 1833 to 1840. 
A new edition of Emily's poems should, by virtue of 
these verses, have a great Interest for her admirers. 1 
With all her gifts as a poet, however, it is by Wuthering 
Heights that Emily Bronte is best known to the world ; 
and the weirdness and force of that book suggest an 
inquiry concerning the influences which produced it Dr. 
Wrig-ht, in his entertaining book The Brontes in Ireland, 
recounts the story of Patrick Bronte's origin, and insists 
that it was In listening to her father's anecdotes of his 
own Irish experiences that Emily obtained the weird 
material of Withering Heights. It is not, of course, 
enough to point out that Dr. Wright's story of the Irish 
Brontes is full of contradictions. A number of tales 
picked up at random from an illiterate peasantry might 
very well abound in inconsistencies, and yet contain some 
measure of truth. But nothing in Dr. Wright's narrative 
is confirmed, save only the fact that Patrick Bronte con- 
tinued throughout his life in some slight measure of 
correspondence with his brothers and sisters a fact 
rendered sufficiently evident by a perusal of his will. 
Dr. Wright tells of many visits to Ireland in order to 
trace the Bronte traditions to their source ; and yet he 
had not in his fisst edition marked the elementary fact 
that the registry of births in County Down records the 
existence of innumerable Bruntys and of not a single 
Bronte, Dr. Wright probably made his inquiries with 
the stories of Emily and Charlotte well in mind. He 
sought for similar traditions, and the quick-witted Irish 
peasantry gave him all that he wanted* They served up 
and embellished the current traditions of the neighbour- 

1 Sec The Complete Poems by Emily Bronte, edited by W, Robertson Nicoll and 
Clement Shorter, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1908. 


hood for his benefit, as the peasantry do everywhere for 
folklore enthusiasts. Charlotte Bronte's uncle Hujrh, we 
are told, read the Quarterly Review article upon Jam 
Eyre, and, armed with a shillelagh, came to England, in 
order to wreak vengeance upon the writer of the hitter 
attack. He landed at Liverpool, walked from Liverpool 
to Haworth, saw his nieces, who 'gathered round him/ 
and listened to his account of his mission. He then went 
to London and made abundant inquiries but why pursue 
this ludicrous story further? In the first place, the 
Quarterly Review article was published in December iS.jS 
after Emily was dead, and while Anne was dying'. 
Very soon after the review appeared Charlotte was in- 
formed of its authorship, and references to Miss Rigby and 
the Quarterly are found more than once m her correspon- 
dence with Mr. Williams. 

This is a lengthy digression from the story of Emily's 
life, but it is of moment to discover whether there is any 
evidence of influences other than those which her York- 
shire home afforded. I have discussed the matter with 
Miss Ellen Nussey, and with Mr. Nicholls, Miss Nussey 
never, in all her visits to Haworth, heard a single reference 
to the Irish legends related by Dr. Wright, and firmly 
believed them to be mythical. Mr. Nicholls, during the 
six years that he lived alone at the parsonage with his 
father-in-law, never heard one single word from Mr. 
Bronte who was by no means disposed to reticence 
about these stories, and was also of opinion that they were 
purely legendary. 

It has been suggested that Emily would have been 
guilty almost of a crime to have based the more sordid 
part of her narrative upon her brother's transgressions* 
This is sheer nonsense. She wrote Wuthcring Heights 
because she was impelled thereto, and the book, with ail 
its morbid force and fire, will remain, for all time, as a 
monument of the most striking genius that nineteenth- 


century womanhood has given us. It was partly her life 
in Yorkshire the local colour was mainly derived from 
her brief experience as a governess at Halifax but it was 
partly, also, I am inclined to believe, the German fiction 
which she had devoured during the Brussels period, that 
inspired Writ/wring Heights, although of this there is no 
real evidence. 1 

Emily Bronte's life-story has been told by a latter-day 
writer of genius. But Miss Mary F. Robinson's little 
book 2 was written under great difficulties. She had 
access to no material other than that contained in the 
printed volumes. Some scraps of new information she 
did indeed obtain from the recollections of Miss Ellen 
Nussey and others who were then alive to remember the 
Bronte family. Miss Robinson built up a theory that 
Emily was more long-suffering, more tolerant of Bran- 
well's continued viciousness than were her sisters. Yet in 
quoting a letter that Charlotte wrote to Miss Nussey on 
her return from a visit to Brookroyd she did not know that 
the ' ' in the following sentence referred to Emily; 

3 The most effective reply to Dr. Wright's book that I have seen was published in 
The Westminster Review for October 1895. The author, the late Rev. Angus 
Mackay, emphasised with effect the inconsistencies in Dr. Wright's account of the 
Bronte ancestry; and concerning the suggestion that Emily founded Wuthering Heights 
upon certain Irish family traditions, has the following pregnant remarks: 'The truth- 
loving Charlotte's account of the matter must necessarily be final. She might blame- 
lessly have kept silence about the origin of Wuthering Heights, but she would never 
have deliberately misled us ; and she tells us distinctly in her preface to her sister's 
book that the materials of "Wuthering Heights were gathered in Yorkshire. Speaking 
of Emily's aloofness from all her neighbours, she says: "Yet she knew them; knew 
their ways, their language, their family histories ; she could hear of them with interest, 
and talk of them with detail, minute, graphic, and accurate ; but with them she rarely 
exchanged a word. Hence it ensued that what her mind had gathered of the real con- 
cerning them was too exclusively confined to those tragic and terrible traits of which, in 
listening to the secret annals of every rude vicinage, the memory is sometimes compelled 
to receive the impress. Her imagination, which was a spirit more sombre than sunny, 
more powerful than sportive, found in such traits material whence it wrought creations 
like Heathcliffe, like Earnshaw, like Catherine." To all who really know Charlotte's 
character this is conclusive and final. Had both plot and characters been derived from 
the history of an ancestor these words would never have been written.' 

* Emily Brontt, by A. Mary F. Robinson. The Eminent Women Series, edited by 
John H, Ingram. W, H. Allen and Co., 1889. 


I hear that he got a sovereign while I have been away, under 
pretence of paying a pressing debt ; he went immediately and 
changed it at a public-house, and has employed it as was to be 

expected. concluded her account by saying that he was 

* a hopeless being/ 

The fact is that Branwell's state at that time was such 
that Emily, being only human, could not possibly have 
been more tolerant and rightly so than her two sisters. 
Yet Miss Robinson's account is worth quoting, the more 
especially as it contains an episode not treated elsewhere. 
Possibly the story was invented after Jane Eyre was 
written, but we will hope it is true : 

There was one woman's heart strong enough in its compassion 
to bear the daily disgusts, weaknesses, sins of Branweirs life, 
and yet persist in aid and affection. Night after night, when Mr* 
Bronte was in bed, when Anne and Charlotte had gone upstairs 
to their room, Emily still sat up waiting. She often had very 
long to wait in the silent house before the staggering tread, the 
muttered oath, the fumbling hand at the door, bade her rouse 
herself from her sad thoughts and rise to let in the prodigal, and 
lead him in safety to his rest. But she never wearied in her 
kindness. In that silent home, it was the silent Emily who had 
ever a cheering word for Branwell ; it was Emily who still re- 
membered that he was her brother, without that remembrance 
freezing her heart to numbness. She still hoped to win him back 
by love ; and the very force and sincerity of his guilty passion (an 
additional horror and sin in her sister's eyes) was a claim on 
Emily, ever sympathetic to violent feeling. Thus it was she who, 
more than the others, became familiarised with the agony, and 
doubts, and shame of that tormented soul; and if, in her little 
knowledge of the world, she imagined such wrested passions to 
be natural, it is not upon her, of a certainty, that the blame of 
her pity shall be laid. 

As the time went on and Branwell grew worse and wilder, it 
was well for the lonely watcher that she was strong. At last he 
grew ill, and would be content to go to bed early and lie there 
half-stupefied with opium and drink. One such night, their 
father and Branwell being in bed, the sisters came upstairs to 


sleep. Emily had gone on first into the little passage room 
where she still slept, when Charlotte, passing Branwell's partly- 
opened door, saw a strange bright flare inside. 'Oh, Emily!' 
she cried, c the house is on fire ! ' 

Emily came out, her fingers at her lips. She had remembered 
her father's great horror of fire ; it was the one dread of a brave 
man : he would have no muslin curtains, no light dresses in his 
house. She came out silently and saw the flame; then, very 
white and determined, dashed from her room downstairs into the 
passage, where every night full pails of water stood. One in each 
hand she came upstairs. Anne, Charlotte, the young servant, 
shrinking against the wall, huddled together in amazed horror 
Emily went straight on and entered the blazing room. In a short 
while the bright light ceased to flare. Fortunately the flame had 
not reached the woodwork : drunken Branwell, turning in his bed, 
must have upset the light on to his sheets, for they and the bed 
were all on fire, and he unconscious in the midst when Emily 
went in, even as Jane Eyre found Mr. Rochester. But it was 
with no reasonable, thankful human creature with whom Emily 
had to deal. After a few long moments, those still standing 
in the passage saw her stagger out, white, with singed clothes, 
half-carrying in her arms, half-dragging, her besotted brother. 
She placed him in her bed and took away the light ; then assur- 
ing the hysterical girls that there could be no further danger, she 
bade them go and rest but where she slept herself that night no 
one remembers now. 

Letter 315 


November 23^, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, Whatever my inclination may be to let all 
correspondence alone for the present, I feel that to you at least I 
ought to write a line. I told you Emily was ill, in my last letter. 
She has not rallied yet She is 'very ill. I believe, if you were to 
see her, your impression would be that there is no hope. A more 
hollow, wasted, pallid aspect I have not beheld. The deep, tight 
cough continues ; the breathing after the least exertion is a rapid 
pant ; and these symptoms are accompanied by pains in the chest 
and side. Her pulse, the only time she allowed it to be felt, 
was found to beat 115 per minute. In this state she resolutely 


refuses to see a doctor ; she will not give an explanation of her 
feelings, she will scarcely allow her illness to be alluded to, 
Our position is, and has been for some weeks, exquisitely 
painful. God only knows how all this is to terminate. More 
than once, I have been forced boldly to regard the terrible 
event of her loss as possible and even probable. But nature 
shrinks from such thoughts. I think Emily seems the nearest 
thing to my heart in this world. Miss Mary Robinson is just 
married to Mr, H. Clapham, a relation of the Sugdcns. Mrs. 
Robinson is now Lady Scott Her daughters say she is in the 
highest spirits. Write to me soon, dear Ellen, and believe me, 
yours faithfully, C BRONTE. 

Letter 316 


MY DEAR ELLEN, I mentioned your coming here to Emily 
as a mere suggestion, with the faint hope that the prospect might 
cheer her, as she really esteems you perhaps more than any other 
person out of this house. I found, however, it would not do ; 
any, the slightest excitement or putting out of the way is not to 
be thought of, and indeed I do not think the journey in this 
unsettled weather, with the walk from Keighley and walk back, 
at all advisable for yourself. Yet I should have liked to see you, 
and so would Anne. Emily continues much the same ; yesterday 
I thought her a little better, but to-day she is not so well, I hope 
still for I must hope she is dear to me as life If I let the faint- 
ness of despair reach my heart I shall become worthless. The 
attack was, I believe, in the first place, inflammation of the lungs ; 
it ought to have been met promptly in time. She is too intract* 
able. I do wish I knew her state and feelings more clearly* The 
fever is not so high as it was, but the pain in the side, the cough, 
the emaciation are there still. 

Take care of yourself, dear Ellen, for the sake of all who have 
any affection for you. I believe these influenza colds are most 
insidious things. I think I scarcely need make a reference to the 
absurd rumour about the fortune, etc. In what it had its rise I do 
not know. I am not aware that we have a relation in tjtie world 
in a position to leave a handsome fortune to anybody, I think 


you must have been mistaken in saying that the Miss Woolers 
spread so groundless a report, they are not such gossips. 

Remember me kindly to all at Brookroyd, and believe me, 
yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 317 


December 7 th, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I duly received Dr. Curie's work on Homoe- 
opathy, and ought to apologise for having forgotten to thank you 
for it. I will return it when I have given it a more attentive 
perusal than I have yet had leisure to do. My sister has read 
it, but as yet she remains unshaken in her former opinion : she 
will not admit there can be efficacy in such a system. Were 
I in her place, it appears to me that I should be glad to give 
it a trial, confident that it can scarcely do harm and might do 

I can give no favourable report of Emily's state. My father is 
very despondent about her. Anne and I cherish hope as well as 
we can, but her appearance and her symptoms tend to crush that 
feeling. Yet I argue that the present emaciation, cough, weak- 
ness, shortness of breath are the results of inflammation, now, I 
trust, subsided, and that with time these ailments will gradually 
leave her. But my father shakes his head and speaks of others 
of our family once similarly afflicted, for whom he likewise 
persisted in hoping against hope, and who are now removed 
where hope and fear fluctuate no more. There were, however, 
differences between their case and hers important differences I 
think. I must cling to the expectation of her recovery, I cannot 
renounce it. 

Much would I give to have the opinion of a skilful professional 
man. It is easy, my dear sir, to say there is nothing in medicine, 
and that physicians are useless, but we naturally wish to procure 
aid for those we love when we see them suffer ; most painful is it 
to sit still, look on, and do nothing. Would that my sister added 
to her many great qualities the humble one of tractability ! I have 
again and again incurred her displeasure by urging the necessity 
jOfj&eeking advice, and I fear I must yet incur it again and again. 
Let me leave the subject ; I have no right thus to make you a 
sharer in our sorrow. 


I am indeed surprised that Mr. Newby should say that he is 
to publish another work by Ellis and Acton Bell. Acton has had 
quite enough of him. I think I have before intimated that that 
author never more intends to have Mr. Newby for a publisher. 
Not only does he seem to forget that engagements made should 
be fulfilled, but by a system of petty and contemptible man- 
oeuvring he throws an air of charlatanry over the works of which 
he has the management. This does not suit the * BelLs ' : they 
have their own rude north-country ideas of what is delicate, 
honourable, and gentlemanlike. 

Newby 's conduct in no sort corresponds with these notions ; 
they have found him I will not say what they have found him* 
Two words that would exactly suit him are at my pen point, but 
I shall not take the trouble to employ them. 

Ellis Bell is at present in no condition to trouble himself with 
thoughts either of writing or publishing. Should it please Heaven 
to restore his health and strength, he reserves to himself the right 
of deciding whether or not Mr. Newby has forfeited every claim 
to his second work, 

I have not yet read the second number of Pmdtnnis. The 
first I thought rich in indication of ease, resource, promise; but 
it is not Thackeray's way to develop his full power all at once* 
Vanity Fair began very quietly it was quiet all through, but 
the stream as it rolled gathered a resistless volume and force, 
Such, I doubt not, will be the case with Pendennis. 

You must forget what I said about Eliza Lynn. She may be 
the best of human beings, and I am but a narrow-minded fool to 
express prejudice against a person I have never seen. 

Believe me, my dear sir, in haste, yours sincerely, 


Letter 318 


December %rd, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your letter seems to relieve me from a diffi- 
culty and to open my way, I know it would be useless to 
consult Drs. Elliotson or Forbes : my sister would not see the 
most skilful physician in England if he were brought to her 
just now, nor would she follow his prescription. With regard 
to Homoeopathy, she has at least admitted that it cannot do 


much harm ; perhaps if I get the medicines she may consent to 
try them ; at any rate, the experiment shall be made. 

Not knowing Dr. Epps j s address, I send the enclosed statement 
of her case through your hands. 1 

I deeply feel both your kindness and Mr. Smith's in thus 
interesting yourselves in what touches me so nearly. Believe 
me, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 319 


December io#&, 1848. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I hardly know what to say to you about 
the subject which now interests me the most keenly of anything 
in this world, for, in truth, I hardly know what to think myself. 
Hope and fear fluctuate daily. The pain in her side and chest 
is better; the cough, the shortness of breath, the extreme 
emaciation continue. Diarrhoea commenced nearly a fortnight 
ago, and continues still. Of course it greatly weakens her, but 
she thinks herself it tends to good, and I hope so. I have 
endured, however, such tortures of uncertainty on this subject that 

1 It runs thus : 

December gtk, 1848. 

The patient, respecting whose case Dr. Epps is consulted, and for -whom his opinion 
and advice are requested, is a female in her 3ist year. A peculiar reserve of character 
renders it difficult to draw from her all the symptoms of her malady, but as far as they 
can be ascertained they are as follows : 

Her appetite failed ; she evinced a continual thirst, with a craving for acids, and 
required a constant change of beverage. In appearance she grew rapidly emaciated ; 
her pulse the only time she allowed it to be felt was found to be 115 per minute. 
The patient usually appeared worse in the forenoon, she was then frequently exhausted 
and drowsy ; toward evening she often seemed better. 

Expectoration accompanies the cough. The shortness of breath is aggravated by the 
slightest exertion. The patient's sleep is supposed to be tolerably good at intervals, 
but disturbed by paroxysms of coughing. Her resolution to contend against illness 
being very fixed, *she has never consented to lie in bed for a single day she sits up 
from 7 in the morning till 10 at night. All medical aid she has rejected, insisting that 
Nature should be left to take her own course. She has taken no medicine, but occasion- 
ally * mild aperient and Locock's cough wafers, of which she has used about 3 per diem, 
and considers their effect rather beneficial. Her diet, which she regulates herself, is 
very simple and light* 

The patient has hitherto enjoyed ptetty good health, though she has never looked 
strong, and the family constitution is not supposed to be robust. Her temperament is 
highly nervous. She has been accustomed to a sedentary and studious life. 

If Dr Epps can, from what has here been stated, give an opinion on the case and 
piescribe a course of treatment, he will greatly oblige the patient's friends. 

Address Miss Bronte, Parsonage, Haworth, Bradford, Yorks. 


at length I could endure It no longer; and as her repugnance 
to seeing a medical man continues immutable as she declares 
'no poisoning doctor' shall come near her, I have written, 
unknown to her, to an eminent physician in London, giving 
as minute a statement of her case and symptoms as I could 
draw up, and requesting an opinion. I expect an answer in 
a day or two. I am thankful to say, that my own health at 
present is very tolerable. It is well such is the case ; for Anne, 
with the best will in the world to be useful, is really too delicate 
to do or bear much. She, too, at present, has frequent pains in the 
side. Papa is also pretty well, though Emily's state renders him 
very anxious. The Robinsons were here about a week ago. They 
are attractive and stylish-looking girls. They seemed overjoyed 
to see Anne ; when I went into the room, they were clinging 
round her like two children she, meantime, looking* perfectly 
quiet and passive. You ask news of Mary Taylor, 1 might rathlT 
demand tidings of you, it is very long indeed since I hoard from 
or of her. I have not received any intelligence from Huns worth 
since the day Joe and Harry took it into their heads to come here. 
I think it probable offence was taken on that occasion, from what 
cause I know not ; and as, if such be the case, the grudge must 
rest on purely imaginary grounds, and since, besides, I have other 
things to think about, my mind rarely dwells on the subject. If 
Emily were but well, I feel as if I should not care who neglected, 
misunderstood, or abused me. I would rather you were not of 
the number either. The crab-cheese arrived safely, Emily has 
just reminded me to thank you for it ; it looks very nice. I wish 
she were well enough to eat it. With sincere regards to all at 
Brookroyd, Yours faithfully, C. BuoNTi-;, 

Letter 320 


Tuesday, December XQrt, 1848, 

DEAR ELLEN, I should have written to you before, if I had 
had one word of hope to say ; but I had not. She grows daily 
weaker. The physician's opinion was expressed too obscurely to 
be of use. He sent some medicine which she would not take. 
Moments so dark as these I have never known, I pray for God's 
support to us all. Hitherto He has granted itYours faithfully, 



The last chapter of Emily's pathetic life we have in the 
words of Charlotte as told to the public in that memorable 
Introduction to Wnthering Heights : 

But a great change approached. Affliction came in that shape 
which to anticipate is dread, to look back on grief. In the very 
heat and burden of the day the labourers failed over their work. 
My sister Emily first declined. . . . Never in all her life had she 
lingered over any task that lay before her, and she did not linger 
now. She sank rapidly. She made haste to leave us. ... Day 
by day, when I saw with what a front she met suffering, I looked 
on her with an anguish of wonder and love. I have seen nothing 
like it ; but, indeed, I have never seen her parallel in anything. 
Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her nature stood alone. 
The awful point was that, while full of ruth for others, on herself 
she had no pity ; the spirit was inexorable to the flesh ; from the 
trembling hand, the unnerved limbs, the fading eyes, the same 
service was exacted as they had rendered in health. To stand by 
and witness this, and not dare to remonstrate, was a pain no 
words can render. 

Now again Miss Robinson helps us to fill in the sad 
picture. Doubtless she took down her narrative from 
Miss Nussey at a time when that lady's memory was at 
its best 

The days drew on towards Christmas ; it was already the 
middle of December and still Emily was about the house, able to 
wait upon herself, to sew for the others, to take an active share in 
the duties of the day. She always fed the dogs herself. One 
Monday evening, it must have been about the I4th of December, 
she rose as usual to give the creatures their supper. She got up, 
walking slowly, holding out in her thin hands an apronful of 
broken meat and bread. But when she reached the flagged 
passage the cold took her; she staggered on the uneven pave- 
ment and fell against the wall Her sisters, who had been sadly 
following her, unseen, came forward much alarmed and begged 
her to desist But, smiling wanly, she went on and gave Floss 
and Keeper their last supper from her hands. 

The next morning she was worse. Before her waking, her 
watching sisters heard the low unconscious moaning that tells of 


suffering continued even in sleep ; and they feared for what the 
coming year might hold in store. Of the nearness of the end they 
they did not dream. Charlotte had been out over the moors 
searching every glen and hollow for a sprig of heather, however 
pale and dry, to take to her moor-loving sister. But Emily 
looked on the flower laid on her pillow with indifferent eyes. 
She was already estranged and alienate from life. 

Nevertheless she persisted in rising, dressing herself alone, and 
doing everything for herself. A fire had been lit in the room> 
and Emily sat on the hearth to comb her hair. She was thinner 
than ever now the tall, loose-jointed, ' slinky ' girl her hair in its 
plenteous dark abundance was all of her that was not marked by 
the branding finger of death. She sat on the hearth combing her 
long brown hair. But soon the comb slipped from her feeble 
grasp into the cinders. She, the intrepid, active Emily, watched 
it burn and smoulder, too weak to lift it, while the nauseous, 
hateful odour of burnt bone rose into her face. At last the 
servant came in : * Martha,' she said, * my comb ? s down there ; 1 
was too weak to stoop and pick it up.' 

I have seen the old, broken comb with a large piece burned out 
of it, and have thought it, I own, more pathetic than the bones of 
the eleven thousand virgins at Cologne, or the time-blackened 
Holy Face of Lucca. Sad, chance confession of human weakness; 
mournful counterpart of that chainless soul which to the end 
maintained its fortitude and rebellion. The flesh is weak. Since 
I saw that relic, the strenuous verse of Emily Bronte's last poem 
has seemed to me far more heroic, far more moving ; remember- 
ing in what clinging and prisoning garments that free spirit was 

The flesh was weak, but Emily would grant it no indulgence* 
She finished her dressing, and came very slowly, with dizzy head 
and tottering steps, downstairs into the little bare parlour where 
Anne was working and Charlotte writing a letter. Emily took up 
some work and tried to sew. Her catching breath, her drawn 
and altered face were ominous of the end. But still a little hope 
flickered in those sisterly hearts. f She grows daily weaker/ wrote 
Charlotte on that memorable Tuesday morning ; seeing surely no 
portent that this this ! was to be the last of the days and the 
hours of her weakness. 

The morning drew on to noon and Emily grew worse. She 
could no longer speak, but gasping in a husky whisper she 


said : c If you will send for a doctor, I will see him now ! ' Alas, 
it was too late. The shortness of breath and rending pain 
increased ; even Emily could no longer conceal them. Towards 
two o'clock her sisters begged her, in an agony, to let them put 
her to bed. *No, no/ she cried; tormented with the feverish 
restlessness that comes before the last, most quiet peace. She 
tried to rise, leaning with one hand upon the sofa. And thus 
the cord of life snapped. She was dead. She was thirty 
years old. 1 

Letter 321 


December 23^ 1848. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Emily suffers no more from pain or weak- 
ness now. She will never suffer more in this world. She is gone, 
after a hard, short conflict. She died on Tuesday, the very day 
I wrote to you. I thought it very possible she might be with us 
still for weeks ; and a few hours afterwards she was in eternity. 
Yes ; there is no Emily in time or on earth now. Yesterday 
we put her poor, wasted, mortal frame quietly under the church 
pavement. We are very calm at present. Why should we be 
otherwise? The anguish of seeing her suffer is over ; the spectacle 
of the pains of death is gone by ; the funeral day is past We feel 
she is at peace. No need now to tremble for the hard frost and 
the keen wind. Emily does not feel them. She died in a time 
of promise. We saw her taken from life in its prime. But it is 
God's will, and the place where she is gone is better than she 
has left 2 

God has sustained me, in a way that I marvel at, through such 
agony as I had not conceived, I now look to Anne, and wish 
she were well and strong ; but she is neither ; nor is papa. Could 
you now come to us for a few days ? I would not ask you to stay 
long. Write and tell me if you could come next week, and by 
what train. I would try to send a gig for you to Keighley. You 

J Emily Bront^ by A. Mary F. Robinson. Emily was in her 31 st year, z.<?. 30 years 
and 5 months old. 

3 As the old bereaved father and his two surviving children followed the cofEn to the 
grave they were joined by Keeper, Emily's fierce faithful bulldog. He walked along- 
side of the mourners, and into the church, and stayed quietly there all the time that the 
burial service was being read. When he came home he lay down at Emily's chamber 
door, and howled pitifully for many days. Anne Bronte drooped and sickened more 
rapidly from that time ; and so ended the year 1848. Mrs. Gaskell's Life, 


will, I trust, find us tranquil. Try to come. I never so much 
needed the consolation of a friend's presence. Pleasure, of course, 
there would be none for you in the visit, except what your kind 
heart would teach you to find in doing good to others. 

Letter 322 


Derembcr z$tJi, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I will write to you more at length when my 
heart can find a little rest now I can only thank you very briefly 
for your letter, which seemed to me eloquent in its sincerity. 

Emily is nowhere here now, her wasted mortal remains are 
taken out of the house. We have laid her cherished head under 
the church aisle beside my mother's, my two sisters' dead long 
a g O and my poor, hapless brother's. But a small remnant of 
the race is left so my poor father thinks. 

Well, the loss is ours, not hers, and some sad comfort I take, 
as I hear the wind blow and feel the cutting keenness of the frost, 
in knowing that the elements bring her no more .suffering ; their 
severity cannot reach her grave ; her fever is quieted, her restless- 
ness soothed, her deep, hollow cough is hushed for ever ; we do 
not hear it in the night nor listen for it in the morning ; we have 
not the conflict of the strangely strong spirit and the fragile frame 
before us relentless conflict once seen, never to he? forgotten, 
A dreary calm reigns round us, in the midst of which we seek 

My father and my sister Anne are far from well. As for me, 
God has hitherto most graciously sustained me; so far 1 have 
felt adequate to bear my own burden and even to offer a little 
help to others. I am not ill ; I can get through daily duties, 
and do something towards keeping hope and energy alive in 
our mourning household. My father says to me almost hourly, 
'Charlotte, you must bear up, I shall sink if you fail me* ; these 
words, you can conceive, are a stimulus to nature. The sight, 
too, of my sister Anne's very still but deep sorrow wakens in me 
such fear for her that I dare not falter. Somebody must cheer 
the rest. 

So I will not now ask why Emily was torn from us in the fulness 
of our attachment, rooted up in the prime of her own days, in the 


promise of her powers ; why her existence now lies like a field of 
green corn trodden down, like a tree in full bearing struck at the 
root I will only say, sweet is rest after labour and calm after 
tempest, and repeat again and again that Emily knows that 
now. Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE, 

Letter 323 


January 2nd, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, Untoward circumstances come to me, I think, 
less painfully than pleasant ones would just now. The lash of 
the Qitarterly, however severely applied, cannot sting as its 
praise probably would not elate me. Currer Bell feels a sorrowful 
independence of reviews and reviewers ; their approbation might 
indeed fall like an additional weight on his heart, but their censure 
has no bitterness for him. 

My sister Anne sends the accompanying answer to the letter 
received through you the other day ; will you be kind enough to 
post it? She is not well yet, nor is papa, both are suffering under 
severe influenza colds. My letters had better be brief at present 
they cannot be cheerful. I am, however, still sustained. While 
looking with dismay on the desolation sickness and death have 
wrought in our home I can combine with awe of God's judgments 
a sense of gratitude for his mercies. Yet life has become very 
void, and hope has proved a strange traitor ; when I shall again 
be able to put confidence in her suggestions, I know not: she 
kept whispering that Emily would not, could not die, and where 
is she now ? Out of my reach, out of my world torn from me. 
Yours sincerely, C* BRQNTK 





BRANWELL, Emily, and Anne Bronte all died within a 
twelvemonth, and that the surviving sister felt it keenly 
enough her letters give unmistakable evidence. Yet 
during that year she wrote half of her third novel, S/iir/<y* 
She had, moreover, to face a criticism that touched her 
sensitive nature with fullest intensity. The Quarterly 
Review for December 1848 contained an article on Jam 
Eyre, which happily its victim did not see until after her 
sister's death, when the greater misery made the less most 
trivial Miss Rigby, afterwards Lady Eastlake, a woman 
of parts, wrote the article in which it was hinted that the 
author of Jane Eyre, although probably a man, if a woman 
must be 'one who had forfeited the society of her sex, 1 
and in any case that the book was in 'horrid taste/ 
There is little use in anathematising such a judgment 
to-day. It was of the nature of much revie\ving in that 
generation. Every author was liable to it, and the 
reviewer in this case would not have so written had she 
known that the author was the daughter of a country clergy- 
man, like herself a warm adherent of Church and State, 

Letter 324 


January jo, '49* 

DEAR ELLEN, I found out that Martha had neglected to put 
the box into the gig about an hour after you were gone. I shall 
send it to the Bull and Mouth at Bradford This morning I 


received your kind letter, Mr. Nicholls called yesterday and told 
us he had met you on the Railway. 

Anne had a very tolerable day yesterday, and a pretty quiet 
night last night, though she did not sleep much. Mr. Wheelhouse 
ordered the blister to be put on again. She bore it without sick- 
ness. I have just dressed it, and she is risen and come down- 
stairs. She looks somewhat pale and sickly. She has had one 
dose of the cod-liver oil ; it smells and tastes like train oil. I am 
trying to hope, but the day is windy, cloudy and stormy. My 
spirits fall at intervals very low ; then I look where you counsel 
me to look beyond earthly tempests and sorrows. I seem to get 
strength, if not consolation. It will not do to anticipate. I feel 
that hourly. In the night, I awake and long for the morning ; 
then my heart is wrung. Papa continues much the same ; he was 
very faint when he came down to breakfast. I wrote to Huns- 
worth telling them candidly I would rather they did not come, 
as owing to circumstances, I felt it was not in my power to 
receive them as I could wish. Dear Ellen, your friendship is 
some comfort to me. I am thankful for it. I see few lights 
through the darkness of the present time ; but amongst them 
the constancy of a kind heart attached to me is one of the most 
charming and serene. Remember me to your mother and sisters. 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 325 


January i^th, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, I can scarcely say that Anne is worse, nor can 
I say she is better. She varies often in the course of a day, yet 
each day is passed pretty much the same. The morning is usually 
the best time ; the afternoon and evening the most feverish. Her 
cough is the most troublesome at night, but it is rarely violent. 
The pain in her arm still disturbs her. She takes the cod-liver 
oil and carbonate of iron regularly ; she finds them both nauseous, 
but especially the oil Her appetite is small indeed. Do not fear 
that I shall relax in my care of her. She is too precious to me 
not to be cherished with all the fostering strength I have. Papa, 
I am thankful to say, has been a good deal better this last day 
or two, 

As to your queries about myself, lean only say, that if I con- 


tinue as I am I shall do very well. I have not yet got rid of the 
pains in my chest and back. They oddly return with every change 
of weather; and are still sometimes accompanied with a little 
soreness and hoarseness, but I combat them steadily with pitch 
plasters and bran tea. I should think it silly and wrong indeed 
not to be regardful of my own health at present ; it would not do 
to be ill now. 

I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking 
upward. This is not the time to regret, dread, or weep. What I 
have and ought to do is very distinctly laid out for me ; what 
I want, and pray for, is strength to perform it. The clays pass in 
a slow, dark march; the nights are the test ; the sudden wakings 
from restless sleep, the revived knowledge that one lies in her 
grave, and another not at my side, but in a separate and sick bod. 
However, God is over all. Yours sincerely, C UkoNTk. 

Letter 326 


January 1 8 **,#, 

MY DEAR SIR, In sitting down to write to you I feel as if I 
were doing a wrong and a selfish thing. I believe I ought to dis- 
continue my correspondence with you till times change, and the 
tide of calamity which of late days has set so strongly in against 
us takes a turn. But the fact is, sometimes I feel it absolutely 
necessary to unburden my mind. To papa I must only speak 
cheeringly, to Anne only encouragingly to you I may give some 
hint of the dreary truth. 

Anne and I sit alone and in seclusion as you fancy us, but we 
do not study. Anne cannot study now, she can scarcely read ; 
she occupies Emily's chair ; she does not get well. A week ago 
we sent for a medical man of skill and experience from Leeds to 
see her. He examined her with the stethoscope. His report I 
forbear to dwell on for the present even skilful physicians have 
often been mistaken in their conjectures. 

My first impulse was to hasten her away to a warmer climate, 
but this was forbidden : she must not travel ; she is not to stir 
from the house this winter ; the temperature of her room is to be 
kept constantly equal. 

Had leave been given to try change of air and scene, I should 


hardly have known how to act. I could not possibly leave papa ; 
and when I mentioned his accompanying us, the bare thought 
distressed him too much to be dwelt upon. Papa is now upwards 
of seventy years of age ; his habits for nearly thirty years have 
been those of absolute retirement ; any change in them is most 
repugnant to him, and probably could not, at this time, especially 
when the hand of God is so heavy upon his old age, be ventured 
upon without danger. 

When we lost Emily I thought we had drained the very dregs 
of our cup of trial, but now when I hear Anne cough as Emily 
coughed, I tremble lest there should be exquisite bitterness yet to 
taste. However, I must not look forwards, nor must I look back- 
wards. Too often I feel like one crossing an abyss on a narrow 
plank a glance round might quite unnerve. 

So circumstanced, my dear sir, what claim have I on your 
friendship, what right to the comfort of your letters ? My literary 
character is effaced for the time, and it is by that only you know 
me. Care of papa and Anne is necessarily my chief present 
object in life, to the exclusion of all that could give me interest 
with my publishers or their connections. Should Anne get better, 
I think I could rally and become Currer Bell once more, but if 
otherwise, I look no farther : sufficient for the day is the evil 

Anne is very patient in her illness, as patient as Emily was 
unflinching. I recall one sister and look at the other with a sort 
of reverence as well as affection under the test of suffering 
neither has faltered, 

All the days of this winter have gone by darkly and heavily 
like a funeral train. Since September sickness has not quitted 
the house. It is strange it did not use to be so, but I suspect now 
all this has been coming on for years. Unused, any of us, to the 
possession of robust health, we have not noticed the gradual 
approaches of decay ; we did not know its symptoms : the little 
cough, the small appetite, the tendency to take cold at every 
variation of atmosphere have been regarded as things of course. 
I see them in another light now. 

If you answer this, write to me as you would to a person In an 
average state of tranquillity and happiness. I want to keep 
myself as firm and calm as I can. While papa and Anne want 
me, I hope, I pray, never to fail them, Were I to see you I should 
endeavour to converse on ordinary topics, and I should wish to 


write on the same besides, it will be less harassing to yourself to 
address me as usual. 

May God long preserve to you the domestic treasures you 
value ; and when bereavement at last comes, may He give you 
strength to bear it, Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 327 


January und, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, Anne really did seem to be a little better 
during some mild days last week, but to-day she looks very pale 
and languid again. She perseveres with the cod-liver oil, but still 
finds it very nauseous. She is truly obliged to you for the soles 
for her shoes, and finds them extremely comfortable. I am to 
commission you to get her just such a respirator as Mrs. Heald 
had. She would not object to give a higher price if you thought 
it better. If it is not too much trouble, you may likewise get me 
a pair of soles ; you can send them and the respirator when you 
send the box. You must put down the price of all, and we will 
pay you in a Post Office order. Wuthering Heights was given to 
you. Mary Taylor's address I have always written c.o. Mr. Waring 
Taylor, Wellington, New Zealand. I have sent her neither letter 
nor parcel. I had nothing but dreary news to write, so preferred 
that others should tell her. I have not written to Ellen Taylor 
either. . I cannot write, except when I am quite obliged. Remem- 
ber me to all at Brookroyd. Keep well if you can. Be careful. 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE, 

Letter 328 


February 1st, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, Anne seems so tranquil this morning, so free 
from pain and fever, and looks and speaks so like herself in health, 
that I too feel relieved, and I take advantage of the respite to 
write to you, hoping that my letter may reflect something of the 
comparative peace I feel. 

Whether my hopes are quite fallacious or not, I do not know ; 
but sometimes I fancy that the remedies prescribed bv Mr. Teale. 


and approved as I was glad to learn by Dr. Forbes, are work- 
ing a good result Consumption, I am aware, is a flattering 
malady, but certainly Anne's illness has of late assumed a less 
alarming character than it had in the beginning: the hectic is 
allayed ; the cough gives a more frequent reprieve. Could I but 
believe she would live two years a year longer, I should be 
thankful : I dreaded the terrors of the swift messenger which 
snatched Emily from us, as it seemed, in a few days. 

The parcel came yesterday. You and Mr. Smith do nothing 
by halves. Neither of you care for being thanked, so I will keep 
my gratitude in my own mind. The choice of books is perfect. 
Papa is at this moment reading Macaulay's History, which he had 
wished to see. Anne is engaged with one of Frederika Bremer's 

I wish I could send a parcel in return ; I had hoped to have 
had one by this time ready to despatch. When I saw you and 
Mr. Smith in London, I little thought of all that was to come 
between July and Spring: how my thoughts were to be caught 
away from imagination, enlisted and absorbed in realities the 
most cruel. 

I -will tell you what I want to do ; it is to show you the first 
volume of my MS., which I have copied. In reading Mary 
Barton (a clever though painful tale) I was a little dismayed to 
find myself in some measure anticipated both in subject and 
incident. I should like to have your opinion on this point, and 
to know whether the resemblance appears as considerable to a 
stranger as it does to myself. I should wish also to have the 
benefit of such general strictures and advice as you choose to give. 
Shall I therefore send the MS. when I return the first batch of 
books ? 

But remember, if I show it to you it is on two conditions : the 
first, that you give me a faithful opinion I do not promise to be 
swayed by it, but I should like to have it ; the second, that you 
show it and speak of it to none but Mr. Smith. I have always a 
great horror of premature announcements they may do harm 
and can never do good. Mr. Smith must be so kind as not to 
mention it yet in his quarterly circulars. All human affairs are so 
uncertain, and my position especially is at present so peculiar, 
that I cannot count on the time, and would rather that no allusion 
should be made to a work of which great part is yet to create. 

There are two volumes in the first parcel which, having seen, I 


cannot bring myself to part with, and must beg Mr. Smith's per- 
mission to retain : Mr. Thackeray's Journey from Cornhill, etc., 
and The Testimony to the Truth. That last is indeed a book after 
my own heart I do like the mind it discloses it is of a fine and 
high order* Alexander Harris may be a clown by birth, but he 
is a nobleman by nature. When I could read no other book, I 
read his and derived comfort from it No matter whether or not 
I can agree in all his views, it is the principles, the feelings, the 
heart of the man I admire. 

Write soon and tell me whether you think it advisable that I 
should send the MS. Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 329 


HAWORTH, February tfk, 1849. 

My DEAR SIR, I send the parcel up without delay, according 
to your request. The manuscript has all its errors upon it, not 
having been read through since copying. I have kept Madeline, 
along with the two other books I mentioned ; I shall consider it 
the gift of Miss Kavanagh, and shall value it both for Its literary 
excellence and for the modest merit of the given We already 
possess Tennyson's Poems and Our Street. Emerson's Essays I 
read with much interest, and often with admiration, but they are 
of mixed gold and clay deep and invigorating truth, dreary and 
depressing fallacy seem to me combined therein. In George 
Sorrow's works I found a wild fascination, a vivid graphic power 
of description, a fresh originality, an athletic simplicity (so to 
speak), which give them a stamp of their own. After reading his 
Bible in Spain I felt as if I had actually travelled at his side, and 
seen the 'wild Sil' rush from its mountain cradle; wandered in 
the hilly wilderness of the Sierras ; encountered and conversed 
with Manehegan, Castillian, Andalusian, Arragonese, and, above 
all, with the savage Gitanos. 

Your mention of Mr. Taylor suggests to me that possibly you 
and Mr. Smith might wish him to share the little secret of the 
MS. that exclusion might seem invidious, that it might make 
yew mutual evening chat less pleasant If so, admit him to the 
confidence by all means. He is attached to the firm, and will no 
doubt keep 'jfeqt secrets, I shall be glad of another censor, and if 


a severe one, so much the better, provided he is also just. I court 
the keenest criticism. Far rather would I never publish more, 
than publish anything inferior to my first effort. Be honest, there- 
fore, all three of you. If you think this book promises less favour- 
ably than/tf^ Eyre, say so ; it is but trying again, i.e. if life and 
health be spared. 

Anne continues a little better the mild weather suits her. At 
times I hear the renewal of hope's whisper, but .1 dare not listen 
too fondly; she deceived me cruelly before. A sudden change 
to cold would be the test. I dread such change, but must not 
anticipate. Spring lies before us, and then summer surely we 
may hope a little ! 

Anne expresses a wish to see the notices of the poems. You 
had better, therefore, send them. We shall expect to find painful 
allusions to one now above blame and beyond praise ; but these 
must be borne. For ourselves, we are almost indifferent to 
censure. I read the Quarterly without a pang, except that I 
thought there were some sentences disgraceful to the critic. He 
seems anxious to let it be understood that he is a person well 
acquainted with the habits of the upper classes. Be this as it 
may, I am afraid he is no gentleman ; and moreover, that no 
training could make him such. Many a poor man, born and 
bred to labour, would disdain that reviewer's cast of feeling. 
Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 330 


WELLINGTON, February gth, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, You will think it ridiculous in me to begin to try 
and persuade you to come out to N.Z, after all. Still more when I 
know so little of your circumstances as I do just now. But you 
must not laugh at me, for this is the serious purpose of my letter, I 
hear from Charlotte Bronte that you are staying in Sussex. What 
in the world are you doing there ? Getting your living in any way ? 
Not at all, you are only wishing to do so ; wishing for something 
to turn up that would enable you to work for yourself instead of 
for other people, and that no one should know that you were 
working. Now no such thing exists. There are no means for 
a woman to live in England but by teaching, sewing, or washing. 


The last Is the best. The best paid, the least unhealthy, and the 
most free. But it is not paid well enough to live by. Moreover, 
it is impossible for any one not born to this position to take it 
up afterwards. I don't know why, but it is. You might as well 
ask why one can't move when they have the nightmare, when 
they know very well ! the stupid things that they need only just 
move to send the horror away. If you do it at all it will be by 
making a desperate plunge, and you will come up in another 
world. The new world will be no Paradise, but still much better 
than the nightmare. Am I not right in all this? and don't you 
know it very well ! Or am I shooting in the dark ? I must say 
I judge rather by my own history than from any actual know- 
ledge of yours. Still you yourself must judge, for no one else 
can. What in the world keeps you? Try and persuade some 
of your twenty brothers to fit you out for N. Zealand. You 
could get your living here at any of the trades I have mentioned, 
which you would only die of in England. As to ' society ' position 
in the world, you must have found by this time it is all my eye 
seeking society without the means to enjoy it. Why not come 
here then and be happy ? 

We have had occurrences here nearly as startling as those in 
Europe. Lots of earthquakes till they are quite commonplace. 
This is small inducement, but what do you think of our sending 
back a subscription raised in Auckland for us because we actually 
had no destitute to give it to. Aren't we thriving? The Maoris 
are quiet, and we begin to wish for another disturbance for fear 
the troops should leave the country. 

We have just been to the anniversary races and amused our- 
selves pretty well and got heartily tired. It did us a deal of 
good, however. *We' means Mrs. Knox, all the children, and 
her married daughter Mrs. Couper, her husband and stepdaughter. 
Miss Couper is nearly as old as her new mama, and they are both 
so girlish that they agree very well together. Mr. Couper him- 
self is coarse, ugly, selfish, ignorant, cunning, and dishonest, and 
all this in the highest degree ; however, that only concerns his 
wife. To me he is very civil because he has the idea that he 
gets his daughter taught music very cheap when he gives me 
board and lodging for teaching her when she has time, which is 
only half an hour now and then. To be sure, I pass here for a 
monkey who has seen the world, and people receive me well on 
that account I wonder what good it does them to have the 


acquaintance of a person that speaks French? They don't want 
to learn it. 

I once thought of delaying this letter until Ellen Taylor came, 
but I am in doubt as to whether she is on the way or not, and if 
she comes I shall not have so much time for writing as I have 
just now. She will be quite an acquisition to me if she comes. 
I speak of it so much that the children rouse me in the morning, 
with ' Miss Taylor, here are your cousins come ! ' 

Mrs. Taylor got a little daughter a month ago. Waring is 
going to build a new house. As the chimneys of the present one 
were entirely shaken down by the earthquake, it is just ready for 
moving back. He will put two new rooms in front two stories 
high ; one will be a store and one a parlour. Two-fifths if not 
half the houses in Wellington were shaken down by the earth- 
quake, and the town is vastly improved in consequence. Almost 
everybody is building. We think nothing of what we have lost 
because no one was ruined. At least only one man whose house 
was entirely destroyed. He was a doctor, and got such a fright, 
he resolved to go to Sydney. The vessel he was in was wrecked 
just outside Wellington harbour, and he brought his family 
back again to Wellington, having lost everything on the wreck. 
Fortunately a box was picked up with his money in, and he took 
his passage for Sydney as soon as possible. He is now on his 
way to England. 

I have just written an account of my present condition and 
prospects three times over. I therefore recommend you to ask 
C. Bronte for an abstract of it, for it is so dull telling the same 
tale so often, I should perhaps be inventing something for a 
change if I were to write all the history over again. 

You have never followed the advice I sent you to send some- 
thing out to sell. When I received your parcel of collars I 
thought they were for sale, and as they were the height of the 
fashion here I should have sold them very well. As it is, I wear 
them and get envied. The thick one with lace round I sometimes 
ride in, and tell every one that I have two friends in England 
wearing the same. I wish I could say I had them over here. 
You will think that my persuasions for you to come here are like 
those of the fox who had lost his tail. They are certainly selfish, 
but not entirely so. Wherever you are, always believe me, 
Your sincere friend, MARY TAYLOR. 

(On small black wafer) Dim vous garde. 


Letter 331 


February \6th, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, We received the box and its contents quite 
safely to-day. The penwipers are very pretty, and we are very 
much obliged to you for them. I hope the respirator will be 
useful to Anne, in case she should ever be well enough to go out 
again. She continues very much in the same state, I trust not 
greatly worse, though she is becoming very thin. I fear it would 
be only self-delusion to fancy her better. What effect the 
advancing season may have on her, I know not; perhaps the 
return of really warm weather may give nature a happy stimulus. 
I tremble at the thought of any change to cold wind or frost. 
Would that March were well over! Her mind seems generally 
serene, and her sufferings hitherto are nothing like Emily's. The 
thought of what may be to come grows more familiar to my 
mind ; but it is a sad, dreary guest. Papa is much better than 
when you were here. I am glad Miss Ringrose is come to you 
at last. With her I know you will be happier, and for that reason 
I always feel content to know she is at Brookroyd. Last Sunday 
I got a short note from Ellen Taylor written in London, they 
had been in town waiting for the vessel to sail a fortnight. They 
expected to be off that day. Joe Taylor had left them a week 
ago. She and Henry were quite alone, poor things ! She wrote 
in pretty good spirits. Give my love to your mother, Ann, 
Mercy, and Miss Ringrose. My note is short because writing is 
a task to me. Anne sends her thanks and kind love to you, so 
do I. Faithfully yours, C. B. 

We are introduced in the next letter to a new corre- 
spondent. Mr. Taylor held an important post in the firm of 
Smith & Elder, and was ultimately taken into partnership 
so far as the India branch was concerned. He was small 
and red-haired. There are two portraits of him before me. 
They indicate a determined, capable man, thick-set, well 
bearded ; on the whole a vigorous and interesting per- 
sonality. In any case, Mr. Taylor lost his heart to 


Charlotte, and was much more persistent than earlier 
lovers. He had also the advantage of Mr. Bronte's 
goodwill. This is all there is to add to the letters 
themselves, but I may as well say here that he went 
out to India, and that when he returned to England in 
1856 Charlotte Bronte was dead. His after life was more 
successful than happy. He did not, it is true, succeed in 
Bombay with the firm of Smith, Taylor and Co. That 
would seem to have collapsed. But he made friends in 
Bombay and returned there in 1863 as editor of the 
Bombay Gazette and the Bombay Quarterly Review. A 
little later he became editor of the Bombay Saturday 
Review, which had not, however, a long career. Mr. 
Taylor's successes were not journalistic but mercantile. 
As Secretary of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce, which 
appointment he obtained in 1865, he obtained much real 
distinction. To this post he added that of Registrar of 
the University of Bombay and many other offices. He 
was elected Sheriff in 1874, in which year he died. An 
imposing funeral ceremony took place in the Cathedral, 
and he was buried in the Bombay cemetery, where his 
tomb may be found to the left of the entrance gates, 


He married during his visit to England, but the marriage 
was not a happy one. That does not belong to the 
present story. Here, however, is a cutting from the 
Times marriage record in 1863 : 

On the asrd inst, at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, 
St Pancras, by the Rev. James Moorhouse, M.A., James Taylor, 
Esq., of Furnivars-lnn, and Bombay, to Annie, widow of Adolph 
Ritter, of Vienna, and stepdaughter of Thos Harrison, Esq., of 
Birchanger Place, Essex. 


Letter 332 


March ist, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, The parcel arrived on Saturday evening. 
Permit me to express my sense of the judgment and kindness 
which have dictated the selection of its contents. They appear 
to be all good books, and good books are, we know, the best 
substitute for good society; if circumstances debar me from the 
latter privilege, the kind attentions of my friends supply me with 
ample measure of the former. 

Thank you for your remarks on Shirley. Some of your strictures 
tally with some by Mr. Williams. You both complain of the 
want of distinctness and impressiveness in my heroes. Probably 
you are right. In delineating male character I labour under dis- 
advantages : intuition and theory will not always adequately supply 
the place of observation and experience. When I write about 
women I am sure of my ground in the other case, I am not so sure. 

Here, then, each of you has laid the critical finger on a point 
that by its shrinking confesses its vulnerability ; whether the 
disapprobation you intimate respecting the Briarchapel scenes, 
the curates, etc., be equally merited, time will show. I am 
well aware what will be the author's present meed for these 
passages : I anticipate general blame and no praise. And were 
my motive-principle in writing a thirst for popularity, or were the 
chief check on my pen a dread of censure, I should withdraw 
these scenes or rather, I should never have written them. I will 
not say whether the considerations that really govern me are 
sound, or whether my convictions are just ; but such as they are, 
to their influence I must yield submission, They forbid me to 
sacrifice truth to the fear of blame. I accept their prohibition. 

With the sincere expression of my esteem for the candour by 
which your critique is distinguished, I am, my dear sir, yours 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 333 


March 2#aT, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, My sister still continues better : she has less 
languor and weakness; her spirits are improved. This change 
gives cause, I think, both for gratitude and hope. 


I am glad that you and Mr. Smith like the commencement of 
my present work. I wish it were more than a commencement ; for 
how it will be reunited after the long break, or how it can gather 
force of flow when the current has been checked or rather drawn 
off so long, I know not 

I sincerely thank you both for the candid expression of your 
objections. What you say with reference to the first chapter shall 
be duly weighed. At present I feel reluctant to withdraw it, 
because, as I formerly said of the Lowood parr of Jane Eyre, it is 
true. The curates and their ongoings are merely photographed 
from the life. I should like you to explain to me more fully the 
ground of your objections. Is it because you think this chapter 
will render the work liable to severe handling by the press ? Is it 
because knowing as you now do the identity of ' Currer Bell,' this 
scene strikes you as unfeminine ? Is it because it Is intrinsically 
defective and inferior ? I am afraid the two first reasons would 
not weigh with me the last would. 

Anne and I thought it very kind in you to preserve all the 
notices of the Poems so carefully for us. Some of them, as you 
said, were well worth reading. We were glad to find that our old 
friend the Critic has again a kind word for us. I was struck with 
one curious fact, viz., that four of the notices are facsimiles of each 
other. How does this happen ? I suppose they copy. 

Your generous indignation against the Quarterly touched me. 
But do not trouble yourself to be angry on Currer Bell's account ; 
except where the May- Fair gossip and Mr. Thackeray's name , 
were brought in he was never stung at all, but he certainly 
thought that passage and one or two others quite unwarrantable. 
However, slander without a germ of truth is seldom injurious : it 
resembles a rootless plant and must soon wither away. 

The critic would certainly be a little ashamed of herself if she 
knew what foolish blunders she had committed, if she were aware 
how completely Mr. Thackeray and Currer Bell are strangers to 
each other, that Jane Eyre was written before the author had seen 
one line of Vanity Fair^ or that if C. Bell had known that there 
existed in Mr, Thackeray's private circumstances the shadow of 
a reason for fancying personal allusion, so far from dedicating the 
book to that gentleman, he would have regarded such a step as 
ill-judged, insolent, and indefensible, and would have shunned it 
accordingly. Believe me, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 



Letter 334 


March 377?, 1849, 

MY DEAR SIR, Hitherto, I have always forgotten to acknow- 
ledge the receipt of the parcel from Cornhill. It came at a time 
when I could not open it nor think of it : its contents are still a 
mystery. I will not taste, till I can enjoy them. I looked at it 
the other day. It reminded me too sharply of the time when the 
first parcel arrived last October: Emily was then beginning to be 
ill the opening of the parcel and examination of the books 
cheered her ; their perusal occupied her for many a weary day. 
The very evening before her last morning dawned I read to her 
one of Emerson's essays. I read on, till I found she was not 
listening I thought to recommence next day. Next day, the 
first glance at her face told me what would happen before night- 
fall. C BRONTE. 

Letter 335 


March 8, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, Anne's state has apparently varied very little 
during the last fortnight or three weeks. I wish I could say she 
gains either flesh, strength, or appetite, but there is no progress 
on these points, nor I hope, as far as regards the two last at least, 
.any falling off; she is piteously thin. Her cough, and the pain 
in her side continue the same. 

I write these few lines that you may not think my continued 
silence strange ; anything like frequent correspondence I cannot 
keep up and you must excuse me. I trust you and Miss Ring- 
rose and all at Brookroyd are happy and well. Give my love to 
your mother and all the rest, and believe me, yours sincerely, 


Letter 336 


March nth, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, My sister has been something worse since I 
wrote last We have had nearly a week of frost, and the change 
has tried her, as I feared it would do, though not so severely as 


former experience had led me to apprehend. I am thankful to 
say she is now again a little better. Her state of mind is usually 
placid, and her chief sufferings consist in the harassing cough and 
a sense of languor. 

I ought to have acknowledged the safe arrival of the parcel 
before now, but I put it off from day to day, fearing I should 
write a sorrowful letter. A similar apprehension induces me to 
abridge this note. 

Believe me whether in happiness or the contrary, yours sin- 
cerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 337 


HAWORTH, March 152$, 1849. 

DEAR L^ETITIA, I have not quite forgotten you through the 
winter, but I have remembered you only like some pleasant 
waking idea struggling through a dreadful dream. You say my 
last letter was dated September I4th. You ask how I have 
passed the time since. What has happened to me? Why have 
I been silent ? 

It is soon told. 

On the 24th of September my only brother, after being long in 
weak health, and latterly consumptive though we were far from 
apprehending immediate danger died, quite suddenly as it 
seemed to us. He had been out two days before. The shock 
was great Ere he could be interred I fell ill. A low nervous 
fever left me very weak. As I was slowly recovering, my sister 
Emily, whom you knew, was seized with inflammation of the 
lungs ; suppuration took place ; two agonising months of hopes 
and fears followed, and on the iQth of December she died. 

She was scarcely cold In her grave when Anne, my youngest 
and last sister, who has been delicate all her life, exhibited 
symptoms that struck us with acute alarm. We sent for the first 
advice that could be procured. She was examined with the 
stethoscope, and the dreadful fact was announced that her lungs 
too were affected, and that tubercular consumption had already 
made considerable progress. A system of treatment was pre- 
scribed, which has since been ratified by the opinion of Dr. 
Forbes, whom your papa will, I dare say, know. I hope it has 
1 The friend of Brussels days who still lives in Bays water. 



somewhat delayed disease. She is now a patient invalid, and I 
am her nurse. God has hitherto supported me in some sort 
through all these bitter calamities, and my father, I am thankful 
to say, has been wonderfully sustained ; but there have been 
hours, days, weeks of inexpressible anguish to undergo, and the 
cloud of impending distress still lowers dark and sullen above us, 
I cannot write much. I can only pray Providence to preserve 
you and yours from such affliction as He has seen good to 
accumulate on me and mine. 

With best regards to your dear mamma and all your circle, 
Believe me, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE, 

Letter 338 


March ibth, '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I must write a line in acknowledgment of your 
last letter and tell you how Anne is getting on. We have found 
the past week a somewhat trying one ; it has not been cold, but 
still there have been changes of temperature whose effect Anne 
has felt unfavourably. She is not, I trust, seriously worse, but her 
cough is at times very hard and painful, and her strength rather 
diminished than improved. I wish the month of May was well 
over. You are right in conjecturing that I am somewhat de- 
pressed. At times I certainly am. It was almost easier to bear up 
when the trial was at its crisis than now. The feeling of Emily's 
loss does not diminish as time wears on; it often makes itself 
most acutely recognised. It brings too an inexpressible sorrow 
with it; and then the future is dark. Yet I am well aware, it 
will not do either to complain, or sink, and I strive to do neither. 
Strength, I hope and trust, will yet be given in proportion to the 
burden ; but the pain of my position is not one likely to lessen 
with habit Its solitude and isolation are oppressive circum- 
stances, yet I do not wish for any friends to stay with me; I 
could not do with any one not even j/0# to share the sadness of 
the house ; it would rack me intolerably. Meantime, judgment 
is blent with mercy, Anne's sufferings still continue mild. It is 
my nature, when left alone, to struggle on with a certain persever- 
ance, and I believe God will help me. Yours faithfully, 



Letter 339 


HAWORTH, March 24^, 1849. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, I have delayed answering your 
letter in the faint hope that I might be able to reply favourably 
to your inquiries after my sister's health. This, however, is not 
permitted me to do. Her decline is gradual and fluctuating, but 
its nature is not doubtful The symptoms of cough, pain in the 
side and chest, wasting of flesh, strength, and appetite, after the 
sad experience we have had, cannot but be regarded by us as 

In spirit she is resigned ; at heart she is, I believe, a true 
Christian. She looks beyond this life, and regards her home and 
rest as elsewhere than on earth. May God support her and all 
of us through the trial of lingering sickness, and aid her in the 
last hour when the struggle which separates soul from body must 
be gone through I 

We saw Emily torn from the midst of us when our hearts 
clung to her with intense attachment, and when, loving each 
other as we did well, it seemed as if (might we but have been 
spared to each other) we could have found complete happiness 
in our mutual society and affection. She was scarcely buried 
when Anne's health failed, and we were warned that consumption 
had found another victim in her, and that it would be vain to 
reckon on her life. 

These things would be too much if Reason, unsupported by 
Religion, were condemned to bear them alone. I have cause 
to be most thankful for the strength which has hitherto been 
vouchsafed both to my father and myself. God, I think, is 
specially merciful to old age ; and for my own part, trials which 
in prospective would have seemed to me quite intolerable, when 
they actually came, I endured without prostration. Yet, I must 
confess, that in the time which has elapsed since Emily's death 
there have been moments of solitary, deep, inert affliction, far 
harder to bear than those which immediately followed our loss. 
The crisis of bereavement has an acute pang which goads to 
exertion, the desolate after-feeling sometimes paralyses, 

I have learned that we are not to find solace in our own 
strength: we must seek it in God's omnipotence. Fortitude is 


good, but fortitude itself must be shaken under us to teach us 
how weak we are. 

With best wishes to yourself and all dear to you, and sincere 
thanks for the interest you so kindly continue to take in me and 
my sister, -Believe me, my dear Miss Wooler, yours faithfully, 


Letter 340 


March 2gtk, '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I read your kind note to Anne, and she wishes 
me to thank you sincerely for your friendly proposal. She feels, 
of course, that it would not do to take advantage of it, by quarter- 
ing an invalid upon the inmates of Brookroyd ; but she intimates 
there is another way in which you might serve her, perhaps with 
some benefit to yourself as well as to her. Should it, a month 
or two hence, be deemed advisable that she should go either to 
the seaside or to some inland watering-place, and should papa 
be disinclined to move, and I consequently obliged to remain at 
home, she asks, could you be her companion ? Of course I need 
not add that in case of such an arrangement being made, you 
would be put to no expense. This, dear Ellen, is Anne's pro- 
posal ; I make it to comply with her wish ; but for my own part, 
I must add that I see serious objections to your accepting it, 
objections I cannot name to her. She continues to vary; is 
sometimes worse, and sometimes better, as the weather changes, 
but on the whole I fear she loses strength. Papa says her state 
is most precarious ; she may be spared for some time, or a sudden 
alteration might remove her ere we are aware. Were such an 
alteration to take place while she was far from home, and alone 
with you, it would be too terrible. The idea of it distresses me 
inexpressibly, and I tremble whenever she alludes to the project 
of a journey. In short, I wish we could gain time, and see how 
she gets on. If she leaves home, it certainly should not be in the 
capricious month of May, which is proverbially trying to the 
weak. June would be a safer month. If we could reach June, 
I should have good hopes of her getting through the summer. 
Write such an answer to this note as I can show Anne. You 
can write any additional remarks to me on a separate piece of 
paper. D0 not regard yourself as confined to discussing only 


our sad affairs. I am interested in all that interests you. Love 
to your mother, sisters, and Miss Ringrose. Yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

Letter 341 


April znd) 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, My critics truly deserve and have my genuine 
thanks for the friendly candour with which they have declared 
their opinions on my book. Both Mr. Williams and Mr. Taylor 
express and support their opinions in a manner calculated to 
command careful consideration. In my turn I have a word to 
say. You both of you dwell too much on what you regard as 
the artistic treatment of a subject. Say what you will, gentle- 
men say it as ably as you will truth is better than art. Burns' 
Songs are better than Bulwer's Epics. Thackeray's rude, care- 
less sketches are preferable to thousands of carefully finished 
paintings. Ignorant as I am, I dare to hold and maintain that 

You must not expect me to give up Malone and Donne too 
suddenly the pair are favourites with me ; they shine with a 
chastened and pleasing lustre in that first chapter, and it is a pity 
you do not take pleasure in their modest twinkle. Neither' is 
that opening scene irrelevant to the rest of the book, there are 
other touches in store which will harmonise with it. 

No doubt this handling of the surplice will stir up such publica- 
tions as the Christian Remembrancer and the Quarterly those 
heavy Goliaths of the periodical press ; and if I alone were con- 
cerned, this possibility would not trouble me a second. Full 
welcome would the giants be to stand in their greaves of brass, 
poising their ponderous spears, cursing their prey by their gods, 
and thundering invitations to the intended victim to c come forth 1 
and have his flesh given to the fowls of the air and the beasts of 
the field. Currer Bell, without pretending to be a David, feels 
no awe of the unwieldy Anakim ; but comprehend me rightly, 
gentlemen it would grieve him to involve others in blame : any 
censure that would really injure and annoy his piiblishers would 
wound himself. Therefore believe that he will not act rashly- 
trust his discretion. 

Mr. Taylor is right about the bad taste of the opening apos- 


trophe that I had already condemned in my own mind. Enough 
said of a work in embryo. Permit me to request in conclusion 
that the MS. may now be returned as soon as convenient. 

The letter you enclosed is from Mary Howitt It contained 
a proposal for an engagement as contributor to an American 
periodical. Of course I have negatived it. When I can write, 
the book I have in hand must claim all my attention. Oh ! if 
Anne were well, if the void Death has left were a little closed up, 
if the dreary word nevermore would cease sounding in my ears, I 
think I could yet do something. 

It is a long time since you mentioned your own family affairs. 
I trust Mrs. Williams continues well, and that Fanny and your 
other children prosper. Yours sincerely. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 342 


April $th> 1849. 

MY DEAR MISS NUSSEY, I thank you greatly for your kind 
letter, and your ready compliance with my proposal as far as the 
will can go at least. I see, however, that your friends are un- 
willing that you should undertake the responsibility of accom- 
panying me under present circumstances. But I do not think 
there would be any great responsibility in the matter. I know, 
and everybody knows, that you would be as kind and helpful as 
any one could possibly be, and I hope I should not be very 
troublesome. It would be as a companion, not as a nurse, that 
I should wish for your company; otherwise I should not venture 
to ask it. As for your kind and often repeated invitation to 
Brookroyd, pray give my sincere thanks to your mother and 
sisters, but tell them I could not think of inflicting my presence 
upon them as I now am. It is very kind of them to make so 
light of the trouble, but still there must be more or less, and 
certainly no pleasure, from the society of a silent invalid stranger. 
I hope, however, that Charlotte will by some means make it 
possible to accompany me after all. She is certainly very delicate, 
and greatly needs a change of air and scene to renovate her con- 
stitution. And then your going with me before the end of May 
Is apparently out of the question, unless you are disappointed in 
your visitors ; but I should be reluctant to wait till then if the 


weather would at all permit an earlier departure. You say May 
is a trying month, and so say others. The early part Is often 
cold enough, I acknowledge, but according to my experience, we 
are almost certain of some fine warm days in the latter half, when 
the laburnums and lilacs are in bloom; whereas June is often 
cold, and July generally wet. But I have a more serious reason 
than this for my impatience of delay. The doctors say that 
change of air or removal to a better climate would hardly ever 
fail of success in consumptive cases, if the remedy be taken in 
time\ but the reason why there are so many disappointments is 
that it is generally deferred till it is too late. Now I would not 
commit this error ; and, to say the truth, though I suffer much 
less from pain and fever than I did when you were with us, I 
am decidedly weaker, and very much thinner. My cough still 
troubles me a good deal, especially in the night, and, what seems 
worse than all, I am subject to great shortness of breath on going 
up stairs or any slight exertion. Under these circumstances, I 
think there is no time to be lost. I have no horror of death : if 
I thought it inevitable, I think I could quietly resign myself to 
the prospect, in the hope that you, dear Miss Nussey, would give 
as much of your company as you possibly could to Charlotte, and 
be a sister to her in my stead. But I wish it would please God 
to spare me not only for papa's and Charlotte's sakes, but because 
I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have 
many schemes in my head for future practice, humble and limited 
indeed, but still I should not like them all to come to nothing, 
and myself to have lived to so little purpose. But God's will be 
done. Remember me respectfully to your mother and sisters, 
and believe me, dear Miss Nussey, yours most affectionately, 


Letter 343 


April 5^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your note was very welcome. I purposely 
impose on myself the restraint of writing to you seldom now, 
because I know but too well my letters cannot be cheering. Yst 
I confess I am glad when the post brings me a letter : it reminds 
me that if the sun of action and life does not shine on us, it yet 
beams full on other parts of the world and I like the recollection. 


I am not going to complain. Anne has indeed suffered much 
at intervals since I last wrote you frost and east wind have had 
their effect She has passed nights of sleeplessness and pain, and 
days of depression and languor which nothing could cheer but 
still, with the return of genial weather she revives. I cannot 
perceive that she is feebler now than she was a month ago, though 
that is not saying much. It proves, however, that no rapid pro- 
cess of destruction is going on in her frame, and keeps alive a 
hope that with the renovating aid of summer she may yet be 
spared a long time. 

What you tell me of Mr. Lewes seems to me highly charac- 
teristic. How sanguine, versatile, and self-confident must that 
man be who can with ease exchange the quiet sphere of the 
author for the bustling one of the actor ! I heartily wish him 
success ; and, in happier times, there are few things I should have 
relished more than an opportunity of seeing him in his new 

The Cornhill books are still our welcome and congenial resource 
when Anne is well enough to enjoy reading. Carlyle's Miscellanies 
interest me greatly. We have read The Emigrant Family, The 
characters in the work are good, full of quiet truth and nature, and 
the local colouring is excellent ; yet I can hardly call it a good 
novel. Reflective, truth-loving, and even elevated as is Alexander 
Harris's mind, I should say he scarcely possesses the creative 
faculty in sufficient vigour to excel as a writer of fiction. He 
creates nothing he only copies. His characters are portraits 
servilely accurate ; whatever is at all ideal is not original. The 
Testimony to the Truth is a better book than any tale he can write 
will ever be. Am I too dogmatical in saying this ? 

Anne thanks you sincerely for the kind interest you take in her 
welfare, and both she and I beg to express our sense of Mrs. 
Williams's good wishes, which you mentioned in a former letter. 
We are grateful, too, to Mr. Smith and to all who offer us the 
sympathy of friendship. 

Whenever you can write with pleasure to yourself, remember 
Currer Bell is glad to hear from you, and he will make his letters 
as little dreary as he can in reply. Yours sincerely. 



Letter 344 


WELLINGTON, April io#z, 1849. 

DEAR CHARLOTTE, I've been delighted to receive a very 
interesting letter from you with an account of your * prop, visit ' to 
London, etc. I believe I have tacked this acknowledgment to the 
tail of my last letter to you, but since then it has dawned on my 
comprehension that you are becoming a very important personage 
in this little world, and therefore, d j ye see ? I must write again 
to you. I wish you would give me some account of Newby, and 
what the man said when confronted with the real Ellis Bell. By 
the way, having got your secret, will he keep it ? And how do 
you contrive to get your letters under the address of Mr. Bell ? 
The whole scheme must be particularly interesting to hear about 
If I could only talk to you for half a day. When do you intend 
to tell the good people about you ? 

I am now hard at work expecting Ellen Taylor. She may 
possibly be here in two months. In the meantime I have left 
Couper's and I am at present living with the Knoxes. Now the 
old Dr. came home a few days ago and will neither do any work 
nor follow his profession, but will live on his wife, who maintains 
herself and the children, principally with my lodging money and 
a little sewing and some charity from Waring and Couper. Now 
the Dr.'s arrival has determined me to flit, so I have ordered a 
chimney to Waring's old house and shall make myself comfortable 
there. This house has been moved back from the road and a new 
one is building in front of it, to be finished in two months. Then 
the back cottage where Waring now lives will be wheeled on to a 
neighbour's ground ; said neighbour paying 10 for it I once 
thought of writing you some of the dozens of schemes I have for 
E. T., but as the choice depends on her, I think I may as well wait 
and tell you the one she chooses. The two most reasonable are, 
keeping a school and keeping a shop. The last is decidedly the 
most healthy, but the most difficult of accomplishment I have 
written an account of the earthquake for Chambers, and intend 
(now don't remind me of this a year hence, because 'la femme 
propose') to write some more. The next to be ' Physiognomy of 
the town of Wellington/ What else I shall do I don't know. 
I find the writing faculty does not in the least depend on the 


leisure I have ; much more on the active work I have to do. 
I write at my novel a little and think of my other work. What 
this will turn out, God only knows. It is not and never can be 
forgotten. It is my child, my baby, and / assure you such a 
wonder as never was. I intend him, when full grown, to revolu- 
tionise society and * faire poque ' in history. 

In the meantime I 'm doing a collar in crochet-work. PAG. 

Letter 345 


April I2//&, '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I read Anne's letter to you ; it was touching 
enough, as you say. If there was no hope beyond this world, no 
eternity, no life to come, Emily's fate, and that which threatens 
Anne, would be heart-breaking. I cannot forget Emily's death- 
day; it becomes a more fixed, a darker, a more frequently 
recurring idea in my mind than ever. It was very terrible. She 
was torn, conscious, panting, reluctant, though resolute, out of a 
happy life. But it will not do to dwell on these things. 

I am glad your friends object to your going with Anne; it 
would never do. To speak the truth, even if your mother and 
sisters had consented, I never could. It is not that there is any 
laborious attention to pay her ; she requires, and will accept, but 
little nursing ; but there would be hazard, and anxiety of mind, 
beyond what you ought to be subject to. If, a month or six 
weeks hence, she continues to wish for a change as much as she 
does now, I shall (D.v.) go with her myself. It will certainly be 
paramount duty ; other care must be made subservient to that. 
I have consulted Mr. Teale, he does not object, and recommends 
Scarborough, which was Anne's own choice. I trust affairs may 
be so ordered, that you may be able to be with us at least part of 
the time. . . . Whether in lodgings or not I should wish to be 
boarded. Providing oneself is, I think, an insupportable nuisance. 
I don't like keeping provisions in a cupboard, locking up, being 
pillaged, and all that. It is a petty, wearing annoyance. Best 
regards to all at Brookroyd. I am, dear Ellen, yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

I am sorry to hear poor Miss Heald and Mrs. C. C have been 
ill again. Are they better now ? 


Letter 346 


April i6M, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your kind advice on the subject of Homoe- 
opathy deserves and has our best thanks. We find ourselves, 
however, urged from more than one quarter to try different 
systems and medicines, and I fear we have already given offence 
by not listening to all. The fact is, were we in every instance 
compliant, my dear sister would be harassed by continual changes. 
Cod-liver oil and carbonate of iron were first strongly recom- 
mended. Anne took them as long as she could, but at last she 
was obliged to give them up : the oil yielded her no nutriment, it 
did not arrest the progress of emaciation, and as it kept her 
always sick, she was prevented from taking food of any sort. 
Hydropathy was then strongly advised. She is now trying 
Gobold's Vegetable Balsam ; she thinks it does her some good ; 
and as it is the first medicine which has had that effect, she would 
wish to persevere with it for a time. She is also looking hope- 
fully forward to deriving benefit from change of air. We have 
obtained Mr. Teale's permission to go to the seaside in the course 
of six or eight weeks. At first I felt torn between two duties 
that of staying with papa and going with Anne ; but as it is 
papa's own most kindly expressed wish that I should adopt the 
latter plan, and as, besides, he is now, thank God ! in tolerable 
health, I hope to be spared the pain of resigning the care of my 
sister to other hands, however friendly. We wish to keep to- 
gether as long as we can. I hope, too, to derive from the change 
some renewal of physical strength and mental composure) in 
neither of which points am I what I ought or wish to be) to make 
me a better and more cheery nurse. 

I fear I must have seemed to you hard in my observations 
about The Emigrant Family. The fact was, I compared 
Alexander Harris with himself only. It is not equal to the 
Testimony to the Truth^ but, tried by the standard of other and 
very popular books too, it is very clever and original. Both 
subject and the manner of treating it are unhackneyed ; he gives 
new views of new scenes and furnishes interesting information on 
interesting topics. Considering the increasing necessity for and 
tendency to emigration, I should think it has a fair chance of 
securing the success it merits. 


I took up Leigh Hunt's book The Town with the Impression 
that it would be interesting only to Londoners, and I was sur- 
prised, ere I had read many pages, to find myself enchained by 
his pleasant, graceful, easy style, varied knowledge, just views, and 
kindly spirit. There is something peculiarly anti-melancholic in 
Leigh Hunt's writings, and yet they are never boisterous. They 
resemble sunshine, being at once bright and tranquil. 

I like Carlyle better and better. His style I do not like, nor 
do I always concur in his opinions, nor quite fall in with his hero- 
worship ; but there is a manly love of truth, an honest recognition 
and fearless vindication of intrinsic greatness, of intellectual and 
moral worth, considered apart from birth, rank, or wealth, which 
commands my sincere admiration, Carlyle would never do for a 
contributor to the Quarterly. I have not read his Fre?ick Revolution* 
I congratulate you on the approaching publication of Mr. 
Ruskin's new work. If the Seven Lamps of Architecture resemble 
their predecessor, Modern Painters ', they will be no lamps at all, 
but a new constellation seven bright stars, for whose rising the 
reading world ought to be anxiously agaze. 

Do not ask me to mention what books I should like to read. 
Half the pleasure of receiving a parcel from Cornhill consists in 
having its contents chosen for us. We like to discover, too, by 
the leaves cut here and there, that the ground has been travelled 
before us. I may however say, with reference to works of fiction, 
that I should much like to see one of Godwin's works, never having 
hitherto had that pleasure Caleb Williams or Fleetwood^ or which 
., you thought best worth reading. 

oi , But it is yet much too soon to talk of sending more books ; 
thS r P resent stock is scarcely half exhausted. You will perhaps 
housJk I am a slow reader, but remember, Currer Bell is a country 
and k wife > and has sundry little matters connected with the needle 
when, a^ c ^ en to attend to which take up half his day, especially now, 
three. I 1as - there is but one pair of hands where once there were 

I try to d * d not mean to touch that chord, its sound is too sad. 
It renewed write now and then. The effort was a hard one at first 
than useless * he terrible loss of last December strangely. Worse 
lived an Elli^ id *t seei *i to attempt to write what there no longer 
founded on it, fa Bel1 ' to read ; the whole book, with every hope 

One inducemei ded to vanity and vexation of spirit, 
however, and I ari.t to persevere and do my best I still have, 
< thankful for it: I should like to please my 


kind friends at Cornhill To that end I wish my powers would 
come back; and if it would please Providence to restore my 
remaining sister, I think they would. 

Do not forget to tell me how you are when you write again. 
I trust your indisposition is quite gone by this time. Believe me, 
yours sincerely. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 347 


April 2otk, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, Anne has decided to take the so/- respirator. 
I enclose a Post Office Order for payment. My cork soles I find 
extremely comfortable. Dear Ellen, let me have the comfort of 
thanking you for your kindness. 

During the rnild weather Anne really seemed something better. 
I began to flatter myself she was gathering strength. But the 
change to frost has told upon her; she suffers more of late. 
Still her illness has none of the fearful, rapid symptoms which 
appalled in Emily's case. Could she only get over the spring, I 
hope summer may do much for her, and then early removal to a 
warmer locality for the winter might, at least, prolong her life. 
Could we only reckon upon another year, I should be thankful ; 
but can we do this even for the healthy? A few days ago I wrote 
to have Dr. Forbes' opinion. He is editor of the Medical Review, 
and one of the first authorities in England on consumptive cases. 
I stated Mr. Teale's report of her state and the system of treat- 
ment prescribed. Dr. Forbes said he knows Mr. Teale well, and 
thinks highly of his skill. The remedies were precisely those he 
would have recommended himself. He warned us against enter- 
taining sanguine hopes of recovery. The cod-liver oil he considers 
a peculiarly efficacious medicine. He, too, disapproved of the 
change of residence for the present. There is some feeble con- 
solation in thinking we are doing the very best that can be done. 
The agony of forced, total neglect, is not now felt, as during Emily's 
illness. Never may we be doomed to feel such agony again. It 
was terrible. I have felt much less of the disagreeable pains in 
my chest lately,and much less also of the soreness and hoarseness. 
I tried an application of hot vinegar, which seemed to do good, 
Give my love to all* Write to me again soon, and believe me, 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 


Letter 348 


May isf, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am glad to hear that when we go to Scar- 
boro', you will be at liberty to go with us ; but the journey and 
its consequences still continue a source of great anxiety to me ; I 
must try to put it off two or three weeks longer if I can ; perhaps 
by that time the milder season may have given Anne more 
strength, perhaps it will be otherwise ; I cannot tell. The change 
to fine weather has not proved beneficial to her so far. She has 
sometimes been so weak, and suffered so much from pain in the 
side, during the last few days, that I have not known what to 
think. She may rally again, and be much better, but there must 
be some improvement before I can feel justified In taking her 
away from home. Yet to delay is painful ; for, as is always the 
case, I believe, under the circumstances, she seems herself but 
half conscious of the necessity for such delay. She wonders, I 
believe, why I don't talk more about the journey : it grieves me 
to think she may even be hurt by my seeming tardiness. She is 
very much emaciated, far more so than when you were with us ; 
her arms are no thicker than a little child's. The least exertion 
brings a shortness of breath. She goes out a little every day, but 
we creep rather than walk. Papa continues pretty well, and I 
have had better health myself, during the last two or three weeks, 
than I had a month ago. I trust I shall be enabled to bear up. 
So far I have reason for thankfulness. You will miss the society 
of Miss Amelia Ringrose. Take care of yourself, observe regular 
exercise, and be on your guard against cold ; health is a priceless 
blessing, and one of which we may be easily robbed. If Anne 
seems at all better or even worse in a week or two I will let 
you know. Yours faithfully, C BRONTE. 

Letter 349 


May Bt&t 1849, 

MY DEAR SIR, I hasten to acknowledge the two kind letters 
for which I am indebted to you. That fine spring weather of 
which you speak did not bring such happiness to us in its sunshine 
as I trust it did to you and thousands besides the change proved 


trying to my sister. For a week or ten days I did not know what 
to think, she became so weak, and suffered so much from increased 
pain in the side, and aggravated cough. The last few days have 
been much colder, yet, strange to say, during their continuance 
she has appeared rather to revive than sink. She not unfrequently 
shows the very same symptoms which were apparent in Emily 
only a few days before she died fever in the evenings, sleepless 
nights, and a sort of lethargy in the morning hours ; this creates 
acute anxiety then comes an improvement, which reassures. In 
about three weeks, should the weather be genial and her strength 
continue at all equal to the journey, we hope to go to Scarboro'. 
It is not without misgiving that I contemplate a departure from 
home under such circumstances ; but since she herself earnestly 
wishes the experiment to be tried, I think it ought not to be 
neglected. We are in God's hands, and must trust the results to 
Him. An old schoolfellow of mine, a tried and faithful friend, 
has volunteered to accompany us. I shall have the satisfaction 
of leaving papa to the attentions of two servants equally tried and 
faithful. One of them is indeed now old and infirm, and unfit to 
stir much from her chair by the kitchen fireside ; but the other is 
young and active, and even she has lived with us seven years. I 
have reason, therefore, you see, to be thankful amidst sorrow, 
especially as papa still possesses every faculty unimpaired, and 
though not robust, has good general health a sort of chronic 
cough is his sole complaint. 

I hope Mr. Smith will not risk a cheap edition of Jane Eyre yet ; 
he had better wait awhile the public will be sick of the name of 
that one book. I can make no promise as to when another will 
be ready neither my time nor my efforts are my own. That 
absorption in my employment to which I gave myself up without 
fear of doing wrong when I wrote Jane Eyre> would now be alike 
impossible and blamable ; but I do what I can, and have made 
some little progress. We must all be patient 

Meantime, I should say, let the public forget at their ease, and 
let us not be nervous about it And as to the critics, if the Bells 
possess real merit, I do not fear impartial justice being rendered 
them one day. I have a very short mental as well as physical 
sight in some matters, and am far less uneasy at the idea of public 
impatience, misconstruction, censure, etc,, than I am at the 
thought of the anxiety of those two or three friends in Cornhill to 
whom I owe much kindness, and whose expectations I would 


earnestly wish not to disappoint. If they can make up their 
minds to wait tranquilly, and put some confidence in my goodwill, 
if not my power, to get on as well as may be, I shall not repine ; 
but I verily believe that the * nobler sex ' find it more difficult to 
wait, to plod, to work out their destiny inch by inch, than their 
sisters do. They are always for walking so fast and taking such 
long steps, one cannot keep up with them. One should never 
tell a gentleman that one has commenced a task till it is nearly 
achieved. Currer Bell, even if he had no let or hindrance, and if 
his path was quite smooth, could never march with the tread of a 
Scott, a Bulwer, a Thackeray, or a Dickens. I want you and 
Mr. Smith clearly to understand this. I have always wished to 
guard you against exaggerated anticipations calculate low when 
you calculate on me. An honest man and woman too would 
always rather rise above expectation than fall below it 

Have I lectured enough ? and am I understood ? 

Give my sympathising respects to Mrs. Williams. I hope her 
little daughter is by this time restored to perfect health, It 
pleased me to see with what satisfaction you speak of your son. I 
was glad, too, to hear of the progress and welfare of Miss Kavanay h. 
The notices of Mr. Harris's works are encouraging and just may 
they contribute to his success ! 

Should Mr. Thackeray again ask after Currer Bell, say the 
secret is and will be well kept because it is not worth disclosure. 
This fact his own sagacity will have already led him to divine, 
In the hope that it may not be long ere I hear from you again, 
Believe me, yours sincerely, C. BRONT, 

Letter 350 


HAWORTH, May i6ik, 1849. 

MY DEAR Miss WOOLER, I will lose no time in thanking you 
for your letter and kind offer of assistance. We have, however, 
already engaged lodgings. I am not myself acquainted with 
Scarbro', but Anne knows it well, having been there three or four 
times. She had a particular preference for the situation of some 
lodgings (No. 2 Cliff). 1 We wrote about them, and finding them 
disengaged, took them. Your information is, notwithstanding, 

1 The houses called 'The Cliff 3 have been pulled down. The Grand Hotel stands 
on the site. 


valuable, should we find this place in any way ineligible. It is a 
satisfaction to be provided with directions for future use. 

Next Wednesday is the day fixed for our departure. Ellen 
Nussey accompanies us (by Anne's expressed wish). I could not 
refuse her society, but I dared not urge her to go, for I have little 
hope that the excursion will be one of pleasure or benefit to those 
engaged in it. Anne is extremely weak. She herself has a fixed 
impression that the sea air will give her a chance of regaining 
strength ; that chance, therefore, we must have. Having resolved 
to try the experiment, misgivings are useless ; and yet, when I 
look at her, misgivings will rise. She is more emaciated than Emily 
was at the very last ; her breath scarcely serves her to mount the 
stairs, however slowly. She sleeps very little at night, and often 
passes most of the forenoon in a semi-lethargic state. Still, she 
is up all day, and even goes out a little when it is fine. Fresh air 
usually acts as a stimulus, but its reviving power diminishes. 

With best wishes for your own health and welfare, Believe 
me, my dear Miss Wooler, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE, 

Letter 351 


May i&thy '49, 

DEAR ELLEN, We have now made our arrangements for the 
journey. We shall leave Keighley about half-past one o'clock, 
and expect to reach Leeds soon after two on Wednesday the 
23rd, that is next week. It is with a heavy heart I prepare; and 
earnestly do I wish the fatigue of the journey were well over. It 
may be borne better than I expect; for temporary stimulus often 
does much ; but when I see the daily increasing weakness, I know 
not what to think. I fear you will be shocked when you see 
Anne ; but be on your guard, dear Ellen, not to express your 
feelings ; indeed, I can trust both your self-possession and your 
kindness. I wish my judgment sanctioned the step of going to 
Scarborough more fully than it does. You ask how I have 
arranged about leaving papa. I could make no special arrange- 
ment* He wishes me to go with Anne, and would not hear of 

Jvlr, coming, or anything of that kind ; so I do what I believe 

is for the best, and leave the result to Providence. Best love to 
all. Is your sister Ann's affair settled ? Yours faithfully, 



Letter 352 


May 20///, } 49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I returned Mary Taylor's letter to Hunswortf 
as soon as I had read it Thank God she was safe up to thai 
time, but I* do not think the earthquake was then over. I shal 
long to hear tidings of her again. 

Anne was worse during the warm weather we had about 2 
week ago. She grew weaker, and both the pain in her side ant 
her cough were worse; strange to say, since it is colder, she has 
appeared rather to revive, than sink. I still hope that if she get; 
over May she may last a long time. 

We have engaged lodgings at Scarbro'. We stipulated for ? 
good-sized sitting-room and an airy double-bedded lodging-room 
with a sea view, and if not deceived, have obtained these deside- 
rata at No. 2 Cliff. Anne says it is one of the best situations ir 
the place. It would not have done to have taken lodgings eithci 
in the town or on the bleak steep [North] coast, where Mis.* 
Wooler's house is situated. If Anne is to get any good she mus1 
have every advantage. Miss Outhwaite [her godmother] left hei 
in her will a legacy of 200, and she cannot employ her money 
better than in obtaining what may prolong existence, if it does 
not restore health. We hope to leave home on the 23rd, and I 
think it will be advisable to rest at York, and stay all night there, 
I hope this arrangement will suit you. We reckon on youi 
society, dear Ellen, as a real privilege and pleasure. We shall 
take little luggage, and shall have to buy bonnets and dresses 
and several other things either at York or Scarbro' ; which 
place do you think would be best? Oh, if it would please God 
to strengthen and revive Anne, how happy we might be together : 
His will, however, must be done, and if she is not to recover, it 
remains to pray for strength and patience. C, B. 

Letter 353 


No. 2 CLIFF, SCARBORO', May 27^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, The date above will inform you why I have 
not answered your last letter more promptly. I have been busy 


with preparations for departure and with the journey. I am 
thankful to say we reached our destination safely, having rested 
one night at York. We found assistance wherever we needed it ; 
there was always an arm ready to do for my sister what I was not 
quite strong enough to do : lift her in and out of the carriages, 
carry her across the line, etc. 

It made her happy to see both York and its Minster, and Scar- 
boro' and its bay once more. There is yet no revival of bodily 
strength I fear indeed the slow ebb continues. People who see 
her tell me I must not expect her to last long but it is some- 
thing to cheer her mind. 

Our lodgings are pleasant As Anne sits at the window she 
can look down on the sea, which this morning is calm as glass. 
She says if she could breathe more freely she would be comfort- 
able at this moment but she cannot breathe freely. 

My friend Ellen is with us. I find her presence a solace. She 
is a calm, steady girl not brilliant, but good and true. She suits 
and has always suited me well. I like her, with her phlegm, re- 
pose, sense, and sincerity, better than I should like the most 
talented without these qualifications. 

If ever I see you again I should have pleasure in talking over 
with you the topics you allude to in your last or rather, in 
hearing you talk them over. We see these things through a 
glass darkly or at least I see them thus. So far from objecting 
to speculation on, or discussion of, the subject, I should wish 
to hear what others have to say. By others^ I mean only the 
serious and reflective levity in such matters shocks as much as 

Write to me. In this strange place your letters will come 
like the visits ol a friend. Fearing to lose the post, I will 
add no more at present, Believe me, yours sincerely, 


Letter 354 


May 30^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, My poor sister is taken quietly home at last. 
She died on Monday. With almost her last breath she said she 
was happy, and thanked God that death was come, and come so 
gently. I did not think it would be so soon, 


You will not expect me to add more at present Yours 
faithfully,* c - BRONTE. 

Mrs. Gaskell also adds a fact or two from Ellen 
Nussey's notes : 

On the Tuesday Charlotte wrote to her father ; but knowing 
that his presence was required for some annual church solemnity 
at Haworth, she informed him that she had made all necessary 
arrangements for the interment, and that the funeral would take 
place so soon that he could hardly arrive in time for it. The 
surgeon who had visited Anne on the day of her death offered his 
attendance, but it was respectfully declined. 

A lady from the same neighbourhood as Ellen Nussey was 
staying in Scarborough at this time; she, too, kindly offered 
sympathy and assistance ; and when that solitary pair of mourners 
(the sister and the friend) arrived at the church this lady was 
there, in unobtrusive presence, not the less kind because unob- 

Mr. Bronte wrote to urge Charlotte's longer stay at the seaside. 
Her health and spirits were sorely shaken; and much as he 
naturally longed to see his only remaining child, he felt it right to 
persuade her to take, with her friend, a few more weeks' change 
of scene, though even that could not bring change of thought. 

Letter 355 


J//&, 1849. 

DEAR MARTHA, I was very much pleased with your note, 
and glad to learn that all at home are getting on pretty well, 
It will still be a week or ten days before I return, and you must 
not tire yourself too much with the cleaning, 

My sister Anne's death could not be otherwise than a great 
trouble to me, though I have known for many weeks that she 
could not get better. She died very calmly and gently : she was 
quite sensible to the last. About three minutes before she died 

* The inscription on the tomb in Scarborough churchyard runs as follows : 
' Here lie the Remains of Anns Bronte, Daughter of the Rev* 
of Haworth, Yorkshire. She Died, aged 29, May 28, 1849.* 


she said she was very happy, and believed she was passing out of 
earth into heaven. It was not her custom to talk much about 
religion ; but she was very good, and I am certain she is now in a 
far better place than any this world contains. 

I mean to send one of the boxes home this week, as I have 
more luggage than is convenient to carry about. Give my best 
love to Tabby. I am, dear Martha, your sincere friend, 


Letter 356 


June 2$tk, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am now again at home, where I returned 
last Thursday. I call It home still much as London would be 
called London if an earthquake should shake its streets to ruins. 
But let me not be ungrateful : Haworth parsonage is still a home 
for me, and not quite a ruined or desolate home either. Papa is 
there, and two most affectionate and faithful servants, and two old 
dogs, in their way as faithful and affectionate Emily's large 
house-dog which lay at the side of her dying bed, and followed 
her funeral to the vault, lying in the pew couched at our feet while 
the burial service was being read and Anne's little spaniel. The 
ecstasy of these poor animals when I came in was something 
singular. At former returns from brief absences they always 
welcomed me warmly but not in that strange, heart-touching 
way. I am certain they thought that, as I was returned, my 
sisters were not far behind. But here my sisters will come no 
more. Keeper may visit Emily's little bedroom as he still does 
day by day and Flossy may still look wistfully round for Anne, 
they will never see them again nor shall I at least the human 
part of me, I must not write so sadly, but how can I help 
thinking and feeling sadly ? In the daytime effort and occupation 
aid me, but when evening darkens, something in my heart revolts 
against the burden of solitude the sense of loss and want grows 
almost too much for me, I am not good or amiable in such 
moments, I am rebellious, and it is only the thought of my dear 
father in the next room, or of the kind servants in the kitchen, or 
some caress from the poor dogs, which restores me to softer 
sentiments and more rational views. As to the night could I 


do without bed, I would never seek it. Waking, I think, 
sleeping, I dream of them ; and I cannot recall them as they were 
in health, still they appear to me in sickness and suffering. Still, 
my nights were worse after the first shock of Branwell's death 
they were terrible then ; and the impressions experienced on 
waking were at that time such as we do not put into language. 
Worse seemed at hand than was yet endured in truth, worse 
awaited us. 

All this bitterness must be tasted. Perhaps the palate will 
grow used to the draught in time, and find its flavour less acrid. 
This pain must be undergone; its poignancy, I trust, will be 
blunted one day. Ellen would have come back with me, but 
I would not let her. I knew it would be better to face the 
desolation at once later or sooner the sharp pang must be 

Labour must be the cure, not sympathy. Labour is the only 
radical cure for rooted sorrow. The society of a calm, serenely 
cheerful companion such as Ellen soothes pain like a soft 
opiate, but I find it does not probe or heal the wound ; sharper, 
more severe means, are necessary to make a remedy. Total 
change might do much ; where that cannot be obtained, work is 
the best substitute. 

I by no means ask Miss Kavanagh to write to me. Why should 
she trouble herself to do it ? What claim have I on her ? She 
does not know me she cannot care for me except vaguely and 
on hearsay. I have got used to your friendly sympathy, and it 
comforts me. I have tried and trust the fidelity of one or two 
other friends, and I lean upon it. The natural affection of my 
father, and the attachment and solicitude of our two servants are 
precious and consolatory to me, but I do not look round for 
general pity ; conventional condolence I do not want, either from 
man or woman. 

The letter you enclosed in your last bore the signature H, S. 
Mayers the address, Sheepscombe, Stroud, Gloucestershire ; can 
you give me any information respecting the writer? It is my 
intention to acknowledge it one day. I am truly glad to hear 
that your little invalid is restored to health, and that the rest of 
your family continue well. Mrs. Williams should spare herself 
for her husband's and children's sake, Her life and health are too 
valuable to those round her to be lavished she should be careful 
of them, Believe me, yours sincerely, C. BRONTJS, 


Letter 357 


July ist, '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I intended to have written a line to you to- 
day, if I had not received yours. We did, indeed, part suddenly ; 
it made my heart ache that we were severed without the time to 
exchange a word ; and yet perhaps it was better. I got home a 
little before eight o'clock. All was clean and bright, waiting for 
me. Papa and the servants were well ; and all received me with 
an affection which should have consoled. The dogs seemed in 
strange ecstasy, I am certain they regarded me as the harbinger 
of others. The dumb creatures thought that as I was returned, 
those who had been so long absent were not far behind. 

I left papa soon and went into the dining-room: I shut the 
door. I tried to be glad that I was come home. I have always 
been glad before except once, even then I was cheered. But 
this time joy was not to be the sensation, I felt that the house 
was all silent, the rooms were all empty. I remembered where 
the three were laid in what narrow dark dwellings, never more 
to reappear on earth. So the sense of desolation and bitterness 
took possession of me. The agony that was to be undergone^ and was 
not to be avoided, came on. I underwent it, and passed a dreary 
evening and night, and a mournful morrow ; to-day I am better. 

I do not know how life will pass, but I certainly do feel confidence 
in Him who has upheld me hitherto. Solitude may be cheered, 
and made endurable beyond what I can believe. The great trial 
is when evening closes and night approaches. At that hour, we 
used to assemble in the dining-room ; we used to talk. Now I 
sit by myself; necessarily I am silent I cannot help thinking 
of their last days, remembering their sufferings, and what they 
said and did, and how they looked in mortal affliction. Perhaps 
all this will become less poignant in time. 

Let me thank you once more, dear Ellen, for your kindness to 
me, which I do not mean to forget. How did they think you 
were looking at home? Papa thought me a little stronger; he 
said my eyes were not so sunken. I am glad to hear a good 
account of your mother, and a tolerable one of Mercy. I hope 
she will soon recover her health. Love to all. Write again very 

soon and tell me how poor Miss H goes on, Saturday. 

Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 




ALTHOUGH Shirley is perhaps the least distinctive of 
Charlotte Bronte's four novels, it must always have a 
special interest, if only on account of its presentation of 
her sister Emily in the character of Shirley Keelclar. 
Shirley was, she said, what Emily might have been * had 
she been placed in health and prosperity/ The three 
curates, again, are a feature of untiring interest. We 
follow the story of Mr. Donne, Mr. Malone, and Mr, 
Sweeting with a desire to know something of their later 
career. Mr. Donne, or Joseph Brett Grant, was the master 
of the Haworth Grammar School at the time. He became 
curate and afterwards vicar of Oxenhope, where he died 
greatly esteemed a quarter of a century later, Peter 
Augustus Malone, who was James William Smith in real 
life, was for two years curate to Mr. Bronte at Haworth. 
He had graduated at Trinity College, Dublin, and after 
a two years' curacy at Haworth he became curate of the 
neighbouring parish of Keighley. In 1847, his family 
having suffered frightfully from the Irish famine, he de- 
termined to try and build up a home for them on the 
American continent, and sailed for Canada, The last 
that was heard of him was from Minnesota, where he 
was cutting down trees for lumbermen ; and he probably 
perished on his way to the goldfields of California, 1 

1 See A Well-known Character in Fiction, the true story of Mr, Peter Malone in 
Shirley, by his nephew, Robert Keating Smith, in The Tatler, April 2, 1902, Mr. R. 
K. Smith writes with enthusiasm of his uncle, and his article in Tht Tatler brought him 


David Sweeting, the third curate, was the Rev. James 
Chesterton Bradley (who had been educated at Queen's 
College, Oxford), from the neighbouring parish of Oak- 
worth, to which lie had been curate since 1843. He went 
in 1847 to All Saints', Paddington; in 1856 he went to 
Corfe Castle, Dorset, and in 1863 he became rector of 
Sutton-under-Brayles, Warwickshire, a living which he 
held until 1904, when he retired. He is still living at an 
advanced age at Richmond, Surrey. Mr. Bradley has 
always found great pleasure in recalling the fact that he 
was the prototype of Mr, Sweeting in Shirley, although 
he declares that the meetings of the curates at each other's 
lodgings were exclusively for a series of two-hours' readings 
of the Greek fathers, and not for the drunken orgies 
described in Shirley. 

a letter from the one curate who happily still survives. It is only fair to the memory of 
the curates that this letter should be published. 


ENGLAND, May yd, 1902. 

DEAR SIR, A short paper of yours in The TatUr of April 2nd brought before me 
my old friend James W. Smith. He and I were fellow- curates in Yorkshire, he curate 
of Haworth, and I of the hill part of Keighley which joined on to Haworth. Of course 
I saw a great deal of him, and we were great friends. He and I with another of the 
name of Grant were the three curates in Charlotte Bronte's Shirley. I need not say 
how indignant I have often been at the way in which she speaks of him in the novel. 
He was a thorough gentleman in every sense of the word, and there was not the 
slightest ground for the insinuation she makes against him,, But my chief object in 
writing is to ask if you can tell me anything more about him than what you have 
written in the periodical, I, the 'Davy Sweeting' of the novel, was obliged to resign 
the incumbency of Oakworth from ill-health not very long before he left, and during my 
illness I had a letter from him (lost now, I grieve to say), and then I heard that he had 
gone abroad, and the rumour was spread that he had been wrecked on the coast of 
Canada* It was after this, I believe, that the novel came out. We used to read 
together, walk together, and as often as we could, about once a week, meet either at 
his or my lodgings. Please excuse me for thus intruding on you, but I was anxious to 
give my testimony against the false and cruel way in which Charlotte Bronte has held 
him up in her book. Believe me, yours very truly, 



Letter 358 


July yd, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, You do right to address me on subjects which 
compel me, in order to give a coherent answer, to quit for a 
moment my habitual train of thought, The mention of your 
healthy-living daughters reminds me of the world where other 
people live where I lived once. Theirs are cheerful images as 
you present them I have no wish to shut them out. 

From all you say of Ellen, the eldest, I am inclined to 
respect her much. I like practical sense which works to the 
good of others. I esteem a dutiful daughter who makes her 
parents happy. 

Fanny's character I would take on second hand from nobody, 
least of all from her kind father, whose estimate of human nature 
in general inclines rather to what ought to be than to what is. 
Of Fanny I would judge for myself, and that not hastily nor on 
first impressions. 

I am glad to hear that Louisa has a chance of a presentation to 
Queen's College. I hope she will succeed. Do not, my clear sir, 
be indifferent be earnest about it. Come what may afterwards, 
an education secured is an advantage gained a priceless advan- 
tage. Come what may, it is a step towards independency, and 
one great curse of a single female life is its dependency, It does 
credit both to Louisa's heart and head that she herself wishes to 
get this presentation. Encourage her in the wish. Your daughters 
no more than your sons should be a burden on your hands. 
Your daughters as much as your sons should aim at making 
their way honourably through life. Do not wish to keep them at 
home. Believe me, teachers may be hard-worked, ill-paid, and 
despised, but the girl who stays at home doing nothing Is worse 
off than the hardest- wrought and worst-paid drudge of a school 
Whenever I have seen, not merely in humble, but in affluent 
homes, families of daughters sitting waiting to be married, I have 
pitied them from my heart. It is doubtless well very well if 
Fate decrees them a happy marriage ; but, if otherwise, give their 
existence some object, their time some occupation, or the peevish- 
ness of disappointment and the listlessness of idleness will Infal- 
libly degrade their nature. 

Should Louisa eventually go out as a governess, do not be un~ 

< SHIRLEY ' 59 

easy respecting her lot. The sketch you give of her character 
leads me to think she has a better chance of happiness than one 
in a hundred of her sisterhood. Of pleasing exterior (that is 
always an advantage children like it), good sense, obliging dis- 
position, cheerful, healthy, possessing a good average capacity, but 
no prominent master talent to make her miserable by its cravings 
for exercise, by its mutiny under restraint Louisa thus endowed 
will find the post of governess comparatively easy. If she be like 
her mother as you say she is and if, consequently, she is fond 
of children, and possesses tact for managing them, their care is her 
natural vocation she ought to be a governess. 

Your sketch of Braxborne, as it is and as it was, is sadly 
pleasing, I remember your first picture of it in a letter written a 
year ago only a year ago. I was in this room where I now am 
when I received it. I was not alone then. In those days your 
letters often served as a text for comment a theme for talk ; 
now, I read them, return them to their covers and put them away. 
Johnson, I think, makes mournful mention somewhere of the 
pleasure that accrues when we are ' solitary and cannot impart it' 
Thoughts, under such circumstances, cannot grow to words, 
impulses fail to ripen to actions. 

Lonely as I am, how should I be if Providence had never given 
me courage to adopt a career perseverance to plead through 
two long, weary years with publishers till they admitted me? 
How should I be with youth past, sisters lost, a resident in a 
moorland parish where there is not a single educated family? In 
that case I should have no world at all : the raven, weary of 
surveying the deluge, and without an ark to return to, would 
be my type. As it is, something like a hope and motive sustains 
me still I wish all your daughters I wish every woman in 
England, had also a hope and motive. Alas ! there are many old 
maids who have neither. Believe me, yours sincerely, 


Letter 359 


H AWORTH, /#/y 4#, 1849. 

I get on as well as I can. Home is not the home it used to be 
that you may well conceive ; but so far, I get on. 

I cannot boast of vast benefits derived from change of air yet; 


but unfortunately I brought back the seeds of a cold with me from 
that dismal Easton, and I have not got rid of it yet. Still I think 
I look better than I did before I went. How are you ? You have 
never told me. 

Mr. Williams has written to me twice since my return, chiefly 
on the subject of his third daughter, who wishes to be a governess, 
and has some chances of a presentation to Queen's College, an 
establishment connected with the Governess Institution ; this will 
secure her four years of instruction. He says Mr. George Smith 
is kindly using his influence to obtain votes, but there are so many 
candidates he is not sanguine of success. 

I had a long letter from Mary Taylor interesting but sad, 
because it contained many allusions to those who are in this 
world no more. She mentioned you, and seemed impressed with 
an idea of the lamentable nature of your unoccupied life. She 
spoke of her own health as being excellent 

Give my love to your mother and sisters, and, Believe me 
yours, C. B. 

Letter 360 


HAWORTH, July \tfh 1849. 

I do not much like giving you an account of myself. I like 
better to go out of myself, and talk of something more cheerful 
My cold, wherever I got it, whether at Easton or elsewhere, is not 
vanished yet It began in my head ; then I had a sore throat, 
and then a sore chest, with a cough, but only a trifling cough, 
which I still have at times. The pains between my shoulders 
likewise annoyed me much. Say nothing about it, for I confess 
I am too much disposed to be nervous. This nervousness is a 
horrid phantom. I dare communicate no ailment to papa ; his 
anxiety harasses me inexpressibly. 

My life is what I expected it to be. Sometimes when I wake 
in the morning, and know that Solitude, Remembrance, and 
Longing, are to be almost my sole companions all day through, 
that at night I shall go to bed with them, that they will keep me 
sleepless, that next morning I shall wake to them again ; some- 
times, Ellen, I have a heavy heart of it. But crushed I am not 
yet; nor robbed of elasticity, nor of hope, nor quite of endeavour, 


Still I have some strength to fight the battle of life. I am aware, 
and can acknowledge, I have many comforts, many mercies. Still 
I can get on. But I do hope and pray, that never may you, or 
any one I love, be placed as I am. To sit in a lonely room, the 
clock ticking loud through a still house, and to have open before 
the mind's eye the record of the last year, with its shocks, suffer- 
ings, losses, is a trial. 

I write to you freely, because I believe you will hear me with 
moderation, that you will not take alarm or think me in any way 
worse off than I am. My love to your mother and sisters, and 
believe me yours sincerely, C B. 

Letter 361 


July 24#, '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I enclose a $ note, which I hope you will 
receive safely, and will thank you to buy a patent shower-bath 
and such a boa and cuffs as you can get for the money I name. 
As to the colour of fur, I can only say I prefer grey or dark furs 
to the yellow and tawny kind. 

I am glad to hear Ann is going to be married soon. I dare not 
give advice about her dress, it is above me, you will settle all 
that as right as a trivet. When you marry I will give you your 
choice of two costumes, silver-grey and white or dove colour and 
pale pink. But I should say some shade of violet would be prefer- 
able, not that I understand the code of laws in these matters, in 
the least. I am truly glad to hear that R. R. is better. I have 
often thought of her, but did not like to ask lest I should hear 
bad news ; her symptoms seemed to me threatening. I shall not 
soon forget her face, so pretty, modest, sensitive^ that was the 
peculiar charm in my eyes ; pretty faces, modest faces, I see 
sometimes ; sensitive faces, seldom indeed. It was odd, in her 
sister's face I could not discover that trace of feeling ; had I found 
it, it would for me have given something better than beauty to 
her otherwise homely features. Wanting it, had I not known how 
amiable she is I should hardly have judged of her so favourably 
as she deserves. Yours truly, C. B. 

Louisa Williams has obtained her presentation. Poor Mary 


Letter 362 


July 26//r, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I must rouse myself to write a line to you, 
lest a more protracted silence should seem strange. 

Truly glad was I to hear of your daughter's success. I trust 
its results may conduce to the permanent advantage both of 
herself and her parents. 

Of still more importance than your children's education is your 
wife's health, and therefore it is still more gratifying to learn that 
your anxiety on that account is likely to be alleviated. For her 
own sake, no less than for that of others, it is to be hoped that 
she is now secured from a recurrence of her painful and dangerous 
attacks. It was pleasing, too, to hear of good qualities being 
developed in the daughters by the mother's danger, May your 
girls always so act as to justify their father's kind estimate of 
their characters; may they never do what might disappoint or 
grieve him ! 

Your suggestion relative to myself is a good one in some 
respects, but there are two persons whom it would not suit ; and 
not the least incommoded of these would be the young person 
whom I might request to come and bury herself in the hills of 
Haworth, to take a church and stony churchyard for her prospect, 
the dead silence of a village parsonage in which the tick of the 
clock is heard all day long for her atmosphere, and a grave 
silent spinster for her companion. I should not like to see youth 
thus immured. The hush and gloom of our house would be more 
oppressive to a buoy ant than to a subdued spirit The fact is, my 
work is my best companion ; hereafter I look for no great earthly 
comfort except what congenial occupation can give. For society, 
long seclusion has in a great measure unfitted me, I doubt whether 
I should enjoy it if I might have it Sometimes I think I should, 
and I thirst for it ; but at other times I doubt my capability of 
pleasing or deriving pleasure. The prisoner in solitary confine- 
ment, the toad in the block of marble, all in time shape themselves 
to their lot Yours sincerely, C BRONTE, 

6 SHIRLEY' 63 

Letter 363 


August $rd, '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have received the furs safely, I like the sables 
very much, and shall keep them, and ' to save them ' shall keep 
the squirrel, as you prudently suggested. I hope it is not too 
much like using the steel poker to save the brass one. I return 
Mary Gorham's letter, it is another page from the volume of life, 
and at the bottom is written ' Finis,' mournful word. Macaulay's 
History was only lent to myself; all the books I have from London 
I accept only as a loan, except in peculiar cases, where it is the 
author's wish I should possess his work. 

Do you think in a few weeks it will be possible for you to come 
to see me? I am only waiting to get my labour off my hands 
to permit myself the pleasure of asking you, 

I am sadly afraid Ann's marriage will come in the way. At our 
house you can read as much as you please. 

I have been much better, very free from oppression or irritation 
of the chest, during the last fortnight or ten days. Love to all. 
Good-bye, dear Nell, C. B. 

Letter 364 


August i6t&, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, Since I last wrote to you I have been getting 
on with my book as well as I can, and I think I may now venture 
to say that in a few weeks I hope to have the pleasure of placing 
the MS. in the hands of Mr. Smith. 

The North British Review duly reached me. I read attentively 
all it says about E. Wyndham, Jane Eyre, and F. Hervey. Much 
of the article is clever, and yet there are remarks which for me 
rob it of importance. 

To value praise or stand in awe of blame we must respect the 
source whence the praise and blame proceed, and I do not respect 
an inconsistent critic. He says, ' if Jane Eyre be the production of 
a woman, she must be a woman unsexed.' 

In that case the book is an unredeemed error and should be 
unreservedly condemned. Jane Eyre is a woman's autobiography, 
by a woman it is professedly written. If it is written as no woman 
would write, condemn it with spirit and decision say it is bad, but 


do not eulogise and then detract. I am reminded of the Economist. 
The literary critic of that paper praised the book if written by a 
man, and pronounced it c odious ' if the work of a woman. 

To such critics I would say, ( To you I am neither man nor 

woman I come before you as an author only. It is the sole 

standard by which you have a right to judge me the sole ground 
on which I accept your judgment.' 

There is a weak comment, having no pretence either to justice 
or discrimination, on the works of Ellis and Acton Bell. The 
critic did not know that those writers had passed from time and 
life. I have read no review since either of my sisters died which I 
could have wished them to read none even which did not render 
the thought of their departure more tolerable to me. To hear 
myself praised beyond them was cruel, to hear qualities ascribed 
to them so strangely the reverse of their real characteristics was 
scarce supportable. It is sad even now ; but they are so remote 
from earth, so safe from its turmoils, I can bear it better. 

But on one point do I now feel vulnerable ; I should grieve to 
see my father's peace of mind perturbed on my account ; for which 
reason I keep my author's existence as much as possible out of 
his way. I have always given him a carefully diluted and modi- 
fied account of the success of Jane Eyre just what would please 
without startling him. The book is not mentioned between us 
once a month. The Quarterly I kept to myself it would have 
worried papa. To that same Quarterly I must speak in the 
introduction to my present work just one little word, You 
once, I remember, said that the review was written by a lady 
Miss Rigby. Are you sure of this ? 

Give no hint of my intention of discoursing a little with the 
Quarterly. It would look too important to speak of it before- 
hand. All plans are best conceived and executed without noise. 
Believe me, yours sincerely, C B, 

Letter 365 


August 2U/, 1849, 

MY DEAR SIR, I can only write very briefly at present first 
to thank you for your interesting letter and the graphic description 
it contained of the neighbourhood where you have been staying, 
and then to decide about the title of the book. 

< SHIRLEY ' 65 

If I remember rightly, my Cornhill critics objected to Hollow s 
Mitt, nor do I now find it appropriate. It might rather be called 
Fieldhead, though I think Shirley would perhaps be the best title, 
Shirley, I fancy, has turned out the most prominent and peculiar 
character in the work. 

Cornhill may decide between Fieldhead and Shirley. Believe 
me, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 366 


August 2,yd, 1849. 

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

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

From what you say of Mr. Clapham, I think I should like him 
very much. Ann wants shaking to be put out about his appear- 
ance. 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 a small present Give me a hint 
what would be acceptable. 

I suppose you have not yet heard anything more of poor 
Mr. Gorham. 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 brides-maid gear. 



Letter 367 


Augtist 24^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I think the best title for the book would be 
Shirley, without any explanation or addition the simpler and 
briefer, the better. 

If Mr. Taylor calls here on his return to town he might take 
charge of the MS. ; I would rather intrust it to him than send it 
by the ordinary conveyance. Did I see Mr. Taylor when I was 
in London ? I cannot remember him. 

I would with pleasure offer him the homely hospitalities of the 
Parsonage for a few days, if I could at the same time offer him 
the company of a brother, or if my father were young enough and 
strong enough to walk with him on the moors and show him the 
neighbourhood, or if the peculiar retirement of papa's habits were 
not such as to render it irksome to him to give much of his society 
to a stranger, even in the house. Without being in the least 
misanthropical or sour-natured, papa habitually prefers solitude to 
society, and custom is a tyrant whose fetters it would now be 
impossible for him to break. Were it not for difficulties of this 
sort, I believe I should ere this have asked you to come down to 
Yorkshire, Papa, I know, would receive any friend of Mr, Smith's 
with perfect kindness and goodwill, but I likewise know that, 
unless greatly put out of his way, he could not give a guest much 
of his company, and that, consequently, his entertainment would 
be but dull. 

You will see the force of these considerations, and understand 
why I only ask Mr. Taylor to come for a day instead of requesting 
the pleasure of his company for a longer period ; you will believe 
me also, and so will he, when I say I shall be most happy to see 
him. He will find Haworth a strange, uncivilised little place, such 
as, I dare say, he never saw before. It is twenty miles distant from 
Leeds ; he will have to come by rail to Keighley (there are trains 
every two hours I believe). He must remember that at a station 
called Shipley the carriages are changed, otherwise they will take 
him on to Skipton or Colne, or I know not where. When he 
reaches Keighley, he will yet have four miles to travel ; a con- 
veyance may be hired at the Devonshire Arms there Is no coach 
or other regular communication. 

I should like to hear from him before he comes, and to know 

' SHIRLEY ' 67 

on what day to expect him, that I may have the MS. ready ; 
if it is not quite finished I might send the concluding chapter or 
two by post. 

I advise you to send this letter to Mr. Taylor it will save you 
the trouble of much explanation, and will serve to apprise him of 
what lies before him ; he can then weigh well with himself whether 
it would suit him to take so much trouble for so slight an end. 
Believe me, my dear sir, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 368 


August 29//, 1849. 

DEAR SIR, The book is now finished (thank God) and ready 
for Mr. Taylor, but I have not yet heard from him. I thought I 
should be able to tell whether it was equal to Jane Eyre or not, 
but I find I cannot it may be better, it may be worse. I shall 
be curious to hear your opinion, my own is of no value. I send 
the Preface or ' Word to the Quarterly ' for your perusal. 

Whatever now becomes of the work, the occupation of writing 
it has been a boon to me. It took me out of dark and desolate 
reality into an unreal but happier region. The worst of it is, 
my eyes are grown somewhat weak and my head somewhat weary 
and prone to ache with close work. You can write nothing of 
value unless you give yourself wholly to the theme, and when you 
so give yourself you lose appetite and sleep it cannot be helped. 

At what time does Mr. Smith intend to bring the book out? 
It is his now. I hand it and all the trouble and care and anxiety 
over to him a good riddance, only I wish he fairly had it. Yours 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 369 


August 31^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I cannot change my preface. I can shed no 
tears before the public, nor utter any groan in the public ear. 
The deep, real tragedy of our domestic experience is yet terribly 
fresh in my mind and memory. It is not a time to be talked 
about to the indifferent ; it is not a topic for allusion to in print. 

No righteous indignation can I lavish on the Quarterly. \ can 


condescend but to touch it with the lightest satire. Believe me, 
my dear sir, 'C. Bronte' must not here appear; what she feels or 
has felt is not the question it is 'Currer Bell J who was insulted 
he must reply. Let Mr. Smith fearlessly print the preface I 
have sent let him depend upon me this once; even if I prove 
a broken reed, his fall cannot be dangerous : a preface is a short 
distance, it is not three volumes. 

I have always felt certain that it is a deplorable error in an 
author to assume the tragic tone in addressing the public about 
his own wrongs or griefs. What does the public care about him 
as an individual? His wrongs are its sport ; his griefs would be 
a bore. What we deeply feel is our own we must keep it to our- 
selves. Ellis and Acton Bell were, for me, Emily and Anne ; my 
sisters to me intimately near, tenderly dear to the public they 
were nothing worse than nothing beings speculated upon, mis- 
understood, misrepresented. If I live, the hour may come when 
the spirit will move me to speak of them, but it is not come yet. 
I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely, C BRONTiL 

Letter 370 


September $rd, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, It will be convenient to my father and myself 
to secure your visit on Saturday the 8th inst. 
The MS. is now complete, and ready for you. 
Trusting that you have enjoyed your holiday and derived from 
your excursion both pleasure and profit, I am, dear sir, yours 
sincerely, C, BRONTE. 

Letter 371 


September io&&, 1849, 

DEAR SIR, Your advice is very good, and yet I cannot follow 
it : I cannot alter now. It sounds absurd, but so it is* 

The circumstances of Shirley's being nervous on such a matter 
may appear incongruous because I fear it is not well managed ; 
otherwise it is perfectly natural. In such minds, such odd points, 
such queer unexpected inconsistent weaknesses are found 
perhaps there never was an ardent poetic temperament, however 
healthy, quite without them ; but they never communicate them 


unless forced, they have a suspicion that the terror is absurd, and 
keep it hidden. Still the thing is badly managed, and I bend my 
head and expect in resignation what, here^ I know I deserve the 
lash of criticism. I shall wince when it falls, but not scream. 

You are right about Goethe, you are very right he is clear, deep, 
but very cold. I acknowledge him great, but cannot feel him genial. 

You mention the literary coteries. To speak the truth, I recoil 
from them, though I long to see some of the truly great literary 
characters. However, this is not to be yet I cannot sacrifice my 
incognito. And let me be content with seclusion it has its 
advantages. In general, indeed, I am tranquil, it is only now and 
then that a struggle disturbs me that I wish for a wider world 
than Haworth. When it is past, Reason tells me how unfit I am 
for anything very different Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 372 


September loth^ 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, My piece of work is at last finished, and 
despatched to its destination. You must now tell me when there 
is a chance of your being able to come here. I fear it will now 
be difficult to arrange, as it is so near the marriage-day. Note 
well, it would spoil all my pleasure, if you put yourself or any 
one else to inconvenience to come to Haworth. But when it is 
convenient, I shall be truly glad to see you. I thought the 
patterns you sent charming, and all quite appropriate. . . . Papa, 
I am thankful to say, is better, though not strong. He is often 
troubled with a sensation of nausea. My cold is very much less 
troublesome, I am sometimes quite free from it. A few days 
since, I had a severe bilious attack, the consequence of sitting too 
closely to my writing; but it is gone now. It is the first from 
which I have suffered since my return from the seaside, I had 
them every month before. I hope you are pretty well and also 
your mother and sisters. Yours sincerely, C. B. 

Letter 373 


September 13^, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, If duty and the well-being of others require 
that you should stay at home, I cannot permit myself to complain, 


still I am very, very sorry that circumstances will not permit us 
to meet just now. I would, without hesitation, come to Brookroyd, 
if papa were stronger ! but uncertain as are both his health and 
spirits ) I could not prevail on myself to leave him now. Let us 
hope that when we do see each other, our meeting will be all the 
more pleasurable for being delayed. Tell Mercy to keep up her 
spirits. I believe the general effect of the sea is to make people 
feel somewhat queer for the first fortnight or so after their return 
home. Dear Nell, you certainly have a heavy burden laid on your 
shoulders, but such burdens, if well borne, benefit the character ; 
only we must take the greatest, closest, most watchful care not to 
grow proud of our strength, in case we should be enabled to bear 
up under the trial. That pride, indeed, would be a sign of radical 
weakness. The strength, if strength we have, is certainly never 
in our own selves ; it is given us. Let me know when you go to 
Leeds, 1 will then commission you about the card-case. Would 
i buy a nice one? I should like it to be a really nice one. 
Amelia Rmgrose wrote me a very kind note, which shameful to 
say, I have not answered. She will form a bad opinion of me, and 
I deserve it I was glad to hear that Rosy was better, I should 
be tempted to make a pet of that Rosy, to spoil her, and I dare 
say, like poor Martha Taylor, she might soon be spoiled. Engag- 
ing as I think her, I ascribe to her no great or profound qualities. 
Write to me when you find a corner of time. Remember me to 
your mother, Yours, C. B. 

PS. Be as forbearing with Mercy as you can. I dare say there 
mixes in her feelings just now some little sense of bitterness that 
she, too, is not going to be married. It is a pity if such is the 
case, but for oae of her habits of thought it is natural 

Poor Mr. Glinger's long and tedious illness prepares the survivors 
for the last scene ; perhaps it may, but it is a painful preparation. 

Letter 374 


September 13^, 1849* 

MY BEAR SIR, I want to know your opinion of the subject of 
this proof-sheet. Mr. Taylor censured it; he considers as de- 
fective all that portion which relates to Shirley's nervousness the 
bite of a dog, etc. How did it strike you on reading it? 
I ask this though I well know it cannot now be altered, I can 

' SHIRLEY' 71 

work indefatigably at the correction of a work before it leaves my 
hands, but when once I have looked on it as completed and 
submitted to the inspection of others, it becomes next to im- 
possible to alter or amend. With the heavy suspicion on my 
mind that all may not be right, I yet feel forced to put up with 
the inevitably wrong. 

Reading has, of late, been my great solace and recreation. I 
have read J. C. Hare's Guesses at Truth^ a book containing things 
that in depth and far-sought wisdom sometimes recall the 
Thoughts of Pascal, only it is as the light of the moon recalls 
that of the sun. 

I have read with pleasure a little book on English Social Life 
by the wife of Archbishop Whately. Good and intelligent women 
write well on such subjects. This lady speaks of governesses. I 
was struck by the contrast offered in her manner of treating the 
topic to that of Miss Rigby in the Quarterly. How much finer 
the feeling how much truer the feeling how much more delicate 
the mind here revealed ! 

I have read David Copperfield\ it seems to me very good 
admirable in some parts. You said it had affinity to Jane. Eyre. 
It has, now and then only what an advantage has Dickens in 
his varied knowledge of men and things ! I am beginning to read 
Eckermann's Goethe it promises to be a most interesting work. 
Honest, simple, single-minded Eckermann! Great, powerful, 
giant-souled, but also profoundly egotistical, old Johann Wolfgang 
von Goethe ! He was a mighty egotist I see he was : he 
thought no more of swallowing up poor Eckermann's existence 
in his own than the whale thought of swallowing Jonah. 

The worst of reading graphic accounts of such men, of seeing 
graphic pictures of the scenes, the society, in which they moved, is 
that it excites a too tormenting longing to look on the reality. 
But does such reality now exist ? Amidst all the troubled waters 
of European society does such a vast, strong, selfish, old Leviathan 
now roll ponderous ! I suppose not Believe me, yours sincerely, 


Letter 375 


September 15^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, You observed that the French of Shirley might 
be cavilled at There is a long paragraph written In the French 


language in that chapter entitled ' Le cheval dompt<.' I forget 
the number. I fear it will have a pretentious air. If you deem 
it advisable and will return the chapter, I will efface and substitute 
something else in English. Yours sincerely, 


Letter 376 


September ijtfi, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your letter gave me great pleasure. An author 
who has showed his book to none, held no consultation about 
plan, subject, characters, or incidents, asked and had no opinion 
from one living being, but fabricated it darkly in the silent work- 
shop of his own brain such an author awaits with a singular 
feeling the report of the first impression produced by his creation 
in a quarter where he places confidence, and truly glad he is when 
that report proves favourable. 

Do you think this book will tend to strengthen the idea that 
Currer Bell is a woman, or will it favour a contrary opinion ? 

I return the proof-sheets. Will they print all the French 
phrases in italics? I hope not, it makes them look somehow 
obtrusively conspicuous. 

I have no time to add more lest I should be too late for the 
post. Yours sincerely, C. BRONTii. 

Letter 377 


September zo^fc, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, It is time I answered the note which I received 
from you last Thursday ; I should have replied to it before had I 
not been kept mc-re than usually engaged by the presence of a 
clergyman in the house, and the indisposition of one of our servants. 

As you may conjecture, it cheered and pleased me much to 
learn that the opinion of my friends in Cornhill was favourable to 
Shirley that, on the whole, it was considered no falling off from 
fane Eyre. I am trying, however, not to encourage too sanguine 
an expectation of a favourable reception by the public : the seeds 
of prejudice have been sown, and I suppose the produce will have 
to be reaped but we shall see, 

'SHIRLEY 5 73 

I read with pleasure Friends in Council, and with very great 
pleasure The Thoughts and Opinions of a Statesman. It is the 
record of what may with truth be termed a beautiful mind - 
serene, harmonious, elevated, and pure ; it bespeaks, too, a heart 
full of kindness and sympathy. I like it much. 

Papa has been pretty well during the past week. He begs to 
join me in kind remembrances to yourself. Believe me, my dear 
sir, yours very sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 378 


September 2ist, 1849. 

MY DEAR SlR, I am obliged to you for preserving my secret, 
being at least as anxious as ever (more anxious I cannot well be) 
to keep quiet. You asked me in one of your letters lately 
whether I thought I should escape identification in Yorkshire, 
I am so little known that I think I shall. Besides, the book is 
far less founded on the Real than perhaps appears. It would be 
difficult to explain to you how little actual experience I have had 
of life, how few persons I have known, and how very few have 
known me. 

As an instance how the characters have been managed take 
that of Mr. Helstone. If this character had an original it was in 
the person of a clergyman who died some years since at the 
advanced age of eighty. I never saw him except once at the 
consecration of a church when I was a child of ten years old. I 
was then struck with his appearance and stern, martial air. At 
a subsequent period I heard him talked about in the neighbour- 
hood where he had resided : some mentioned him with enthusiasm, 
others with detestation. I listened to various anecdotes, balanced 
evidence against evidence, and drew an inference. The original 
of Mr. Hall I have seen ; he knows me slightly ; but he would as 
soon think I had closely observed him or taken him for a character 
he would as soon, indeed, suspect me of writing a book a 
novel as he would his dog Prince. Margaret Hall called Jane 
Eyre a l wicked book/ on the authority of the Quarterly ; an 
expression which, coming from her, I will here confess, struck 
somewhat deep. It opened my eyes to the harm the Quarterly 
had done. Margaret would not have called it ' wicked ' if she had 
not been told so. 


No matter whether known or unknown misjudged or the 

contrary I am resolved not to write otherwise. I shall bend as 

my powers tend. The two human beings who understood me, 
and whom I understood, are gone, I have some that love me yet, 
and whom I love without expecting, or having a right to expect, 
that they shall perfectly understand me. I am satisfied ; but I 
must have my own way in the matter of writing. The loss of 
what we possess nearest and dearest to us in this world produces 
an effect upon the character : we search out what we have yet left 
that can support, and, when found, we cling to it with a hold of 
new-strung tenacity. The faculty of imagination lifted me when 
I was sinking, three months ago ; its active exercise has kept my 
head above water since ; its results cheer me now, for I feel they 
have enabled me to give pleasure to others, I am thankful to 
God, who gave me the faculty ; and it is for me a part of my 
religion to defend this gift and to profit by its possession.' Yours 

Letter 379 


September 24^, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, You have to fight your way through labour 
and difficulty it appears, but I am truly glad now you did not 
come to Haworth. As matters have turned out, you would have 
found only discomfort and gloom. Both Tabby and Martha are 
at this moment ill in bed. Martha's illness has been most serious ; 
she was seized with inflammation ten days ago. Tabby can 
neither stand nor walk. I have one of Martha's sisters, and her 
mother comes up sometimes. There was one day last week when 
I fairly broke down for ten minutes, sat and cried like a fool 
Martha's illness was at its height, a cry from Tabby had called 
me into the kitchen and I found her laid on the floor, her head 
under the grate; she had fallen from her chair in attempting 
to rise. Papa had just been declaring that Martha was in 
imminent danger. I was myself depressed with headache and 
sickness. That day I hardly knew what to do, or where to turn. 
Thank God! Martha is now convalescent; Tabby, I trust, will 
be better soon. Papa is pretty well. I have the satisfaction 
of knowing that my publishers are delighted with what I sent 

* SHIRLEY 3 75 

them. This supports. But life is a battle. May we all be 
enabled to fight it well Yours faithfully, C. B. 

This letter reflects all the melancholy aspects of a home 
where comparative penury prevails. It is striking by the 
light of the opulence that would come to a novelist of our 
day who had written a book as successful as Jane Eyre. 
He or she would be certain not of ^500, but at least of 
^5000, and a royalty on a second novel that would secure 
every personal comfort. Yet no particular blame can be 
attached to her publishers who, as the practices of the 
profession then were, seem to have treated her generously. 
At any rate there were no rival offers of large sums as 
would assuredly be the case to-day. Charlotte Bronte 
received fifteen hundred pounds in all for the copyright 
of her three novels, Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette. 
The manuscript of Jane Eyre, which has been preserved, 
would easily fetch a thousand pounds in the sale-rooms 
to-day. Some hundreds of pounds have been offered 
for it. 

Letter 380 


September 28^, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, Martha is now almost well, and Tabby much 
better. A huge monster-package from ( Nelson, Leeds,' came 
yesterday. You want chastising roundly and soundly ; such are 
the thanks for all your trouble. 

I congratulate both you and Ann on the business being well 
over. May the married pair be happy and never regret their union ! 

I see by the paper Mr. A is married at last, and poor R. T. is 

dead. Mr. G too, it seems, has done with this life and its 

sorrows ; doubtless, likewise, he has exchanged its joys for a better 
and more perfect portion. Whenever you come to Haworth you 
shall certainly have a thorough drenching in your own shower- 
bath. I have not yet unpacked the wretch. Yours, as you 
deserve, C. B. 


Letter 381 


September i^th) 1849. 

DEAR SIR, I have made the alteration ; but I have made it 
to please Cornhill, not the public nor the critics. 

I am sorry to say Newby does know my real name. I wish he 
did not, but that cannot be helped. Meantime, though I earnestly 
wish to preserve my incognito, I live under no slavish fear of 
discovery, I am ashamed of nothing I have written not a line. 

The envelope containing the first proof and your letter had 
been received open at the General Post Office and repealed there. 
Perhaps it was accident, but I think it better to inform you of the 
circumstance. Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 382 


October l$t, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am chagrined about the envelope being 
opened : I see it is the work of prying curiosity, and now it would 
be useless to make a stir what mischief is to be apprehended is 
already done. It was not done at Haworth. I know the people 
of the post-office there, and am sure they would not venture on 
such a step ; besides, the Haworth people have long since set me 
down as bookish and quiet, and trouble themselves no farther 
about me. But the gossiping inquisitiveness of small towns is rife at 
Keighley ; there they are sadly puzzled to guess why I never visit, 
encourage no overtures to acquaintance, and always stay at home. 
Those packets passing backwards and forwards by the post have 
doubtless aggravated their curiosity. Well, I am sorry, but I shall 
try to wait patiently and not vex myself too much, come what will 
I am glad you like the English substitute for the French devoir* 
The parcel of books came on Saturday. I write to Mr. Taylor 
by this post to acknowledge Its receipt His opinion of Shirley 
seems in a great measure to coincide with yours, only he expresses 
it rather differently to you, owing to the difference in your casts of 
mind. Are you not different on some points ? Yours sincerely, 


' SHIRLEY' 77 

Letter 383 


October 4^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I must not thank you for, but acknowledge the 
receipt of, your letter. The business is certainly very bad ; worse 
than I thought, and much worse than my father has any idea of. 
In fact, the little railway property I possessed, according to 
original prices, formed already a small competency for me, with 
my views and habits. Now scarcely any portion of it can, with 
security, be calculated upon. I must open this view of the case to 
my father by degrees ; and, meanwhile, wait patiently till I see 
how affairs are likely to turn. . . . However the matter may 
terminate, I ought perhaps to be rather thankful than dissatisfied 
When I look at my own case, and compare it with that of 
thousands besides, I scarcely see room for a murmur. Many, 
very many, are by the late strange railway system deprived almost 
of their daily bread. Such, then, as have only lost provision laid 
up for the future should take care how they complain. The 
thought that Shirley has given pleasure at Cornhill yields me 
much quiet comfort. No doubt, however, you are, as I am, 
prepared for critical severity ; but I have good hopes that the 
vessel is sufficiently sound of construction to weather a gale or 
two, and to make a prosperous voyage for you in the end. 


Letter 384 


November isf, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I reached home yesterday, and found your 
letter and one from Mr. Lewes, and one from the Peace Congress 
Committee, awaiting my arrival. The last document it is now too 
late to answer, for it was an invitation to Currer Bell to appear 
on the platform at their meeting at Exeter Hall last Tuesday ! 
A wonderful figure Mr. Currer Bell would have cut under such 
circumstances! Should the 'Peace Congress' chance to read 
Shirley they will wash their hands of its author. 

I am glad to hear that Mr. Thackeray is better, but I did not 


know he had been seriously ill, I thought it was only a literary 
indisposition, You must tell me what he thinks of Shirley if he 
gives you any opinion on the subject. 

I am also glad to hear that Mr. Smith is pleased with the com- 
mercial prospects of the work. I try not to be anxious about its 
literary fate ; and if I cannot be quite stoical, I think I am still 
tolerably resigned. 

Mr. Lewes does not like the opening chapter, wherein he 
resembles you. 

I have permitted myself the treat of spending the last week 
with my friend Ellen, Her residence is in a far more populous 
and stirring neighbourhood than this. Whenever I go there I 
am unavoidably forced into society clerical society chiefly. 

During my late visit I have too often had reason, sometimes 
in a pleasant, sometimes in a painful form, to fear that I no longer 
walk invisible. Jane Eyre, it appears, has been read all over the 
district a fact of which I never dreamt a circumstance of which 
the possibility never occurred to me. I met sometimes with new 
deference, with augmented kindness : old schoolfellows and old 
teachers, too, greeted me with generous warmth* And again, 
ecclesiastical brows lowered thunder at me. When I confronted 
one or two large-made priests, I longed for the battle to come on. 
I wish they would speak out plainly. You must not understand 
that my schoolfellows and teachers were of the Clergy Daughters* 
School in fact, I was never there but for one little year as a very 
little girl. I am certain I have long been forgotten ; though for 
myself, I remember all and everything clearly : early impressions 
are ineffaceable. 

I have just received the Daily News. Let me speak the truth 
when I read it my heart sickened over it It is not a good 
review, it is unutterably false. If Shirley strikes all readers as it 
has struck that one, but I shall not say what follows. 

On the whole I am glad a decidedly bad notice has come first 
a notice whose inexpressible ignorance first stuns and then stirs 
me. Are there no such men as the Helstones and Yorkcs? 

Yes, there are. 

Is the first chapter disgusting or vulgar? 

It is not) it is real. 

As for the praise of such a critic, I find it silly and nauseous, 
and I scorn it 

Were my sisters now alive they and I would laugh over this 


notice ; but they sleep, they will wake no more for me, and I am 
a fool to be so moved by what is not worth a sigh. Believe me, 
yours sincerely, C. B. 

You must spare me if I seem hasty, I fear I really am not so 
firm as I used to be, nor so patient. Whenever any shock comes, 
I feel that almost all supports have been withdrawn. 

Letter 385 


November tst> '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I reached home safely about 3 o'clock. You 
too would have fine weather for your journey, to-day it is wet and 
foggy, so it is well I did not stay. 

I found papa very well, Tabby better, and Martha quite fat and 
strong, for which state of things I was most thankful. Some 
letters were awaiting my arrival ; I enclose one for your perusal, 
which may perhaps amuse you. Send it back. All the house 
with one voice inquired after you. Also many questions were 
asked about the Bride. Be sure when you write to tell me how 
Amelia Ringrose is. In haste, Yours, C. B. 

I send two letters, one from the Peace Congress to Currer 
Bell ! The other from Williams. 

Letter 386 


November ij-/, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, It is about a year and a half since you wrote 
to me ; but it seems a longer period, because since then it has 
been my lot to pass some black milestones in the journey of life. 
Since then there have been intervals when I have ceased to care 
about literature and critics and fame ; when I have lost sight of 
whatever was prominent in my thoughts at the first publication 
of Jane Eyre; but now I want these things to come back vividly, 
if possible : consequently it was a pleasure to receive your note. 
I wish you did not think me a woman. I wish all reviewers 
believed ' Currer Bell ' to be a man ; they would be more just to 
him. You will, I know, keep measuring me by some standard of 


what you deem becoming to my sex ; where I am not what you 
consider graceful you will condemn me. All mouths will be open 
against that first chapter, and that first chapter is as true as the 
Bible, nor is it exceptionable. Come what will, I cannot, when 
I write, think always of myself and of what is elegant and 
charming in femininity ; it is not on those terms, or with such ideas, 
I ever took pen in hand : and if it is only on such terms my 
writing will be tolerated, I shall pass away from the public and 
trouble it no more, Out of obscurity I came, to obscurity I can 
easily return. Standing afar off, I now watch to see what will 
become of Shirley. My expectations are very low, and my antici- 
pations somewhat sad and bitter ; still, I earnestly conjure you to 
say honestly what you think ; flattery would be worse than vain ; 
there is no consolation in flattery. As for condemnation, I cannot, 
on reflection, see why I should much fear it ; there is no one but 
myself to suffer therefrom, and both happiness and suffering in 
this life soon pass away. Wishing you all success in your Scottish 
expedition, I am, dear sir, yours sincerely, C. BKLL. 

Letter 387 


November 5*$, 1849, 

DEAR ELLEN, I am afraid by Amelia's account you were 
sadly fagged with your expedition to Leeds with me. I shall be 
interested in hearing your account of the visit to Himsworth. 

The Station people in our part of the world have a strange 
notion of the proper plan of discharging their duties. My parcel 
of copies from London has been lying at Bradford for nearly a 
week. When I sent for it, they made answer there was none. It 
is only just now I have got it. I will (D.v.) send you two copies 
on Thursday, one for yourself and one for Mary Gorham, I shall 
order the parcel to be left at the Commercial Inn. 

Hoping to hear from you soon again, I am, dear Nell, yours 
faithfully, C, BRONT& 

My chest has felt much better since I came home I think 
change of air or weather occasioned greater irritation than usual 
while I was at Brookroyd I think of you and Amelia often : 
sometimes I do wish I was near enough to step in and spend the 
evenings with you. 


Letter 388 


November 5/^ 5 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I did not receive the parcel of copies till 
Saturday evening. Everything sent by Bradford is long in 
reaching me. It is, I think, better to direct : Keighley. I was 
very much pleased with the appearance and getting up of the 
book ; it looks well. 

I have got the Examiner and your letter. You are very good 
not to be angry with me, for I wrote in Indignation and grief. 
The critic of the Daily News struck me as to the last degree in- 
competent, ignorant, and flippant. A thrill of mutiny went all 
through me when I read his small effusion. To be judged by 
such a one revolted me. I ought, however, to have controlled 
myself, and I did not. I am willing to be judged by the 
Examiner I like the Examiner. Fonblanque has power, he has 
discernment I bend to his censorship, I am grateful for his 
praise ; his blame deserves consideration ; when he approves, I 
permit myself a moderate emotion of pride. Am I wrong in 
supposing that critique to be written by Mr. Fonblanque ? But 
whether It is by him or Forster, I am thankful. 

In reading the critiques of the other papers when I get them 
I will try to follow your advice and preserve my equanimity. 
But I cannot be sure of doing this, for I had good resolutions and 
intentions before, and, you see, I failed. 

You ask me if I am related to Nelson. No, I never heard that 
I was. The rumour must have originated in our name resembling 
his title. I wonder who that former schoolfellow of mine was that 
told Mr. Lewes, or how she had been enabled to identify Currer 
Bell with C. Bronte. She could not have been a Cowan Bridge 
girl, none of them can possibly remember me. They might 
remember my eldest sister, Maria ; her prematurely-developed 
and remarkable intellect, as well as the mildness, wisdom, and 
fortitude of her character, might have left an indelible impression 
on some observant rnind amongst her companions. My second 
sister, Elizabeth, too, may perhaps be remembered, but I cannot 
conceive that I left a trace behind me. My career was a very 
quiet one. I was plodding and industrious, perhaps I was very 



grave, for I suffered to see my sisters perishing, but I think I was 
remarkable for nothing, Believe, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 


Letter 389 


November 6tk, r 849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am afraid Mr. Williams told you I was 
sadly 'put out' about the Daily News, and I believe it is to that 
circumstance I owe your letters. But I have now made good 
resolutions, which were tried this morning by another notice in 
the same style in the Observer. The praise of such critics 
mortifies more than their blame; an author who becomes the 
object of it cannot help momentarily wishing he had never 
written. And to speak of the press being still ignorant of my 
being a woman ! Why can they not be content to take Currcr 
Bell for a man ? 

I imagined, mistakenly it now appears, that Shirley bore fewer 
traces of a female hand than Jane Eyre ; that I have misjudged 
disappoints me a little, though I cannot exactly see where the 
error lies. You keep to your point about the curates. Since you 
think me to blame, you do right to tell me so. I rather fancy I 
shall be left in a minority of one on that subject. 

I was indeed very much interested in the books you sent 
Eckermann's Conversations with Goethe, Guesses at Truth, Friends 
in Council, and the little work on English social life pleased me 
particularly, and the last not least. We sometimes take a 
partiality to books as to characters, not on account of any 
brilliant intellect or striking peculiarity they boast, but for the 
sake of something good, delicate, and genuine. I thought that 
small book the production of a lady, and an amiable, sensible 
woman, and I like it. 

You must not think of selecting any more works for me yet, my 
stock is still far from exhausted. 

I accept your offer respecting $&Athen&um\ it is a paper I 
should like much to see, providing you can send it without 
trouble. It shall be punctually returned. 

Papa's health has, I am thankful to say, been very satisfactory 

' SHIRLEY 5 83 

of late, The other day he walked to Keighley and back, and was 
very little fatigued. I am myself pretty well. 

With thanks for your kind letter and good wishes, Believe me, 
yours sincerely, C BRONTE. 

Letter 390 


November i$tk, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have received since I wrote last the Globe, 
Standard of Freedom, Britannia, Economist, and Weekly Chronicle. 

How is Shirley getting on, and what is now the general feeling 
respecting the work ? 

As far as I can judge from the tone of the newspapers, it seems 
that those who were most charmed with Jane Eyre are the least 
pleased with Shirley, they are disappointed at not finding the 
same excitement, interest, stimulus ; while those who spoke dis- 
paragingly of Jane Eyre like Shirley a little better than her 
predecessor, I suppose its dryer matter suits their dryer minds. 
But I feel that the fiat for which I wait does not depend on 
newspapers, except, indeed, such newspapers as the Examiner. 
The monthlies and quarterlies will pronounce it, I suppose. Mere 
novel-readers, it is evident, think Shirley something of a failure. 
Still, the majority of the notices have on the whole been 
favourable. That in the Standard of Freedom was very kindly 
expressed ; and coming from a dissenter, William Howitt, I 
wonder thereat. 

Are you satisfied at Cornhill, or the contrary ? I have read 
part of The Caxtons, and, when I have finished, will tell you what 
I think of it ; meantime, I should very much like to hear your 
opinion. Perhaps I shall keep mine till I see you, whenever that 
may be. 

I am trying by degrees to inure myself to the thought of some 
day stepping over to Keighley, taking the train to Leeds, thence 
to London, and once more venturing to set foot in the strange, 
busy whirl of the Strand and Cornhill. I want to talk to you a 
little and to hear by word of mouth how matters are progressing. 
Whenever I come, I must come quietly and but for a short time 
I should be unhappy to leave papa longer than a fortnight- 
Believe me, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 


Letter 391 


November i6///, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, Amelia's letter gave me a full and true account 
of your visit to Hunsworth. It was really very interesting and 
very well written. All the little details so nicely put in, making 
such a graphic whole. I can gather from it that she was an object 
of special attention. Joe Taylor has written to me to ask an 
opinion of Miss Ringrose. Perhaps you hacl better not tell her 
this. It might embarrass her painfully when he sees her again, 
and he is certain to call. I gave him a faithful opinion. I said 
she was what I called truly amiable, actively useful, genuinely 
good-natured, sufficiently sensible, neither unobservant nor 
without discrimination, but not highly intellectual, brilliant or 
profound. I did not, of course, say whether I thought she would 
suit him or not. I did not treat the subject as if I suspected 
he had any thoughts of her, I simply answered his question 
without the slightest comment. 

You are not to suppose any of the characters in Shirley intended 
as literal portraits. It would not suit the rules of art, nor my own 
feelings, to write in that style. We only suffer reality to suggest, 
never to dictate. The heroines are abstractions, and the heroes 
also. Qualities I have seen, loved, and admired, are here and 
there put in as decorative gems, to be preserved in that setting. 
Since you say you could recognise the originals of all except the 
heroines, pray whom did you suppose the two Moorcs to repre- 
sent ? I send you a couple of reviews ; the one in the Examiner 
is written by Albany Fonblanque, who is called the most brilliant 
political writer of the day, a man whose dictum is much thought 
of in London. The other, in the Standard of Freedom, is written 
by William Howitt, a Quaker ! You must take care of the papers, 
bring them with you when you come to Haworth. I have some 
thoughts of getting my London trip over before you come, and 
then I shall have something to tell you. Amelia gives only a 
poor account of you. Take care of yourself. I have the dress- 
maker with me just now. I don't know how I shall like her, 
Her manners, etc., are not to my taste. Whether she is ' a good 
hand' I don't yet know. I should be pretty well, if it were not 
for headaches and indigestion. My chest has been better lately, 
Good-bye for the present. Yours faithfully, C. B. 


Letter 392 


November 192^, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am very sorry to hear that Mr. Taylor's 
illness has proved so much more serious than was anticipated, 
but I do hope he is now better. That he should be quite well 
cannot be as yet expected, for I believe rheumatic fever is a com- 
plaint slow to leave the system it has invaded. 

Now that I have almost formed the resolution of coming to 
London, the thought begins to present itself to me under a 
pleasant aspect At first it was sad ; it recalled the last time I 
went and with whom, and to whom I came home, and in what 
dear companionship 1 again and again narrated all that had been 
seen, heard, and uttered in that visit. Emily would never go into 
any sort of society herself, and whenever I went I could on my 
return communicate to her a pleasure that suited her, by giving 
the distinct faithful impression of each scene I had witnessed. 
When pressed to go, she would sometimes say, f What is the use? 
Charlotte will bring it all home to me.' And indeed I delighted 
to please her thus. My occupation is gone now. 

I shall come to be lectured. I perceive you are ready with 
animadversion ; you are not at all well satisfied on some points, 
so I will open my ears to hear, nor will I close my heart against 
conviction ; but I forewarn you, I have my own doctrines, not 
acquired, but innate, some that I fear cannot be rooted up without 
tearing away all the soil from which they spring, and leaving only 
unproductive rock for new seed. 

I have read the Caxtons^ I have looked at Fanny Hervey, I 
think I will not write what I think of either should I see you 
I will speak it. 

Take a hundred, take a thousand of such works and weigh 
them in the balance against a page of Thackeray. I hope Mr. 
Thackeray is recovered. 

The Sun, the Morning Herald, and the Critic came this morn- 
ing. None of them express disappointment from Shirley, or on 
the whole compare her disadvantageously with Jane. It strikes 
me that those worthies the Athen<zum> Spectator, Economist \ made 
haste to be first with their notices that they might give the tone ; 
if so, their manoeuvre has not yet quite succeeded. 


The Critic, our old friend, is a friend still. Why does the pulse 
of pain beat in every pleasure? Ellis and Acton Bell are referred 
to, and where are they? I will not repine. Faith whispers they 
are not in those graves to which imagination turns the feeling, 
thinking, the inspired natures are beyond earth, in a region more 
glorious. I believe them blessed. I think, I will think, my loss 
has been their gain. Does it weary you that I refer to them ? If 
so, forgive me. Yours sincerely, C. BRONTK. 

Before closing this I glanced over the letter enclosed under 
your cover. Did you read it? It is from a lady, not quite an 
old maid, but nearly one, she says ; no signature or date ; a queer 
but good-natured production, it made me half cry, half laugh. I am 
sure Shirley has been exciting enough for her, and too exciting. 
I cannot well reply to the letter since it bears no address, and 
I am glad I should not know what to say. She is not sure 
whether I am a gentleman or not, but I fancy she thinks so. 
Have you any idea who she is? If I were a gentleman and like 
my heroes, she suspects she should fall in love with me. She had 
better not It would be a pity to cause such a waste of sensibility. 
You and Mr. Smith would not let me announce myself as a single 
gentleman of mature age in my preface, but if you had permitted 
it, a great many elderly spinsters would have been pleased. 

Letter 393 


November 20/7/, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, You said that if I wished for any copies of 
Shirley to be sent to individuals I was to name the parties, I 
have thought of one person to whom I should much like a copy 
to be offered Harriet Martineau. For her character as revealed 
in her works I have a lively admiration, a deep esteem. Will 
you enclose with the volume the accompanying note ? 

The letter you forwarded this morning was from Mrs. Gaskell, 
authoress of Mary Barton ; she said I was not to answer it, but I 
cannot help doing so. The note brought the tears to my eyes. 
She is a good, she is a great woman. Proud am I that I can 
touch a chord of sympathy in souls so noble. In Mrs, GaskelPs 
nature it mournfully pleases me to fancy a remote affinity to my 

' SHIRLEY' 87 

sister Emily. In Miss Martineau's mind I have always felt the 
same, though there are wide differences. Both these ladies are 
above me certainly far my superiors in attainments and experi- 
ence. I think I could look up to them if I knew them. I am, 
dear sir, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 394 


November 22nd, 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, If it is discouraging to an author to see his 
work mouthed over by the entirely ignorant and incompetent, it 
is equally reviving to hear what you have written discussed and 
analysed by a critic who is master of his subject by one whose 
heart feels, whose power grasps the matter he undertakes to 
handle. Such refreshment Eugene Forgade has given me. 
Were I to see that man, my impulse would be to say, l Monsieur, 
you know me, I shall deem it an honour to know you.' 

I do not find that Forgade detects any coarseness in the 
work it is for the smaller critics to find that out The master 
in the art the subtle-thoughted, keen-eyed, quick-feeling French- 
man, knows the true nature of the ingredients which went to the 
composition of the creation he analyses he knows the true 
nature of things, and he gives them their right name. 

Yours of yesterday has just reached me. Let me, in the 
first place, express my sincere sympathy with your anxiety on 
Mrs. Williams's account. I know how sad it is when pain and 
suffering attack those we love, when that mournful guest sickness 
comes and takes a place in the household circle. That the 
shadow may soon leave your home is my earnest hope. 

Thank you for Sir J. Herschel's note. I am happy to hear 
Mr, Taylor is convalescent. It may, perhaps, be some weeks 
yet before his hand is well, but that his general health is in the 
way of re-establishment is a matter of thankfulness. 

One of the letters you sent to-day addressed 'Currer Bell' 
has almost startled me. The writer first describes his family, 
and then proceeds to give a particular account of himself in 
colours the most candid, if not, to my ideas, the most attractive. 
He runs on in a strain of wild enthusiasm about Shirley, and 
concludes by announcing a fixed, deliberate resolution to institute 


a search after Currer Bell, and sooner or later to find him out. 
There is power in the letter talent ; it is at times eloquently 
expressed. The writer somewhat boastfully intimates that he is 
acknowledged the possessor of high intellectual attainments, 
but, if I mistake not, he betrays a temper to be shunned, habits 
to be mistrusted. While laying claim to the character of being 
affectionate, warmhearted, and adhesive, there is but a single 
member of his own family of whom he speaks with kindness. 
He confesses himself indolent and wilful, but asserts that he is 
studious and, to some influences, docile. This letter would have 
struck me no more than the others rather like it have done, but 
for its rash power, and the disagreeable resolves it announces to 
seek and find Currer Bell. It almost makes me like a wizard 
who has raised a spirit he may find it difficult to lay. But 
I shall not think about it This sort of fervour often foams itself 
away in words. 

Trusting that the serenity of your home is by this time re- 
stored with your wife's health, I am, yours sincerely, 


Letter 395 


November %2nd) 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, Amelia, in her last note, mentioned some- 
thing to me unintelligible about a parcel containing * Sydney wine/ 
which I was to receive from Bradford. I waited a day or two 
before I wrote, but as no such enigmatical parcel makes its appear- 
ance, I shall wait no longer. 

Shirley works her way. The reviews shower in fast. I send 
you a couple more by this post You may take care of them and 
bring with the others. The best critique which has yet appeared 
is in the Revue des deux Mondes, a sort of European cosmopolitan 
periodical, whose headquarters are at Paris. Comparatively few 
reviewers, even in their praise, evince a just comprehension of the 
author's meaning. Eugene Forgade, the reviewer in question, 
follows Currer Bell through every winding, discerns every point, 
discriminates every shade, proves himself master of the subject, 
and lord of the aim. With that man I would shake hands, if I 
saw him. I would say, * You know me, Monsieur ; I shall deem it 
an honour to know you/ I could not say so much to the mass of 

< SHIRLEY' 89 

London critics. Perhaps I could not say so much to five hundred 
men and women in all the millions of Great Britain. That 
matters little. My own conscience I satisfy first; and having 
done that, if I further content and delight a Forbade, a Fon- 
blanque, and a Thackeray, my ambition has had its ration ; it is 
fed ; it lies down for the present satisfied : my faculties have 
wrought a day's task, and earned a day's wages. I am no teacher ; 
to look on me in that light is to mistake me. To teach is not my 
vocation. What I am, it is useless to say. Those whom it con- 
cerns feel and find it out. To all others I wish only to be an 
obscure, steady-going, private character. To you, dear Nell, I 
wish to be a sincere friend. Give me your faithful regard; I 
willingly dispense with admiration. Offer my thanks to Amelia 
for her kind note. Say that such is my encroaching disposition 
I must have another from her before she gets an answer from 
me. My regards to your mother, Mercy, and the Claphams. . . . 
All you say agrees with my anticipations. They are scarcely 
suited, Yours, C. B. 

Letter 396 


November 26^, '49. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Mr. V.'s precious note; in my judg- 
ment you are quite dispensed from answering it, unless you feel 
so inclined. There is, indeed, nothing to answer save the very 
slight question about Mr. and Mrs. Clapham, for which he is not 
entitled to expect you should be at the trouble of taking pen 
and ink. It is like you to pronounce the reviews not good 
enough, and belongs to that part of your character which will 
not permit you to bestow unqualified approbation on any dress, 
decoration, etc., belonging to you. Know that the reviews are 
superb; and were I dissatisfied with them, I should be a con- 
ceited ape. Nothing higher is ever said, from perfectly dis~ 
interested motives, of any living author. Wealthy writers, who give 
dinners, and authors of rank, who have toadies in their train, may 
command a fulsome strain of flattery, but a mite of praise, 
bestowed on an unknown and obscure author, is worth raptures 
thus bought If all be well, I go to London this week : Wednes- 
day, I think. The dressmaker has done my small matters pretty 
well, but I wish you could have looked over them, and given a 


dictum. I insisted on the dresses being made quite plainly. 
The box will come sometime doubtless, but is not come yet. 
If it is a present from Joe Taylor, explain to him when you 
see him, why he has not been thanked. Yours in some haste, 

C. B. 

Letter 397 


Ncrvetn her 292$, 1 849 . 

DEAR SIR, I inclose two notes for postage. The note you 
sent yesterday was from Harriet Martineau ; Its contents were 
more than gratifying. I ought to be thankful, and I trust I am 
for such testimonies of sympathy from the first order of minds. 
When Mrs. Gaskell tells me she shall keep my works as a 
treasure for her daughters, and when Harriet Martineau testifies 
affectionate approbation, I feel the sting taken from the strictures 
of another class of critics. My resolution of seclusion withholds 
me from communicating further with these ladies at present, but I 
now know how they are inclined to me I know how my writings 
have affected their wise and pure minds. The knowledge is 
present support and, perhaps, may be future armour. 

I trust Mrs. Williams's health and, consequently, your spirits 
are by this time quite restored. If all be well, perhaps I shall see 
you next week. Yours sincerely C. BRONTE. 




IF no great pecuniary reward was destined to attach to 
Charlotte Bronte's efforts as an author, she received in 
fullest measure the recognition of her great contem- 
poraries in literature, and particularly of Thackeray. The 
devotion of Charlotte Bronte to Thackeray, or rather to 
Thackeray's genius, is a pleasant episode in literary 
history. In 1848 he sent Miss Bronte, as we have seen, 
a copy of Vanity Fair. In 1852 he sent her a copy of 
Esmond, with the more cordial inscription which came of 

The second edition of Jane Eyre was dedicated to him 
as possessed of * an intellect profounder and more unique 
than his contemporaries have recognised/ and as 'the 
first social regenerator of the day. 5 And when Currer 
Bell was dead, it was Thackeray who wrote by far the most 
eloquent tribute to her memory. When a copy of Law- 
rence's portrait of Thackeray 1 was sent to Haworth by 
Mr. George Smith, Charlotte Bronte stood in front of it 
and, half playfully, half seriously, shook her fist, apostro- 
phising its original as ' Thou Titan ! ' 

With all this hero-worship, it may be imagined that no 

1 Now in the possession of Mrs. A. B. NicUolls. 


favourable criticism gave her more unqualified pleasure 
than that which came from her 'master,' as she was not 
indisposed to consider one who was only seven years her 
senior, and whose best books were practically contempo- 
raneous with her own. People had indeed suggested that 
Jane Eyre might have been written by Thackeray under 
a pseudonym ; others had implied, knowing that there 
was ' something about a woman ' in Thackeray's life, that 
it was written by a mistress of the great novelist. Indeed, 
the Quarterly had half hinted as much. Currer Bell, 
knowing nothing of the gossip of London, had dedicated 
her book in single-minded enthusiasm. Her distress was 
keen when it was revealed to her that the wife of Mr. 
Thackeray, like the wife of Rochester in Jane Eyre, was 
of unsound mind. 1 

It cannot be said that Charlotte Bronte and Thackeray 
gained by personal contact. 'With him I was painfully 
stupid/ she says. It was the case of Heine and Goethe 
over again. Heine in the presence of the king of German 
literature could talk only of the plums in his garden. 
Charlotte Bronte in the presence of her hero Thackeray 
could not express herself with the vigour and intelligence 
which belonged to her correspondence with Mr. Williams. 
Miss Bronte, again, was hypercritical of the smaller vanities 
of men, and, as has been pointed out, she emphasised in 
Villette a trivial piece of not unpleasant egotism on 
Thackeray's part after a lecture his asking her if she had 
liked it This question, which nine men out of ten would 
be prone to ask of a woman friend, was < over-eagerness ' 
and 'naweU* in her eyes. Thackeray, on his side, found 

1 Thackeray writes to Mr. Brookfield, in October 1848, as follows :-~ Old Dilke of 
ft&Athmsum vows that Procter and his wife, between them, wrote Jam Eyre\ and 
when I protest ignorance, says, ' Pooh ! you know who wrote it you are the deepest 
rogue in England, etc.' I wonder whether it can be true? It is just possible. And 
then what a singular circumstance is the + fire of the two dedications ' {Jam Eyre to 
Thackeray, Vanity Fair to Barry Cornwall].^ Collection of Letters to W. M. 
Thackeray^ 1847-1855. Smith and Elder. 


conversation difficult, if we may judge by a reminiscence 
by his daughter Lady Ritchie : 

One of the most notable persons who ever came into our 
bow- windowed drawing-room in Young Street is a guest Lady 
never to be forgotten by me a tiny, delicate, little Ritchie's 
person, whose small hand nevertheless grasped a mighty Narratlve - 
lever which set all the literary world of that day vibrating. I 
can still see the scene quite plainly the hot summer evening, 
the open windows, the carnage driving to the door as we all 
sat silent and expectant ; my father, who rarely waited, waiting 
with us ; our governess and my sister and I all in a row, and 
prepared for the great event. We saw the carriage stop, and 
out of it sprang the active, well-knit figure of Mr. George 
Smith, who was bringing Miss Bronte to see our father. My 
father, who had been walking up and down the room, goes 
out into the hall to meet his guests, and then, after a moment's 
delay, the door opens wide, and the two gentlemen come in, 
leading a tiny, delicate, serious, little lady, pale, with fair 
straight hair, and steady eyes. She may be a little over thirty ; 
she is dressed in a little barege dress, with a pattern of faint 
green moss. She enters in mittens, in silence, in seriousness ; 
our hearts are beating with wild excitement. This, then, is 
the authoress, the unknown power whose books have set all 
London talking, reading, speculating ; some people even say our 
father wrote the books the wonderful books. To say that we 
little girls had been given Jane Eyre to read scarcely represents 
the facts of the case ; to say that we had taken it without leave, 
read bits here and read bits there, been carried away by an 
undreamed-of and hitherto unimagined whirlwind into things, 
times, places, all utterly absorbing, and at the same time absol- 
utely unintelligible to us, would more accurately describe our 
state of mind on that summer's evening as we look at Jane Eyre 
the great Jane Eyre the tiny little lady. The moment is so 
breathless that dinner comes as a relief to the solemnity of the 
occasion, and we all smile as my father stoops to offer his arm ; 
for, though genius she may be, Miss Bronte can barely reach his 
elbow. My own personal impressions are that she is somewhat 
grave and stern, especially to forward little girls who wish to 
chatter. Mr. George Smith has since told me how she afterwards 
remarked upon my father's wonderful forbearance and gentleness 


with our uncalled-for incursions into the conversation. She sat 
gazing at him with kindling eyes of interest, lighting up with a 
sort of illumination every now and then as she answered him. I 
can see her bending forward over the table, not eating, but listen- 
ing to what he said as he carved the dish before him. 

I think it must have been on this very occasion that my father 
invited some of his friends in the evening to meet Miss Bronte 
for everybody was interested and anxious to see her. Mrs. Crowe, 
the reciter of ghost-stories, was there. Mrs. Brookfield, Mrs. 
Carlyle, Mr. Carlyle himself was present, so I am told, railing at 
the appearance of cockneys upon Scotch mountain sides ; there 
were also too many Americans for his taste, ' but the Americans 
were as gods compared to the cockneys/ says the philosopher 
Besides the Carlyles, there were Mrs. Elliott and Miss Perry, 
Mrs. Procter and her daughter, most of my father's habitual 
friends and companions. In the recent life of Lord Houghton 
I was amused to see a note quoted in which Lord Houghton 
also was convened. Would that he had been present perhaps 
the party would have gone off better. It was a gloomy and a silent 
evening. Every one waited for the brilliant conversation which 
never began at all. Miss Bronte retired to the sofa in the study, 
and murmured a low word now and then to our kind governess, 
Miss Truelock. The room looked very dark, the lamp began to 
smoke a little, the conversation grew dimmer and more dim, the 
ladies sat round still expectant, my father was too much perturbed 
by the gloom and the silence to be able to cope with it at all 
Mrs. Brookfield, who was in the doorway by the study, near the 
corner in which Miss Bronte was sitting, leant forward with a 
little commonplace, since brilliance was not to be the order of 
the evening. ' Do you like London, Miss Bronte ? ' she said ; 
another silence, a pause, then Miss Bronte answers, c Yes and 
iVo/ very gravely. Mrs, Brookfield has herself reported the con- 
versation. My sister and I were much too young to be bored in 
thos'le days; alarmed, impressed we might be, but not yet bored. 
A par^y was a party, a lioness was a lioness; and shall I con- 
fess it ?- at that time an extra dish of biscuits was enough to 
mark the ^evening. We felt all the importance of the occasion : 
tea spread i?p the dining-room, ladies in the drawing-room* We 
roamed abotft inconveniently, no doubt, and excitedly, and in 
one of my incursions crossing the hall, after Miss Bronte had 
left, I was surprised to see my father opening the front door with 


his hat on. He put his fingers to his lips, walked out into the 
darkness, and shut the door quietly behind him. When I went 
back to the drawing-room again, the ladies asked me where he 
was. I vaguely answered that I thought he was coming back. 
I was puzzled at the time, nor was it all made clear to me till 
ong years afterwards, when one day Mrs. Procter asked me if 
knew what had happened once when my father had invited a 
party to meet Jane Eyre at his house. It was one of the dullest 
evenings she had ever spent in her life, she said. And then with 
a good deal of humour she described the situation the ladies 
who had all come expecting so much delightful conversation, 
and the gloom and the constraint, and how, finally, overwhelmed 
by the situation, my father had quietly left the room, left the 
house, and gone off to his club. The ladies waited, wondered, 
and finally departed also ; and as we were going up to bed with 
our candles after everybody was gone, I remember two pretty 

Miss L s, in shiny silk dresses, arriving, full of expectation. 

. . . We still said we thought our father would soon be back, but 

the Miss L s declined to wait upon the chance, laughed, and 

drove away again almost immediately. 1 

Charlotte Bronte stayed with but two friends in London, 
with her publisher, Mr. George Smith, and his mother, 
and at 29 Phillimore Gardens, Kensington, with Dr. 
Wheelwright, and his daughter Lsetitia, who had been 
Charlotte's great friend in Brussels. Mr. Smith died 
quite recently. He survived until 1905 to reign over the 
famous house which introduced Thackeray, John Ruskin, 
and Charlotte Bronte to the world. What Charlotte 
Bronte thought of him may be gathered from her frank 
acknowledgment that he was the original of Dr. John m 
Villette, as his mother was the original of Mrs. Bretton 
perhaps the two most entirely charming characters in 
Charlotte Bronte's novels. Mrs. Smith and her son lived, 
at the beginning of the friendship, at Westbourne Place, 
but afterwards removed to Gloucester Terrace, and 

1 Chapters from Some Memories, by Annie Thackeray Ritchie. Macmillan and Co. 
Lady Ritchie and her publishers kindly permit me to incorporate her interesting remi- 
niscence in this chapter. 


Charlotte stayed with them at both houses. It was from 
the former that this first letter was addressed. 

Letter 398 


LONDON, December 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have just remembered that as you do not 
know my address, you cannot write to me till you get it ; it is as 
above. I came to this big Babylon last Thursday, and have 
been in what seems to me a sort of whirl ever since, for changes, 
scenes, and stimulus which would be a trifle to others, are much 
to me. I found when I mentioned to Mr. Smith my plan of 
going to Dr. Wheelwright's it would not do at all, he would have 
been seriously hurt ; he made his mother write to me, and thus I 
was persuaded to make my principal stay at his house. I have 
found no reason to regret this decision. Mrs, Smith received me 
at first like one who had received the strictest orders to be 
scrupulously attentive. I had fires in rny bedroom evening and 
morning, wax candles, etc., etc. Mrs. Smith and her daughters 
seemed to look upon me with a mixture of respect and alarm. 
But all this is changed, that is to say, the attention and politeness 
continue as great as ever, but the alarm and estrangement arc 
quite gone. She treats me as if she liked me, and I begin to like 
her much ; kindness is a potent heartwinner. I had not judged 
too favourably of her son on a first impression ; he pleases me 
much. I like him better even as a son and brother than as a man 
of business. Mr. Williams, too, Is really most gentlemanly and 
well-informed. His weak points he certainly has, but these arc 
not seen in society. Mr. Taylor the little man has again 
shown his parts ; in fact, I suspect he is of the Hclstone order of 
men rigid, despotic, and self-willed. He tries to be very kind 
and even to express sympathy sometimes, but he does not manage 
it. He has a determined, dreadful nose In the middle of his face 
which when poked into my countenance cuts into my soul like 
iron. Still he is horribly intelligent, quick, searching, sagacious, 
and with a memory of relentless tenacity. To turn to Williams 
after him, or to Smith himself, is to turn from granite to easy 
down or warm fur. I have seen Thackeray. 

No more at present from yours, etc., C, BRONTfi, 


Letter 399 


LONDON, December loth, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, I was very glad to get the two notes from 
Brookroyd, yours and Amelia's. I am only going to pen a very 
hasty reply now, as there are several people in the room and I 
cannot write in company. You seem to suppose I must be very 
happy, dear Nell, and I see you have twenty romantic notions in 
your head about me. These last you may dismiss at once. 
As to being happy, I am under scenes and circumstances of 
excitement ; but I suffer acute pain sometimes, mental pain, I 
mean. At the moment Mr. Thackeray presented himself, I was 
thoroughly faint from inanition, having eaten nothing since a very 
slight breakfast, and it was then seven o'clock in the evening. 
Excitement and exhaustion together made savage work of me 
that evening. What he thought of me I cannot tell. This 
evening I am going to meet Miss Martineau. She has written to 
me most kindly. She knows me only as Currer Bell. I am going 
alone in the carriage ; how I shall get on I do not know. If Mrs. 
Smith were not kind, I should sometimes be miserable, but she 
treats me almost affectionately, her attentions never flag. 

I have seen many things. I hope some day to tell you what. 
Yesterday I went over the New Houses of Parliament with Mr. 
Williams. An attack of rheumatic fever has kept poor Mr, 
Taylor out of the way since I wrote last. I am sorry for his 
sake. It grows quite dark, I must stop. I shall not stay in 
London a day longer than I first intended. On those points I 
form my resolutions and will not be shaken. 

The thundering Times has attacked me savagely. Yours 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Sunday. Love to Amelia, and thanks. I can hardly tell what 
to say about her and J, T. I do not like to think about it ; 
I shudder sometimes. 

One of the most interesting of her new friends was 
Harriet Martineau. Before leaving Haworth she had had 
a copy of her book sent to Harriet Martineau with the 
following note enclosed : 

' Currer Bell offers a copy of Shirley to Miss Martineau' s 



acceptance, in acknowledgment of the pleasure and profit 
sba (sic) he has derived from her works. When C B. first 
read Deerbrook he tasted a new and keen pleasure, and 
experienced a genuine benefit. In his mind Deerbrook 
ranks with the writings that have really done him good, 
added to his stock of ideas and rectified his views of 

life.' 1 

Miss Martineau replied, addressing her letter to * Currer 
Bell, Esq., 3 but beginning it 'Dear Madam/ On 
December 8 she received a letter signed 'Currer Bell/ 
saying that the writer was in town and desired to see her. 
Miss Martineau has left an amusing account of the inter- 
view, the arrival of a male visitor six feet high, whom some 
of her friends believed to be the new author, and finally 
the appearance of 'Miss Bronte/ whom the footman 
announced as ' Miss Brogden.' ' I thought her the 
smallest creature I had ever seen, except at a fair/ was 
Miss Martineau J s first impression. 

Letter 400 


HAWORTH, KEIGHLEY, December vjth^ 1849. 

MY DEAR L^ETITIA, I have just time to save the post by 
writing a brief note. I reached home safely on Saturday after- 
noon, and, I am thankful to say, found papa quite well 

The evening after I left you passed better than I expected, 
Thanks to my substantial lunch and cheering cup of coffee, I 
was able to wait the eight o'clock dinner with complete resigna- 
tion, and to endure its length quite courageously, nor was I too 
much exhausted to converse ; and of this I was glad, for other- 
wise I know my kind host and hostess would have been much 
disappointed. There were only seven gentlemen at dinner be- 
sides Mr. Smith, but of these, five were critics a formidable 
band, including the literary Rhadamanthi of the Times^ the 
^ the Examiner -, the Spectator, and the Atlas : men more 

1 Harriet Martineau's Autobiography, vol. ii. 


dreaded in the world of letters than you can conceive. I did 
not know how much their presence and conversation had ex- 
cited me till they were gone, and then reaction commenced. 
When I had retired for the night I wished to sleep ; the effort 
to do so was vain I could not close my eyes. Night passed, 
morning came, and I rose without having known a moment's 
slumber. So utterly worn out was I when I got to Derby, that I 
was obliged to stay there all night. 

The post Is going. Give my affectionate love to your mamma, 
Emily, Fanny, and Sarah Anne. Remember me respectfully to 
your papa, and Believe me, dear Lsetitia, yours faithfully, 


Letter 401 


December igtk y 1849. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am again at home ; and after the first sensa- 
tions consequent on returning to a place more dumb and vacant 
than it once was, I am beginning to feel settled. I think the 
contrast with London does not make Haworth more desolate ; on 
the contrary, I have gleaned ideas, images, pleasant feelings, such 
as may perhaps cheer many a long winter evening. 

You ask my opinion of your daughters. I wish I could give 
you one worth acceptance. A single evening's acquaintance does 
not suffice with me to form an opinion^ it only leaves on my mind 
an impression. They impressed me, then, as pleasing in manners 
and appearance : Ellen's is a character to which I could soon 
attach myself, and Fanny and Louisa have each their separate 
advantages. I can, however, read more in a face like Mrs 
Williams's than in the smooth young features of her daughters 
time, trial, and exertion write a distinct hand, more legible than 
smile or dimple. I was told you had once some thoughts of 
bringing out Fanny as a professional singer, and it was added 
Fanny did not like the project. I thought to myself, if she does 
not like it, it can never be successfully executed. It seems to me 
that to achieve triumph in a career so arduous, the artist's own 
bent to the course must be inborn, decided, resistless. There 
should be no urging, no goading ; native genius and vigorous will 
should lend their wings to the aspirant nothing less can lift her 
to real fame, and who would rise feebly only to fall ignobly ? An 


inferior artist, I am sure, you would not wish your daughter to be, 
and if she is to stand in the foremost rank, only her own courage 
and resolve can place her there ; so, at least, the case appears to 
me. Fanny probably looks on publicity as degrading and I 
believe that for a woman it is degrading if it is not glorious. If 
I could not be a Lind, I would not be a singer. 

Brief as my visit to London was, it must for me be memorable. 
I sometimes fancied myself in a dream I could scarcely credit 
the reality of what passed. For instance, when I walked into the 
room and put my hand into Miss Martineau's, the action of 
saluting her and the fact of her presence seemed visionary. 
Again, when Mr. Thackeray was announced, and I saw him enter, 
looked up at his tall figure, heard his voice, the whole incident 
was truly dream-like, I was only certain it was true because I 
became miserably destitute of self- possession. Amour proprc 
suffers terribly under such circumstances : woe to him that thinks 
of himself in the presence of intellectual greatness ! Had I not 
been obliged to speak, I could have managed well, but it behoved 
me to answer when addressed, and the effort was torture- I spoke 

As to the band of critics, I cannot say they overawed me much ; 
I enjoyed the spectacle of them greatly. The two contrasts, 
Forster and Chorley, have each a certain edifying carriage and 
conversation good to contemplate. I by no means dislike Mr. 
Forster quite the contrary, but the distance from his loud 
swagger to Thackeray's simple port is as the distance from 
Shakespeare's writing to Macready's acting. 

Mr. Chorley tantalised me. He is a peculiar specimen one 
whom you could set yourself to examine, uncertain whether, when 
you had probed all the small recesses of his character, the result 
would be utter contempt and aversion, or whether for the sake 
of latent good you would forgive obvious evil. One could well 
pardon his unpleasant features, his strange voice, even his very 
foppery and grimace, if one found these disadvantages connected 
with living talent and any spark of genuine goodness. If there is 
nothing more than acquirement, smartness, and the affectation of 
philanthropy, Chorley is a fine creature. 

Remember me kindly to your wife and daughters, and Believe 
me, yours sincerely, C BRONTE. 


Letter 402 


HA WORTH, December 19 f A, 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, Here I am at Haworth once more. I feel as 
if I had come out of an exciting whirl. Not that the hurry or 
stimulus would have seemed much to one accustomed to society 
and change, but to me they were very marked. My strength and 
spirits too often proved quite insufficient for the demand on their 
exertions. I used to bear up as well and as long as I possibly 
could, for, whenever I flagged, I could see Mr. Smith became dis- 
turbed ; he always thought that something had been said or 
done to annoy me, which never once happened, for I met with 
perfect good-breeding even from antagonists, men who had done 
their best or worst to write me down. I explained to him, over 
and over again, that my occasional silence was only failure of the 
power to talk, never of the will, but still he always seemed to fear 
there was another cause underneath. 

Mrs. Smith is rather stern, but she has sense and discrimina- 
tion ; she watched me very narrowly when surrounded by gentle- 
men, she never took her eye from me, I liked the surveillance, 
both when it kept guard over me amongst many, or only with her 
cherished one. She soon, I am convinced, saw in what light I 
received all, Thackeray included. Her ' George ' is a very fine 
specimen of a young English man-of- business ; so I regard him, 
and I am proud to be one of his props. 

Thackeray is a Titan of mind. His presence and powers 
impress me deeply in an intellectual sense ; I do not see him or 
know him as a man. All the others are subordinate to these. 
I have esteem for some, and, I trust, courtesy for all. I do not, 
of course, know what they thought of me, but I believe most of 
them expected me to come out in a more marked, eccentric, 
striking light. I believe they desired more to admire and more 
to blame. I felt sufficiently at my ease with all except 
Thackeray ; and with him I was painfully stupid, 

Now, dear Nell, when can you come to Haworth? Settle and 
let me know as soon as you can. Give my best love to all. I 
enclose a word for Amelia. Have things come to any crisis in 
that quarter ? I cannot help thinking of the lion mated with the 


lamb, the leopard with the kid. It does not content me. The first 
year or two may be well enough. I do not like to look forward any 
farther. Let nothing prevent you from coming, Yours, C. B. 

Letter 403 


December I'znd^ 1849. 

DEAR ELLEN, I should have answered yours yesterday, had 
I not received by the same post a missive from Joseph Taylor 
announcing that he was coming to dinner that blessed day, and 
shortly after he made his appearance. This errand was to per- 
suade me to go to Birmingham to spend Christmas at Hay Hall 
with the Dixons. Of course I could not go. He stayed till 
about 6 o'clock he talked a good deal. ... I don't think it will 
make the least difference with him. He had written to me a few 
days before, explaining the degree and sort of interest he took in 
Amelia; I will show you the letter when you come. 

Let nothing prevent you from coming on Thursday. There 
is a train leaves Bradford at a quarter past twelve and arrives at 
Keighley about thirty-four minutes past, perhaps you had better 
come by that I will send a gig to meet you if possible ; if I can- 
not get one you must hire a conveyance at the Devonshire Arms 
don't walk. Joe Taylor says he will come here again while you 
are with tne, after he has been to Tranby and knows his doom* 

Letter 404 


December ^4.9, 

DEAR ELLEN, As papa appears to be pretty well just now, 
and as Martha is likewise quite recovered, I think I really 
should like to come to you for a few days. Could you without 
inconvenience meet me at Leeds on Tuesday morning, about 12 
o'clock? I ask this because I find I really must go to Mr. 
Atkinson the dentist, and ask him if he can do anything for my 
tic, and I thought I might as well get the pleasant errand over on 
my way to Brookroyd. I have some other trifling matters to look 
after likewise, but I should have wished to consult you about 
them beforehand, and if you think I had better go from Brookroyd 
to Leeds, or if it would inconvenience you to meet me there, say 
so, and I will come by Bradford, If you write by return of post. 


I shall get your note on Monday morning and shall know how to 

Give my kind regards to all and believe me yours sincerely, 

C. B. 

Letter 405 


January 3^, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have to acknowledge the receipt of the Morn- 
ing Chronicle with a good review, and of the Church of England 
Quarterly and the Westminster with bad ones. I have also to 
thank you for your letter, which would have been answered 
sooner had I been alone; but just now I am enjoying the treat 
of my friend Ellen's society, and she makes* me indolent and 
negligent I am too busy talking to her all day to do anything 
else. You allude to the subject of female friendships, and express 
wonder at the infrequency of sincere attachments amongst 
women. As to married women, I can well understand that they 
should be absorbed in their husbands and children but single 
women often like each other much, and derive great solace from 
their mutual regard. Friendship, however, is a plant which can- 
not be forced. True friendship is no gourd, springing in a night 
and withering in a day. When I first saw Ellen I did not care 
for her ; we were schoolfellows. In course of time we learnt 
each other's faults and good points. We were contrasts still, we 
suited. Affection was first a germ, then a sapling, then a strong 
tree now, no new friend, however lofty or profound in intellect 
not even Miss Martineau herself could be to me what Ellen is ; 
yet she is no more than a conscientious, observant, calm, well-bred 
Yorkshire girl. She is without romance. If she attempts to 
read poetry, or poetic prose, aloud, I am irritated and deprive her 
of the book if she talks of it, I stop my ears ; but she is good ; 
she is true ; she is faithful, and I love her. 

Since I came home, Miss Martineau has written me a long and 
truly kindly letter. She invites me to visit her at Ambleside. I 
like the idea. Whether I can realise it or not, it is pleasant to 
have in prospect. 

You ask me to write to Mrs. Williams. I would rather she 
wrote to me first ; and let her send any kind of letter she likes, 
without studying mood or manner. Yours sincerely, 



Miss Wheelwright and her sisters well remember certain 
episodes in connection with these London visits. They 
recall Charlotte's anxiety and trepidation at the prospect 
of meeting Thackeray. They recollect her simple, dainty 
dress, her shy demeanour, her absolutely unspoiled char- 
acter. They tell me it was in the Illustrated London 
News, about the time of the publication of Shirley, that 
they first learnt that Currer Bell and Charlotte Bronte 
were one. They would, however, have known that Shirley 
was by a Brussels pupil, they declared, from the absolute 
resemblance of Hortense Moore to one of their gover- 
nesses Mile. Haussd 

Meanwhile the excitement which Shirley was exciting 
in Currer Bell's home circle was not confined to the 
curates. Here is a letter which Canon Heald (Cyril Hall) 
wrote at this time : 

Letter 406 


January 8///, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, Fame says you are on a visit with the renowned 
Currer Bell, the * great unknown ' of the present day, The cele- 
brated Shirley has just found its way hither. And as one always 
reads a book with more interest when one has a correct insight 
into the writer's designs, I write to ask a favour, which I ought 
not to be regarded as presumptuous in saying that I think I have 
a species of claim to ask, on the ground of a sort of * poetical 
justice/ The interpretation of this enigma is, that the story goes 
that either I or my father, I do not exactly know which, are part 
of ' Currer Bell's ' stock-in-trade, under the title of Mr. Hall, in 
that Mr. Hall is represented as black, bilious, and of dismal aspect, 
stooping a trifle, and indulging a little now and then in the indi- 
genous dialect This seems to sit very well on your humble 
servant other traits do better for my good father than myself. 
However, though I had no idea that I should be made a means 
to amuse the public, Currer Bell is perfectly welcome to what she 
can make of so unpromising a subject. But I think / have a fair 


claim in return to be let into the secret of the company I have got into, 
Some of them are good enough to tell, and need no CEdipus to 
solve the riddle. I can tabulate, for instance, the Yorke family 
for the Taylors, Mr. Moore Mr. Cartwright, and Mr. Helstone is 
clearly meant for Mr. Roberson, though the authoress has evi- 
dently got her idea of his character through an unfavourable 
medium, and does not understand the full value of one of the 
most admirable characters I ever knew or expect to know. Mary 
thinks she descries Cecilia Crowther and Miss Johnstone (after- 
wards Mrs. Westerman) in two old maids. 

Now pray get us a full light on all other names and localities 
that are adumbrated in this said Shirley, When some of the 
prominent characters will be recognised by every one who knows 
our quarters, there can be no" harm in letting one know who may 
be intended by the rest And, if necessary, I will bear Currer 
Bell harmless, and not let the world know that I have my intelli- 
gence from headquarters. As I said before, I repeat now, that 
as I or mine are part of the stock-in-trade, I think I have an 
equitable claim to this intelligence, by way of my dividend. 
Mary and Harriet wish also to get at this information ; and the 
latter at all events seems to have her own peculiar claim, as fame 
says she is < in the book ' too. One had need ' walk . . . warily 
in these dangerous days/ when, as Burns (is it not he?) says 

' A chield 7 s among you taking notes. 
And faith he '11 prent it. 3 

Yours sincerely, W. M. HEALD. 

Mary and Harriet unite with me in the best wishes of the 

season to you and C B . Pray give my best respects to 

Mr, Bronte also, who may have some slight remembrance of me 
as a child. I just remember him when at Hartshead. 1 

Letter 407 


January loth^ 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, Mrs. Ellis has made 'her morning call/ I 
rather relished her chat about Shirley and Jane Eyre. She 
praises reluctantly and blames too often affectedly. But when- 

1 Printed by the kind permission of the Rev. C. W. Heald, of Chale, I.W. 


ever a reviewer betrays that he has been thoroughly Influenced 
and stirred by the work he criticises, it is easy to forgive the res* 
hate and personality excepted. 

I have received and perused the Edinburgh Review it is very 
brutal and savage. I am not angry with Lewes, but I wish in 
future he would let me alone, and not write again what makes me 
feel so cold and sick as I am feeling just now. 

Thackeray's Christmas Book at once grieved and pleased me, 
as most of his writings do. I have come to the conclusion that 
whenever he writes, Mephistopheles stands on his right hand and 
Raphael on his left; the great doubter and sneerer usually guides 
the pen, the Angel, noble and gentle, interlines letters of light 
here and there. Alas! Thackeray, I wish your strong wings 
would lift you oftener above the smoke of cities into the pure 
region nearer heaven ! 

Good-bye for the present Yours sincerely, C, BRONTiL 

Letter 408 


I can be on my guard against my enemies, but God deliver me 
from my friends ! CURKER BELL. 

Letter 409 


January igth, 1850, 

MY DEAR SIR, I will tell you why I was so hurt by that 
review in the Edinburgh not because its criticism was keen or 
its blame sometimes severe; not because its praise was stinted 
(for, indeed, I think you give me quite as much praise as I 
deserve), but because after I had said earnestly that I wished 
critics would judge me as an author, not as a woman, you so 
roughly I even thought so cruellyhandled the question of sex. 
I dare say you meant no harm, and perhaps you will not now be 
able to understand why I was so grieved at what you will pro* 
bably deem such a trifle ; but grieved I was, and indignant too, 
There was a passage or two which you did quite wrong to write* 
However, I will not bear malice against you for it ; I know 
what your nature is : it is not a bad or unkind one, though you 


would often jar terribly on some feelings with whose recoil and 
quiver you could not possibly sympathise. I imagine you are 
both enthusiastic and implacable, as you are at once sagacious 
and careless; you know much and discover much, but you are 
in such a hurry to tell it all you never give yourself time to 
think how your reckless eloquence may affect others ; and, what 
is more, if you knew how it did affect them, you would not much 

However, I shake hands with you : you have excellent points ; 
you can be generous. I still feel angry, and think I do well to 
be angry ; but it is the anger one experiences for rough play 
rather than for foul play. I am yours, with a certain respect, and 
more chagrin, CURRER BELL. 

Letter 410 


January igtk, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, You had a weary long time to wait at Bradford 
and a most crushing ride home, and then the necessity of enter- 
taining company when you ought to have rested was rather too 
bad. I am glad to hear Amelia does not fret ; I trust her spirit 
will keep her up through the tedious period of suspense she will 
probably have to endure. How it will end, God knows. I think 
from the first Joe Taylor has deliberately intended this shall be 
the finale. I feel sure the visit to Tranby rather confirmed than 
shook this resolution. I feel angry with myself every day that I 
have not yet written to Amelia, but in truth I hardly know what 
to say ; however, I shall pluck up courage as soon as possible. 

All you tell me about the notoriety of Shirley In Dewsbury, 
etc., is almost as good as an emetic to me. I should really 'go 
off at side ' if I thought too much about it. Mr. Nicholls having 
finished Jane Eyre is now crying out for the ' other book ' ; he is 
to have it next week, much good may it do him. I answered Sir 
J. K. Shuttleworth's note yesterday, thanking and declining as 
neatly as I knew how. 

Since you left I have had no letter from London ; I think if 
Lewes had any thought of answering my missive he would have 
done it at once, for he generally bolts his replies by return of post. 

Dear Nell, it is lonesome without you. Write again soon. 

Love to all at Brookroyd. 


Letter 411 


January 25^, 1850 

DEAR ELLEN, Your indisposition was, I have no doubt, in a 
great measure owing to the change in the weather from frost to thaw. 
I had one sick-headachy day ; but, for me, only a slight attack. You 
must be careful of cold. I have just written to Amelia a brief 
note thanking her for the cuffs, etc. It was a burning shame I did 
not write sooner. Herewith are enclosed three letters for your 
perusalj the first from Mary Taylor, which you are to read immedi- 
atelyso the order runs and not to send it to Mrs. Burnley. There 
is also one from Lewes and one from Sir J. K. Shuttleworth, both 
which peruse and return, I have also, since you went, had a 
remarkable epistle from Thackeray, long, interesting, character- 
istic, but it unfortunately concludes with the strict injunction, 
show this letter to no one, adding that if he thought his letters were 
seen by others, he should either cease to write or write only what 
was conventional ; but for this circumstance I should have sent it 
with the others. I answered it at length, Whether my reply will 
give satisfaction or displeasure remains yet to be ascertained. 
Thackeray's feelings are not such as can be gauged by ordinary 
calculation : variable weather is what I should ever expect from 
that quarter, yet in correspondence as in verbal Intercourse, this 
would torment me. Yours faithfully, C. B* 

Letter 412 


HAWORTH, January 38M, 1850. 

MY DEAR Miss WOOLER, Your last kind note would not have 
remained so long unanswered if I had been In better health. 
While Ellen was with me, I seemed to revive wonderfully, but 
began to grow worse again the day she left, and this falling off 
proved symptomatic of a relapse. My doctor called the next 
day ; he said the headache from which I was suffering arose from 
inertness in the liver. . . . 

Thank God I now feel better, and very grateful am I for the 
improvement, grateful no less for my dear father's sake, than for 
my own. 

Most fully can I sympathise with you in the anxiety you 


express about Mr. Taylor. The thought of his leaving England 
and going out alone to a strange country, with all his natural 
sensitiveness and retiring diffidence, is indeed painful ; still, my 
dear Miss Wooler, should he actually go to America, I can but 
then suggest to you the same source of comfort and support you 
have suggested to me, and of which indeed I know you never lose 
sight, namely, reliance on Providence. c God tempers the wind to 
the shorn lamb/ and He will doubtless care for a good, though 
afflicted man, amidst whatever difficulties he may be thrown. 
When you write again, I should be glad to know whether your 

anxiety on this subject is released, and also hear how Mrs. M 

and her family are getting on. I was truly glad to learn through 
Ellen, that Ilkley still continued to agree with your health. 
Earnestly trusting that the New Year may prove to you a happy 
and tranquil time, I am, my dear Miss Wooler, sincerely and 
affectionately yours, C. BRONTE. 

Give my kind love to Miss Sarah. Papa says I am always 
to give his best respects when I write to you. 

Letter 413 


January 282$, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I cannot but be concerned to hear of your 
mother's illness ; write again soon, if it be but a line, to tell me 
how she gets on. This shadow will, I trust and believe, be but a 
passing one, but it is a foretaste and warning of what must come 
one day. Let it prepare your mind, dear Ellen, for that great 
trial which, if you live, it must in the course of a few years be 
your lot to undeigo. That cutting asunder of the ties of nature 
is the pain we most dread and which we are most certain to 
experience. Perhaps you will have seen Joe Taylor ere this, I 
had a brief note from him, dated Hull : he had seen Mr. Ringrose, 
whom he found 'inimical though not avowedly so, desirous to 
refuse but wanting a pretext.' 'Such a reception/ he says, 
'would, six weeks ago, have made him give it up/ He does not 
mention whether he saw Amelia. He will go on. Lewes' letter 
made rne laugh, I cannot respect him more for it Sir J. K. Shuttle- 
worth's letter did not make me laugh. He has written again since. 
I have received to-day a note from Miss Alexander, Lupset 
Cottage, Wakefield, daughter, she says, of Dr. Alexander. Do 


you know anything of her? Mary Taylor seems in good health 
and spirits and in the way of doing well. I shall feel anxious to 
hear again soon. C. B. 

P.S. Mr. Nicholls has finished reading Shirley, he is delighted 
with it. John Brown's wife seriously thought he had gone wrong 
in the head as she heard him giving vent to roars of laughter as 
he sat alone, clapping his hands and stamping on the floor. He 
would read all the scenes about the curates aloud to papa, he 
triumphed in his own character. What Mr. Grant will say is 
another thing. No matter. 

Letter 414 


Thursday, January 3o///, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I wonder how your poor mother is this morn- 
ing, and how you are too ; I wonder also whether you have yet 
heard from your brothers, and whether the news of their mother's 
serious illness has penetrated the crust of worldliness with which 
their hearts are too completely overgrown, and wakened some- 
thing like the sensation of natural affection. You must let me 
have a line as soon as you can to tell me how matters progress. 

As to Joe Taylor I really dare not write what I think of him, 
or what I feel respecting him. I grow more and more con- 
vinced that his state of mind approximates to that which was so 
appallingly exhibited in poor Branwell during the last few years 
of his life, and if such be the case, she who marries him will join 
hands with misery and, as you say, hopeless misery. The note I 
had from him dated Hull just breathed the spirit which you 
describe as pervading his conversation with you ; it was short, but 
imbued with selfishness and with a sort of unmanly absence of 
true value for the woman whose hand he seeks. Should he con- 
tinue in this frame of mind, he cannot be worthy of Amelia. I 
could infuse no word of sympathy into my answer I involun- 
tarily made it sharp and stern. With what I said he cannot be 
pleased, nor will it encourage him to come here ; and indeed the 
thought of his coming would be a nightmare to me. What power 
Joe Taylor still possesses to interest and influence is an unreal 
power ; I greatly fear it all depends on skilful acting, 

I had just written so far when I received a letter from him 


(J. T.). I enclose it. Is this acting, or what is it ? Does he give 
me the rug to pay off some imaginary debt? I wish him well, 
but both gifts and loans and letters and visits from that quarter 
have all now something about them from which one shrinks. All 
seems done on system nothing from feeling. Write by return 
of post if you can, dear Nell. Good-bye. C. B. 

Letter 415 


February ^nd^ 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have despatched to-day a parcel containing 
The Caxtons, Macaulay ; s Essays, Humboldt ; s Letters, and such 
other of the books as I have read, packed with a picturesque 
irregularity well calculated to excite the envy and admiration of 
your skilful functionary in Cornhill. By the bye, he ought to be 
careful of the few pins stuck in here and there, as he might find 
them useful at a future day, in case of having more bonnets to 
pack for the East Indies. Whenever you send me a new supply 
of books, may I request that you will have the goodness to 
include one or two of Miss Austen's. I am often asked whether 
I have read them, and I excite amazement by replying in the 
negative. I have read none except Pride and Prejudice, Miss 
Martineau mentioned Persuasion as the best. 

Thank you for your account of the First Performance. It was 
cheering and pleasant to read it, for in your animated description 
I seemed to realise the scene ; your criticism also enables me to 
form some idea of the play. Lewes is a strange being. I always 
regret that I did not see him when in London. He seems to me 
clever, sharp, and coarse ; I used to think him sagacious, but I 
believe now he is no more than shrewd, for I have observed once 
or twice that he brings forward, as grand discoveries of his own, 
information he has casually received from others true sagacity 
disdains little tricks of this sort. But though Lewes has many 
smart and some deserving points about him, he has nothing truly 
great ; and nothing truly great, I should think, will he ever pro- 
duce. Yet he merits just such successes as the one you describe 
triumphs public, brief, and noisy. Notoriety suits Lewes. Fame 
were it possible that he could achieve her would be a thing 
uncongenial to him : he could not wait for the solemn blast of her 
trumpet, sounding long, and slowly waxing louder. 


I always like your way of mentioning Mr. Smith, because my 
own opinion of him concurs with yours ; and it is as pleasant to 
have a favourable impression of character confirmed, as it is pain- 
ful to see it dispelled. I am sure he possesses a fine nature, and 
I trust the selfishness of the world and the hard habits of business, 
though they may and must modify his disposition, will never 
quite spoil it. 

Can you give me any information respecting Sheridan Knowles ? 
A few lines received from him lately, and a present of his George 
Lovell, induce me to ask the question. Of course I am aware that 
he is a dramatic writer of eminence, but do you know anything 
about him as a man ? 

I believe both Shirley and Jane Eyre are being a good deal 
read in the north just now; but I only hear fitful rumours from 
time to time. I ask nothing, and my life of anchorite seclusion 
shuts out all bearers of tidings. One or two curiosity-hunters 
have made their way to Haworth Parsonage, but our rude hills 
and rugged neighbourhood will, I doubt not, form a sufficient 
barrier to the frequent repetition of such visits. Believe me, yours 
sincerely, C BRONTE. 

Letter 416 


February 5$, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am truly glad to hear of the happy change in 
your mother's state, I hope nothing will occur to give it a check. 
The relief when a hope of recovery succeeds to the dread of 
danger must be sweet indeed. I remember it was what I intensely 
longed for, but what it was not seen good I should enjoy, 

Thank you for the scrap of information respecting Sir J. K. 
Shuttleworth. Mr. Morgan has finished reading fane Eyre> and 
writes not in blame, but in the highest strains of eulogy ! He says 
it thoroughly fascinated and enchained him, etc., etc., etc. 

Martha came in yesterday, puffing and blowing, and much 
excited. 'I've heard slch news/ she began. 'What about?' 
6 Please ma'am, you 've been and written two books, the grandest 
books that ever was seen. My father has heard it at Halifax, and 
Mr. George Taylor and Mr. Greenwood, and Mr. Merrall at Brad- 
ford; and they are going to have a meeting at the Mechanics' 
Institute, and to settle about ordering them/ ( Hold your tongue, 


Martha, and be off/ I fell into a cold sweat. Jane Eyre will be 
read by John Brown, by Mrs. Taylor, and Betty. God help, keep, 
and deliver me ! Good-bye. C. B. 

Letter 417 


February 4^, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Amelia's letter. The business is a most 
unpleasant one to be concerned in; it seems to me now altogether 
unworthy, in its beginning, progress, and probable ending. Amelia 
is the only pure thing about it ; she stands between her coarse 
father and cold unloving suitor like innocence between a pair of 
world-hardened knaves. The comparison seems rather hard to- 
be applied to Joseph Taylor, but as I see him now he merits it. 
If Joseph Taylor has no means of keeping a wife if he does not 
possess a sixpence he is sure of, how can he think of marrying a 
woman from whom he cannot expect she should work to keep 
herself. Joe Taylor's want of candour, the twice falsified 
account of matters, tell painfully and deeply against his cause. 
It shows a glimpse of hidden motives such as I refrain from 
describing in words. It gives a strangely heartless calculation to 
the whole proceeding a cast of which he was conscious, but 
which, knowing how we should judge it, he carefully and jealously 
veiled from us. Perhaps he is like the majority of those men who 
lead a gay life in their youth, and arrive at middle age with feel- 
ings blunted and passions exhausted, who have but one aim in 
marriage, the selfish advancement of their interest. And to think 
that such men take as wives, as second selves, women young, 
modest, sincere, pure in heart and life, with feeling all fresh, and 
emotions all unworn, and bind such virtue and vitality to their 
own withered existence, such sincerity to their own hollowness, 
such disinterestedness to their own haggard avarice, to think 
this troubles- the soul to its inmost depths. Nature and Justice 
forbid the banns of such wedlock. I write under excitement. 
I am glad your mother continues better. Good-bye. 


One good thing can still be said : he was candid to Mr. Ringrose. 
He explained his circumstances truthfully. The germs of all 
good are not extirpated. 



Letter 418 


February i6//*, 1850. 

DEAR NELL, I believe I should have written to you before, 
but I don't know what heaviness of spirit has beset me of late, 
made my faculties dull, made rest weariness, and occupation 
burdensome. Now and then the silence of the house, the solitude 
of the room has pressed on me with a weight I found it difficult 
to bear, and recollection has not failed to be as alert, poignant, 
obtrusive as other feelings were languid. I attribute this state of 
things partly to the weather. Quicksilver invariably falls low in 
storms and high winds, and I have ere this been warned of 
approaching disturbance in the atmosphere by a sense of bodily 
weakness and deep, heavy mental sadness, such as some would 
call presentiment, presentiment it is, but not at all supernatural. 

The Haworth people have been making great fools of them- 
selves about Shirley. They take it in an enthusiastic light. When 
they got the volumes at the Mechanics' Institute, all the members 
wanted them. They cast lots for the whole three, and whoever 
got a volume was only allowed to keep it two days, and was to be 
fined a shilling per diem for longer detention. It would be mere 
nonsense and vanity to tell you what they say, 

I have had no letters from London for a long time, and am 
very much ashamed of myself to find, now when that stimulus is 
withdrawn, how dependent on it I had become. I cannot help 
feeling something of the excitement of expectation till the post 
hour comes, and when, day after day, it brings nothing, I get low. 
This is a stupid, disgraceful, unmeaning state of things. I feel 
bitterly enraged at my own dependence and folly ; but it is so 
bad for the mind to be quite alone, and to have none with whom 
to talk over little crosses and disappointments, and laugh them 
away. If I could write, I dare say I should be better, but I can- 
not write a line. However (D.V.), I shall contend against the 

I had a rather foolish letter from Miss Wooler the other day. 
Some things in it nettled me, especially an unnecessarily earnest 
assurance that, in spite of all I had done in the writing line, I still 
retained a place in her esteem. My answer took strong and high 
ground at once. I said I had been troubled by no doubts on the 


subject ; that I neither did her nor myself the injustice to suppose 
there was anything in what I had written to incur the just for- 
feiture of esteem. I was aware, I intimated, that some persons 
thought proper to take exceptions at Jane Eyre, and that for their 
own sakes I was sorry, as I invariably found them individuals in 
whom the animal largely predominated over the intellectual, 
persons by nature coarse 3 by inclination sensual, whatever they 
might be by education and principle. 

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 indescrib- 
able. I wish she had lived, and that I had known her. 

Yesterday, just after dinner, I heard a loud bustling voice in 
the kitchen demanding to see Mr. Bronte, somebody was shown 
into the parlour ; shortly after wine was rung for. ' Who is it, 
Martha?' I asked. Some mak 1 of a tradesman/ said she, 'he's 
not a gentleman, I 'm sure.' The personage stayed about an hour, 
talking in a loud vulgar key all the time. At tea-time I asked 

papa who it was. ' Why/ said he, no other than the Rev. , 

vicar of Bierley ! ' Papa had invited him to take some refresh- 
ment, but the creature had ordered his dinner at the Black Bull, 
and was quite urgent with papa to go down there and join him, 
offering by way of inducement a bottle, or if papa liked, ' two or 
three bottles of the best wine Haworth could afford ! ' He said 

he was come with a Mr. C , I think, from Bradford, just to 

look at the place, and reckoned to be in raptures with the wild 

scenery ! He warmly pressed papa to come and see him at , 

and to bring his daughter with him ! ! ! Does he know anything 
about the books, do you think ? he made no allusion to them. I 
did not see him, not so much as the tail of his coat. Martha said 
he looked no more like a parson than she did. Papa described 
him as rather shabby-looking, but said he was wondrous cordial 

1 Sort. 


and friendly. Papa, in his usual fashion, put him through a regular 
catechism of questions ; what his living was worth, etc., etc. In 
answer to inquiries respecting his age he affirmed himself to be 
thirty-seven is not this a lie? He must be more. Papa asked 
him if he were married. He said no, he had no thoughts of being 
married, he did not like the trouble of a wife; he described him- 
self as 'living in style, and keeping a very hospitable house.' 

Dear Nell, I have written you a long letter ; write me a long 
one in answer. C. B. 

Does your mother continue better? How are you, yourself? 
Do you get the papers regularly? I have just got a note from 
Amelia Ringrose enclosing a little ear-cap. I hope she won't 
trouble herself to make me these small presents often. She writes 
in good spirits but says nothing about Joe Taylor, indeed she has 
never named him to me, nor I to her. 

Letter 419 


February , 1850. 

Ellen Nussey it seems told you I spent a fortnight in London 
last December; they wished me very much to stay a month, 
alleging that I should in that time be able to secure a complete 
circle of acquaintance, but I found a fortnight of such excitement 
quite enough: the whole day was usually spent in sight-seeing, 
and often the evening was spent in society ; it was more than I 
could bear for a length of time. On one occasion I met a party 
of my critics seven of them, some of them had been very bitter 
foes in print, but they were prodigiously civil face to face ; these 
gentlemen seemed infinitely grander, more pompous, dashing 
showy, than the few authors I saw. Mr. Thackeray, for instance, 
is a man of quiet simple demeanour ; he is, however, looked upon 
with some awe and even distrust, His conversation is very 
peculiar, too perverse to be pleasant. It was proposed to me to 
see Charles Dickens, Lady Morgan, Mesdames Trollope, Gore> 
and some others, but I was aware these introductions would bring 
a degree of notoriety I was not disposed to encounter; I declined,, 
therefore, with thanks. 

Nothing charmed me more during my stay in town than the 
pictures I saw one or two private collections of Turner's best 


water-colour drawings were indeed a treat : his later oil-paintings 
are strange things things that baffle description. 

I twice saw Macready act once in Macbeth and once in Othello. 
I astonished a dinner-party by honestly saying I did not like 
him. It is the fashion to rave about his splendid acting any- 
thing more false and artificial, less genuinely impressive than his 
whole style I could scarcely have imagined ; the fact is, the 
stage-system altogether is hollow nonsense, they act farces well 
enough, the actors comprehend their parts and do them justice. 
They comprehend nothing about tragedy or Shakespeare, and it is 
a failure. I said so, and by so saying produced a blank silence, a 
mute consternation. I was, indeed, obliged to dissent on many 
occasions, and to offend by dissenting. It seems now very much 
the custom to admire a certain wordy, intricate, obscure style of 
poetry, such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes. Some pieces 
were referred to about which Currer Bell was expected to be very 
rapturous, and failing in this, he disappointed. 

London people strike a provincial as being very much taken up 
with little matters about which no one out of particular town- 
circles cares much, they talk too of persons literary men and 
women whose names are scarcely heard in the country, and in 
whom you cannot get up an interest. I think I should scarcely 
like to live in London, and were I obliged to live there, I should 
certainly go little into company, especially I should eschew the 
literary coteries. 

You told me, my dear Miss Wooler, to write a long letter. I 
have obeyed you. Believe me now, yours affectionately and 
respectfully, C BRONTE. 

Letter 420 


March> 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I scribble you a line in haste to tell you of my 
proceedings. Various folks are beginning to come boring to 
Haworth, on the wise errand of seeing the scenery described in 
Jane Eyre and Shirley ; amongst others, Sir J. K. Shuttleworth 
and Lady Shuttleworth have persisted in coming; they were here 
on Friday. The 'baronet looks in vigorous health, he scarcely 
appears more than thirty-five, but he says he is forty-four ; Lady 
Shuttleworth is rather handsome and still young. They were both 


quite unpretending, etc. When here they again urged me to 
visit them. Papa took their side at once, would not hear of my 
refusing ; I must go, this left me without plea or defence. I 
consented to go for three days, they wanted me to return with 
them in the carriage, but I pleaded off till to-morrow. I wish it 
was well over. 

If all be well I shall be able to write more about them when I 
come back. Sir James is very courtly, fine-looking ; I wish he 
may be as sincere as he is polished. He shows his white teeth 
with too frequent a smile ; but I will not prejudge him. In haste, 
yours faithfully, C. B, 

Letter 421 


March i6//;, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I found your letter with several others awaiting 
me on my return home from a brief stay in Lancashire. The 
mourning border alarmed me much. I feared that dread visitant, 
before whose coming every household trembles, had invaded your 
hearth and taken from you perhaps a child, perhaps something 
dearer still. The loss you have actually sustained is painful, but 
so much less painful than what I had anticipated, that to read 
your letter was to be greatly relieved. Still, I know what Mrs. 
Williams will feel. We can have but one father, but one mother, 
and when either is gone, we have lost what never can be replaced. 
Offer her, under this affliction, my sincere sympathy, I can well 
imagine the cloud these sad tidings would cast over your young 
cheerful family. Poor little Dick's exclamation and burst of 
grief are most nai've and natural ; he felt the sorrow of a child a 
keen, but, happily, a transient pang. Time will, I trust, ere long 
restore your own and your wife's serenity and your children's 

I mentioned, I think, that we had one or two visitors at 
Haworth lately; amongst them were Sir James Kay-Shuttle- 
worth and his lady. Before departing they exacted a promise 
that I would visit them at Gawthorpe Hall, their residence on the 
borders of East Lancashire. I went reluctantly, for it is always 
a difficult and painful thing to me to meet the advances of people 
whose kindness I am in no position to repay. Sir James is a man 
of polished manners, with clear intellect and highly cultivated 


mind. On the whole, I got on very well with him. His health is 
just now somewhat broken by his severe official labours ; and the 
quiet drives to old ruins and old halls situate amongst older hills 
and woods, the dialogues (perhaps I should rather say monologues, 
for I listened far more than I talked) by the fireside in his antique 
oak-panelled drawing-room, while they suited him, did not too 
much oppress and exhaust me. The house, too, is very much to 
my taste, near three centuries old, grey, stately, and picturesque. 
On the whole, now that the visit is over, I do not regret having 
paid it. The worst of it is that there is now some menace hanging 
over my head of an invitation to go to them in London during the 
season this, which would doubtless be a great enjoyment to 
some people, is a perfect terror to me. I should highly prize the 
advantages to be gained in an extended range of observation, but 
I tremble at the thought of the price I must necessarily pay in 
mental distress and physical wear and tear. But you shall have 
no more of my confessions to you they will appear folly. Yours 
sincerely, c BRONTE. 

Letter 422 


March i6M, 1850. 

I return Mr. H J s note, after reading it carefully. I tried 

very hard to understand all he says about art ; but, to speak truth, 
my efforts were crowned with incomplete success. There is a 
certain jargon in use amongst critics on this point through which 
it is physically and morally impossible to me to see daylight. 
One thing, however, I see plainly enough, and that is Mr. Currer 
Bell needs improvement, and ought to strive after it ; and this 
(D.V.) he honestly intends to do taking his time, however, and 
following as his guides Nature and Truth. If these lead to what 
the critics call art, it is all very well; but if not, that grand 
desideratum has no chance of being run after or caught. The 
puzzle is, that while the people of the South object to my deline- 
ation of Northern life and manners, the people of Yorkshire and 
Lancashire approve. They say it is precisely the contrast of rough 
nature with highly artificial cultivation which forms one of their 
main characteristics. Such, or something very similar, has been 
the observation made to me lately, whilst I have been from home, 
by members of some of the ancient East Lancashire families, 


whose mansions He on the hilly borderland between the two 
counties. The question arises, whether do the London critics, or 
the old Northern squires, understand the matter best ? 

Any promise you require respecting the books shall be willingly 
given, provided only I am allowed the Jesuit's principle of a 
mental reservation, giving licence to forget and promise whenever 
oblivion shall appear expedient. The last two or three numbers 
of Pendennis will not, I dare say, be generally thought sufficiently 
exciting, yet I like them. Though the story lingers (for rne), the 
interest does not flag. Here and there we feel that the pen has 
been guided by a tired hand, that the mind of the writer has been 
somewhat chafed and depressed by his recent illness, or by some 
other cause; but Thackeray still proves himself greater when he 
is weary than other writers are when they are fresh. The public, 
of course, will have no compassion for his fatigue, and make no 
allowance for the ebb of inspiration ; but some true-hearted 
readers here and there, while grieving that such a man should be 
obliged to write when he is not in the mood, will wonder that, 
under such circumstances, he should write so well. The parcel of 
books will come, I doubt not, at such time as it shall suit the good 
pleasure of the railway officials to send it on or rather to yield it 
up to the repeated and humble solicitations of Haworth carriers 
till when I wait in all reasonable patience and resignation, looking 
with docility to that model of active self-helpfulness Pitnch 
friendly offers the Women of England ' in his * Unprotected 
Female.' 1 

Letter 423 


March 19^, 1850, 

DEAR ELLEN, I have got home again, and now that the visit 
is over, I am, as usual, glad I have been : not that I could have 
endured to prolong it ; a few days at once, in an utterly strange 
place, amongst utterly strange faces, is quite enough for me. 

When the train stopped at Burnley, I found 'Sir James waiting 
for me. A drive of about three miles brought us to the gates of 
Gawthorpe, and after passing up a somewhat desolate avenue, 
there towered the hall, grey, antique, castellated and stately before 

1 In Punch, from November 3, 1849, to April 20, 1850, there appeared twenty 
'Scenes from the Life of an Unprotected Female,' in dialogue and stage directions. 


me. It is 250 years old, and within as without, is a model of old 
English Architecture. The arms and the strange crest of the 
Shuttleworths are carved on the oak panelling of each room. 
They are not a parvenu family but date from the days of 
Richard III. This part of Lancashire seems rather remarkable 
for its houses of ancient race. The Townleys, who live near, go 
back to the Conquest. 

The people, however, were of still more interest to me than the 
house. Lady Shuttleworth is a little woman thirty-two years old, 
with a pretty, smooth, lively face. Of pretension to aristocratic 
airs, she may be entirely acquitted ; of frankness, good-humour, 
and activity she has enough ; truth obliges me to add, that as it 
seems to me, grace, dignity, fine feeling were not in the inventory 
of her qualities. These last are precisely what her husband 
possesses ; in manner he can be gracious and dignified, his tastes 
and feelings are capable of elevation : frank he is not, but on the 
contrary, politic ; he calls himself a man of the world and knows 
the world's ways ; courtly and affable in some points of view, he 
is strict and rigorous in others. In him high mental cultivation 
is combined with an extended range of observation, and thoroughly 
practical views and habits. His nerves are naturally acutely 
sensitive, and the present very critical state of his health has 
exaggerated sensitiveness into irritability. His wife is of a 
temperament precisely suited to nurse him and wait on him ; if her 
sensations were more delicate and acute she would 'not do half so 
well. They get on perfectly together. The children, there are 
four of them, are all fine children in their way. They have a 
young German lady as governess, a quiet, well-instructed, interest- 
ing girl, whom I took to at once, and, in my heart, liked better 
than anything else in the house. She also instinctively took to 
me. She is very well treated for a governess, but wore the usual 
pale, despondent look of her class. She told me she was home- 
sick, and she looked so. 

I have received the parcel containing the cushions and all the 
etcetera, for which I thank you very much. I suppose I must 
begin with the group of flowers ; I don't know how I shall manage 
it, but I shall try. I have a good number of letters to answer, 
from Smith, from Williams, from Thornton Hunt, Lastitia Wheel- 
wright, Harriet Dyson, and that Miss A , who has written 

again though I did not answer her first letter (more shame to me), 
so I must bid you good-bye for the present. Write to me soon. 


The brief absence from home, though In some respects trying and 
painful in itself, has I think given me a little better tone of spirit. 
All through this month of February, I have had a crushing time 
of it. I could not escape from or rise above certain most mourn- 
ful recollections, the last few days, the sufferings, the remembered 
words, most sorrowful to me, of those who, Faith assures me, are 
now happy. At evening and bed-time, such thoughts would 

haunt me, bringing a weary heartache. Good-bye dear . 

Yours faithfully, C. B. 

Letter 424 


March igth, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, The books came yesterday evening just as I 
was wishing for them very much. There is much interest for me 
in opening the Cornhill parcel. I wish there was not pain too 
but so it is. As I untie the cords and take out the volumes, I am 
reminded of those who once on similar occasions looked on eagerly ; 
I miss familiar voices commenting mirthfully and pleasantly ; the 
room seems very still, very empty ; but yet there is consolation in 
remembering that papa will take pleasure in some of the books. 
Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness it 
has no taste. 

I wonder how you can choose so well ; on no account would I 
forestall the choice. I am sure any selection I might make for 
myself would be less satisfactory than the selection others so 
kindly and judiciously make for me ; besides, if I knew all that 
was coming it would be comparatively flat. I would much rather 
not know. 

Amongst the especially welcome works are Southey's Life, the 
Women of France. -, Hazlitt's Essays^ Emerson's Representative Men \ 
but it seems invidious to particularise when all are good, ... I 
took up a second small book, Scott's Suggestions on Female Educa- 
tion ; that, too, I read, and with unalloyed pleasure. It is very good ; 
justly thought, and clearly and felicitously expressed. The girls 
of this generation have great advantages ; it seems to me that they 
receive much encouragement in the acquisition of knowledge and 
the cultivation of their minds; in these days women may be 
thoughtful and well read, without being universally stigmatised as 
' Blues ' and * Pedants/ Men begin to approve and aid, instead of 


ridiculing or checking them in their efforts to be wise. I must 
say that, for my own part, whenever I have been so happy as to 
share the conversation of a really intellectual man, my feeling has 
been, not that the little I knew was accounted a superfluity and 
impertinence, but that I did not know enough to satisfy just ex- 
pectation. I have always to explain, ' In me you must not look 
for great attainments : what seems to you the result of reading" 
and study is chiefly spontaneous and intuitive.' . . . Against the 
teaching of some (even clever) men, one instinctively revolts. 
They may possess attainments, they may boast varied knowledge 
of life and of the world ; but if of the finer perceptions, of the more 
delicate phases of feeling, they may be destitute and incapable, of 
what avail is the rest? Believe me, while hints well worth con- 
sideration may come from unpretending sources, from minds not 
highly cultured, but naturally fine and delicate, from hearts kindly, 
feeling, and unenvious, learned dictums delivered with pomp and 
sound may be perfectly empty, stupid, and contemptible. No 
man ever yet by aid of Greek climbed Parnassus,' or taught 
others to climb it. ... 

I enclose for your perusal a scrap of paper which came Into my 
hands without the knowledge of the writer. He is a poor working 
man of this village a thoughtful,, reading, feeling being, whose 
mind is too keen for his frame, and wears it out. I have not 
spoken to him above thrice in my life, for he is a Dissenter, and 
has rarely come in my way. The document is a sort of record of 
his feelings, after the perusal of Jane Eyre\ it is artless and 
earnest, genuine and generous. You must return it to me, for I 
value it more than testimonies from higher sources. He said : 
c Miss Bronte, if she knew he had written it, would scorn him ' ; 
but, indeed, Miss Bronte does not scorn him; she only grieves 
that a mind of which this is the emanation should be kept crushed 
by the leaden hand of poverty by the trials of uncertain health 
and the claims of a large family. 

As to the Times, as you say, the acrimony of its critique has 
proved, in some measure, its own antidote; to have been more 
effective it should have been juster. I think it has had little 
weight up here in the North : it may be that annoying remarks, 
if made, are not suffered to reach my ear; but certainly, while I 
heard little condemnatory of Shirley, more than once have I been 
deeply moved by manifestations of even enthusiastic approbation. 
I deem it unwise to dwell much on these matters ; but for once I 


must permit myself to remark, that the generous pride many of 
the Yorkshire people have taken in the matter has been such as 
to awake and claim my gratitude, especially since it has afforded 
a source of reviving pleasure to my father in his old age. The 
very curates, poor fellows ! show no resentment : each character- 
istically finds solace for his own wounds in crowing over his 
brethren. Mr. Donne was, at first, a little disturbed ; for a week 
or two he was in disquietude, but he is now soothed down ; only 
yesterday I had the pleasure of making him a comfortable cup of 
tea, and seeing him sip it with revived complacency. It is a 
curious fact that, since he read Shirley^ he has come to the house 
oftener than ever, and been remarkably meek, and assiduous to 
please. Some people's natures are veritable enigmas : I quite 
expected to have had one good scene at least with him ; but as 
yet nothing of the sort has occurred. 

I hope Mrs. Williams continues well, and that she is beginning 
to regain composure after the shock of her recent bereavement. 
She has indeed sustained a loss for which there is no substitute. 
But rich as she still is in objects for her best affections, I trust the 
void will not be long or severely felt. She must think, not of 
what she has lost, but of what she possesses. With eight fine 
children, how can she ever be poor or solitary ! Believe me, dear 
sir, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 425 


March $ot%, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, You must not wait for me to come to 
Brookroyd before you go to Tranby, I have no intention of 
leaving home at present, especially as it may be necessary (though 
this is quite uncertain) that I should go to London for a week or 
two in the course of the spring, and if I do, I should like to see 
you after my return, since I should then have more to tell you. 
I had a letter from Amelia yesterday, very kindly and sensibly 
written. She speaks of Joe and seems to wish to get from me a 
distinct opinion of his character, etc. This I cannot give her, 
for were there no other objection, I have as yet no distinct 
opinion, though I may have strong impressions for my own 


I enclose a slip of newspaper for your amusement ; me it both 
amused and touched, for it alludes to some who are in this world 
no longer. It is an extract from an American paper, and is 
written by an emigrant from Haworth. You will find it a curious 
mixture of truth and inaccuracy. Return it when you write again. 
I also send you for perusal an opinion of Jane Eyre written by a 
working man in this village ; rather, I should say, a record of the 
feelings the book excited in the poor fellow's mind ; it was not 
written for my inspection, nor does the writer know that his little 
document has by intricate means come into my possession, and I 
have forced those who gave it, to promise they will never inform 
him of the circumstance. He is a modest, thoughtful, feeling, 
reading being, to whom I have spoken perhaps about three times 
in the course of my life ; his delicate health renders him incapable 
of hard or close labour, and his family are often under the pressure 
of want. He feared that if ' Miss Bronte saw what he had written 
she would laugh it to scorn, 3 but Miss Bronte considers it one of 
the highest, because one of the most truthful and artless tributes 
her work has yet received. You must return this likewise. I do 
you great honour in showing it to you. Give my love to all at 
Brookroyd, and believe me, yours faithfully, - C. B. 

Letter 426 


April ^rd, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I certainly do think that you are generally too 
venturesome in risking exposure to all weathers there are sudden 
changes from hot to cold and vice versa there are fogs, cold 
penetrating winds during which all people of constitutions not 
robust are better in the house than out of doors ; regular exercise 
is an excellent thing, but in very cold or damp and stormy 
weather, you cannot always with prudence enjoy it. I do not wish 
you to coddle yourself, but trust you will be careful, . . . maladies 
are sooner caught than cured. In your position it is your positive 
duty to run no risks ; if anything happened to you what would be 
your mother's condition ? * Do not write again till you can do it 
without fatigue, but, as soon as you feel able, indite me a particular, 
detailed account of your state, speak the exact truth and give me 
no deceiving gloss. Yours, C B. 


Letter 427 


April 3rd, 1850, 

MY DEAR SIR, I have received the Dublin Review, and your 
letter enclosing the Indian Notices. I hope these reviews will do 
good ; they are all favourable, and one of them (the Dublin) is 
very able. I have read no critique so discriminating since that 
in the Revue des deux Mondes. It offers a curious contrast to 
Lewes's in the Edinburgh, where forced praise, given by jerks, 
and obviously without real and cordial liking, and censure, crude, 
conceited, and ignorant, were mixed in random lumps forming a 
very loose and inconsistent whole. 

Are you aware whether there are any grounds for that con- 
jecture in the Bengal Hurkaru, that the critique in the Times was 
from the pen of Mr. Thackeray ? I should much like to know 
this. If such were the case (and I feel as if it were by no means 
impossible), the circumstance would open a most curious and 
novel glimpse of a very peculiar disposition. Do you think it 
likely to be true? 

The account you give of Mrs. Williams's health is not cheer- 
ing, but I should think her indisposition is partly owing to the 
variable weather ; at least, if you have had the same keen frost 
and cold east winds in London, from which we have lately suffered 
in Yorkshire. I trust the milder temperature we are now enjoying 
may quickly confirm her convalescence. With kind regards to 
Mrs. Williams, Believe me, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 


Letter 428 


April 122/fc, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I own I was glad to receive your assurance 
that the Calcutta paper's surmise was unfounded. 1 It is said that 
when we wish a thing to be true, we are prone to believe it true ; 
but I think (judging from myself) we adopt with a still prompter 
credulity the rumour which shocks. 

It is very kind in Dr. Forbes to give me his book. I hope 
Mr. Smith will have the goodness to convey my thanks for the 
1 That Thackeray had written the Times review of Shirley, 


present. You can keep it to send with the next parcel, or perhaps 
I may be in London myself before May is over. That invitation 
I mentioned in a previous letter is still urged upon me, and well 
as I know what penance its acceptance would entail in some 
points, I also know the advantage it would bring in others. My 
conscience tells me it would be the act of a moral poltroon to let 
the fear of suffering stand in the way of improvement. But suffer 
I shall. No matter. 

The perusal of S out key's Life has lately afforded me much 
pleasure. The autobiography with which it commences is deeply 
interesting, and the letters which follow are scarcely less so, 
disclosing as they do a character most estimable in its integrity 
and a nature most amiable in its benevolence, as well as a mind 
admirable in its talent. Some people assert that genius is incon- 
sistent with domestic happiness, and yet Southey was happy at 
home and made his home happy ; he not only loved his wife and 
children though he was a poet, but he loved them the better 
because he was a poet. He seems to have been without taint ot 
worldliness. London with its pomps and vanities, learned coteries 
with their dry pedantry, rather scared than attracted him. He 
found his prime glory in his genius, and his chief felicity in home 
affections. I like Southey. 

I have likewise read one of Miss Austen's works Emma read 
it with interest and with just the degree of admiration which 
Miss Austen herself would have thought sensible and suitable. 
Anything like warmth or enthusiasm anything energetic, poig- 
nant, heart- felt is utterly out of place in commending these works : 
all such demonstration the authoress would have met with a well- 
bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outre" and extravagant. 
She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of 
genteel English people curiously well. There is a Chinese fidelity, 
a miniature delicacy in the painting. She ruffles her reader by 
nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound. The 
passions are perfectly unknown to her ; she rejects even a speaking 
acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood, Even to the feelings 
she vouchsafes no more than an occasional graceful but distant 
recognition too frequent converse with them would ruffle the 
smooth elegance of her progress. Her business is not half so 
much with the human heart as with the human eyes, mouth, 
hands, and feet. What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, 
it suits her to study ; but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, 


what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and 
the sentient target of death this Miss Austen ignores. She no 
more, with her mind's eye, beholds the heart of her race than each 
man, with bodily vision, sees the heart in his heaving breast. 
Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very 
incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless] woman. If this is 
heresy, I cannot help it If I said it to some people (Lewes for 
instance) they would directly accuse me of advocating exaggerated 
heroics, but I am not afraid of your falling into any such vulgar 
error. Believe me, yours sincerely, C. BKONTii. 

Letter 429 


April I2f/i, 1850, 

DEAR ELLEN, I cannot find your last letter to refer to and 
therefore this will be no answer to it you must write again by 
return of post if possible, and let me know how you are progress- 
ing. What you said in your last confirmed my opinion that your 
late attack had been coming on for a long time. Your wish for a 
cold water bath is, I should think, the result of fever ; almost every 
one has complained lately of tendency to low fever. I have felt 
it in frequent thirst and infrequent appetite. Papa, too, and 
Martha, have complained. I fear this damp weather will scarcely 
suit you, but write and say all. Of late I have had many letters 
to answer and some very bewildering ones from people who 
want opinions about their books, who seek acquaintance and who 
flatter to get it people who utterly mistake all about me. They 
are most difficult to answer, put off, and appease without offending, 
for such characters are excessively touchy and when affronted 
turn malignant. Their books are too often deplorable. Sir J. K. 
Shuttleworth and family are in London. I enclose the last note 
received from him. You are to read and comment This was his 
theme when I was at Gawthorpe. I then gave notice that I would 
not be lionised ; that is why he talks of 'small parties/ I shall 
probably go. I know what the effect and what the pain will be, 
how wretched I shall often feel, how thin and haggard I shall, 
get; but he who shuns suffering will never win victory. If I 
mean to improve, I must strive and endure. The visit, if made, 
will, however, be short, as short as I can possibly make it. Would 


to God It were well over ! I have one safeguard. Sir James has 
been a physician, and looks at me with a physician's eye : he saw 
at once that I could not stand much fatigue, nor bear the presence 
of many strangers. I believe he could partly understand how 
soon my stock of animal spirits was brought to a low ebb ; but 
none not the most skilful physician can get at more than 
the outside of these things ; the heart knows its own bitterness 
and the frame its own poverty, and the mind its own struggles. 
Papa is eager and restless -for me to go ; the idea of a refusal 
quite hurt him. Once more, would it were well over! Yours, 
dear Nell, C. B. 

Amelia still writes to me. I sometimes find it difficult to 
answer her letters, but am always touched by their amiability. 
Tom Dixon wrote a note to say they would be here on Saturday 

Letter 430 


April 13*%, 1850. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, It shall be my endeavour to come to you 
this week ; of course I cannot be very easy till I have seen you, 
but it is quite useless to dilate on any impression your condition 
makes on me. I most earnestly wish you could have Mr. Teale. 
As to trifling with serious illness, the thought makes one sick. 
God bless and protect you I C. BRONTE. 

I think you said the Birstall Omnibus started from the George 
about 4 o'clock p.m. Do not be discouraged if you happen to 
feel worse to-day, the weather is terribly unfavourable, an east 
wind giving everybody cold. I cannot tell whether your com- 
plaint in any respects resembles Anne's, but I trust and hope 
there is in your case this great difference, viz. that no vital organ, 
such as the lungs, is already by its inherent unsoundness pre- 
disposed to malady. I wonder what ' strong medicine ' Mr. Carr 
intends to give you. I abhor and distrust their * strong medicine,' 
He is not dealing with a horse or an elephant. In case of any 
decided change for the better in your state a single line will 
relieve me from some anxiety. Dear Nell, if prayers will do any 
good, I shall remember you. 



Letter 431 


April, 1850, 


DEAR ELLEN. I arrived home safely about half-past seven on 
Monday evening, and I am sorry to say I found papa far from 
well, with a bad cold ; to-day, however, he is much better. I 
hope, with care, he will soon be much as usual. Joe Taylor came 
yesterday punctually at 2 o'clock. At first he was in an odious 
humour, behaving just as you described him that evening at 
Brookroyd. He had not been in the house 10 minutes before he 
began abusing c old Ringrose,' in this strain he ran on ' he would 
not be kept waiting, it was humbug, he would give it up/ etc. I 
was beginning to feel much disgusted and to wonder how the 
time would pass till six o'clock. Papa being in bed, I had my 
visitor utterly to myself. Soon after dinner he took a turn, began 
gradually to calm, soften, talk rather affectionately of Miss 
Ringrose, and less bitterly of her father ; to these topics he stuck 
almost the whole time, waxing more and more amiable towards 
the close. He had not a word to say that was new, his visit was, 
as I told you, a caprice. When he left at six, he announced that 
he should come again soon, and if he does come, he will talk the 
same things over again. I shall listen, mind my sewing, and be 
as patient as I possibly can. The visit did not exhaust me, I never 
once got excited, and talked very little. In talking of Miss 
Ringrose, his aim and pleasure seemed to be to reason himself 
into illusion and something like love, he repeated over and over 
again that she looked 'very nice 3 last time he saw her, and 
commended her conduct to the servants and to all round her. 
He said, in short, what was true and right, but he said it so often 
I was sometimes at a loss for responses. No need to comment 
on the affair. 

How are you, and what are the results of the tooth extraction ? 
Give my love to all at Brookroyd, tell Mercy that I was much 
concerned at not bidding her good-bye. Tell Mrs. Clapham that I 
made the pigeons into a pie and that they were excellent. Papa 
found them quite a treat and he had no appetite for meat I send 
the Examiner and Courier. Yours faithfully, C. B, 


Letter 432 


April 25/>, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I cannot let the post go without thanking 
Mr. Smith through you for the kind reply to Greenwood's applica- 
tion; 1 and, I am sure, both you and he would feel true pleasure 
could you see the delight and hope with which these liberal terms 
have inspired a good and intelligent though poor man. He 
thinks he now sees a prospect of getting his livelihood by a 
method which will suit him better than wool-combing work has 
hitherto done, exercising more of his faculties and sparing his 
health. He will do his best, I am sure, to extend the sale of the 
cheap edition of fane Eyre ; and whatever twinges I may still feel 
at the thought of that work being in the possession of all the 
worthy folk of Haworth and Keighley, such scruples are more 
than counterbalanced by the attendant good; I mean, by the 
assistance it will give a man who deserves assistance. I wish 
he could permanently establish a little bookselling business In 
Haworth : it would benefit the place as well as himself. 

Thank you for the Leader, which I read with pleasure. The 
notice of Newman's work in a late number was very good. 
Believe me, my dear sir, in haste yours sincerely, 


Letter 433 


April vgth 1850. 

DEAR CHARLOTTE, I have set up shop ! I am delighted with 
it as a whole that is, it is as pleasant or as little disagreeable 
as you can expect an employment to be that you earn your 
living by. The best of it is that your labour has some return, 
and you are not forced to work on hopelessly without result. 
Du reste, it is very odd. I keep looking at myself with one eye 

1 That he should be assisted in adding bookselling to the little stationery store which 
helped him to a livelihood. The inscription on his tomb in Haworth churchyard runs : 
*In loving memory of John Greenwood of Haworth, who died March 25, 1863, aged 
56 years.' He gave Mrs. Gaskell a brief reminiscence of the Bronte children buying 
writing-paper from him. See Life^ Haworth edition, page 294. 


while I 'm using the other, and I sometimes find myself in ver 
queer positions. Yesterday I went along the shore past th 
wharfs and several warehouses on a street where I had neve 
been before during all the five years I have been in Wellington 
I opened the door of a long place filled with packages, witl 
passages up the middle, and a row of high windows on one side 
At the far end of the room a man was writing at a desk beneatl 
a window. I walked all the length of the room very slowly, fo 
what I had come for had completely gone out of my head 
Fortunately the man never heard me until I had recollected it 
Then he got up, and I asked him for some stone-blue, saltpetre 
tea, pickles, salt, etc. He was very civil. I bought some thing: 
and asked for a note of them. He went to his desk again ; . 
looked at some newspapers lying near. On the top was a circula 
from Smith & Elder containing notices of the most importan 
new works. The first and longest was given to Shirley^ a boo! 
I had seen mentioned in the Manchester Examiner as written b) 
Currer Bell. I blushed all over. The man got up, folding th< 
note. I pulled it out of his hand and set off to the door, looking 
odder than ever, for a partner had come in and was watching 
The clerk said something about sending them, and I said some 
thing too I hope it was not very silly and took my departure. 

I have seen some extracts from Shirley in which you talk o 
women working. And this first duty, this great necessity, yoi 
seem to think that some women may indulge in, if they give uj 
marriage, and don't make themselves too disagreeable to the 
other sex. You are a coward and a traitor. A woman whc 
works is by that alone better than one who does not; and c 
woman who does not happen to be rich and who still earns nc 
money and does not wish to do so, is guilty of a great fault, almosl 
a crime a dereliction of duty which leads rapidly and almosl 
certainly to all manner of degradation. It is very wrong of you 
to plead for toleration for workers on the ground of their being in 
peculiar circumstances, and few in number or singular in disposi- 
tion. Work or degradation Is the lot of all except the very small 
number born to wealth. 

For the last month I have really had a good excuse for not 
writing any more book.' I have worked hard at something else, 
We have been moving, cleaning, shop-keeping, until I was really 
tired every night a wonder for me. It does me good, and I had 
much rather be tired than ennuyte. Have you seen Joe ? or heard 


anything of John ? There is a change gradually come over them 
in the last five years that I am only half acquainted with. Joe's 
gloom and John's wandering both show wretched health, and 
Joe's cure seems to me very fantastic. By the eagerness with 
which he seeks to be married he evidently hopes more from the 
change than it will bring. It is certainly better to be married, but 
to look forward to such great things is just insuring disappoint- 
ment Their business gives no subject for such depression, and, 
perhaps, if they were poorer they would have more to care for. 
We all here thrive wonderfully, Waring and his babies, Ellen 'and 
myself. Ellen is worst that is, least well. She was seriously ill 
on the passage out. Henry is in Sydney. I think he will learn 
Waring's trade and settle in Auckland. John and Joe have 
promised to help him. 

Ellen is with me, or I with her. I cannot tell how our shop 
will turn out, but I am as sanguine as ever. Meantime we 
certainly amuse ourselves better than if we had nothing to do. 
We like it, and that 's the truth. By the Cornelia we are going 
to send home sketches and fern leaves. You must look at them, 
and it will need all your eyes to understand them, for they are a 
mass of confusion. They are all within two miles of Wellington, 
and some of them rather like Ellen's sketch of me especially. 
During the last six months I have seen more ' society ' than in all 
the last four years. Ellen is half the reason of my being invited, 
and my improved circumstances besides. There is no one worth 
mentioning particularly. The women are all ignorant and narrow, 
and the men selfish. They are of a decent, honest. kind, and 
some intelligent and able. A Mr. Woodward is the only literary 
man we know, and he seems to have fair sense. This was the 
clerk I bought the stone-blue of. We have just got a mechanics' 
institute, and weekly lectures delivered there. It is amusing to 
see people trying to find out whether or not it is fashionable and 
proper to patronise it Somehow it seems it is. I think I have 
told you all this before, which shows I have got to the end of my 
news. Your next letter to me ought to bring me good news, 
more cheerful than the last. You will somehow get drawn out of 
your hole and find interests among your fellow-creatures. Do 
you know that living among people with whom you have not the 
slightest interest in common is just like living alone, or worse ? 
Ellen Nussey is the only one you can talk to, that I know of at 
least. Give my love to her and to Miss Wooler, if you have the 


opportunity. I am writing this on just such a night as you will 
likely read it rain and storm, coming winter, and a glowing fire. 
Ours is on the ground, wood, no fender or irons ; no matter, we 
are very comfortable. PAG. 

Letter 434 


April 292^, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Miss Wooler's little note, which it 
gave me melancholy pleasure to read ; it is as you say very like 
her, thoroughly characteristic, both of some of her faults and 
much of her excellence. By this time I suppose you are at 
Bradford. Has the change of air done you any good ? 

We have had but a poor week of it at Haworth. Papa con- 
tinues far from well ; he is often very sickly in the morning, a 
symptom which I have remarked before in his aggravated attacks 
of bronchitis ; unless he should get much better, I shall never 
think of leaving him to go to London. Martha has suffered from 
tic-douloureux, with sickness and fever, just like you. She is, 
however, much better at present. I have a bad cold, and stub- 
born sore throat ; in short, everybody but old Tabby is out of 
sorts. When Joe Taylor was here, he complained of sudden 
headache, and the night after he was gone I had something 
similar, very bad, lasting about three hours. 

I have just got another letter from Amelia ; she is a good, kind 
girl, but when she is married she must take care to be more 
sparing of her love to her spouse than she is of epistles to her 

The wind is in the east, I fear it will not suit you. Send me a 
bulletin quickly. Yours truly, C B. 

Letter 435 


May 6/&, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have received the copy of Jane Eyre?- To 
me the printing and paper seem very tolerable, Will not the 
public in general be of the same opinion ? And are you not 
making yourselves causelessly uneasy on the subject? 
1 The cheap one-volume reprint 


I imagine few will discover the defects of typography unless 
they are pointed out. There are, no doubt, technical faults and 
perfections in the art of printing to which printers and publishers 
ascribe a greater importance than the majority of readers. 

I will mention Mr. Smith's proposal respecting the cheap 
publications to Greenwood. I believe him to be a man on whom 
encouragement is not likely to be thrown away, and who, if 
fortune should not prove quite adverse, will contrive to effect 
something by dint of intelligence and perseverance. 

I am sorry to say my father has been far from well lately the 
cold weather has tried him severely ; and, till I see him better, 
my intended journey to town must be deferred. With sincere 
regards to yourself and other Cornhill friends, I am, my dear 
sir, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 436 


May n fh, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I trust papa is now really better, but he has 
been very unwell since I wrote last without appetite, feeble, 
and sickly. I felt for some days great anxiety about him, it is 
impossible to disguise from myself that these repeated attacks 
of bronchitis are a serious matter. There is something that 
appears very strange, that shocks, in the rapid advance of Miss 
Walker's illness. Consumption seems to be more rapid as well 
as more general in its ravages than formerly. 

The Miss Wooler and M business is characteristic of each. 

I can well conceive the annoyance 's vagaries must cause. 

I fear I should be almost driven beside myself; certainly few 
things are more annoying than the wilfulness of a weak person, 
So long as they are tractable their deficiencies can be borne with, 
but when they reject counsel and blunder into difficulties of their 
own making, one does not know how to manage. Last Friday 
was the day appointed for me to go to Lancashire, but I did not 
think papa well enough to be left, and accordingly begged Sir 
James and Lady Shuttleworth to return to London without me. 
It was arranged that we were to stay at several of their friends' 
and relatives' houses on the way; a week or more would have 
been taken up in the journey. I cannot say that I regret having 
missed this ordeal ; I would as lief have walked among red-hot 


ploughshares ; but I do regret one great treat, which I shall now 
miss. Next Wednesday is the anniversary dinner of the Royal 
Literary Fund Society, held in Freemasons' Hall. Octavian 
Blewitt, the secretary, offered me a ticket for the Ladies 1 Gallery. 
I should have seen all the great literati and artists gathered in 
the hall below, and heard them speak. Thackeray and Dickens 
are always present among the rest This cannot now be. I don't 
think all London can afford another sight to me so interesting. * 

With regards to all at Brookroyd, I am, dear Nell, yours 
faithfully, C. B. 

Letter 437 


May 2otAj 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am thankful to say that papa is now so 
much better so nearly indeed restored to his usual state of 
health, that I trust to be at liberty to come to town next Thursday. 
I look forward to the visit with mixed' feelings, desiring it on some 
accounts, dreading it on others. 

Illness has of late been, and still is, very general here ; from 
what you say such seems also to have been the case in the South ; 
I am glad, however, to learn that the invalids in your own family 
are convalescent 

Probably you can give me no information respecting the writer 
of the letter forwarded by you. There was something about it 
which took it out of the usual category of the letters I receive 
genuine, earnest, unaffected; it deserved an answer, and should 
have had one, had the address been given. Hoping to see you 
soon, I am, dear sir, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 438 


May 2isfj 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, My visit is again postponed. Sir James, I am 
sorry to say, is most seriously ill, two physicians are in attend- 

1 As an illustration of the change of standpoint in half a century, it may be mentioned 
that many literary women now denounce this privilege as a degradation of their sex. 
The Royal Literary Fund preserved the custom up to within the last two or three years, 
but invited women to partake of the banquet on the occasion when Mr, J, M. Barrie 
took the Chair in 1905. 

2 This letter was lent me by the owner, Miss Winifred Wrench* 


ance twice a day, and company and conversation, even with his 
own relatives, are prohibited as too exciting. Notwithstanding 
this, he has written two notes to me himself, claiming a promise 
that I will wait till he is better, and not allow any one else ' to 
introduce me/ as he says, into the Oceanic life of London. 7 
Sincerely sorry as I was for him, I could not help smiling at this 
sentence. But I shall willingly promise. I know something of 
him, and like part at least of what I do know. I do not feel in 
the least tempted to change him for another. His sufferings are 
very great ; I trust and hope God will be pleased to spare his 
mind. I have just got a note informing me that he is something 
better ; but, of course, he will vary. Lady Shuttleworth is much, 
much to be pitied too ; his nights, it seems, are most distressing. 

Poor Mrs. Gorham and Mary! The cloud which has come 
over them seems to linger. Good-bye, dear Nell. Write soon 
to C. B. 

Letter 439 


May 22^, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I had thought to bring the Leader and the 
Athenceum myself this time, and not to have to send them by post, 
but it turns out otherwise ; my journey to London is again post- 
poned, and this time indefinitely. Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth's 
state of health is the cause a cause, I fear, not likely to be soon 
removed. . . . Once more, then, I settle myself down in the quietude 
of Haworth Parsonage, with books for my household companions 
and an occasional letter for a visitor ; a mute society, but neither 
quarrelsome, nor vulgarising, nor unimproving. 

One of the pleasures I had promised myself consisted in asking 
you several questions about the Leader, which is really, in its way, 
an interesting paper. I wanted, amongst other things, to ask you 
the real names of some of the contributors, and also what Lewes 
writes besides his 'Apprenticeship of Life.' I always think the 
article headed ' Literature ' is his. Some of the communications 
in the e Open Council ' department are odd productions ; but it 
seems to me very fair and right to admit them. Is not the system 
of the paper altogether a novel one ? I do not remember seeing 
anything precisely like it before. 

I have just received yours of this morning ; thank you for the 


enclosed note. The longings for liberty and leisure, which May 
sunshine wakens in you, stir my sympathy. I am afraid Cornhill 
Is little better than a prison for its inmates on warm spring or 
summer days. It is a pity to think of you all toiling at your 
desks in such genial weather as this. For my part, I am free to 
walk on the moors ; but when I go out there alone everything 
reminds me of the times when others were with me, and then the 
moors seem a wilderness, featureless, solitary, saddening. My 
sister Emily had a particular love for them, and there is not a 
knoll of heather, not a branch of fern, not a young bilberry leaf, 
not a fluttering lark or linnet, but reminds me of her. The distant 
prospects were Anne's delight, and when I look round she is in 
the blue tints, the pale mists, the waves and shadows of the 
horizon. In the hill-country silence their poetry comes by lines 
and stanzas into my mind : once I loved it ; now I dare not read 
it, and am driven often to wish I could taste one draught of 
oblivion, and forget much that, while mind remains, I never shall 
forget. Many people seem to recall their departed relatives with 
a sort of melancholy complacency, but I think these have not 
watched them through lingering sickness, nor witnessed their last 
moments : it Is these reminiscences that stand by your bedside at 
night, and rise at your pillow in the morning. At the end of all, 
however, exists the Great Hope. Eternal Life is theirs now. 


Letter 440 


May 237-4 1850. 

DEAR SIR, Apologies are indeed unnecessary for a * reality of 
feeling, for a genuine, unaffected impulse of the spirit/ such as 
prompted you to write the letter which I now briefly acknowledge. 

Certainly it is ' something to me > that what I write should be 
acceptable to the feeling heart and refined intellect ; undoubtedly 
it is much to me that my creations (such as they are) should find 
harbourage, appreciation, indulgence at any friendly hand, or from 
any generous mind. You are very welcome to take Jane, Caroline, 
and Shirley for your sisters, and I trust they will often speak to 
their adopted brother when he Is solitary, and soothe him when he 

1 Reprinted from Mrs. Gaskell's Life> and there described as to a young man at 
Cambridge who had expressed admiration for her books. 


Is sad. If they cannot make themselves at home in a thoughtful, 
sympathetic mind, and diffuse through its twilight a cheering 
domestic glow, it is their fault ; they are not, in that case, so 
amiable, so benignant, not so real as they ought to be. If they 
can, and can find household altars in human hearts, they will fulfil 
the best design of their creation in therein maintaining a genial 
flame, which shall warm but not scorch, light but not dazzle. 

What does it matter that part of your pleasure in such beings 
has its source in the poetry of your own youth rather than any 
magic of theirs ? What that perhaps, ten years hence, you may 
smile to remember your present recollections, and view under 
another light both 'Currer Bell' and his writings? To me this 
consideration does not detract from the value of what you now 
feel. Youth has its romance, and maturity its wisdom, as morning 
and spring have their freshness, noon and summer their power, 
night and winter their repose* Each attribute is good in its own 
season, Your letter gave me pleasure, and I thank you for it 


Letter 441 


May 26 tit, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, Papa has continued to improve since I last 
wrote ; he preached twice yesterday, and as he is extremely 
anxious I should get over my London visit, I intend if all be well 
to go at the close of this week. 

I return the Pen and Ink portrait. I cannot say it encourages 
me to have my own taken. In three things it happens to hit the 
truth : in making you fond of giving, disposed rather to spend 
than save, and in representing you as conscientious and affec- 
tionate. Most of the other points offer so complete and violent 
an opposition to the truth as to prove the whole thing quackery. 

As this is Whit-Monday I am busy. Good-bye, dear Nell. 
Yours faithfully, C B. 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE may be counted among those who 
have felt the glamour of London. Her praise of it is 
well known to all who collect the verdict of distinguished 
writers on that great city. Her visits to it were many, but 
it was the fifth visit in the summer of 1850 that probably 
secured to her the greatest personal pleasure. She spent 
the opening of her fortnight's visit with Mrs. Smith, 
now removed to Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park, and she 
closed it with her friend Lsetitia Wheelwright at Phillimore 
Gardens. It was on this occasion that she first saw her 
hero, the Duke of Wellington ; she had a conversation 
with Thackeray, whom she appears to have ' lectured ' ; 
and she met George Henry Lewes, with whom she had 
corresponded with so much vigour. 

Letter 442 



LONDON, June yd^ 1850. 

SEAR ELLEN, I came to London last Thursday. I am stay- 
ing &t Mrs. Smith's, who has changed her residence as the address 
will sfepw. A good deal of writing backwards and forwards, 
persuasion, etc., took place before this step was resolved on, but 
at last I explained to Sir James 1 that I had some little matters 

Sir James $Cay-Shuttleworth (1804-1877). A doctor of medicine, who was made a 
baronet in 1849, \on resigning the secretaryship of the Committee of Council on Educa- 
tion; assumedjjie^name of 'Shuttleworth on his marriage, in 1842, to Janet, the only 
child and heiress^of Robert Shuttleworth of Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley (died 1872). His 
son became Baron Shuttle worth in 1902. 

from tkepvrkmit ly 


of business to transact, and that I should stay quietly at my 
publishers. He has called twice, and Lady Shuttleworth once ; 
each of them alone. He is in a fearfully nervous state. To my 
great horror he talks of my going with them to Hampton Court, 
Windsor, etc. God knows how I shall get on. I perfectly 
dread it. 

Here I feel very comfortable, Mrs. Smith treats me with a 
serene equable kindness which just suits me. Her son is as 
before genial and kindly. I have seen very few persons, and am 
not likely to see many, as the agreement was that I was to be 
very quiet. We have been to the Exhibition of the Royal 
Academy, to the Opera, and the Zoological Gardens. The 
weather is splendid. I shall not stay longer than a fortnight in 
London. The feverishness and exhaustion beset me somewhat, 
but not quite so badly as before, as indeed I have not yet been 
so much tried. I hope you will write soon and tell me how you 
are getting on. Give my regards to all. Yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

Letter 443 


HYDE PARK GARDENS, June 3rd, '50. 

DEAR L^TITIA, I came to London last Thursday and shall 
stay perhaps a fortnight. To-morrow I expect to go out of town 
for a few days but next week, if all be well, I hope to have the 
pleasure of calling on you. If you write to me meanwhile, 
address as above, and I shall find the letter on my return. 

Give my sincere regards to your papa, mamma, and alJ round 
the circle Emily, Fanny, Sarah- Anne, and, last not least take a 
good share of them to. your regal self. I am, yours sincerely, 


Letter 444 


HYDE PARK GARDENS, June 4?%, 1850, 

DEAR PAPA, I was very glad to get your letter this morning, 
and still more glad to learn that your health continues in some 


degree to improve. I fear you will feel the present weather some- 
what debilitating, at least if it is as warm in Yorkshire as in 
London. I cannot help grudging these fine days on account of 
the roofing of the house, It is a great pity the workmen were not 
prepared to begin a week ago. 

Since I wrote I have been to the Opera ; to the Exhibition of 
the Royal Academy, where there were some fine paintings, especi- 
ally a large one by Landseer of the Duke of Wellington on the 
field of Waterloo, and a grand, wonderful picture of Martin's from 
Campbell's poem of the ' Last Man/ showing the red sun fading 
out of the sky, and all the soil of the foreground made up of bones 
and skulls. The secretary of the Zoological Society also sent me 
an honorary ticket of admission to their gardens, which I wish you 
could see. There are animals from all parts of the world enclosed 
in great cages in the open air amongst trees and shrubs lions, 
tigers, leopards, elephants, numberless monkeys, camels, five or six 
camelopards, a young hippopotamus with an Egyptian for its 
keeper ; birds of all kind eagles, ostriches, a pair of great condors 
from the Andes, strange ducks and water-fowl which seem very 
happy and comfortable, and build their nests among the reeds and 
edges of the lakes where they are kept Some of the American 
birds make inexpressible noises. 

There are also all sorts of living snakes and lizards in cages, 
some great Ceylon toads not much smaller than Flossy, some 
large foreign rats nearly as large and fierce as little bull-dogs. 
The most ferocious and deadly-looking things in the place were 
these rats, a laughing hyena (which every now and then uttered 
a hideous peal of laughter such as a score of maniacs might pro- 
duce) and a cobra di capello snake. I think this snake was the 
worst of all : it had the eyes and face of a fiend, and darted out 
its barbed tongue sharply and incessantly. 

I am glad to hear that Tabby and Martha are pretty well. 
Remember me to them, and Believe me, dear papa, your 
affectionate daughter, C. BRONTE. 

I hope you don't care for the notice in Sharped Magazine ; it 
does not disturb me in the least Mr. Smith says it is of no 
consequence whatever in a literary sense, Sharpe,the proprietor, 
was an apprentice of Mr. Smith's father, 


Letter 445 


[LONDON], June i2/^, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, Since I wrote to you last I have not had many 
moments to myself, except such as it was absolutely necessary 
to give to rest. On the whole, however, I have thus far got on 
very well, suffering much less from exhaustion than I did last 

Of course I cannot in a letter give you a regular chronicle of 
how my time has been spent. I can only just notify what I deem 
three of the chief incidents. A sight of the Duke .of Wellington 
at the Chapel Royal (he is a real grand old man), a visit to the 
House of Commons (which I hope to describe to you some 
day when I see you), and last, not least, an interview with Mr. 
Thackeray. He made a morning call, and sat about two hours. 
Mr. Smith only was in the room the whole time. He described 
it afterwards as a ' queer scene/ and I suppose it was. The giant 
sat before me ; I was moved to speak to him of some of his 
shortcomings (literary, of course) ; one by one the faults came 
into my mind, and one by one I brought them out, and sought 
some explanation or defence. He did defend himself, like a great 
Turk and heathen ; that is to say, the excuses were often worse 
than the crime itself. The matter ended in decent amity ; ii all 
be well I am to dine at his house this evening. 

I have seen Lewes, too. He is a man with both weakness and 
sins, but unless I err greatly the foundation of his nature is not 
bad ; and were he almost a fiend in character I could not feel 
otherwise to him than half-sadly, half-tenderly, a queer word 
that last, but I use it because the aspect of Lewes's face almost 
moves me to tears ; it is so wonderfully like Emily, her eyes, her 
features, the very nose, the somewhat prominent mouth, the fore- 
head, even, at moments, the expression : whatever Lewes does or 
says, I believe I cannot hate him. Another likeness I have seen, 
too, that touched me sorrowfully. You remember my speaking 
of a Miss Kavanagh, a young authoress, who supported her 
mother by her writings. Hearing from Mr. Williams that she 
had a longing to see me, I called on her yesterday. I found a 
little almost dwarfish figure to which even I had to look down, 
not deformed, that is ? not hunchbacked, but long-armed and 


with a large head, and (at first sight) a strange face. She met me 
half-frankly, half-tremblingly ; we sat down together, and when I 
had talked with her five minutes, her face was no longer strange, 
but mournfully familiar ; it was Martha Taylor on every linea- 
ment I shall try to find a moment to see her again. She lives 
in a poor but clean and neat little lodging her mother seems a 
somewhat weak-minded woman, who can be no companion to 
her. Her father has quite deserted his wife and child, and this 
poor little, feeble, intelligent, cordial thing wastes her brains to 
gain a living. She is twenty-five years old. I do not intend to 
stay here, at the furthest, more than a week longer ; but at the 
end of that time I cannot go home, for the house at Haworth is 
just now unroofed, repairs were become necessary. 

I should like to go for a week or two to the seaside, in which 
case I wonder whether it would be possible for you to join me. 
Meantime, with regards to all, believe me, yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

Letter 446 


LONDON, June i$tk, 1850. 

DEAR MARTHA, I have not forgotten my promise of writing 
to you, though a multitude and variety of engagements have 
hitherto prevented me from fulfilling it. 

It appears, from a letter I received from papa this morning, that 
you are now in the bustle of unroofing ; and I look with much 
anxiety on a somewhat cloudy sky, hoping and trusting that it 
will not rain till all is covered in. 

You and Martha Redman are to take care not to break your 
backs with attempting to lift and carry heavy weights ; also you 
are not foolishly to run into draughts, go out without caps or 
bonnets, or otherwise take measures to make yourselves ill. I am 
rather curious to know how you have managed about a sleeping- 
place for yourself and Tabby. 

You must not expect that I should give you any particular 
description of London, as that would take up a good deal of time, 
and I have only a few minutes to spare. I shall merely say that 
it is a Babylon of a place, and just now particularly gay and noisy 
as this is what is called the height of the London season, and all 
the fine people are in town. I saw a good many lords and ladies 


at the Opera a few nights since, and, except for their elegant 
dresses, do not think them either much better or much worse than 
other people. 

In answer to this you may, when you have time, write me a few 
lines, in which you may say how papa is, how you and Tabby are, 
how the house is getting on, and how Mr. Nicholls prospers. 

With kind regards to Tabby, and Martha Redman, I am, dear 
Martha, your sincere friend, C, BRONTE. 

Letter 447 


HYDE PARK GARDENS, June 21 st, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am leaving London, if all be well, on Tuesday, 
and shall be very glad to come to you for a few days, if that 
arrangement still remains convenient to you. I intend to start at 
9 o'clock A.M. by the express train which arrives in Leeds 35m. past 
two. I should then be at Batley about 4 in the afternoon. Would 
that suit ? My London visit has much surpassed my expectations 
this time ; I have suffered less and enjoyed more than before; rather 
a trying termination yet remains to me. Mrs. Smith's youngest 
son is at school in Scotland, and George, her eldest, is going to 
fetch him home for the vacation ; the other evening he announced 
his intention of taking one of his sisters with him, and proposed 
that Miss Bronte should go down to Edinburgh and join them 
there, and see that city and its suburbs. I concluded he was 
joking, laughed and declined: however, it seems he was in earnest 
The thing appearing to me perfectly out of the question, I still 
refused. Mrs. Smith did not favour it ; you may easily fancy how 
she helped me to sustain my opposition, but her worthy son only 
waxed more determined. His mother is master of the house, but 
he is master of his mother. This morning she came and entreated 
me to go. ( George wished it so much ' ; he had begged her to use 
her influence, etc,, etc. Now I believe that George and I under- 
stand each other very well, and respect each other very sincerely. 
We both know the wide breach time has made between us ; we do 
not embarrass each other, or very rarely, my six or eight years of 
seniority, to say nothing of lack of all pretension to beauty, etc., 
are a perfect safeguard. I should not in the least fear to go with 



him to China. I like to see him pleased, I greatly dKrlike to ruffle 
and disappoint him, so he shall have his mind, and, if all be well, 
I mean to join him in Edinburgh after I shall have spent a few 
days with you. With his buoyant animal spirits and youthful vigour 
he will make severe demands on my muscles and nerves, but I 
dare say I shall get through somehow, and then perhaps come 
back to rest a few days with you before I go home. With kind 
regards to all at Brookroyd, your guests included, I am, dear 
Ellen, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Write by return of post. 

Letter 448 


July $tk, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, We shall leave Edinburgh to-morrow morning 
at a quarter to ten, arrive in York at 40 m. past three. From 
York I think there is no train to Leeds till about 6.30. If so, I 
shall not reach Leeds till 8 o'clock ; too late for the train to 
Batley. If it is really too late I shall take a cab at Leeds, for I 
would rather do that than stay at an Inn all night. I got to 
Edinburgh very safely; it is a glorious city. I wish you were 
with us and could see all we saw yesterday. London seems a 
dreary place compared to it. Mr. Smith was a little bit angry at 
first about my not having come. Unless plans are again changed 
we shall travel all together as far as York. We are just going out, 
so good-bye, dear Nell. Kind regards to all. Yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

Letter 449 


HAWORTH, July 15^, 1850. 

DEA!^ NELL, I got home very well, and full glad was I that no 
Insuperable obstacle had deferred my return a single day longer. 
Just at the t^?ot of Bridgehouse hill, I met John Greenwood, staff 
in hand ; he fortunately saw me in the cab, stopped, and informed 
me he was setting off to Brookroyd, by Mr. Bronte's orders, to see 
how I was, for t&at he had been quite miserable ever since he got 
Miss Nussey's letter. I found, on my arrival, that papa had 


worked himself up to a sad pitch of nervous excitement and 
alarm, in which Martha and Tabby were but too obviously joining 
him. I cannot deny but I was annoyed ; there really being small 
cause for it all. I hope you got to Hull well. The house looks 
very clean, and, I think, is not damp ; there is, however, still a 
great deal to do in the way of settling and arranging, enough to 
keep me disagreeably busy for some time to come. I was truly 
thankful to find papa pretty well, but I fear he is just beginning 
to show symptoms of a cold : my cold continues better. I have 
recently found that papa's great discomposure had its origin in 
two sources the vague fear of my being somehow about to be 
married to somebody, having received some overtures as he ex- 
pressed himself as well as an apprehension of illness. I have 
distinctly cleared away the first cause of uneasiness. An article 
in a newspaper, I found awaiting me on my arrival, amused me ; 
it was a paper published while I was in London. I enclose it to 
give you a laugh ; it professes to be written by an Author jealous 
of Authoresses. I do not know who he is, but he must be one of 
those I met. I saw Geraldine Jewsbury and Mrs. Crowe. The 
'ugly men,' giving themselves * Rochester airs/ is no bad hit; some 
of those alluded to will not like it. Love to Amelia, and repeat to 
her my thanks for her kind invitation and my regret that I could 
not accept it Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 450 


HAWORTH, July i$t%, 1850. 

I would not write to you immediately on my arrival at home, 
because each return to this old house brings with it a phase of 
feeling which it is better to pass through quietly before beginning 
to indite letters. The six weeks of change and enjoyment are 
past, but they are not lost ; memory took a sketch of each as 
it went by, and, especially, a distinct daguerreotype of the two 
days I spent in Scotland. Those were two very pleasant days. I 
always liked Scotland as an idea, but now, as a reality, I like it 
far better ; it furnished me with some hours as happy almost as 
any I ever spent Do not fear, however, that I am going to bore 
you with description : you will, before now, have received a pithy 
and pleasant report of all things, to which any addition of mine 


would be superfluous. My present endeavours are directed towards 
recalling my thoughts, cropping their wings, drilling them into 
correct discipline, and forcing them to settle to some useful work : 
they are idle, and keep taking the train down to London, or 
making a foray over the Border especially are they prone to 
perpetrate that last excursion ; and who, indeed, that has once 
seen Edinburgh, with its couchant crag-lion, but must see it again 
in dreams, waking or sleeping? My dear sir, do not think I 
blaspheme when I tell you that your great London, as compared 
to Dun-Edin, mine own romantic town,' is as prose compared to 
poetry, or as a great rumbling, rambling, heavy epic compared to 
a lyric, brief, bright, clear, and vital as a flash of lightning. You 
have nothing like Scott's monument, or if you had that, and all 
the glories of architecture assembled together, you have nothing- 
like Arthur's Seat, and above all you have not the Scotch national 
character and it is that grand character after all which gives the 
land its true charm, its true greatness. 

It was during this visit to London that Charlotte Bronte 
sat for her portrait to Richmond It is the only portrait 
extant of her with any degree of accuracy or any certainty 
of pedigree. This crayon drawing was the gift of Mr. 
George Smith to her father. It hung during her lifetime 
in the parlour at Haworth, but after her death was taken 
by her husband, Mr. Arthur Bell Nicholls, to his ancestral 
home at Banagher, Ireland. It was twice brought to 
London for short periods during the next fifty years, 
bequeathed to the National Portrait Gallery in his will by 
Mr. Nicholls, and found a permanent home there in the 
year 1907. 

Letter 451 


July \%th, 1850, 

DEAR ELLEN, You must cheer up, for your letter proves to me 
that you are low spirited. As for me, what I said is to be taken 
in this sense that, under the circumstances, it would be presump- 
tion in me to calculate on a long life ; a truth obvious enough. 


For the rest, we are all in the hands of Him who apportions His 
gifts health or sickness, length or brevity of days as is best for 
the receiver ; to him, who has work to do, time will be given in 
which to do It ; for him to whom no task is assigned the season of 
rest will come earlier : as to the suffering preceding our last sleep 
the sickness, decay, the struggle of spirit and flesh, it must come 
sooner or later to all. If, in one point of view, it is sad to have 
few ties in this world, in another point of view it is soothing ; 
women who have husbands and children must look forwards to 
death with more pain, more fear, than those who have none. To 
dismiss the subject, I wish (without cant, and not in any hackneyed 
sense) that you and I could always say in this matter the will of 
God be done. 

I am beginning to get settled at home, but the solitude seems 
heavy as yet, it is a great change, but in looking forward I try to 
hope for the best. So little faith have I in the power of any 
temporary excitement to do real good, that I have put off day by 
day writing to London to tell them I am come home and till 
then it was agreed that I should not hear from them. It is pain- 
ful to be dependent on the small stimulus letters give. I some- 
times think I will renounce it altogether, close all correspondence 
on some quiet pretext, and cease to look forward at post time for 
any letters but yours. 

I send the French newspaper to-day. The Examiner went 
yesterday. Give my love to Amelia, and believe me, yours faith- 
fully, C. B. 

Letter 452 


HAWORTH,/^// so/fc, 1850. 

MY BEAR L^ETITIA, I promised to write to you when I should 
have returned home. Returned home I am, but you may conceive 
that many, many matters solicit attention and demand arrange- 
ment in a house which has lately been turned topsy-turvy in the 
operation of unroofing. Drawers and cupboards must wait a 
moment, however, while I fufil my promise, though it Is impera- 
tively necessary that this fulfilment should be achieved with 

My stay in Scotland was short, and what I saw was chiefly com- 


prised in Edinburgh and the neighbourhood, in Abbotsford and 
Melrose, for I was obliged to relinquish my first intention of going 
from Glasgow to Oban and thence through a portion of the High- 
lands. But though the time was brief, and the view of objects 
limited, I found such a charm of situation, association, and circum- 
stances that I think the enjoyment experienced in that little space 
equalled in degree and excelled in kind all which London yielded 
during a month's sojourn, Edinburgh compared to London is like 
a vivid page of history compared to a huge dull treatise on 
political economy ; and as to Melrose and Abbotsford, the very 
names possess music and magic. 

I am thankful to say that on my return home I found papa 
pretty well. Full often had I thought of him when I was far 
away ; and deeply sad as it is on many accounts to come back to 
this old house, yet I was glad to be with him once more. 

You were proposing, I remember, to go into the country; I trust 
you are there now and enjoying this fine day in some scene where 
the air will not be tainted, nor the sunshine dimmed, by London 
smoke. If your papa, mamma, or any of your sisters are within 
reach, give them my kindest remembrances if not, save such re- 
membrances till you see them. Believe me, my dear Lsetitia, 
yours hurriedly but faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 453 


HAWORTH, August isf, 1850, 

The little box for me came at the same time as the large one 
for papa. When you first told me that you had had the Duke's 
picture framed, and had given it to me, I felt half provoked with 
you for performing such a work of supererogation, but now, when 
I see it again, I cannot but acknowledge that, in so doing, you 
were felicitously inspired. It is his very image, and, as papa said 
when he saw it, scarcely in the least like the ordinary portraits; 
not only the expression, but even the form of the head is different, 
and of a far nobler character. I esteem it a treasure. The lady 
who left the parcel for me was, it seems, Mrs. Gore. The parcel 
contained one of her works, The Hamiltons., and a very civil and 
friendly note, in which I find myself addressed as ' Dear Jane.' 
Papa seems much pleased with the portrait, as do the few other 


persons who have seen it, with one notable exception, viz. our old 
servant, who tenaciously maintains that it is not like that it is 
too old-looking but, as she, with equal tenacity, asserts that the 
Duke of Wellington's picture is a portrait of the Master ' (mean- 
ing papa), I am afraid not much weight is to be ascribed to her 
opinion ; doubtless she confuses her recollections of me as I was 
in childhood with present impressions. Requesting always to be 
very kindly remembered to your mother and sisters, I am yours 
very thanklessly (according to desire), C. BRONTE. 

Letter 454 


August isf, 1850. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I have certainly felt the late wet weather 
a good deal and been somewhat bothered with frequently return- 
ing colds, and so has papa. About him, I have been far from 
happy ; every cold seems to make and leave him so weak ; it is 
easy to say this world is only a scene of probation, but it is a 
hard thing to feel. Give Charlotte Bronte's sincere love to Rosfe 

My portrait is come from London, and the Duke of Wellington's, 
and kind letters enough. Papa thinks the portrait looks older 
than I do : he says the features are far from flattered, but acknow- 
ledges that the expression is wonderfully good and life-like. 

I left the book called Social Aspects at Brookroyd : accept 
it from me. I may well give it you, for the Author has kindly 
sent me another copy. Write to me again soon, and believe me, 
dear Ellen, yours faithfully, C B. 

Letter 455 


August 7 tfr y 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am truly sorry that I allowed the words to 
which you refer to escape my lips, since their effect on you has 
been unpleasant ; but try, dear Ellen, to chase every shadow of 
anxiety from your mind, and, unless the restraint be very disagree- 
able to you, permit me to add an earnest request that you will broach 
the subject to me no more. It is the undisguised and most harass- 
ing anxiety of others that has fixed in my mind thoughts and 


expectations which must canker wherever they take root; against 
;vhlch every effort of religion or philosophy must at times totally 
Fail ; and subjugation to which is a cruel, terrible fate the fate, 
indeed, of him whose life was passed under a sword suspended by 
a horse-hair. I have had to entreat papa's consideration on this 
point. My nervous system is soon wrought upon. I should wish 
to keep it in rational strength and coolness ; but to do so I must 
determinedly resist the kindly-meant, but too irksome expression 
Df an apprehension, for the realisation or defeat of which I have 
no possible power to be responsible. At present, I am pretty well, 
thank God! Papa, I trust, is no worse, but he complains of 
weakness. Amelia tells me you are looking well, which I am truly 
glad to hear, and glad also to learn that you get on pleasantly 
with the turtle-doves, and even, it seems, have your share of 
billing and cooing. I own I should be better pleased if the latter 
ivere something substantial and serious, and likely to lead to 
permanent happiness. I am glad to hear a good account of Joe 
Taylor. Let us hope for the best. Take care of yourself. Good- 
, dear Nell, C. BRONTE. 

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

Letter 456 


WELLINGTON, August i$tk> 1850. 

DEAR CHARLOTTE, After waiting about six months we have 
[ ust got Shirley. It was landed from the Constantinople on Monday 
ifternoon, just in the thick of our preparations for a 'small party 1 
or the next day. We stopped spreading red blankets over every- 
hing (New Zealand way of arranging a room) and opened the 


box and read all the letters. Soyer's Housewife and Shirley were 
there all right, but Miss Martineau's book was not In its place 
was a silly child's tale called Edward Orland. This was Joe's 
fault, no doubt, for I see in one of your letters you suspect him 
of it. On Tuesday we stayed up dancing till three or four o'clock, 
what for I can't imagine. However, it was a piece of business 
done. On Wednesday I began Shirley and continued in a curious 
confusion of mind till now, principally at the handsome foreigner 
who was nursed In our house when I was a little girl. By the 
way, you 've put him in the servant's bedroom. You make us all 
talk much as I think we should have done if we ? d ventured to 
speak at all. What a little lump of perfection you J ve made me ! 
There is a strange feeling in reading it of hearing us all talking. 
I have not seen the matted hall and painted parlour windows so 
plain these five years. But my father is not like. He hates well 
enough and perhaps loves too, but he Is not honest enough. It 
was from my father I learnt not to marry for money nor to 
tolerate any one who did, and he never would advise any one to 
do so, or fail to speak with contempt of those who did. Shirley 
is much more interesting than Jane Eyre, who never interests you 
at all until she has something to suffer. All through this last 
novel there Is so much more life and stir that it leaves you far 
more to remember than the other. Did you go to London about 
this too ! What for ? I see by a letter of yours to Mr. Dixon 
that you have been. I wanted to contradict some of your opinions, 
now I can't. As to when I 'm coming home, you may well ask. 
I have wished for fifteen years to begin to earn my own living ; 
last April I began to try it Is too soon to say yet with what 
success. I am woefully ignorant, terribly wanting in tact, and 
obstinately lazy, and almost too old to mend. Luckily there Is 
no other dance for me, so I must work. Ellen takes to it kindlyj 
it gratifies a deep ardent wish of hers as of mine, and she is 
habitually industrious. For her, ten years younger, our shop will be 
a blessing. She may possibly secure an independence, and skill 
to keep It and use it, before the prime of life is past As to my 
writings, you may as well ask the Fates about that too. I can 
give you no information, I write a page now and then. I never 
forget or get strange to what I have written. When I read it over 
it looks very interesting. MARY TAYLOR. 


Letter 457 



MY DEAR MISS BRONTE, I shall tell you everything I can think 
of, since you said in one of your letters to Pag that you wished me 
to write to you. I have been here a year. It seems a much shorter 
time, and yet I have thought more and done more than I ever did 
in my life before. When we arrived, Henry and I were in such 
a hurry to leave the ship that we didn't wait to be fetched, but 
got into the first boat that came alongside. When we landed we 
inquired where Waring lived, but hadn't walked far before we 
met him. I had never seen him before, but he guessed we were 
the cousins he expected, so caught us and took us along with 
him. Mary soon joined us, and we went home together. At first 
I thought Mary was not the least altered, but when I had seen 
her for about a week I thought she looked rather older. The first 
night Mary and I sat up till 2 A.M. talking. Next day we went 
to tea to the Knoxes, Waring's new relations ; you have no doubt 
heard of them. The Doctor is an idle fool and his wife not very 
much better ; he might earn his living if he would, but he won't. 
In a few days we began to talk about doing something ; it seemed 
the only thing for Henry to do was to buy sheep and go and 
keep them in the country. He went to look at Rangitike, a large 
district bought of the natives, it is somewhere on the West Coast 
between here and Taranaki ; he came back and said it was too 
wet for sheep, but he thought he would have to go there. In 
November he went to Sydney to buy the sheep, but he found 
freights too high there, so he settled to wait a bit; and he is wait- 
ing yet, that is, he hasn't come back, and we haven't heard a word 
of or from him for five months. He must have gone into the 
bush, but if he has he ought to have told us. I wish he 'd come 
back. Mary and I settled we would do something together, and 
vtfe talked for a fortnight before we decided whether we would 
ha\^e a school or shop ; it ended in favour of the shop. Waring 
thought we had better be quiet, and I believe he still thinks we 
are doii^g it for amusement ; but he never refuses to help us. He 
is teaching us book-keeping, and he buys things for us now and 
then. Mar^ gets as fierce as a dragon and goes to all the whole- 
sale stores afljd looks at things, gets patterns, samples, etc., and 
asks prices, arr'd then comes home, and we talk it over ; and then 


she goes again and buys what we want. She says the people are 
always civil to her. Our keeping shop astonishes everybody 
here ; I believe they think we do it for fun. Some think we shall 
make nothing of it, or that we shall get tired ; and all laugh at 
us. Before I left home I used to be afraid of being laughed at, 
but now it has very little effect upon me. 

Mary and I are settled together now : I can't do without Mary 
and she couldn't get on by herself. I built the house we live in, 
and we made the plan ourselves, so it suits us. We take It in 
turns to serve in the shop, and keep the accounts, and do the 
housework I mean, Mary takes the shop for a week and I the 
kitchen, and then we change. I think we shall do very well if no 
more severe earthquakes come, and if we can prevent fire. When 
a wooden house takes fire it doesn't stop ; and we have got an oil 
cask about as high as I am, that would help it. If some sparks 
go out at the chimney-top the shingles are in danger. The last 
earthquake but one about a fortnight ago threw down two 
medicine bottles that were standing on the table and made other 
things jingle, but did no damage. If we have nothing worse than 
that I don't care, but I don't want the chimney to come down it 
would cost 10 to build it up again, Mary is making me stop 
because it is nearly 9 P.M. and we are going to Waring's to supper. 
Good-bye. Yours truly, ELLEN TAYLOR. 

Letter 458 


WELLINGTON, August 15^, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, Last Monday we stopped working to open a 
box and read letters. Your pretty thing, what ever is the name 
of it ? came almost tjie first, and fine amusement it was to open 
it. What veritable old maids you and Charlotte must be grown 
If you really use such a thing. Ellen and I pulled out all the 
things, one after another, and disputed for them. The staylace 
was particularly amusing ! I have not seen such a thing this five 
years. But the best was the garters. I have had almost a daily 
lecture from Ellen because my stockings wrinkled owing to my 
having been reduced to two bits of tape for the last six months, 
and being too stingy to buy any more and too idle to knit them. 
Ellen says you might have known. 


Your letter is the most cheerful I have had from you. I 
suppose * Charlotte ' was or had been with you ; or was going to 
be. It contained more news, too, than any I have received by this 
ship. Ann's marriage does not seem to have made you more 
uncomfortable perhaps the reverse. Was this the news you 
hinted at in your last but which you would not tell me ? I had 
guessed it was your own marriage that was going to be ! I had 
imagined, too, that Miss Gorham must be the daughter of the 
Rev. Mr. Gorham who is having such a quarrel with the Bishop 
of Exeter. Which of course I highly approve of, though I don't 
know what it 's all about. I wish you or Charlotte would give me 
some particulars of her last London visit. The account of the 
first one was most interesting. 

Ellen is roasting her toes and discussing how little shell be 
content with. It seems to be about "200 a year, though it is 
doubtful if this will do. It is blowing cold and rain and hail 
just to make a fire comfortable, She (Ellen) chatters like a pie, 
and the theme is how much we must have before we go home 
again. We think it possible to buy and send goods out here 
after four or five years' experience in shop-keeping. 

You and Charlotte ought to be on the other side the table to 
hear all the nonsense. For the last month or two Ellen has been 
very well and I too. Before that time she was often very poorly 
and I had repeatedly tic douloureux in the face. We were 
frightened, shy, and anxious. Neither the shyness nor the 
anxiety are at an end, as we very well know, but we know what 
we have to contend with and can never feel so thick a mist round 
us as there was when we first began. I wish I could give you 
some account of the amount of our success, but the time is as yet 
too short to pronounce. The gist of the matter is that John and 
Joe have lent me 100 and given me 300. Ellen's means are 
rather less. 

Besides nonsense we talk over other things that I never could 
talk about before she came. Some of them had got to look so 
strange I used to think sometimes I had dreamt them. Char- 
lotte's books were of this kind. Politics were another thing 
where I had all the interest to myself, and a number of opinions 
of my own I had got so used to keep to myself that at last I 
thought one side of my head filled with crazy stuff. 

Is it that your brothers won't give you money that prevents 
you coming out ? You should plague them till they are glad to 


be rid of you. But I fancy you write more hopefully than you 
did before. And yet you seem almost turned out of doors by the 
new arrangement In fact, there is only your mother that really 
belongs to you in it. 

Joe's admiration of Miss Ringrose is amusing if it is so. Is 
she German? or half -German? Have you seen or heard of 
Halle's chamber concerts ? His father was my music master and 
a genius. His mother is living with him. I have some notion 
that you are near them, though I believe in point of fact you are 
as far off as I am. There was a girl of 14 to 20 whom I should 
much like to hear of. 

For some reason or rather for no reason I think my hopes 
this afternoon are peculiarly vivid about coming home again. All 
the news by last vessel has been good and reacting the letters 
have brought it all vividly before me. Keep yourself well and 
happy, you and Charlotte, till I come, and above all don't turn 
sulky. We shall meet again yet 

You have both suffered, Charlotte especially. I am older in 
that way too, but there is sweet in the orange yet, at least I 
think so. MARY TAYLOR. 

Letter 459 



DEAR CHARLOTTE, I began a letter to you one bitter cold 
evening last week, but it turned out such a sad one that I have 
left it and begun again. I am sitting all alone in my own house, 
or rather what is to be mine when I 've paid for it. I bought it 
of Henry, when Ellen died, shop and all, and carry on by myself! 
I have made up my mind not to get any assistance ; I have not 
too much work, and the annoyance of having an unsuitable com- 
panion was too great to put up with without necessity. I find 
now that it was Ellen that made me so busy, and without her to 
nurse I have plenty of time, I have begun to keep the house 
very tidy ; it makes it less desolate, I take great interest In my 
trade as much as I could do in anything that was not all 
pleasure. But the best part of my life is the excitement of 
arrivals from England. Reading all the news, written and 
printed, is like living another life separate from this one. The old 
letters are strange, very, when I begin to read them, but quite 


familiar notwithstanding. So are all the books and newspapers 
though I never see a human being to whom it would ever occur 
to me to mention anything I read in them. I see your nom de 
guerre in them sometimes. I saw a criticism on the preface to 
the second edition of Wuthering Heights. I saw it among the 
notables who attended Thackeray's lectures. I have seen it 
somehow connected with Sir J. K. Shuttleworth. Did he want to 
marry you or only to lionise you ? Or was it somebody else ? 

Your life in London is a ' new country * to me which I cannot 
even picture to myself. You seem to like it at least some 
things in it, and yet your late letters to Mrs. Joe Taylor talk of low 
spirits and illness. 'What's the matter with you now?' as my 
mother used to say, as if it were the twentieth time in a fortnight 
It is really melancholy that now, in the prime of life, in the flush 
of your hard-earned prosperity, you can't be well ! Did not Miss 
Martineau improve you? If she did, why not try her and her 
plan again ? But I suppose if you had hope and energy to try, 
you would be well. Well, it J s nearly dark, and you will surely 
be well when you read this, so what's the use of writing? I 
should like well to have some details of your life, but how can 
I hope for it? I have often tried to give you a picture of mine, 
but I have not the skill. I get a heap of details, most paltry in 
themselves and not enough to give you an idea of the whole. O 
for one hour's talk ! You are getting too far off and beginning to 
look strange to me. Do you look as you used to do, I wonder? 
What do you and Ellen Nussey talk about when you meet? 
There! it's dark. 

Sunday night. I have let the vessel go that was to take 
this. As there (are) others going soon I did not much care. 
I am in the height of cogitation whether to send for some worsted 
stockings, etc. They will come next year at this time, and 
who can tell what I shall want then, or shall be doing! Yet 
hitherto we have sent such orders and have guessed or known 
pretty well what we should want I have just been looking over 
a list four pages long in Ellen's handwriting. These things ought 
to come by the next vessel or part of them at least Then, tired 
of that, I began to read some pages of ' my book/ intending to 
write some more, but went on reading for pleasure. I often do 
this and find it very interesting indeed. It does not get on fast 
tho'. I have written about one volume and a half. It's full 
of music, poverty, disputing, politics, and original views of life. I 


can't for the life of me bring the lover into it, nor tell what he's to 
do when he comes. Of the men generally I can never tell what 
they'll do next. The women I understand pretty well, and rare 
tracasserie there is among them ; they are perfectly feminine in 
that respect at least. 

I am just now in a state of famine. No books and no news 
from England for this two months. I am thinking of visiting 
a circulating library from sheer dulness. If I had more time 
I should get melancholy. No one can prize activity more than 
I do, little interest though there is in it. I never long am without 
it but a gloom comes over me. The cloud seems to be always 
there behind me, and never quite out of sight but when I keep on 
at a good rate. Fortunately the more I work the better I like it. 
I shall take to scrubbing the floor before it 's dirty, and polishing 
pans on the outside in my old age. It is the only thing that gives 
me an appetite for dinner. 

I suppose if the vessel coming from England is not lost I shall 
soon be too busy to write if the last vessel were sailing that ever 
was to go. So take this in anticipation, as I can't write an answer 
to your letters until they get too old to answer. PAG. 

Give my love to Ellen Nussey. 




THE English Lakes have many happy literary associations, 
and among the long list of names which that delightful 
district recalls one must never neglect to include that of 
Charlotte Bronte. She paid two visits there in this year, 
1850, the first to Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth, the second 
to Harriet Martineau. 

Letter 460 


August igth, 1850. 

DEAR PAPA, I reached this place yesterday evening at eight 
o'clock, after a safe though rather tedious journey. I had to 
change carriages three times and to wait an hour and a half at 
Lancaster. Sir James came to meet me at the station ; both he 
and Lady Shuttleworth gave me a very kind reception. This 
place is exquisitely beautiful, though the weather is cloudy, misty, 
and stormy ; but the sun bursts out occasionally and shows the 
hills and the lake, Mrs. Gaskell is coming here this evening, and 
one or two other people. Miss Martineau, I am sorry to say, I 
shall not see, as she is already gone from home for the autumn. 

Be kind enough to write by return of post and tell me how you 
are getting on and how you are. Give my kind regards to Tabby 
. and Martha, and Believe me, dear papa, your affectionate 
daughter, C. BRONTE. 

This was Miss Bronte's first meeting with her future 
biographer. It is interesting to record Mrs. Gaskell's 
impression as conveyed to a friend at the time and repeated 
in the Life, 


Letter 461 


Dark when I got to Windermere station ; a drive along the 
level road to Low-wood ; then a stoppage at a pretty house, and 
then a pretty drawing-room, in which were Sir James and Lady 
Kay-Shuttleworth, and a little lady in a black silk gown, whom 
I could not see at first for the dazzle in the room ; she came up 
and shook hands with me at once. I went up to unbonnet, etc.; 
came down to tea. The little lady worked away and hardly 
spoke, but I had time for a good look at her. She is (as she 
calls herself) undeveloped^ thin, and more than half a head shorter 
than I am ; soft brown hair, not very dark ; eyes (very good and 
expressive, looking straight and open at you) of the same colour 
as her hair ; a large mouth ; the forehead square, broad, and 
rather overhanging. She has a very sweet voice ; rather hesitates 
in choosing her expressions, but when chosen they seem without 
an effort admirable, and just befitting the occasion; there Is 
nothing overstrained, but perfectly simple. . . . After breakfast 
we four went out on the lake, and Miss Bronte agreed with me 
in liking Mr. Newman's Soul, and in liking Modern Painters, and 
the idea of the Seven Lamps ; and she told me about Father 
Newman's lectures at the Oratory in a very quiet, concise, graphic 

way. . . . She is more like Miss than any one in her ways if 

you can fancy Miss to have gone through suffering enough to 

have taken out every spark of merriment, and to be shy and silent 
from the habit of extreme, intense solitude. Such a life as Miss 

Bronte's I have never heard of before. described her home 

to me as in a village of grey stone houses, perched up on the 
north side of a bleak moor, looking over sweeps of bleak moors, 
etc., etc. 

We were only three days together, the greater part of which 
was spent in driving about, in order to show Miss Bronte the 
Westmoreland scenery, as she had never been there before. We 
were both included in an invitation to drink tea quietly at Fox 
How ; and then I saw how severely her nerves were taxed by 
the effort of going amongst strangers. We knew beforehand that 
*he number of the party would not exceed twelve; but she suffered 

1 From the Haworth edition of the Life, p. 470. 


the whole day from an acute headache brought on by apprehension 
of the evening. 

Briery Close was situated high above Low-wood, and of course 
commanded an extensive view and wide horizon. I was struck 
by Miss Bronte's careful examination of the shape of the clouds 
and the signs of the heavens, in which she read, as from a book, 
what the coming weather would be. I told her that I saw she 
must have a view equal in extent at her own home. She said 
that I was right, but that the character of the prospect from 
Haworth was very different; that I had no idea what a com- 
panion the sky became to any one living in solitude more than 
any inanimate object on earth more than the moors themselves. 

Letter 462 


HAWORTH, August 26tk 9 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, You said I should stay longer than a week in 
Westmoreland ; you ought by this time to know me better. Is it 
my habit to keep dawdling at a place long after the time I first 
fixed on for departing ? I have got home, and I am thankful to 
say papa seems, to say the least, no worse than when I left him, 
yet I wish he were stronger. My visit passed off very well ; I am 
very glad I went. The scenery is, of course, grand ; could I have 
wandered about amongst those hills alone, I could have drank in 
all their beauty ; even in a carnage with company, it was very 
well. If I could only have dropped unseen out of the carriage 
and gone away by myself in amongst those grand hills and sweet 
dales, I should have drank in the full power of this glorious 
scenery. In company this can hardly be. Sometimes, while Sir 
James was warning me against the faults of the artist class, all the 
while vagrant artist instincts were busy in the mind of his listener. 
Sir James was all the while as kind and friendly as he could be : 
he is in much better health. Lady Shuttleworth never got out, 
being confined to the house with a cold, but fortunately there was 
Mrs. Gaskell, the authoress of Mary Barton, who came to the 
Briery the day after me. I was truly glad of her companionship. 
She is a woman of the most genuine talent, of cheerful, pleasing, 
and cordial manners, and, I believe, of a kind and good heart 


Miss Martineau was from home ; she always leaves her house at 
Ambleside during the Lake season, to avoid the influx of visitors 
to which she would otherwise be subject. 

I went out to spend the evening once at Fox How, the residence 
of Dr. Arnold's widow. There was a considerable party, amongst 
the rest the son and daughter of the Chevalier Bunsen, the 
Prussian Ambassador, etc., etc. 

I forgot to tell you that about a week before I went to West- 
moreland there came an invitation to Harden Grange, Mr. Bus- 
feild Ferrand 5 s place, which I declined ; two or three days after, 
a large party made their appearance here, consisting of Mrs. 
Ferrand and sundry other ladies and two gentlemen, one tall, 
stately, black-haired and whiskered, who turned out to be Lord 
John Manners, the other not so distinguished-looking, shy and a 
little queer, who was Mr. Smythe, the son of Lord Strangford, 
I found Mrs. Ferrand a true lady in manners and appearance. 
She is the sister or daughter, I forget which, of Lord Blantyre, 
very gentle and unassuming, not so pretty as Lady Shuttleworth, 
but I like her better. Lord John Manners brought in his hand 
two brace of grouse for papa, which was a well-timed present; 
a day or two before, papa had been wishing for some. Yours 
faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 463 


August 27 'th t 1850. 

Papa and I have just had tea ; he is sitting quietly in his room, 
and I in mine ; * storms of rain ' are sweeping over the garden 
and churchyard : as to the moors, they are hidden in thick fog. 
Though alone I am not unhappy ; I have a thousand things to be 
thankful for, and, amongst the rest, that this morning I received 
a letter from you, and that this evening I have the privilege of 
answering it. 

I do not know , the Life of Sydney Taylor ; x whenever I have 
the opportunity I will get it. The little French book you mention 
shall also take its place on the list of books to be procured as 
soon as possible. It treats a subject interesting to all women 

3 Selections from the Writings of f. Sydney Taylor, with a Brief Sketch of his Life. 
London, 1843. John Sydney Taylor (1795-1841) was a London journalist of Irish, origin. 


perhaps more especially to single women, though, indeed, mothers 
like you study it for the sake of their daughters. The West-* 
minster Review is not a periodical I see regularly, but some time 
since I got hold of a number for last January, I think in which 
there was an article entitled 'Woman's Mission' (the phrase is 
hackneyed), containing a great deal that seemed to me just and 
sensible. Men begin to regard the position of woman in another 
light than they used to do ; and a few men, whose sympathies are 
fine and whose sense of justice is strong, think and speak of it 
with a candour that commands my admiration. They say, how- 
ever and, to an extent, truly that the amelioration of our 
condition depends on ourselves. Certainly there are evils which 
our own efforts will best reach ; but as certainly there are other 
evils deep-rooted in the foundations of the social system which 
no efforts of ours can touch ; of which we cannot complain ; of 
which it is advisable not too often to think. 

I have read Tennyson's In Memoriam?- or rather part of it ; I 
closed the book when I had got about half-way. It is beautiful ; 
It is mournful ; it is monotonous. Many of the feelings expressed 
bear, in their utterance, the stamp of truth ; yet, if Arthur Hallam 
had been somewhat nearer Alfred Tennyson his brother instead 
of his friend I should have distrusted this rhymed, and measured, 
and printed monument of grief. What change the lapse of years 
may work I do not know ; but it seems to me that bitter sorrow, 
while recent, does not flow out in verse. 

I promised to send you Wordsworth's Prelude? and, accordingly, 
despatch it by this post ; the other little volume shall follow in a 
day or two. I shall be glad to hear from you whenever you have 
time to write to me, but you are never on any account to do this 
except when inclination prompts and leisure permits. I should never 
thank you for a letter which you had felt it a task to write. 

After the meeting at Sir J. K. Shuttleworth's, Miss 
Bronte sent Mrs. Gaskell the volume of poems by Currer, 
Ellis, and Acton BelL 

1 Tennyson's In Memoriam was published in 1850. 

2 The Prelude; or, Growth, of a Pee? s Mind: an Autobiographical Poem , by William 
Wordsworth, was published, after his death in 1850, by Edward Moxon, Dover Street, 


Letter 464 



The little book of rhymes was sent by way of fulfilling a rashly 
made promise; and the promise was made to prevent you from 
throwing away four shillings in an injudicious purchase. I do 
not like my own share of the work, nor care that it should be 
read : Ellis Bell's I think good and vigorous, and Acton's have 
the merit of truth and simplicity. Mine are chiefly juvenile 
productions, the restless effervescence of a mind that would not 
be still. In those days the sea too often 'wrought and was 
tempestuous/ and weed, sand, shingle all turned up in the 
tumult. This image is much too magniloquent for the subject, 
but you will pardon it. 

Letter 465 


HAWORTH, September znd, '50. 

DEAR ELLEN, Poor Mrs. Atkinson it seems is gone; I saw 
her death in the papers ; it is another lesson on the nature of life, 
on its strange brevity and, in many instances, apparent futility. 
I should think her child, conceived and fostered in the arms of 
death, born on the very brink of its mother's grave, cannot 
live, and I trust it will not : it could only be reared to die ; the 
seeds of disease must be thickly sown in its constitution. I 
wonder if Mrs. Atkinson suffered much at last, or if she died 

Joe Taylor came here on Saturday, but Tom Dixon, who was to 
have accompanied him, was prevented from executing his inten- 
tion. I regretted his absence, for I by no means coveted the long 
tete-a-t$te with Joe Taylor. However, it passed off pretty well. 
He is satisfied now with his own prospects, which makes him, on 
the surface, satisfied with other things ; he spoke of Amelia with 
content and approbation. He looks forward to marriage as a 
sort of harbour where he is to lay up his now somewhat battered 
vessel in quiet moorings. He has seen all he wants to see of 
life, now he is prepared to settle. I listened to all with equa- 


nlmity and cheerfulness, not assumed but real, for papa is now 
somewhat better, his appetite and spirits are improved, and that 
eases my mind of cankering anxiety. My own health, too, is I 
think really benefited by the late changes of air and scene. I 
fancy, at any rate, that I feel stronger. Still I mused, in my own 
way, on Joe Taylor's character, its depth and scope I believe are 

I saw the governess at Sir J. K. Shuttleworth's, she looked a little 
better and more cheerful. She was almost as pleased to see me as 
if we had been related, and when I bid her good-bye, expressed an 
earnest hope that I would soon come again. The children seem 
fond of her, and on the whole obedient: two great alleviations of 
the inevitable evils of her position. 

Cheer up, dear Nell, and try not to stagnate, or when you 
cannot help it, and when your heart is constricted and oppressed, 
remember what life is and must be to all some moments of 
sunshine alternating with many of overclouded and often tempest- 
uous darkness. Humanity cannot escape its fate, which is to 
drink a mixed cup. Let us believe that the gall and the vinegar 
are salutary. 

I return Amelia's letter. She has written to me. Yours 
faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 466 


September $tk, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, The reappearance of the Athenaum is very 
acceptable, not merely for its own sake though I esteem the 
opportunity of its perusal a privilege but because it comes from 
Cornhill and, as a weekly token of the remembrance of friends, 
cheers and gives pleasure. I only fear that its regular trans- 
mission may become a task to you ; in that case, discontinue it 
at once. 

I did indeed enjoy my trip to Scotland, and yet I saw little of 
the face of the country, nothing of its grander or finer scenic 
features; but Edinburgh, Melrose, Abbotsford, these three in 
themselves sufficed to stir feelings of such deep interest and 
admiration that, neither at the time did I regret, nor have I since 
regretted, the want of wider space to diffuse the sense of enjoy- 
ment. There was room and variety enough to be very happy, 


and ' enough/ the proverb says, f is as good as a feast. 3 The 
Queen was right indeed to climb Arthur Seat with her husband 
and children ; I shall not soon forget how I felt, when, having 
reached its summit, we all sat down and looked over the city, 
towards the sea and Leith, and the Pentland Hills. No doubt 
you are proud of being a native of Scotland, proud of your 
country, her capital, her children, and her literature. You cannot 
be blamed. 

The article in the Palladium is one of those notices over which 
an author rejoices with trembling. He rejoices to find his work 
finely, fully, fervently appreciated, and trembles under the respon- 
sibility such appreciation seems to devolve upon him. I am 
counselled to wait and watch, D.V., I will do so. Yet it is 
harder work to wait with the hands bound and the observant and 
reflective faculties at their silent unseen work, than to labour 

I need not say how I felt the remarks on Wuthering Heights j 1 
they woke the saddest yet most grateful feelings ; they are true, 
they are discriminating ; they are full of late justice but it is 
very late alas ! in one sense too late. Of this, however, and of 
the pang of regret for a light prematurely extinguished, it is not 
wise to speak much. Whoever the author of this article may be, 
I remain his debtor. 

Yet, you see, even here, Shirley is disparaged in comparison 
with Jane Eyre, and yet I took great pains with Shirley. I did 
not hurry ; I tried to do my best, and my own impression was 
that it was not inferior to the former work ; indeed I had bestowed 
on it more time, thought, and anxiety : but great part of it was 
written under the shadow of impending calamity, and the last 
volume I cannot deny was composed in the eager, restless endeavour 
to combat mental sufferings that were scarcely tolerable. 

You sent the tragedy of Galileo Galilei, by Samuel Brown, in 
one of the Cornhill parcels ; it contained, I remember, passages of 
very great beauty. Whenever you send any more books (but 
that must not be till I return what I now have) I should be glad 
if you would include amongst them the Life of Dr. Arnold. Do 
you know also the Life of Sydney Taylor ? I am not familiar even 
with the name, but it has been recommended to me as a work 

1 In the Palladium of September 1850 Mr. Sydney Dobell declared that * there 
were passages in Wuthtring Heights of which any novelist, past or present, might he 
proud. ' 


meriting perusal. Of course, when I name any book, it is always 
understood that it should be quite convenient to send it. 

With thanks for your kind letter, I am, my dear sir, yours 
very sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 467 


September 5//5, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I trust your suggestion for Miss Kavanagh's 
benefit will have all success. It seems to me truly felicitous 
and excellent, and, I doubt not, she will think so too. The last 
class of female character will be difficult to manage : there will be 
nice points in it yet, well managed, both an attractive and in- 
structive book might result therefrom. One thing may be 
depended upon in the execution of this plan. Miss Kavanagh 
will commit no error, either of taste, judgment, or principle ; and 
even when she deals with the feelings, I would rather follow the 
calm course of her quiet pen than the flourishes of a more re- 
dundant one where there is not strength to restrain as well as 
ardour to impel. 

I fear I seemed to you to speak coolly of the beauty of the 
Lake scenery. The truth is, it was, as scenery, exquisite far 
beyond anything I saw in Scotland ; but it did not give me half 
so much pleasure, because I saw it under less congenial auspices. 
Mr. Smith and Sir J. K. Shuttleworth are two different people 
with whom to travel. I need say nothing of the former you 
know him. The latter offers me his friendship, and I do my best 
to be grateful for the gift ; but his is a nature with which it is 
difficult to assimilate and where there is no assimilation, how 
can there be real regard ? Nine parts out of ten in him are 
utilitarian the tenth is artistic. This tithe of his nature seems to 
me at war with all the rest it is just enough to incline him rest- 
lessly towards the artist class, and far too little to make him one 
of them. The consequent inability to do things which he admires y 
embitters him I think it makes him doubt perfections and dwell 
on faults. Then his notice or presence scarcely tend to set one 
at ease or make one happy: he is worldly and formal. But I 
must stop have I already said too much ? I think not, for you 
will feel it is said in confidence and will not repeat it 


The article in the Palladium is indeed such as to atone for a 
hundred unfavourable or imbecile reviews. I have expressed 
what I think of it to Mr. Taylor, who kindly wrote me a letter on 
the subject. I thank you also for the newspaper notices, and for 
some you sent me a few weeks ago. 

I should much like to carry out your suggestions respecting a 
reprint of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey m one volume, 
with a prefatory and explanatory notice of the authors ; but the 
question occurs, Would Newby claim it? I could not bear to 
commit it to any other hands than those of Mr. Smith. Wildfett 
Hall it hardly appears to me desirable to preserve. The choice 
of subject in that work is a mistake : it was too little consonant 
with the character, tastes, and ideas of the gentle, retiring, in- 
experienced writer. She wrote it under a strange, conscientious, 
half-ascetic notion of accomplishing a painful penance and a 
severe duty. Blameless in deed and almost in thought, there was 
from her very childhood a tinge of religious melancholy in her 
mind. This I ever suspected, and I have found amongst her 
papers mournful proofs that such was the case. As to additional 
compositions, I think there would be none, as I would not offer 
a line to the publication of which my sisters themselves would 
have objected. 

I must conclude or I shall be too late for the post. Believe 
me, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 468 


September i$tfi, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, Mr. Newby undertook first to print 350 copies 
of Wuthering Heights^ but he afterwards declared he had only 
printed 250. I doubt whether he could be induced to return the 
$o without a good deal of trouble much more than I should 
feel justified in delegating to Mr. Smith. For my own part, the 
conclusion I drew from the whole of Mr. Newby's conduct to my 
sisters was that he is a man with whom it is desirable to have 
little to do. I think he must be needy as well as tricky and if 
he is, one would not distress him, even for one's rights. 

If Mr. Smith thinks right to reprint Wuthering Heights and 
Agnes Grey> I would prepare a preface comprising a brief and 


simple notice of the authors, such as might set at rest all 
erroneous conjectures respecting their identity and adding a few 
poetical remains of each. 

In case this arrangement is approved, you will kindly let me 
know, and I will commence the task (a sad, but, I believe, a 
necessary one), and send it when finished. I am, my dear sir, 
yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 469 


September 14^, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I found after sealing my last note to you that 
I had forgotten after all to enclose Amelia's letter ; however, it 
appears it does not signify. While I think of it I must refer to 
an act of petty larceny committed by me when I was last in 
Brookroyd. Do you remember lending rne a parasol which I 
should have left with you when we parted at Leeds. I uncon- 
sciously carried it away in my hand. You shall have it when you 
next come to Haworth. 

I wish, dear Ellen, you would tell me what is the ' twaddle 
about my marrying, etc./ which you hear. If I knew the details 
I should have a better chance of guessing the quarter from which 
such gossip comes ; as it is, I am quite at a loss. Whom am I to 
marry? I think I have scarcely seen a single man with whom 
such a union would be possible since I left London. Doubtless 
there are men whom if I chose to encourage I might marry, but 
no matrimonial lot is even remotely offered me which seems to 
me truly desirable : and even if that were the case, there would 
be many obstacles; the least allusion to such a thing is most 
offensive to papa. 

An article entitled ' Currer Bell 3 has lately appeared in the 
Palladium, a new periodical published in Edinburgh. It is an 
eloquent production and one of such warm sympathy and high 
appreciation as I had never expected to see, it makes mistakes 
about authorship, etc., but these I hope one day to set right 
Mr. Taylor (the little man) first informed me of this article. I 
was somewhat surprised to receive his letter, having concluded 
nine months ago that there would be no more correspondence 
from that quarter. I enclose you a note from him received 
subsequently, in answer to my acknowledgment. Read it and 


tell me exactly how it Impresses you regarding the writer's 
character, etc. His little newspaper 1 disappeared for some weeks, 
and I thought it was gone to the tomb of the Capulets ; however, 
it has reappeared with an explanation that he had feared its 
regular transmission might rather annoy than gratify. I told him 
this was a mistake, that I was well enough pleased to receive it, 
but hoped he would not make a task of sending it. For the rest 
I cannot consider myself placed under any personal obligation by 
accepting this newspaper, for it belongs to the establishment of 
Smith & Elder. This little Taylor is deficient neither in spirit 
nor sense. 

The report about my having published again is, of course, an 
arrant lie. 

Give my kind regards to all, and believe me, yours faithfully, 

C B, 

Papa continues in an invalid state, still subject to bronchitis, 
and often complaining of weakness. I have wished him to 
consult Mr. Teale, or to try change of air, but his objection to 
both these alternatives is insuperable. I think I am pretty well 
Write soon. 

Letter 470 


September 20 1&, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I herewith send you a very roughly written 
copy of what I have to say about my sisters. When you have 
read it you can better judge whether the word ' Notice * or 
c Memoir ' is the most appropriate. I think the former. Memoir 
seems to me to express a more circumstantial and different sort 
of account. My aim is to give a just idea of their identity, not to 
write any narration of their simple, uneventful lives, I depend on 
you for faithfully pointing out whatever may strike you as faulty. 
I could not write it in the conventional form that I found 

It gives me real pleasure to hear of your son's success. I trust 
he may persevere and go on improving, and give his parents cause 
for satisfaction and honest pride. 

1 The Aihenaum, which Mr. Taylor had sent as a method of literary courtship. 


I am truly pleased, too, to learn that Miss Kavanagh has man- 
aged so well with Mr. Colburn. Her position seems to me one 
deserving of all sympathy. I often think of her. Will her novel 
soon be published? Somehow I expect it to be interesting. 

I certainly did hope that Mrs. Gaskell would offer her next 
work to Smith & Elder. She and I had some conversation about 
publishers a comparison of our literary experiences was made. 
She seemed much struck with the differences between hers and 
mine, though I did not enter into details or tell her all. Unless I 
greatly mistake, she and you and Mr. Smith would get on well 
together ; but one does not know what causes there may be to 
prevent her from doing as she would wish in such a case. I 
think Mr. Smith will not object to my occasionally sending her 
any of the Cornhill books that she may like to see. I have 
already taken the liberty of lending her Wordsworth's Prelude, as 
she was saying how much she wished to have the opportunity of 
reading it. 

I do not tack remembrances to Mrs. Williams and your 
daughters and Miss Kavanagh to all my letters, because that 
makes an empty form of what should be a sincere wish, but I 
trust this mark of courtesy and regard, though rarely expressed, 
is always understood. Believe me, yours sincerely, 


Letter 471 


HAWORTH, September zjth, 1850. 

MY DEAR Miss WOOLER, When I tell you that I have 
already been to the Lakes this season, and that it is scarcely more 
than a month since I returned, you will understand that it is no 
longer within my power to accept your kind invitation. 

I wish I could have gone to you. I wish your invitation had 
come first ; to speak the truth, it would have suited me better 
than the one by which I profited. It would have been pleasant, 
soothing, in many ways beneficial, to have spent two weeks with 
you in your cottage-lodgings. But these reflections are vain. I 
have already had my excursion, and there is an end of it. Sir J* 
K. Shuttleworth is residing near Windermere, at a house called 
'The Briery/ and it was there I was staying for a little while in 


August. He very kindly showed me the scenery as it can be 
seen from a carriage and I discerned that the 'Lake Country 3 is 
a glorious region, of which I had only seen the similitude in dream 
waking or sleeping. But, my dear Miss Wooler, I only half 
enjoyed it, because I was only half at my ease. Decidedly I find 
it does not agree with me to prosecute the search of the picturesque 
in a carriage ; a waggon, a spring-cart, even a post-chaise might 
do, but the carriage upsets everything. I longed to slip out 
unseen, and to run away by myself in amongst the hills and dales. 
Erratic and vagrant instincts tormented me, and these I was 
obliged to control, or rather, suppress, for fear of growing in any 
degree enthusiastic, and thus drawing attention to the c lioness/ 
the authoress, the artist. Sir J. K. Shuttleworth is a man of ability 
and intellect, but not a man in whose presence one willingly 

You say you suspect I have found a large circle of acquaintance 
by this time. No, I cannot say that I have. I doubt whether I 
possess either the wish or the power to do so. A few friends I 
should like to know well ; if such knowledge brought proportionate 
regard I could not help concentrating my feelings. Dissipation, I 
think, appears synonymous with dilution. However, I have as yet 
scarcely been tried. During the month I spent in London in the 
spring, I kept very quiet, having the fear of c lionising ' before my 
eyes. I only went out once to dinner, and was once present at an 
evening party ; and the only visits I have paid have been to Sir 
J. K. Shuttleworth and my publishers. From this system I should 
not like to depart. As far as I can see, indiscriminate visiting 
tends only to a waste of time and a vulgarising of character. 
Besides, it would be wrong to leave papa often ; he is now in his 
74th year, the infirmities of age begin to creep upon him. During 
the summer he has been much harassed by chronic bronchitis, but, 
I am thankful to say, he is now somewhat better. I think my 
own health has derived benefit from change and exercise. 

You ask after Ellen Nussey. When I saw Ellen, about two 
months ago, she looked remarkably welL I sometimes hear small 
fragments of gossip which amuse me. Somebody professes to 
have authority for saying that ' When Miss Bronte was in London 
she neglected to attend divine service on the Sabbath, and in 
the week spent her time in going about to balls, theatres, and 
operas. 1 On the other hand, the London quidnuncs make my 
seclusion a matter of wonder, and devise twenty romantic fictions 


to account for it. Formerly I used to listen to report with interest 
and a certain credulity ; I am now grown deaf and sceptical. 
Experience has taught me how absolutely devoid of foundations 
her stories may be. 

With the sincere hope that your own health is better, and kind 
remembrances to all old friends whenever you see them or write 
to them (and whether or not their feeling to me has ceased to be 
friendly, which I fear is the case in some instances), I am, my 
dear Miss Wooler, always yours, affectionately and respectfully, 


Letter 472 


October ^nd, 1850. 

MY DEAR SlR, I have to thank you for the care and kindness 
with which you have assisted me throughout in correcting these 

Whether, when they are published, they will appear to others as 
they do to me, I cannot tell. I hope not. And indeed I suppose 
what to me Is bitter pain will only be soft pathos to the general 

Miss Martineau has several times lately asked me to go and see 
her ; and though this Is a dreary season for travelling northward, 
I think if papa continues pretty well I shall go in a week or two. 
I feel to my deep sorrow, to my humiliation, that it is not in my 
power to bear the canker of constant solitude. I had calculated 
that when shut out from every enjoyment, from every stimulus 
but what could be derived from intellectual exertion, my mind 
would rouse itself perforce. It is not so. Even intellect, even 
imagination, will not dispense with the ray of domestic cheerful- 
ness, with the gentle spur of family discussion. Late in the even- 
ings, and all through the nights, I fall into a condition of mind 
which turns entirely to the past to memory ; and memory is both 
sad and relentless. This will never do, and will produce no good. 
I tell you this that you may check false anticipations. You cannot 
help me, and must not trouble yourself in any shape to sympathise 
with me. It is my cup, and I must drink it, as others drink theirs, 
Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 


Letter 473 


October yd, 1850. 

I am sure you will have thought me very dilatory in returning 
the books you so kindly lent me ; the fact is, having some other 
books to send, I retained yours to enclose them in the same 

Accept my thanks for some hours of pleasant reading. Balzac 
was for me quite a new author ; and in making his acquaintance, 
through the medium of Modeste Mignon and Illusions Perdues^ 
you cannot doubt I have felt some interest At first I thought 
he was going to be painfully minute, and fearfully tedious ; one 
grew impatient of his long parade of detail, his slow revelation 
of unimportant circumstances, as he assembled his personages on 
the stage; but by-and-by I seemed to enter into the mystery 
of his craft, and to discover, with delight, where his force lay : is 
it not in the analysis of motive, and in a subtle perception of the 
most obscure and secret workings of the mind? Still, admire 
Balzac as we may, I think we do not like him ; we rather feel 
towards him as towards an ungenial acquaintance who is for ever 
holding up in strong light our defects, and who rarely draws forth 
our better qualities. 

Truly I like George Sand better. 

Fantastical, fanatical, unpractical enthusiast as she often is 
far from truthful as are many of her views of life misled, as she 
is apt to be, by her feelings George Sand has a better nature 
than M. de Balzac ; her brain is larger, her heart warmer than 
his. The Lettres d*un Voyageur&cz full of the writer's self; and 
I never felt so strongly, as in the perusal of this work, that most 
of her very faults spring from the excess of her good qualities : 
it is this excess which has often hurried her into difficulty, which 
has prepared for her enduring regret 

But I believe her mind is of that order which disastrous ex- 
perience teaches, without weakening, or too much disheartening, 
and, in that case, the longer she lives the better she will grow. 
A hopeful point in all her writings is the scarcity of false French 
sentiment ; I wish I could say its absence ; but the weed flourishes 
here and there even in the Lettres. C. B. 


Letter 474 


October $rd^ 1850. 

Though the weather was drizzly we resolved to make our 
long-planned excursion to Haworth ; so we packed ourselves 
into the buffalo skin, and that Into the gig, and set off about 
eleven. The rain ceased, and the day was just suited to the 
scenery wild and chill with great masses of cloud glooming 
over the moors, and here and there a ray of sunshine covertly 
stealing through, and resting with a dim magical light upon 
some high bleak village ; or darting down into some deep glen, 
lighting up the tall chimney, or glistening on the windows and 
wet roof of the mill which lies couching in the bottom. The 
country got wilder and wilder as we approached Haworth ; for 
the last four miles we were ascending a huge moor, at the very 
top of which lies the dreary, black-looking village of Haworth. 
The village street itself is one of the steepest hills I have ever 
seen, and the stones are so horribly jolting that I should have 

got out and walked with W , if possible, but, having once 

begun the ascent, to stop was out of the question. At the top 
was the inn where we put up, close by the church ; and the 
clergyman's house, we were told, was at the top of the church- 
yard. So through that we went a dreary, dreary place, literally 
paved with rain-blackened tombstones, and all on the slope ; for 
at Haworth there Is on the highest height a higher still, and 
Mr. Bronte's house stands considerably above the church. There 
was the house before us, a small oblong stone house, with not 
a tree to screen It from the cutting wind ; but how we were to 
get at it from the churchyard we could not see ! There was an 
old man in the churchyard, brooding like a ghoul over the graves, 
with a sort of grim hilarity on his face. I thought he looked 
hardly human ; however, he was human enough to tell us the 
way; and presently we found ourselves In the little bare parlour. 
Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, 
followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook 

1 Describing a visit to Haworth in 1850. See Mrs. Gaskell's Life., Haworth edition, 
pp. 485-7* 


hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long 
interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a 
picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of 
the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and 
at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the 
gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she 
came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to 
take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. 
The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped 
on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went 
into the parlour again we began talking very comfortably, when 
the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in ; seeing his daughter 
there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to 
his study on the opposite side of the passage, presently emerging 

again to bring W a country newspaper. This was his last 

appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest 
warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from 
hen Well ! we talked about various things the character of the 
people, about her solitude, etc. till she left the room to help 
about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The 
old dog had vanished ; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with 
his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get 
out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the 
maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable ; and we 
had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time 

passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W found that 

it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before 
us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to 
pay us a visit in the spring ; and the old gentleman having issued 
once more from his study to say good-bye, we returned to the inn, 
and made the best of our way homewards. 

Miss Bronte put me so in mind of her own * Jane Eyre/ She 
looked smaller than ever, and moved about so quietly, and noise- 
lessly, just like a little bird, as Rochester called her, barring that 
all birds are joyous, and that joy can never have entered that 
house since it was first built ; and yet, perhaps, when that old 
man married, and took home his bride, and children's voices and 
feet were heard about the house, even that desolate crowded 
graveyard and biting blast could not quench cheerfulness and 
hope. Now there is something touching in the sight of that little 
creature entombed in such a place, and moving about herself like 



a spirit, especially when you think that the slight still frame 
encloses a force of strong fiery life, which nothing has been able 
to freeze or extinguish. 

Letter 475 


October yd^ 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, There is nothing wrong, and I am writing 
you a line as you desire, merely to say that I am busy just now. 
Mr. Smith wishes to reprint some of Emily's and Anne's works, 
with a few little additions from the papers they have left ; and I 
have been closely engaged in revising, transcribing, preparing 
a preface, notice, etc. As the time for doing this is limited, I am 
obliged to be industrious. I found the task at first exquisitely 
painful and depressing ; but regarding it in the light of a sacred 
duty, I went on, and now can bear it better. It is work, however, 
that I cannot do in the evening, for if I did I should have no 
sleep at night Papa, I am thankful to say, is in improved health, 
and so, I think, am I ; I trust you are the same. 

I have just received a kind letter from Miss Martineau. She 
has got back to Ambleside, and had heard of my visit to the 
Lakes. She expressed her regret, etc., at not being at home. 

I trust you are well. I am very decent indeed in bodily 
health, and am both angry and surprised at myself for not 
being in better spirits ; for not growing accustomed, or at least 
resigned, to the solitude and isolation of my lot But my late 
occupation left a result for some days, and indeed still, very 
painful. The reading over of papers, the renewal of remembrances 
brought back the pang of bereavement, and occasioned a depres- 
sion of spirits well-nigh intolerable. For one or two nights, I 
scarcely knew how to get on till morning ; and when morning 
came, I was still haunted with a sense of sickening distress. I tell 
you these things, because it is absolutely necessary to me to have 
some relief. You will forgive me,and not trouble yourself, or imagine 
that I am one whit worse, than I say. It is quite a mental ailment, 
and I believe and hope it is better now. I think so, because I can 
speak about it, which I never can when grief is at its worst. 

I thought to find occupation and interest in writing, when alone 
at home, but hitherto my efforts have been vain ; the deficiency of 


every stimulus is so complete. You will recommend me, I dare 
say, to go from home ; but that does no good, even if I could 
again leave papa with an easy mind (thank God ! he is better). I 
cannot describe what a time of it I had after my return from 
London, Scotland, etc. There was a reaction that sunk me to the 
earth ; the deadly silence, solitude, desolation, were awful ; the 
craving for companionship, the hopelessness of relief, were what I 
should dread to feel again. 

Dear Nell, when I think of you, it is with a compassion and 
tenderness that scarcely cheer me. Mentally, I fear, you also are 
too lonely and too little occupied. It seems our doom, for the 
present at least. May God in His mercy help us to bear it 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 476 


October 8f&, 1850. 

DEAR NELL, Being too lazy to send for a Post Office Order, 
I have sent the accompanying coin in a little box tell me 
whether it reaches you safely. Should it be too late to get the 
card-case, get something else, anything you think will please, and 
offer it with my kind love. 

I am glad to hear Mr. Clapham so fully meets your approbation, 
and hope he will continue to do so. 

Instead of sending a card for the 1 5th, I think I shall write a 
little note. 

Poor Mercy ! I pity her, and yet I am angry with her. What a 
wretched misfortune to be deficient in sense and self-government! 

Miss Wooler's idea amazed me it is perfectly groundless. 
I am unconscious of the slightest change my regard for her is 
altogether unaltered. I wish she may mention it to me herself. 

I shall certainly not come till you get your 'stirs' in some 
measure over. Good-bye, dear Nell. C. B. 

Letter 477 


October i6t&, 1850. 

My DEAR SIR, On the whole it is perhaps as well that the 
last paragraph of the Preface should be omitted, for I believe it 


was not expressed with the best grace in the world, You must 
not, however, apologise for your suggestion it was kindly meant 
and, believe me, kindly taken ; is was not you I misunderstood 
not for a moment, I never misunderstand you I was thinking of 
the critics and the public, who are always crying for a moral like 
the Pharisees for a sign. Does this assurance quite satisfy you ? 

I forgot to say that I had already heard, first from Miss 
Martineau, and subsequently through an intimate friend of 
Sydney Yendys (whose real name is Mr. Dobell) that it was to 
the author of the Roman we are indebted for that eloquent article 
in the Palladium. I am glad you are going to send his poem, for 
I much wished to see it. 

May I trouble you to look at a sentence in the Preface which I 
have erased, because on reading it over I was not quite sure about 
the scientific correctness of the expressions used. Metal, I know, 
will burn in vivid-coloured flame, exposed to galvanic action, but 
whether it is consumed, I am not sure. Perhaps you or Mr. 
Taylor can tell me whether there is any blunder in the term em- 
ployed if not, it might stand. I am, yours sincerely, 


Letter 478 


November 62%, 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have just finished reading the Life of Dr. 
Arnold, but now when I wish, in accordance with your request, to 
express what I think of it, I do not find the task very easy; 
proper terms seem wanting. This is not a character to be dis- 
missed with a few laudatory words ; it Is not a one-sided 
character; pure panegyric would be inappropriate. Dr. Arnold 
(it seems to me) was not quite saintly ; his greatness was cast in 
a mortal mould ; he was a little severe almost a little hard ; he 
was vehement and somewhat oppugnant Himself the most 
indefatigable of workers, I know not whether he could have 
understood or made allowance for a temperament that required 
more rest, yet not to one man in twenty thousand is given his 
giant faculty of labour; by virtue of it he seems to me the 
greatest of Working Men. Exacting he might have been then on 
this point, and granting that he were so, anl a little hasty, stern 
and positive, those were his sole faults (if indeed that can be called 


a fault which in no shape degrades the individual's own character 
but is only apt to oppress and overstrain the weaker nature of his 
neighbours). Afterwards come his good qualities. About these 
there is nothing dubious. Where can we find justice, firmness, in- 
dependence, earnestness, sincerity, fuller and purer than in him ? 

But this is not all, and I am glad of it. Besides high intellect 
and stainless rectitude, his letters and his life attest his possession 
of the most true-hearted affection. Without this, however we 
might admire, we could not love him, but with it I think we love 
him much. A hundred such men, fifty, nay, ten or five such 
righteous men might save any country, might victoriously 
champion any cause. 

I was struck, too, by the almost unbroken happiness of his life ; 
a happiness resulting chiefly, no doubt, from the right use to 
which he put that health and strength which God had given 
him, but also owing partly to a singular exemption from those 
deep and bitter griefs which most human beings are called on to 
endure. His wife was what he wished ; his children were healthy 
and promising ; his own health was excellent ; his undertakings 
were crowned with success ; even Death was kind, for however 
sharp the pains of his last hours, they were but brief. God's 
blessing seems to have accompanied him from the cradle to the 
grave. One feels thankful to know that it has been permitted to 
any man to live such a life. 

When I was in Westmoreland last August, I spent an evening 
at Fox How, where Mrs. Arnold and her daughters still reside. 
It was twilight as I drove to the place, and almost dark ere I 
reached it ; still I could perceive that the situation was exquisitely 
lovely. The house looked like a nest half buried in flowers and 
creepers, and, dusk as it was, I could feel that the valley and the 
hills round were beautiful as imagination could dream. Mrs. 
Arnold seemed an amiable, and must once have been a very 
pretty, woman ; her daughters I liked much. There was present 
also a son of Chevalier Bunsen, with his wife or rather bride. I 
had not then read Dr. Arnold's Life ; otherwise, the visit would 
have interested me even more than it actually did. 

Mr. Williams told me (if I mistake not) that you had recently 
visited the c Lake Country/ I trust you enjoyed your excursion, 
and that our English Lakes did not suffer too much by com- 
parison in your memory with the Scottish Lochs. I am, rny 
dear sir, yours sincerely, C BRONTE. 


Letter 479 


November gth^ 1850. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have read Lord John Russell's letter with 
very great zest and relish, and think him a spirited, sensible little 
man for writing it He makes no old-womanish outcry of alarm 
and expresses no exaggerated wrath. One of the best paragraphs 
is that which refers to the Bishop of London and the Puseyites. 
Oh I I wish Dr. Arnold were yet living, or that a second Dr. 
Arnold could be found ! Were there but ten such men amongst 
the hierarchs of the Church of England, she might bid defiance 
to all the scarlet hats and stockings in the Pope's gift. Her 
sanctuaries would be purified, her rites reformed, her withered 
veins would swell again with vital sap ; but it is not so. 

It is well that truth is indestructible that ruin cannot crush 
nor fire annihilate her divine essence. While forms change and 
institutions perish, c truth is great and shall prevail.' 

I am truly glad to hear that Miss Kavanagh's health is im- 
proved. You can send her book whenever it is most convenient. 
I received from Cornhill the other day a periodical containing a 
portrait of Jenny Lind a sweet, natural, innocent peasant-girl 
face, curiously contrasted with an artificial fine-lady dress. I do 
like and esteem Jenny's character. Yet not long since I heard 
her torn to pieces by the tongue of detraction scarcely a virtue 
left twenty odious defects imputed. 

There was likewise a most faithful portrait of R. H. Horne > 
with his imaginative forehead and somewhat foolish-looking 
mouth and chin, indicating that mixed character which I should 
think he owns. Mr. Home writes well. That tragedy on the 
Death of Marlowe reminds me of some of the best of Dumas' 
dramatic pieces. Yours very sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 480 


Now&mber *2&th 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, There is no chance of my getting either to 
Brookroyd or Huns worth ; I cannot leave home at all just now, 
and when I do go, it ought to be to see Miss Martineau. She has 


asked me twice, in terms so kind, considerate, and yet so urgent, 
that it would seem wrong to withstand her. Sir J. K. Shuttleworth 
has likewise asked me again, but I should only go there for a day, 
if at all. Do you know whether Miss Wooler is still at the Lakes ? 
If she is, I would (in case I went) dedicate some days to her. 

Papa continues pretty well ; Martha is better, but not quite 
strong. I trust and hope my headaches are going to give me a 
respite ; they have been very annoying, not from their violence 
but frequency. I mean to answer Amelia's note in a day or two. 
Yours faithfully, C B. 

Letter 481 


December 8/^, 1850 

I offer this little book 1 to my critic in the Palladium^ and he 
must believe it accompanied by a tribute of the sincerest grati- 
tude ; not so much for anything he has said of myself as for the 
noble justice he has rendered to one dear to me as myself 
perhaps dearer and perhaps one kind word spoken for her 
awakens a deeper, tenderer sentiment of thankfulness than eulogies 
heaped on my own head. As you will see when you have read 
the biographical notice, my sister cannot thank you herself; she 
is gone out of your sphere and mine, and human blame and 
praise are nothing to her now. But to me, for her sake, they are 
something still ; it revived me for many a day to find that, 
dead as she was, the work of her genius had at last met with 
worthy appreciation. 

Tell me, when you have read the introduction, whether any 
doubts still linger in your mind respecting the authorship of 
Wuthering Heights, Wildfell Hall^ etc. Your mistrust did me 
some injustice ; it proved a general conception of character such 
as I should be sorry to call mine; but these false ideas will 
naturally arise when we only judge an author from his works. 
In fairness 1' must also disclaim the flattering side of the portrait. 
I am no ' young Penthesilea mediis in millibus* but a plain 
country parson's daughter. 

Once more I thank you, and that with a full heart. 


1 The second edition of Wuthering Heights. 


Letter 482 


December 13^/2, 1850. 

MY DEAR MRS. GASKELL, Miss J s kindness and yours 

is such that I am placed in the dilemma of not knowing how 
adequately to express my sense of it. This I know, however, 
very well that if I could go and be with you for a week or two 
in such a quiet south-country house, and with such kind people 
as you describe, I should like it much. I find the proposal 
marvellously to my taste ; it is the pleasantest, gentlest, sweetest 
temptation possible ; but, delectable as it is, its solicitations are 
by no means to be yielded to without the sanction of reason, and 
therefore I desire for the present to be silent, and to stand back 
till I have been to Miss Martineau's, and returned home, and 
considered well whether it is a scheme as right as agreeable. 

Meantime the mere thought does me good. 

Letter 483 


December iBtti, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I can write to you now, for I am away from 
home, and relieved temporarily, at least, by change of air and 
scene, from the heavy burden of depression which, I confess, has 
for nearly three months been sinking me to the earth. I shall 
never forget last autumn! Some days and nights have been 
cruel ; but now, having once told you this, I need say no more on 
the subject. My loathing of solitude grew extreme ; my recollec- 
tion of my sisters intolerably poignant I am better now. I am 
at Miss Martineau's for a week. Her house is very pleasant, both 
within and without ; arranged at all points with admirable neat- 
ness and comfort. Her visitors enjoy the most perfect liberty; 
what she claims for herself she allows them. I rise at my own 
hour, breakfast alone (she is up at five, and takes a cold bath, and 
a walk by starlight, and has finished breakfast and got to her 
work by seven o'clock). I pass the morning in the drawing-room, 
she in her study. At two o'clock we meet ; work, talk, and walk 
together till five, her dinner-hour; spend the evening together, 
when she converses fluently and abundantly, and with the most 


complete frankness. I go to my own room soon after ten ; she 
sits up writing letters till twelve. She appears exhaustless in 
strength and spirits, and indefatigable in the faculty of labour. 
She is a great and a good woman; of course not without 
peculiarities, but I have seen none as yet that annoy me. She is 
both hard and warm-hearted, abrupt and affectionate, liberal and 
despotic. I believe she is not at all conscious of her own 
absolutism. When I tell her of it, she denies the charge warmly ; 
then I laugh at her. I believe she almost rules Ambleside. Some 
of the gentry dislike her, but the lower orders have a great regard 
for her. I will not stay more than a week because about 
Christmas relatives and guests will come. Sir J. and Lady 
Shuttleworth are coming here to dine on Thursday. Write to me 
and say how you are. Kind regards to all. Yours faithfully, 


Letter 484 


AMBLESIDE, December list, '50. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have managed to get off going to Sir J. K, 
Shuttleworth's by a promise to come some other time ; I thought I 
really should like to spend 2 or 3 days with you before going 
home, therefore if it is not inconvenient for you I will come on 
Monday and stay till Thursday. I shall be at Bradford (D.V.) at 
10 minutes past 2 Monday afternoon, and can take a cab at the 
station forward to Birstall. I have truly enjoyed my visit. I have 
seen a good many people, and all have been so marvellously kind, 
not the least so the family of Dr. Arnold. Miss Martineau I relish 
inexpressibly. Sir James has been almost every day to take me 
a drive ; I begin to admit in my own mind that he is sincerely 
benignant to me. I grieve to say he looks to me as if wasting away. 
Lady J3. is ill, near her confinement; she cannot go out, and I 
*ve not seen her. Till we meet, good-bye. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 485 


AMBLESIDE, December zist, 1850. 

DEAR PAPA, I think I shall not come home till Thursday. 
If all be well I shall leave here on Monday and spend a day or 


two with Ellen Nussey. I have enjoyed my visit exceedingly. 
Sir J. K. Shuttleworth has called several times and taken me out 
in his carriage. He seems very truly friendly ; but, I am sorry to 
say, he looks pale and very much wasted. I greatly fear he will 
not'live very long unless some change for the better soon takes 
place. Lady Shuttleworth is ill too, and cannot go out. I have 
seen a good deal of Dr. Arnold's family and like them much. As 
to Miss Martineau, I admire her and wonder at her more than I 
can say. Her powers of labour, of exercise, and social cheerfulness 
are beyond my comprehension. In spite of the unceasing 
activity of her colossal intellect she enjoys robust health. She is a 
taller, larger, and more strongly made woman than I had imagined 
from that first interview with her. She is very kind to me, though 
she must think I am a very insignificant person compared to her- 
self. She has just been into the room to show me a chapter of 
her history which she is now \vriting, relating to the Duke of 
Wellington's character and his proceedings in the Peninsula. She 
wanted an opinion on it, and I was happy to be able to give a very 
approving one. She seems to understand and do him justice. 

You must not direct any more letters here as they will not 
reach me after to-day. Hoping, dear papa, that you are well, 
and with kind regards to Tabby and Martha, I am, your 
affectionate daughter, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 486 


December 17 th, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I got home all right yesterday soon after 2 
o'clock, and found papa, thank God, well and free from cold. To- 
day some amount of sickliness and headache is bothering me, but 

nothing to signify. How did you and Mr. get on after I left 

you, and how is your cough? No better I fear for this misty day. 

The Christmas books waiting for me were, as I expected, from 
Thackeray, Mrs. Gaskell, and Ruskin. No letter from Mr. 
Williams. I feel uneasy, but do not like to write. The Examiner is 
very sore about my Preface, because I did not m'ake it a special 
exception in speaking of the mass of critics. The soreness is 
unfortunate and gratuitous, for in my mind I certainly excepted 
it Another paper shows painful sensitiveness on the same 
account ; but it does not matter these things are all transitory. 
Write very soon. Love to all. Yours faithfully, C. B. 


Letter 487 


December , 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I thank you for your two notes, which though 
unanswered, are not unregarded. There is a great deal of sick- 
ness here, though papa continues pretty well, and so do I, with 
the exception of headaches which seem to beset me more In 
Autumn than at other seasons. Martha, however, has been very 
ill some days, and though better, is still in bed ; this makes me 
busy, as her sister is only to be had at intervals. Take care and 
keep indoors on damp, misty days. Amelia's conduct to you 
always strikes me as giving proof of a genuinely affectionate 
and amiable disposition. I duly sent my card to the newly 
married pair at Hunsworth. To-day's fog has brought me a sick 
headache, under the influence of which I must cut short this note. 
Yours faithfully, C. B. 

Letter 488 


January 1st, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am sorry there should have occurred an irregu- 
larity in the transmission of the papers ; it has been owing to my 
absence from home. I trust the interruption has occasioned no 
inconvenience. Your last letter evinced such a sincere and dis- 
criminating admiration for Dr. Arnold, that perhaps you will not 
be wholly uninterested in hearing that during my late visit to 
Miss Martineau I saw much more of Fox How and its inmates, 
and daily admired, in the widow and children of one of the 
greatest and best men of his time, the possession of qualities the 
most estimable and endearing. Of my kind hostess herself I 
cannot speak in terms too high. Without being able to share all 
her opinions, philosophical, political, or religious, without adopt- 
ing her theories, I yet find a worth and greatness in herself, and a 
consistency, benevolence, perseverance in her practice such as 
wins the sincerest esteem and affection. She is not a person to 
be judged by her writings alone, but rather by her own deeds and 
life than which nothing can be more exemplary or nobler. She 


seems to me the benefactress of Ambleside, yet takes no sort of 
credit to herself for her active and indefatigable philanthropy. 
The government of her household is admirably administered ; all 
she does is well done, from the writing of a history down to the 
quietest female occupation. No sort of carelessness or neglect is 
allowed under her rule, and yet she is not over strict nor too 
rigidly exacting ; her servants and her poor neighbours love as 
well as respect hen 

I must not, however, fall into the error of talking too much 
about her, merely because my own mind is just now deeply 
impressed with what I have seen of her intellectual power and 
moral worth. Faults she has, but to me they appear very trivial 
weighed in the balance against her excellences. 

With every good wish of the season, I am, my dear sir, yours 
very sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 489 


January Iff, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, May I beg that a copy of Wuthering Heights 
may be sent to Mrs, Gaskell ; her present address is 3 Sussex 
Place, Regent's Park. She has just sent me the Moorland Cottage. 
I felt disappointed about the publication of that book, having 
hoped it would be offered to Smith, Elder & Co, ; but it seems she 
had no alternative, as it was Mr. Chapman himself who asked her 
to write a Christmas book. On my return home yesterday week 
I found two packets from Cornhill directed in two well-known 
hands waiting for me. You are all very, very good. 

I trust to have derived benefit from my visit to Miss Martineau. 
A visit more interesting I certainly never paid. If self-sustaining 
strength can be acquired from example, I ought to have got good. 
But my nature is not hers ; I could not make it so though I were 
to submit it seventy times seven to the furnace of affliction, and 
discipline it for an age under the hammer and anvil of toil and 
self-sacrifice. Perhaps if I was like her I should not admire her 
so much as I do. She is somewhat absolute, though quite uncon- 
sciously so; but she is likewise kind, with an affection at once 
abrupt and constant, whose sincerity you cannot doubt It was 
delightful to sit near her In the evenings and hear her converse, 


myself mute. She speaks with what seems to me a wonderful 
fluency and eloquence. Her animal spirits are as unflagging 
as her intellectual powers. I was glad to find her health 
excellent. I believe neither solitude nor loss of friends would 
break her down. I saw some faults in her, but somehow I 
liked them for the sake of her good points. It gave me no 
pain to feel insignificant, mentally and corporeally, in compari- 
son with her. 

Trusting that you and yours are well, and sincerely wishing 
you all a happy new year, I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 


Letter 490 


January St% 9 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, I sent yesterday the Leader newspaper, which 
you must always send to Hunsworth as soon as you have done 
with it. I will continue to forward it as long as I get it. 

I am trying the wet sheet, and like it. I think it has done me 
good. Enclosed is a letter received a few days since from Mr. 
Smith ; I wish you to read it because it gives a very fair notion 
both of his temper and mind. Read, return, and tell me what 
you think of it. 

Thackeray has given dreadful trouble by his want of punctuality, 
and printers, binders, gilders, and colourers have tried their 
patience. Mr. Williams has written also : he says if Mr. Smith 
had not helped him out with his c vigour, energy, and method/ he 
must have sunk under the day and night labour of the last few 
weeks. How is your cough ? Write soon. C. B. 

Letter 491 


HAWORTH, January i2t%, 1851. 

DEAR L^STITIA, A spare moment must and shall be made 
for you, no matter how many letters I have to write (and just 
now there is an influx). In reply to your kind inquiries, I have 
to say that my stay in London and excursion to Scotland did me 
good much good at the time ; but my health was again some- 
what sharply tried at the close of autumn, and I lost in some days 


of Indisposition the additional flesh and strength I had previously 
gained. This resulted from the painful task of looking over letters 
and papers belonging to my sisters. Many little mementos and 
memoranda conspired to make an impression inexpressibly sad, 
which solitude deepened and fostered till I grew ill. A brief trip 
to Westmoreland has, however, I am thankful to say, revived me 
again, and the circumstance of papa being just now in good health 
and spirits gives me many causes for gratitude. When we have 
but one precious thing left we think much of it. 

I have been staying a short time with Miss Martineau. As 
you may imagine, the visit proved one of no common interest. 
She is certainly a woman of wonderful endowments, both intel- 
lectual and physical, and though I share few of her opinions, and 
regard her as fallible on certain points of judgment, I must still 
accord her my sincerest esteem. The manner in which she 
combines the highest mental culture with the nicest discharge of 
feminine duties filled me with admiration, while her affectionate 
kindness earned my gratitude. 

Your description of the magician Paxton's crystal palace is 
quite graphic. Whether I shall see it or not I don't know. 
London will be so dreadfully crowded and busy this season, 
I feel a dread of going there. 

Compelled to break off, I have only time to offer my kindest 
remembrances to your whole circle, and my love to yourself. 
Yours ever, C. BRONTE. 

It was during this visit to Ambleside in the closing 
days of 1 850 that Charlotte Bronte and Matthew Arnold 

' At seven/ writes Mr. Arnold from Fox How (December 
21, 1850), 'came Miss Martineau and Miss Bronte (Jane 
Eyre) ; talked to Miss Martineau (who blasphemes fright- 
fully) about the prospects of the Church of England, and, 
wretched man that I am, promised to go and see her cow- 
keeping miracles 1 to-morrow I, who hardly know a cow 
from a sheep. I talked to Miss Bronte (past thirty and 
plain, with expressive grey eyes, though) of her curates, of 
French novels, and her education in a school at Brussels, 

1 Some experiments on a farm of two acres. 


and sent the lions roaring to their dens at half-past nine, 
and came to talk to you/ 1 

By the light of this ' impression/ it is not a little inter- 
esting to see what Miss Bronte, ' past thirty and plain/ 
thought of Mr. Matthew Arnold ! 

Letter 492 


January i$f, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, I fancy the imperfect way in which my last 
note was expressed must have led you into an error, and that you 
must have applied to Mrs. Arnold the remarks I intended for 
Miss Martineau. I remember whilst writing about c my hostess* 
I was sensible to some obscurity in the term j permit me now to 
explain that it referred to Miss Martineau. 

Mrs. Arnold is, indeed, as I judge from my own observations 
no less than from the unanimous testimony of all who really 
know her, a good and amiable woman, but the intellectual is not 
her forte, and she has no pretensions to power or completeness 
of character. The same remark, I think, applies to her daughters. 
You admire in them the kindliest feeling towards each other 
and their fellow-creatures, and they offer in their home circle a 
beautiful example of family unity, and of that refinement which 
is sure to spring thence ; but when the conversation turns on 
literature or any subject that offers a test for the intellect, you 
usually felt that their opinions were rather imitative than original, 
rather sentimental than sound. Those who have only seen 
Mrs. Arnold once will necessarily, I think, judge of her unfavour- 
ably; her manner on introduction disappointed me sensibly, as 
lacking that genuineness and simplicity one seemed to have a 
right to expect in the chosen life-companion of Dr. Arnold. On 
my remarking as much to Mrs. Gaskell and Sir J. K. Shuttle- 
worth, I was told for my consolation it was a * conventional 
manner/ but that it vanished on closer acquaintance ; fortunately 
this last assurance proved true. It is observable that Matthew 
Arnold, the eldest son, and the author of the volume of poems 
to which you allude, inherits his mother's defect. Striking and 
prepossessing in appearance, his manner displeases from its 

1 Letters of Matthew Arnold, collected and arranged by George W. E. Russell. 


seeming foppery. I own it caused me at first to regard him with 
regretful surprise ; the shade of Dr. Arnold seemed to me to 
frown on his young representative. I was told, however, that 
Mr. Arnold improved upon acquaintance. 3 So it was: ere long 
a real modesty appeared under his assumed conceit, and some 
genuine intellectual aspirations, as well as high educational 
acquirements, displaced superficial affectations. I was given to 
understand that his theological opinions were very vague and 
unsettled, and indeed he betrayed as much in the course of con- 
versation. Most unfortunate for him, doubtless, has been the 
untimely loss of his father. 

My visit to Westmoreland has certainly done me good> Physi- 
cally, I was not ill before I went there, but my mind had under- 
gone some painful laceration. In the course of looking over my 
sisters 7 papers, mementos, and memoranda, that would have been 
nothing to others, conveyed for me so keen a sting. Near at 
hand there was no means of lightening or effacing the sad 
impression by refreshing social intercourse; from my father, of 
course, my sole care was to conceal it age demanding the same 
forbearance as infancy in the communication of grief. Con- 
tinuous solitude grew more than I could bear, and, to speak 
truth, I was glad of a change. You will say that we ought to 
have power in ourselves either to bear circumstances or to bend 
them. True, we should do our best to this end, but sometimes 
our best is unavailing. However, 1 am better now, and most 
thankful for the respite. 

The interest you so kindly express in tny sisters' works touches 
me home. Thank you for it, especially as I do not believe you 
would speak otherwise than sincerely. The only notices that I 
have seen of the new edition of Wuthering Heights were those in 
the Examiner, the Leader \ and the Athenaum. That in the 

Athen&um somehow gave me pleasure : it is quiet but respectful 

so I thought, at least 

You asked whether Miss Martineau made me a convert to 
mesmerism ? Scarcely ; yet I heard miracles of its efficacy and 
could hardly discredit the whole of what was told me. I even 
underwent a personal experiment ; and though the result was 
not absolutely clear, it was inferred that in time I should prove 
an excellent subject. 

The question of mesmerism will be discussed with little reserve, 
I believe, in a forthcoming work of Miss Martineau's, and I have 


some painful anticipations of the manner in which other subjects, 
offering less legitimate ground for speculation, will be handled. 

You mention the Leader', what do you think of it? I have 
been asked to contribute; but though I respect the spirit of 
fairness and courtesy in which it is on the whole conducted, its 
principles on some points are such that I have hitherto shrunk 
from the thought of seeing my name in its columns. 

Thanking you for your good wishes, I am, my dear sir, yours 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 






FOUR or five quiet months at Haworth preceded Charlotte 
Bronte's sixth visit to London the most interesting that 
she was to know. The period was noteworthy mainly on 
account of Mr. James Taylor's assiduous courtship and its 
defeat, his departure from England, and Charlotte's self- 
analysis thereon. 

Letter 493 


January 20 tk, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, Thank you heartily for the two letters. You 
seem very gay at present, and provided you only take care not to 
catch cold I am not sorry to hear it a little movement, cheer- 
fulness, stimulus, is not only beneficial but necessary. 

Your last letter but one, dear Ellen, made me smile. I think 
the undercurrent simply amounts to this a kind of natural liking 
and sense of something congenial. Were there no vast barrier of 
fortune, etc., etc., there is perhaps enough of personal regard to 
make things possible which are now impossible. If men and 
women married because they liked each other's temper, look, 
conversation, nature, and so on, the chance you allude to might 
be admitted as a chance, but other reasons regulate matrimony, 
reasons of convenience, of connection, of money. Meantime, I am 
content to have him as a friend, and pray God to continue to me 
the common-sense to look on one so young, so rising, so hopeful, 
in no other light. 

That hint about the Rhine disturbs me ; I am not made of 
stone, and what Is mere excitement to him is fever to me. How- 
ever it is a matter for the future, and long to look forward to. 
As I see it now, the journey is out of the question, for many 
reasons. I cannot conceive either his mother or his sisters 
relishing it, and all London would gabble like a countless host 
of geese. 


Good-bye, dear Nell. Heaven grant us both some quiet wisdom, 
and strength not merely to bear the trial of pain, but to resist the 
lure of pleasure when it comes in such a shape as our better 
judgment disapproves. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 494 


January 302^, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, I am very sorry to hear that Amelia Is again so 
far from well but I think both she and Joe should try and not 
be too anxious even if matters do not prosper this time, all may 
go as well some future day. I think it is not these early mishaps 
that break the constitution, but those which occur in a much later 
stage. She must take heart there may yet be a round dozen 
of little Joe Taylors to look after run after to sort and switch 
and train up in the way they should go that is, with a generous 
use of pickled birch. From whom do you think I have received 
SL couple of notes lately? From Amelia Woolen They are 
returned from the Continent it seems, and are now at Torquay. 
The first note touched me a little by what I thought its subdued 
tone I trusted her character might be greatly improved ; there 
were indeed traces of the * old Adam/ but such as I was willing 
to overlook. I answered her soon and kindly, in reply I received 
to-day a longish letter full of claptrap sentiment and humbugging 
attempts at fine writing, in each production the old trading spirit 
peeps out ; she asks for autographs, it seems she had read in some 
paper that I was staying with Miss Martineau, thereupon she 
applies for specimens of her handwriting and Wordsworth's, and 
Southey's, and my own. The account of her health, if given by 
any one else, would grieve and alarm me ; she talks of fearing 
that her constitution is almost broken by repeated trials, and 
intimates a doubt as to whether she shall live long : but remem- 
"bering her of old, I have good hopes that this may be a mistake. 
Her ( beloved Papa and Mama' and her c precious sister J she says 
are living and 'gradely' (that last is my word, I don't know 
^whether they use it in Birstall as they do here, it means in a 
-middling way). 

You are to say no more about 'Jupiter' and 'Venus,' 1 what do 

1 George Smith and Charlotte Bronte. It was frequently stated by Ellen Nnssey and 
by Sir Wemyss Reid that Mr. Smith ' proposed to Charlotte Bronte, but there is no kind 
of evidence of this, and I think it improbable* 


you mean by such heathen trash ? The fact is, no fallacy can be 
wilder and I won't have it hinted at even in jest, because my 
common-sense laughs it to scorn. The idea of the * little man ' 
shocks me less it would be a more likely match if 'matches' 
were at all in question, which they are not. He still sends his 
little newspaper and the other day there came a letter of a bulk, 
volume, pith, judgment and knowledge, worthy to have been the 
product of a giant. You may laugh as much and as wickedly as 
you please but the fact is there is a quiet constancy about this, 
my diminutive and red-haired friend, which adds a foot to his 
stature turns his sandy locks dark, and altogether dignifies him 
a good deal in my estimation. However, I am not bothered by 
much vehement ardour there is the nicest distance and respect 
preserved now, which makes matters very comfortable. 

This is all nonsense Nell and so you will understand it. 
Yours very faithfully, C. B. 

Write again soon. 

The name of Miss Martineau's coadjutor is Atkinson. She- 
often- writes to me with exceeding cordiality. 

Letter 495 


February ist, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR. I cannot lose any time in telling you that 
your letter, after all, gave me heart-felt satisfaction, and such a. 
feeling of relief as it would be difficult to express in words. The 
fact is ; what goads and tortures me is not any anxiety of my own 
to publish another book, to have my name before the public, to 
get cash, etc., but a haunting fear that my dilatoriness disappoints- 
others. Now the ' others 7 whose wish on the subject I really 
care for, reduces itself to my father and Cornhill, and since Corn- 
hill ungrudgingly counsels me to take my own time, I think I can 
pacify such impatience as my dear father naturally feels. Indeed,, 
your kind and friendly letter will greatly help me. 

Since writing the above, I have read your letter to papa. Your 
arguments had weight with him : he approves, and I am content. 
I now only regret the necessity of disappointing the Palladium, 
but that cannot be helped. Good-bye, my dear sir, yours 
sincerely, C, BRONTE. 


Letter 496 


February n/7z, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, Have you yet read Miss Martineau's and 
Mr. Atkinson's new work, Letters on the Nature and Development 
of Man. If you have not, it would be worth your while to do so. 
Of the impression this book has made on me I will not now 
say much. It is the first exposition of avowed Atheism and 
Materialism I have ever read ; the first unequivocal declaration 
of disbelief in the existence of a God or a Future Life I have ever 
seen. In judging of such exposition and declaration one would 
wish entirely to put aside the sort of instinctive horror they 
awaken, and to consider them in an impartial spirit and collected 
mood. This I find it difficult to do. The strangest thing is that 
we are called on to rejoice over this hopeless blank, to receive this 
bitter bereavement as great gain, to welcome this unutterable 
desolation as a state of pleasant freedom. Who could do this If 
he would ? Who would do it if he could ? 

Sincerely for my own part do I wish to find and know the 
Truth, but if this be Truth, well may she guard herself with 
mysteries and cover herself with a veil. If this be Truth, Man or 
Woman who beholds her can but curse the day he or she was 
born. I said, however, I would not dwell on what I thought ; I 
wish rather to hear what some other person thinks ; some one 
whose feelings are unapt to bias his judgment. Read the book, 
then, in an unprejudiced spirit, and candidly say what you think 
of it ; I mean, of course, if you have time, not otherwise. 

Thank you for your last letter ; it seemed to me very good ; 
with all you said about the Leader I entirely agree. Believe me, 
my dear sir, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 497 


February 26^, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, You ought always to conclude that when I 
don't write, it is simply because I have nothing particular to say. 
Be sure that ill news will travel fast enough, and good news too 
when such commodity comes. If I could often be or seem to be 
in brisk spirits I might write oftener, but as times go, a glimpse 
of sunshine now and then Is as much as one has a right to expect. 
However, I get on, very decently. 


I am now and then tempted to break through my resolution of 
not asking you to come before summer, and to ask you to come 
to this Patmos in a week or two, but it would be dull very dull 
for you. I also received a letter from Mary Taylor, written not 
in high spirits, but still showing hopeful prospects. Also one 
from Ellen Taylor, by which I think her health must be better. 
Is Mrs. Joe Taylor out of bed yet? and, especially, is she out of 
danger of the apprehended mishap ? I was not seriously vexed 
about your telling her of my prediction, only momentarily 
annoyed, because I knew, of course, from her it would go to her 
spouse and it was not precisely the thing one would have said to 
him * however, I put a good face on it, and repeated it with addi- 
tions to herself. 

I hope Mary's trip from home will do her good, both physically 
and mentally. I return Mrs. Gorham's letter ; it is very kind and 
complimentary. What would you say to coming here the week 
after next, to stay only just so long as you could comfortably 
bear the monotony. If the weather were fine and the moors dry 
I should not mind so much, we could walk for change. Yours 
faithfully, C. B. 

Letter 498 


WELLINGTON, March iit/i, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter made me ashamed of myself, as it 
reminded me how long I have neglected answering your letters. 
I am now going to answer it sentence by sentence as I should do 
if I could sit down and write the moment I read it. I am glad 
Joe has taken it into his head to marry some one who knows my 
friends and who is therefore likely to learn to think well of me, 
I hope you will, both you and Charlotte Bronte, keep up your 
acquaintance with Amelia, and each of you send news of the 
other as good as you can find to write. 

It must be gloomy indeed for Charlotte to see her father's 
health declining. It is frightful to see death coming to take the 
last, and one can scarcely calculate the effects on a weakened, 
painstruck mind like Charlotte's. It seems to me as if the 
triumphs she has had, had only opened to her new sources of 
pain. She thinks or rather feels more of the criticism than the 
praise. In spite of her strenuous endeavour she cannot look at 


the cheerful side for sadness at present with her. You yourself 
seem in much better spirits. How do you manage it ? 

I wish you were sitting here by this quiet candle-light, and I 
would talk to you by the hour of how we were getting on. How 
we were looking for a ship from England what we sold to-day. 
How intend to do when the said ship comes and we have no 
room or next to none to put the things she is to bring. How 
eagerly we open the packages and scold for all the things that 
are not according to order. How we work ! and lift, and carry, 
and knock boxes open as if we were carpenters by trade ; and 
sit down in the midst of the mess when we are quite tired, and 
ask what time it is, and find it is the middle of the afternoon and 
we've forgotten our dinner! And then we settle to have some 
tea and eggs, and go on reading letters all the time we're eating, 
and don't give over working till bedtime, and take a new number 
of David Copperfield to bed with us and drop asleep at the second 

In quieter times we are somewhat lazy. There is not more 
than employment for one. As we don't keep the house particu- 
larly tidy, the other one might do a great deal. But somehow 
not being forced to it, we never do it We ought to go out 
and draw (ask Joe to show you our last wonders in that way), 
but we find it dull going alone. Then perhaps we ought to 
write, but don't like, for we might possibly be interrupted. We 
see some company not much, but I think much better than we 
should in the same circumstances In England. Classes are forced 
to mix more here, or there would be no society at all. This 
circumstance is much to our advantage, for there are not many 
educated people of our standing. The women are the same 
everywhere, never educated, and so far as female friends go, I 
think our present set have as much principle and kindness as 
most of those we left, while they have certainly more energy. 
You need not tell the Birstallians my opinion of them. Probably 
they are not worse than other women, but never called upon to 
stand alone or allowed to act for themselves, of course they lose 
their wits in time. Don't lose my letter in Church Lane or 
thereabouts. Some one writes to know if it is true that Miss 
Bronte was jilted by a curate or by three in succession, I forgot 
which pray ask her! I have told people of my acquaintance 
with the writer of Jane Eyre, and gained myself a great literary 
reputation thereby. Mama has written to Waring abusing Miss 


Bronte for writing Shirley, and Waring thereupon asked to read 
it. He says the characters are all unfaithful, and stoutly denies 
that ever my father talked broad Yorkshire. He seems to have 
forgotten home altogether. He once described minutely how he 
should like to have a room finished and furnished if he were rich ; 
and he described our old dining-room in every point, and said he 
didn't know he 'd ever seen such a room ! He has a house of his 
own now and wife and children, none of whom ever saw Gomersal 
nor ever will do! We're getting old, Ellen, and out of date! 
Fare thee well till another quiet evening. M. TAYLOR. 

Letter 499 


March 22#4 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, Yesterday I despatched a box of books to 
Cornhill, including the number of the North British Review 
which you kindly lent me, The article to which you particularly 
directed my attention was read with pleasure and interest, and 
if I do not now discuss it more at length, it is because I am 
well aware how completely your attention must be at present 
engrossed, since, if I rightly understood a brief paragraph in 
Mr. Smith's last note, you are now on the eve of quitting England 
for India. 

I will limit myself, then, to the expression of a sincere wish 
for your welfare and prosperity in this undertaking, and to the 
hope that the great change of climate will bring with it no 
corresponding risk to health. I should think you will be missed 
in Cornhill, but doubtless * business ' is a Moloch which demands 
such sacrifices. 

I do not know when you go, nor whether your absence is likely 
to be permanent or only for a time ; whichever it be, accept my 
best wishes for your happiness, and my farewell, if I should not 
again have the opportunity of addressing you. Believe me, 
sincerely yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 500 


March 24^, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, I had written briefly to you before I received 
yours, but I fear the note would not reach you in time. I will 


now only say that both my father and myself will have pleasure 
in seeing you on your return from Scotland a pleasure 
tinged with sadness certainly, as all partings are, but still a 

I do most entirely agree with you in what you say about 
Miss Martineau's and Mr. Atkinson's book. I deeply regret its 
publication for the lady's sake ; it gives a death-blow to her 
future usefulness. Who can trust the word, or rely on the 
judgment, of an avowed atheist? 

May your decision in the crisis through which you have gone 
result in the best effect on your happiness and welfare ; and 
indeed, guided as you are by the wish to do right and a high 
sense of duty, I trust it cannot be otherwise. The change of 
climate is all I fear ; but Providence will overrule this too for 
the best in Him you can believe and on Him rely. You will 
want, therefore, neither solace nor support, though your lot be 
cast as a stranger in a strange land. I am, yours sincerely, 


When you shall have definitely fixed the time of your return 
southward, write me a line to say on what day I may expect you 
at Haworth. C. B. 

Letter 501 


April ^th, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, Mr. Taylor has been and is gone ; things are 
just as they were. I only know in addition to the slight informa- 
tion I possessed before, that this Indian undertaking is necessary 
to the continued prosperity of the firm of Smith, Elder & Co., 
and that he, Taylor, alone was pronounced to possess the power 
and means to carry it out successfully that mercantile honour, 
combined with his own sense of duty, obliged him to accept the 
post of honour and of danger to which he has been appointed, 
that he goes with great personal reluctance, and that he contem- 
plates an absence of five years. 

He looked much thinner and older. I saw him very near and 
once through my glass ; the resemblance to Branwell struck me 
forcibly, it is marked. He is not ugly, but very peculiar; the 
lines in his face show an inflexibility, and I must add, a hardness 
of character which do not attract. As he stood near me, as he 


looked at me in his keen way, It was all I could do to stand my 
ground tranquilly and steadily, and not to recoil as before. It Is 
no use saying anything If I am not candid I avow then, that on 
this occasion, predisposed as I was to regard him very favourably 
his manners and his personal presence scarcely pleased me 
more than at the first interview. He gave me a book at parting, 
requesting In his brief way, that I would keep it for his sake, and 
adding hastily, ( I shall hope to hear from you In India your 
letters have been, and will be a greater refreshment than you can 
think or I can tell.' 

And so he is gone, and stern and abrupt little man as he is 
too often jarring as are his manners his absence and the exclu- 
sion of his idea from my mind leave me certainly with less 
support and in deeper solitude than before. 

You see, dear Nell we are still precisely on the same level 
you are not isolated. I feel that there is a certain mystery about 
this transaction yet, and whether it will ever be cleared up to me 
I do not know ; however, my plain duty is to wean my mind 
from the subject, and If possible to avoid pondering over it. In 
his conversation he seemed studiously to avoid reference to Mr. 
Smith Individually speaking always of the f house,' the 'firm/ 
He seemed throughout quite as excited and nervous as when I 
first saw him. I feel that in his way he has a regard for me ; a 
regard which I cannot bring myself entirely to reciprocate in 
kind, and yet Its withdrawal leaves a painful blank. 

Saturday Morning. 

I have got your note. I fear your journey home must have 
sadly fagged you, but I trust that in a day or two you will begin 
to feel the benefits of the change. What endless trouble that 
unlucky little Flossy gives you ! how strange that in her trouble 
she should nestle Into your portmanteau ! little vermin ! 

Above you have all the account of * my visitor ' ; I dare not 
aver that your kind wish that the visit would yield me more 
pleasure than pain has been fulfilled something at my heart 
aches and gnaws drearily, but I must cultivate fortitude. Papa, 
I am thankful to say, is a little better, though he improves but 
slowly ; he and Mr. Taylor got on very well together, much better 
than the first time. 

Write to me again very soon. Yours faithfully, C B. 


Letter 502 


April ^tk, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, Thank you for your kind note ; it was just like 
you to write it though it was your school-day. I never knew 
you to let a slight impediment stand in the way of a friendly 

Certainly I shall not soon forget last Friday, and never > I think, 
the evening and night succeeding that morning and afternoon. 
Evils seldom come singly and soon after Mr. Taylor was gone, 
papa, who had been better, grew much worse ; he went to bed 
early and was very sick and ill for an hour, and when at last he 
began to doze, and I left him, I came down to the dining-room 
with a sense of weight, fear, and desolation, hard to express and 
harder to endure. A wish that you were with me did cross my 
mind, but I repulsed it as a most selfish wish; indeed it was only 
short-lived, my natural tendency in moments of this sort is to get 
through the struggle alone to think that one is burdening and 
racking others makes all worse. 

You speak to me in soft consolating accents, but I hold far 
sterner language to myself, dear Nell. 

An absence of five years a dividing expanse of three oceans 
the wide difference between a man's active career and a woman's 
passive existence these things are almost equivalent to an 
eternal separation. But there is another thing which forms a 
barrier more difficult to pass than any of these. Would Mr. 
Taylor and I ever suit ? Could I ever feel for him enough love 
to accept him as a husband? Friendship gratitude esteem I 
have, but each moment he came near me, and that I could see 
his eyes fastened on me, my veins ran ice. Now that he is axvay 
I feel far more gently towards him, it is only close by that I grow 
rigid stiffening with a strange mixture of apprehension and 
anger which nothing softens but his retreat and a perfect sub- 
duing of his manner. I did not want to be proud, nor intend to 
be proud, but I was forced to be so. 

Most true is it that we are overruled by one above us 
that in His hands our very will is as clay in the hands of the 

Papa continues very far from well, though yesterday, and I 


hope this morning, he is a little better. How is your mother? 
give my love to her and your sisters ; how are you? Have you 
suffered from tic since you returned home did they think you 
improved in looks? 

Write again soon. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 503 


April I2th> 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am truly glad that the books I sent have 
been of use to your mother. It is not to be wondered at that her 
health should vary in this weather. I trust papa is not worse., 
but he too varies ; he has never been down to breakfast but once 
since you left ; the inflammatory action seems more about the 
stomach, and less in the throat and chest than last spring. I 
would fain believe this is better. The circumstance of having 
him to think about just now is good for me in one way, it keeps 
my thoughts off other matters which have become complete 
bitterness and ashes. I do assure you, dear Nell, a more entire 
crumbling away of a seeming foundation of support and prospect 
of hope than that which I allude to, can scarcely be realised. In 
my own mind, I am, I think, satisfied of that. We will say no 
more about it. 

By the bye, I meant to ask you when you went to Leeds, to 
do a small errand for me, but fear your hands will be too full of 
business. It is merely this : in case you chanced to be in any 
shop where the lace cloaks, both black and white, of which I 
spoke, were sold, to ask their price. I suppose they would 
hardly like to send a few to Haworth to be looked at ; indeed, 
if they cost very much, it would be useless, but if they are 
reasonable and they would send them, I should like to see 
them ; and also some chemisettes of small size (the full woman's 
size does not fit me), both of simple style, for every day and for 

Write, dear Ellen, whenever you have time. I am keeping up 
as well as ever I can, but I dare not say I am happy, or see before 
me any very happy prospect in the future, but I must remember 
thousands are worse off than I am. -Yours faithfully, C. B. 


Letter 504 


April lyd, 1851. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, It appears I could not rest satisfied when I 
was well off, I told you I had taken one of the black lace 
mantles, but when I came to try it with the black satin dress, 
with which I should chiefly want to wear it, I found the effect 
was far from good ; the beauty of the lace was lost, and it looked 
somewhat brown and rusty ; I wrote to Mr. Stocks, requesting 
him to change it for a white mantle of the same price ; he was 
extremely courteous, and sent to London for one, which I have 
got this morning. The price is less, being but i, 143.; It is 
pretty, neat and light, looks well on black ; and upon reasoning 
the matter over, I came to the conclusion, that it would be no 
shame for a person of my means to wear a cheaper thing ; so I 
think I shall take It, and if you ever see it and call it * trumpery ' 
so much the worse. 

I have heard from Mr. Taylor to-day, a quiet little note ; he 
returned to London a week since on Saturday, he has since kindly 
chosen and sent me a parcel of books. He leaves England 
May 2Oth ; his note concludes with asking whether he has any 
chance of seeing me in London before that time. T must tell him 
that I have already fixed June for my visit, and therefore, in all 
human probability we shall see each other no more. 

There is still a want of plain, mutual understanding in this 
business, and there is sadness and pain In more ways than one. 
My conscience, I can truly say, does not now accuse me of having 
treated Mr. Taylor with Injustice or unkindness. What I once 
did wrong in this way, I have endeavoured to remedy both to 
himself and in speaking of him to others, Mr. Smith to wit, 
though I more than doubt whether that last opinion will ever 
reach him ; I am sure he has estimable and sterling qualities, but 
with every disposition and with every wish, with every Intention 
even, to look on him in the most favourable point of view at his 
last visit, It was impossible to me in my inward heart, to think of 
him as one that might one day be acceptable as a husband. It 
would sound harsh were I to tell even you of the estimate I felt 
compelled to form respecting him ; dear Nell, I looked for some- 
thing of the gentleman something I mean of the natural 


gentleman ; you know I can dispense with acquired polish, and 
for looks, I know myself too well to think that I have any right 
to be exacting on that point. I could not find one gleam, I could 
not see one passing glimpse, of true good-breeding ; it is hard to 
say, but it is true. In mind too ; though clever, he is second-rate ; 
thoroughly second-rate. One does not like to say these things, 
but one had better be honest. Were I to marry him, my heart 
would bleed in pain and humiliation ; I could not, could not look 
up to him. No if Mr. Taylor be the only husband fate offers to 
me, single I must always remain. But yet, at times I grieve for 
him, and perhaps it is superfluous, for I cannot think hexvill suffer 
much ; a hard nature, occupation and change of scene will be- 
friend him. 

I am glad to hear that you have lost that horrid tic, and hope 
your cold is by this time well. Papa continues much better. 
With kind regards to all, I am, dear Nell, your middle-aged 
friend, C. BRONTE. 

Write soon. 

Letter 505 


May'$th, 1851. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I hope Mercy has got well off on her 
travels by this, and left you to a little repose ; I hope the change 
may do good, and that it may please Providence to prolong it 
for the benefit of all parties. How has your mother borne the 
cold weather of last week ? It made papa somewhat worse, but 
he is better now. Still I don't like to leave him, and have quite 
made up my mind to put off the visit to Mrs. Gaskell till my 
return from London, though that last will depend upon papa's 
health of course. 

I have had a long kind letter from Miss Martineau lately. She 
says she is well and happy. Also, I have had a very long letter 
from Mr. Williams. He speaks with much respect of Mr. Taylor. 
I discover with some surprise, papa has taken a decided liking to 
Mr. Taylor. The marked kindness of his manner when he bid 
liim good-bye, exhorting him to be true to himself, his country 
and his God/ and wishing him all good wishes, struck me with 
some astonishment. Whenever he has alluded to him since, it 
lias beerjr w "^fa significant eulogy. When I alluded that he was 


no gentleman, he seemed out of patience with me for the objec- 
tion. You say papa has penetration. On this subject I believe 
he has indeed. I have told him nothing, yet he seems to be au 
fait to the whole business. I could think at some moments his 
guesses go farther than mine. I believe he thinks a prospective 
union, deferred for five years, with such a decorous reliable person- 
age, would be a very proper and advisable affair. 

How has your tic been lately? I had one fiery night when 
this same dragon tic ' held me for some hours with pestilent 
violence. It still comes at intervals with unabated fury; owing 
to this and broken sleep, I am looking singularly charming, one 
of my true London looks, starved out and worn down. Write 
soon, dear Nell. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

I enclose a letter of Mr. Morgan's to papa, written just after he 
had read Shirley. It is curious to see the latent feeling roused 
in the old gentleman. I was especially struck by his remark 
about the chapter entitled : * The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 
etc.' He must have had a true sense of what he read, or he could 
not have made it. 

Letter 506 


May iQth, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, Poor little Flossy ! I have not yet screwed up 
nerve to tell papa about her fate, it seems to me so piteous. 
However, she had a happy life with a kind mistress, whatever her 
death has been. Little hapless plague ! She had more goodness 
and patience shown her than she deserved, I fear. Joe Taylor 
is a noodle. Amelia draws very heavily on good-nature and 
forbearance, she must be looked upon in the light of a * cross to 
take up.' Comfort, or pleasure even, I fear, peace and safety will 
never be had out of her ; of ordeal and discipline she has given 
plenty, and will give yet more. I suppose that is her use to 
test and try others like a fiery furnace. 

Do you know that I was in Leeds on the very same day with 
you, last Wednesday ? I had thought of telling you when I was 
going, and having your help and company in buying a bonnet, 
etc., but then I reflected this would merely be making a selfish 
use of you, so I determined to manage or mismanage the matter 


alone. I went to Hunt and Hall's for the bonnet, and got one, 
which seemed grave and quiet there amongst all the splendours ; 
but now it looks infinitely too gay with its pink lining. I saw 
some beautiful silks of pale sweet colours, but had not the spirit 
or the means to launch out at the rate of five shillings per yard, 
and went and bought a black silk at three shillings after all. I 
rather regret this, because papa says he would have lent me a 
sovereign if he had known. I believe, if you had been there, you 
would have forced me to get into debt. Write soon again. 


Letter 507 


May 2isf, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, I really can no more come to Brookroyd before 
I can go to London than I can fly. I have quantities of sewing 
to do, as well as household matters to arrange before I leave, as 
they will clean, etc., in my absence. Besides, I am grievously 
oppressed with headache, which I trust to change of air for 
relieving ; but meantime, as it proceeds from the stomach, it 
makes me very thin and grey ; neither you nor anybody else 
could fatten me up, or put me into good condition for the visit ; 
it is fated otherwise. No matter. Calm your passion ; yet I am 
glad to see it. Such spirit seems to prove health. Good-bye; 
in haste, C. BRONTE. 

Your mother is like Tabby, Martha, and papa ; all these fancy 
I am somehow, by some mysterious process, to be married in 
London, or to engage myself to matrimony. How I smile 
internally ! How groundless and impossible is the idea ! Papa 
seriously told me yesterday, that if I married and left him, he 
should give up house-keeping and go into lodgings 1 

Letter 508 


May -z-znd) '51. 

DEAR ELLEN, I hope you will have got Mercy home before 
this. How is she? I trust better bodily and mentally for her 
visit. I hope, too, that you and your mother are well. Papa's 


state of health gives me much cause for thankfulness ; if he con- 
tinues so well, I shall be able to leave him with comparatively 
little anxiety. For my own part, headaches and occasional 
sickness annoy me. I shall go to London with nothing to boast 
of in looks ; however careful I am in diet, my stomach will not 
keep right. 

Next Thursday is the day now fixed for my going. I have 
heard again from Mr. Smith and his mother. I would send 
you the notes, only that I fear your comments ; you do not 
read them by my lights, and would see more in an impetuous 
expression of quite temporary satisfaction, than strict reality 

Are the Hunsworth doves yet on the wing, or are they 
returned to the conjugal nest? They have had fine weather 
part of the time. I hope Amelia will gain benefit from the 

I am sure, Nell, you did not expect me to come to Brookroyd 
before I went to London. I know you will be busy enough with 
your Spring clean, etc., preparing for the Gorhams ; and how In 
the world am I to visit you during their stay ? When they are 
with you, I shall (D.V.) be in London. I hope we shall meet 
somewhere somehow, after your visitors are gone and my visit is 
over. Meanwhile, with regards to all. Good-bye. 


Letter 509 


May ztfh, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, I hasten to send Mrs. Dobell the autograph. 
It was the word * Album ' that frightened me : I thought she 
wished me to write a sonnet on purpose for it, which I could 
not do. 

Your proposal respecting a journey to Switzerland is deeply 
kind ; It draws me with the force of a mighty Temptation, but 
the stern Impossible holds me back. No ! I cannot go to 
Switzerland this summer. 

Why did the editor of the Eclectic erase that most powerful and 
pictorial passage ? He could not be insensible to Its beauty ; 
perhaps he thought It profane. Poor man ! * 

1 The passage erased as contained in Sydney Dobell's letter to Charlotte Bronte 
. II, O 


I know nothing of such an orchard country as you describe. 
I have never seen such a region. Our hills only confess the 
coming of summer by growing green with young fern and moss, 
in secret Httle hollows. Their bloom is reserved for autumn ; 
then they burn with a kind of dark glow, different, doubtless, 
from the blush of garden blossoms. About the close of this 
month I expect to go to London, to pay a brief and quiet visit. 
I fear chance will not be so propitious as to bring you to town 
while I am there ; otherwise how glad I should be if you would 
call ! With kind regards to Mrs. Dobell, believe me sincerely 
yours, C. BRONTE. 

published in The Life and Letters of Sydney Dobell (Smith, Elder and Co., 1878), from 
which the following extract is taken : 

* In the proof from the Eclectic, which I have been correcting, a paragraph was struck 
out by the sapient editor. It was this : 

ce *Yes, oh divine earth; oh incommunicable beauty, wearing thy crown of thorns, 
and having on the purple robe of immemorial sunsets, we have parted thy garments 
among us, and for thy vesture have we cast lots." Poor citizen he knew not it was 
written in Paradise. 

* One question and I must conclude. And briefly as I put it, I could write a chapter 
on nothing else. Is it possible that you can spare time and money to go to Switzerland 
this summer? E(imly) and I hope to go in a month's time (it will not be an expensive 
journey for that we authors and authoresses are not rich people, I need not tell Currer 
Bell ; but we expect to see the noblest things in the land of marvels), and how glorious 
if you could accompany us ! 

* If it is possible, come. 1 




IN spite of low spirits and bad health, Miss Bronte clearly 
enjoyed her month in London during the opening excite- 
ments of our first great Exhibition. It was a thousand 
pities that she could not have adopted Mr. Dobell's 
suggestion in the last letter, and have gone to Switzerland, 
or even have visited the orchard country near Cheltenham 
where he lived. One thinks that experience of this kind 
travel with congenial friends in a more genial climate 
than that of Haworth might have made her a stronger 
woman and have prolonged her life. Who shall say? 
But clearly the call of duty a desire to remain not too 
remote from her father limited so unfortunately her 
knowledge of the most health-giving environments. 

Letter 510 


Nov. , 1849. 

DEAR PAPA, I must write another line to you to tell you how 
I am getting on. I have seen a great many things since I left 
home about which I hope to talk to you at future tea-times at 
home. I have been to the theatre and seen Macready in Macbeth 
I have seen the pictures in the National Gallery. I have seen a 
beautiful exhibition of Turner's paintings, and yesterday I saw 
Mr. Thackeray. He dined here with some other gentlemen. He 
is a very tall man above six feet high, with a peculiar face not 
handsome, very ugly indeed, generally somewhat stern and 
satirical in expression, but capable also of a kind look. He was 
not told who I was, he was not introduced to me, but I soon saw 
him looking at me through his spectacles ; and when we all rose 
to go down to dinner he just stepped quietly up and said, * Shake 
hands J j so I shook hands. He spoke very few words to me, but 


when he went away he shook hands again in a very kind way. It 
is better, I should think, to have him fora friend than an enemy, 
for he is a most formidable-looking personage. I listened to him 
as he conversed with the other gentlemen. All he says is most 
simple, but often cynical, harsh, and contradictory. I get on 
quietly. Most people know me, I think, but they are far too well 
bred to show that they know me, so that there is none of that 
bustle or that sense of publicity I dislike. 

I hope you continue pretty well ; be sure to take care of your- 
self. The weather here is exceedingly changeful, and often damp 
and misty, so that it is necessary to guard against taking cold. I 
do not mean to stay in London above a week longer, but I shall 
write again two or three days before I return. You need not give 
yourself the trouble of answering this letter unless you have some- 
thing particular to say. Remember me to Tabby and Martha. I 
remain, dear papa, your affectionate daughter, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 511 


LONDON, Thursday Morning, May zgth, 1851. 

DEAR PAPA, I write one hasty line just to tell you that I got 
here quite safely at ten o'clock last night without any damage or 
smash in tunnels or cuttings. Mr. and Mrs. Smith met me at the 
station and gave me a kind and cordial welcome. The weather 
was beautiful the whole way, and warm ; it is the same to-day. 
I have not yet been out, but this afternoon, if all be well, I shall 
go to Mr. Thackeray's lecture. I don't know when I shall see the 
Exhibition, but when I do, I shall write and tell you all about it. 
I hope you are well, and will continue well and cheerful. Give 
my kind regards to Tabby and Martha, and Believe me, your 
affectionate daughter, C, BRONTE. 

Letter 512 



LONDON, May 30^ 1851. 

DEAR PAPA, I have now heard one of Mr. Thackeray's 
lectures and seen the great Exhibition. On Thursday afternoon 


I went to hear the lecture. It was delivered in a large and 
splendid kind of saloon that in which the great balls of Almack's 
are given. The walls were all painted and gilded, the benches 
were sofas stuffed and cushioned and covered with blue damask. 
The audience was composed of the ^lite of London society. 
Duchesses were there by the score, and amongst them the great 
and beautiful Duchess of Sutherland, the Queen's Mistress of the 
Robes. Amidst all this Thackeray just got up and spoke with as 
much simplicity and ease as if he had been speaking to a few- 
friends by his own fireside. The lecture was truly good : he has 
taken pains with the composition. It was finished without being 
in the least studied ; a quiet humour and graphic force enlivened 
it throughout. He saw me as I entered the room, and came 
straight up and spoke very kindly. He then took me to his 
mother, a fine, handsome old lady, and introduced me to her. 
After the lecture somebody came behind me, leaned over the 
bench, and said, 'Will you permit me, as a Yorkshireman, to 
introduce myself to you ? 3 I turned round, was puzzled at first 
by the strange face I met, but in a minute I recognised the 
features. You are the Earl of Carlisle,' I said. He smiled and 
assented. He went on to talk for some time in a courteous, kind 
fashion. He asked after you, recalled the platform electioneering 
scene at Haworth, and begged to be remembered to you. Dr. 
Forbes came up afterwards, and Mr. Monckton Milnes, a York- 
shire Member of Parliament, who introduced himself on the same 
plea as Lord Carlisle. 

Yesterday we went to the Crystal Palace. 1 The exterior has 
a strange and elegant but somewhat unsubstantial effect The 
interior is like a mighty Vanity Fair. The brightest colours blaze 
on all sides ; and ware of all kinds, from diamonds to spinning 
jennies and printing presses, are there to be seen. It was very 
fine, gorgeous, animated, bewildering, but I liked Thackeray's 
lecture better. 

I hope, dear papa, that you are keeping well With kind 
regards to Tabby and Martha, and hopes that they are well too, I 
am, your affectionate daughter, C. BRONTE. 

1 The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. 


Letter 513 


June 2nd, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, I came here on Wednesday, being summoned 
a day sooner than I expected, in order to be in time for 
Thackeray's second lecture, which was delivered on Thursday 
afternoon. This, as you may suppose, was a genuine treat to me, 
and I was glad not to miss it. It was given in Willis 1 Rooms, 
where the Almack's balls are held, a great painted and gilded 
saloon with long sofas for benches. The audience was said to be 
the cream of London society, and it looked so. I did not at all 
expect the great lecturer would know me or notice me under the 
circumstances, with admiring duchesses and countesses seated in 
rows before him ; but he met me as I entered, shook hands, took 
me to his mother, whom I had not before seen, and introduced me. 
She is a fine, handsome, young-looking, old lady ; she was very 
gracious, and called with one of her granddaughters next day. 

Thackeray called too, separately. I had a long talk with him, 
and I think he knows me now a little better than he did ; but of 
this I cannot yet be sure ; he is a great and strange man. There 
is quite a furor for his lectures. They are a sort of essays, 
characterised by his own peculiar originality and power, and 
delivered with a finished taste and ease, which is felt, but cannot 
well be described. Just before the lecture began, somebody came 
behind me, leaned over and said, * Permit me, a Yorkshireman, to 
introduce myself/ I turned round, saw a strange, not handsome, 
face, which puzzled me for half a minute, and then I said, < You 
are Lord Carlisle/ He nodded and smiled; he talked a few 
minutes very pleasantly and courteously. 

Afterwards came another man with the same plea, that he was 
a Yorkshireman, and this turned out to be Mr. Monckton Milnes. 
Then came Dr. Forbes, whom I was sincerely glad to see. On 
Friday I went to the Crystal Palace ; it is a marvellous, stirring, 
bewildering sight, a mixture of genii palace and a mighty bazaar, 
but it is not much in my way ; I liked the lecture better. On 
Saturday I saw the Exhibition at Somerset House ; about half 
a dozen of the pictures are good and interesting, the rest of little 
worth. Sunday, yesterday, was a day to be marked with a white 


stone : through most of the day I was very happy, without being 
tired or over-excited. In the afternoon I went to hear D'Aubign6, 
the great Protestant French preacher; it was pleasant half 
sweet, half sad and strangely suggestive, to hear the French 
language once more. For health, I have so far got on very fairly, 
considering that I came here far from well. Of Mr. Williams' 
society I have enjoyed one evening's allowance, and liked it and 
him as usual. On such occasions his good qualities of ease, 
kindliness, and intelligence are seen and his little faults and foibles 
hidden. Mr. Smith is somewhat changed in appearance ; he looks 
a little older, darker and more careworn, his ordinary manner is 
graver, but in the evening his spirits flow back to him. Things 
and circumstances seem here to be as usual, but I fancy there has 
been some crisis in which his energy and filial affection have 
sustained them all ; this I judge from the fact that mother and 
sisters are more peculiarly bound to him than ever and that his 
slightest wish is an unquestioned law. 

Your visitors will soon be with you, if they are not at Brookroy d 
already. I trust their sojourn will pass as you could wish, and 
bring you all pleasure. Remember me to all, especially your 
mother. Write soon, and believe me, faithfully yours, 


Letter 514 


HYDE PARK,/##* -jth^ 1851. 

DEAR PAPA, I was very glad to hear that you continued in 
pretty good health, and that Mr. Cartman came to help you on 
Sunday. I fear you will not have had a very comfortable week 
in the dining-room ; but by this time I suppose the parlour 
reformation will be nearly completed, and you will soon be able 
to return to your old quarters. The letter you sent me this 
morning was from Mary Taylor. She continues well and happy 
in New Zealand, and her shop seems to answer well. The 
French newspaper duly arrived. Yesterday I went for the 
second time to the Crystal Palace. We remained in it about 
three hours, and I must say I was more struck with it on this 
occasion than at my first visit. It is a wonderful place vast, 


strange, new, and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not 
consist in one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things. 
Whatever human industry has created, you find there, from the 
great compartments filled with railway engines and boilers, 
with mill-machinery in full work, with splendid carriages of all 
kinds, with harness of every description to the glass-covered 
and velvet-spread stands loaded with the most gorgeous work 
of the goldsmith and silversmith, and the carefully guarded 
caskets full of real diamonds and pearls worth hundreds of 
thousands of pounds, It may be called a bazaar or a fair, but it 
is such a bazaar or fair as Eastern genii might have created. It 
seems as if magic only could have gathered this mass of wealth 
from all the ends of the earth as if none but supernatural hands 
could have arranged it thus, with such a blaze and contrast of 
colours and marvellous power of effect. The multitude filling 
the great aisles seems ruled and subdued by some invisible in- 
fluence. Amongst the thirty thousand souls that peopled it the 
day I was there, not one loud noise was to be heard, not one 
irregular movement seen the living tide rolls on quietly, with a 
deep hum like the sea heard from the distance. 

Mr. Thackeray is in high spirits about the success of his 
lectures. It is likely to add largely both to his fame and purse. 
He has, however, deferred this week's lecture till next Thursday, 
at the earnest petition of the duchesses and marchionesses, who, 
on the day it should have been delivered, were necessitated to 
go down with the Queen and Court to Ascot Races. I told him 
I thought he did wrong to put it off on their account and I 
think so still The amateur performance of Bulwer's play for the 
Guild of Literature has likewise been deferred on account of the 
races. I hope, dear papa, that you, Mr. Nicholls, and all at home 
continue well. Tell Martha to take her scrubbing and cleaning 
in moderation and not overwork herself. With kind regards to 
her and Tabby, I am, your affectionate daughter, 


Mrs. GaskelFs account of this Thackeray lecture is 
very interesting : 

The lady who accompanied Miss Bronte to the lecture of 
Thackeray's alluded to says that, soon after they had taken their 
places, she was aware that he was pointing out her companion to 


several of his friends, but she hoped that Miss Bronte herself 
would not perceive it. After some time, however, during which 
many heads had been turned round, and many glasses put up, in 
order to look at the author of Jane Eyre^ Miss Bronte said, c I am 
afraid Mr. Thackeray has been playing me a trick ' ; but she soon 
became too much absorbed in the lecture to notice the attention 
which was being paid to her, except when it was directly offered, 
as in the case of Lord Carlisle and Mr. Monckton Milnes. When 
the lecture was ended Mr. Thackeray came down from the plat- 
form, and making his way towards her asked her for her opinion. 
This she mentioned to me not many days afterwards, adding 
remarks almost identical with those which I subsequently read in 
Villette, where a similar action on the part of M. Paul Emanuel is 

As they were preparing to leave the room her companion saw 
with dismay that many of the audience were forming themselves 
into two lines, on each side of the aisle down which they had to 
pass before reaching the door. Aware that any delay would 
only make the ordeal more trying, her friend took Miss Bronte's 
arm in hers, and they went along the avenue of eager and 
admiring faces. During this passage through the { cream of 
society' Miss Bronte's hand trembled to such a degree that her 
companion feared lest she should turn faint and be unable to 
proceed ; and she dared not express her sympathy or try to give 
her strength by any touch or word, lest it might bring on the 
crisis she dreaded. 

Letter 515 


June uA%, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, I sit down to write you this morning in an inex- 
pressibly flat state ; having spent the whole of yesterday and the 
day before in a gradually increasing headache, which at last grew 
rampant and violent, ended with excessive sickness, and this 
morning I am quite weak and washy. I hoped to leave my head- 
aches behind me at Haworth ; but It seems I brought them 
carefully packed in my trunk, and very much have they been in 
my way since I came. I fear you are not well. If all be well I 
shall leave London at the close of next week. 


To come and see you while you have visitors would, I am sure, 
be a complete waste of time and throwing away of opportunity, 
therefore I won't do it ; so that is settled. You seem to think me 
in such a happy, enviable position ; pleasant moments I have, but 
it is usually a pleasure I am obliged to repel and check, which 
cannot benefit the future, but only add to its solitude, which is no 
more to be relied on than the sunshine of one summer's day. I 
pass portions of many a night in extreme sadness. 

Since I wrote last, I have seen various things worth describing ; 
Rachel, the great French actress, amongst the number. But 
to-day I really have no pith for the task. I can only wish you 
good-bye with all my heart. Yours faithfully, C BRONTE. 

Write when you have time. 

Letter 516 


June 14^, 1851. 

DEAR PAPA, If all be well, and if Martha can get the cleaning, 
etc., done by that time, I think I shall be coming home about the 
end of next week or the beginning of the week after. I have been 
pretty well in London, only somewhat troubled with headaches, 
owing, I suppose, to the closeness and oppression of the air. The 
weather has not been so favourable as when I was last here, and 
in wet and dark days this great Babylon is not so cheerful. All 
the other sights seem to give way to the great Exhibition, into 
which thousands and tens of thousands continue to pour every 
day. I was in it again yesterday afternoon, and saw the ex-royal 
family of France the old Queen, the Duchess of Orleans, and her 
two sons, etc., pass down the transept I almost wonder the 
Londoners don't tire a little of this vast Vanity Fair and, indeed, 
a new toy has somewhat diverted the attention of the grandees 
lately, viz. a fancy ball given last night by the Queen. The great 
lords and ladies have been quite wrapt up in preparations for this 
momentous event. Their pet and darling, Mr. Thackeray, of 
course sympathises with them. He was here yesterday to dinner, 
and left very early in the evening in order that he might visit 
respectively the Duchess of Norfolk, the Marchioness of London- 
derry, Ladies Chesterfield and Clanricarde, and see them all in 


their fancy costumes of the reign of Charles II. before they set out 
for the Palace ! His lectures, It appears, are a triumphant success. 
He says they will enable him to make a provision for his daughters ; 
and Mr. Smith believes he will not get less than four thousand 
pounds by them. He is going to give two courses, and then go 
to Edinburgh and perhaps America, but not under the auspices of 
Barnum. Amongst others, the Lord Chancellor attended his last 
lecture, and Mr. Thackeray says he expects a place from him ; 
but in this I think he was joking. Of course Mr. T. is a good 
deal spoiled by all this, and indeed it cannot be otherwise. He 
has offered two or three times to introduce me to some of his 
great friends, and says he knows many great ladies who would 
receive me with open arms if I would go to their houses ; but, 
seriously, I cannot see that this sort of society produces so good 
an effect on him as to tempt me in the least to try the same 
experiment, so I remain obscure. 

Hoping you are well, dear papa, and with kind regards to Mr. 
Nicholls, Tabby, and Martha, also poor old Keeper and Flossie, 
I am, your affectionate daughter, C. BRONTE, 

P.S. I am glad the parlour is done and that you have got 
safely settled, but am quite shocked to hear of the piano being 
dragged up into the bedroom there it must necessarily be absurd, 
and in the parlour it looked so well, besides being convenient for 
your books. I wonder why you don't like it. 

Letter 517 


LONDON, June 17^, 1851. 

DEAR PAPA, I write a line in haste to tell you that I find they 
will not let me leave London till next Tuesday \ and as I have 
promised to spend a day or two with Mrs. Gaskell on my way 
home, it will probably be Friday or Saturday in next week before 
I return to Haworth. Martha will thus have a few days more 
time, and must not hurry or overwork herself. Yesterday I saw 
Cardinal Wiseman and heard him speak. It was at a meeting for 
the Roman Catholic Society of St. Vincent de Paul ; the Cardinal 
presided. He is a big portly man something of the shape of Mr. 
Morgan ; he has not merely a double but a treble and quadruple 


chin ; he has a very large mouth with oily lips, and looks as if he 
would relish a good dinner with a bottle of wine after it He 
came swimming into the room smiling, simpering, and bowing 
like a fat old lady, and sat down very demure in his chair, and 
looked the picture of a sleek hypocrite. He was dressed in black 
like a bishop or dean in plain clothes, but wore scarlet gloves and 
a brilliant scarlet waistcoat. A bevy of inferior priests surrounded 
him, many of them very dark-looking and sinister men. The 
Cardinal spoke In a smooth whining manner, just like a canting 
Methodist preacher. The audience seemed to look up to him as 
to a god. A spirit of the hottest zeal pervaded the whole meet- 
ing. I was told afterwards that except myself and the person who 
accompanied me there was not a single Protestant present. All 
the speeches turned on the necessity of straining every nerve to 
make converts to popery. It is in such a scene that one feels what 
the Catholics are doing. Most persevering and enthusiastic are 
they in their work ! Let Protestants look to it. It cheered me 
much to hear that you continue pretty well. Take every care of 
yourself. Remember me kindly to Tabby and Martha, also to 
Mr. Nicholls, and Believe me, dear papa, your affectionate 
daughter, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 518 


June I9//&, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, I shall have to stay in London a few days 
longer than I intended. Sir J. K. Shuttleworth has found out 
that I am here ; I have some trouble in warding off his wish that 
I should go directly to his house and take up my quarters there, 
but Mrs. Smith helped me, and I got off with promising to spend 
a day. I am engaged to spend a day or two with Mrs. Gaskell on 
my way home, and could not put her off, as she is going away for 
a portion of the summer. Lady Shuttleworth looks very delicate. 
Papa is now very desirous I should come home, and when I have 
as quickly as possible paid my debts of engagements, home I must 
go. Next Tuesday I go to Manchester for two days. 

I cannot boast that London has agreed with me well this time ; 
the oppression of frequent headache, sickness, and a low tone of 
spirits, has poisoned many moments which might otherwise have 
been pleasant. Sometimes I have felt this hard, and been tempted 


to murmur at Fate, which compels me to comparative silence and 
solitude for eleven months in the year, and in the twelfth, while 
offering social enjoyment, takes away the vigour and cheerfulness 
which should turn it to account. But circumstances are ordered 
for us, and we must submit. I still hope to see you ere long. 
Wishing you and your guests all happiness and pleasure, I am, 


Letter 519 


June 24/, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter would have been answered yester- 
day, but I was already gone out before post time, and was out all 
day. Since Sir J. K. Shuttleworth discovered that I was in London 
I have had precious little time to myself. He brings other people 
who are very kind, and perhaps I shall be glad of what I have seen 
afterwards, but it is often a little trying at the time. On Thurs- 
day the Marquis of Westminster asked me to a great party, to 
which I was to go with Mrs. Davenport, a beautiful, and, I think, 
a kind woman too ; but this I resolutely declined. On Friday I 
dined at the Shuttleworth's, and met Mrs. Davenport and Mr. 
Monckton Milnes. On Saturday I went to hear and see Rachel ; 
a wonderful sight, terrible as if the earth had cracked deep at your 
feet, and revealed a glimpse of hell. I shall never forget it. She 
made me shudder to the marrow of my bones ; in her some fiend 
has certainly taken up an incarnate home. She is not a woman ; 

she is a snake ; she is the . On Sunday I went to the Spanish 

Ambassador's Chapel, where Cardinal Wiseman, in his archi- 
episcopal robes and mitre, held a confirmation. The whole scene 
was impiously theatrical. Yesterday (Monday) I was sent for at 
ten to breakfast with Mr. Rogers, the patriarch-poet Mrs. Daven- 
port and Lord Glenelg were there ; no one else : this certainly 
proved a most calm, refined, and intellectual treat. After break- 
fast Sir David Brewster came to take us to the Crystal Palace. I 
had rather dreaded this, for Sir David is a man of profoundest 
science, and I feared It would be impossible to understand his 
explanations of the mechanism, etc. ; indeed, I hardly knew how 
to ask him questions. I was spared all trouble: without being 
questioned, he gave information in the kindest and simplest 


manner. After two hours spent at the Exhibition, and when, as 
you may suppose, I was very tired, we had to go to Lord West- 
minster's, and spend two hours more in looking at the collection 
of pictures in his splendid gallery. I cannot now leave London 
till Friday. To-morrow is Mr. Smith's only holiday. Mr. Taylor's 
departure leaves him loaded with work. More than once since I 
came he has been kept in the city till three in the morning. He 
wants to take us all to Richmond, and I promised last week I 
would stay and go with him, his mother, and sisters. I go to 
Mrs. Gaskell's on Friday. Believe me, yours faithfully, 


Letter 520 


June 26/4 1851. 

DEAR PAPA, I have not yet been able to get away from 
London, but if all be well I shall go to-morrow, stay two days 
with Mrs. Gaskell at Manchester, and return home on Monday 3Oth 
without fail. During this last week or ten days I have seen many 
things, some of them very interesting, and have also been in much 
better health than I was during the first fortnight of my stay in 
London. Sir James and Lady Shuttleworth have really been 
very kind, and most scrupulously attentive. They desire their 
regards to you, and send all manner of civil messages. The 
Marquis of Westminster and the Earl of Ellesmere each sent me 
an order to see their private collection of pictures, which I enjoyed 
very much. Mr, Rogers, the patriarch-poet, now eighty-seven 
years old, invited me to breakfast with him. His breakfasts, you 
must understand, are celebrated throughout Europe for their 
peculiar refinement and taste. He never admits at that meal 
more than four persons to his table : himself and three guests. 
The morning I was there I met Lord Glenelg and Mrs. Daven- 
port, a relation of Lady Shuttleworth's, and a very beautiful and 
fashionable woman. The visit was very interesting ; I was glad 
that I had paid it after it was over. An attention that pleased 
and surprised me more I think than any other was the circum- 
stance of Sir David Brewster, who is one of the first scientific men 
of his day, coming to take me over the Crystal Palace, and point- 
ing out and explaining the most remarkable curiosities. You will 


know, dear papa, that I do not mention those things to boast of 
them, but merely because I think they will give you pleasure. 
Nobody, I find, thinks the worse of me for avoiding publicity 
and declining to go to large parties, and everybody seems truly 
courteous and respectful, a mode of behaviour which makes me 
grateful, as it ought to do. Good-bye till Monday. Give my best 
regards to Mr. Nicholls, Tabby, and Martha, and Believe me 
your affectionate daughter, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 521 


HAWORTH,/^ is/ 9 1851. 

MY DEAR MRS. SMITH, Once more I am at home, where, 
I am thankful to say, I found my father very well. The journey 
to Manchester was a little hot and dusty, but otherwise pleasant 
enough. The two stout gentlemen who filled a portion of the 
carriage when I got in quitted it at Rugby, and two other ladies 
and myself had it to ourselves the rest of the way. The visit to 
Mrs. Gaskell formed a cheering break in the journey. Haworth 
Parsonage Is rather a contrast; yet even Haworth Parsonage 
does not look gloomy in this bright summer weather ; it is some- 
what still, but with the windows open I can hear a bird or two 
singing on certain thorn trees n the garden* My father and the 
servants think me looking better than when I left home, and 
I certainly feel better myself for the change. You are too much 
like your son to render it advisable I should say much about 
your kindness during my visit. However, one cannot help (like 
Captain Cuttle) making a note of these matters. Papa says I am 
to thank you in his name, and offer you his respects, which I do 
accordingly. -^--With truest regards to all your circle, believe me 
very sincerely yours 3 C. BRONTE* 

Letter 522 


HAWORTH, July 14.*%, 1851. 

MY DEAR Miss WOOLER, My first feeling on receiving your 
note was one of disappointment ; but a little consideration sufficed 
to show me that ' all was for the best' In truth, it was a great 
piece of extravagance on my part to ask you and Ellen together ; 


it is much better to divide such good things. To have your visi 
in prospect will console me when hers is in retrospect Not that 
mean to yield to the weakness of clinging dependency to th 
society of friends, however dear, but still, as an occasional treat, 
must value and even seek such society as a necessary of life. L 
me know, then, whenever it suits your convenience to come t 
Haworth, and, unless some change I cannot now foresee occurs, 
ready and warm welcome will await you. Should there be an 
cause rendering it desirable to defer the visit, I will tell you frankh 

The pleasures of society I cannot offer you, nor those of fin 
scenery, but I place very much at your command the moors, som 
books, a series of * curling-hair times/ and an old pupil into th 
bargain. Ellen may have told you that I have spent a month i 
London this summer. When you come you shall ask what quef 
tions you like on that point, and I will answer to the best of m 
stammering ability. Do not press me much on the subject of th 
'Crystal Palace.' I went there five times, and certainly saw som 
interesting things, and the coup d'ceil is striking and bewilderin 
enough, but I never was able to get up any raptures on the sut 
ject, and each renewed visit was made under coercion rather tha 
my own free-will. It is an excessively bustling place ; and, afte 
all, its wonders appeal too exclusively to the eye, and rarely touc 
the heart or head. I make an exception to the last assertion i 
favour of those who possess a large range of scientific knowledg* 
Once I went with Sir David Brewster, and perceived that h 
looked on objects with other eyes than mine. 

Ellen I find is writing, and will therefore deliver her ow 
messages of regard. If papa were in the room he would, I knov 
desire his respects ; and you must take both respects and a goo 
bundle of something more cordial from yours very faithfully, 


Letter 523 


Jufy2I$f, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, I delayed answering your very interestin 
letter until the box should have reached me ; and now that it i 
come I can only acknowledge its arrival : I cannot say at all wha 
I felt as I unpacked its contents. These Cornhill parcels hav 
something of the magic charm of a fairy gift about them, as we 


as of the less poetical but more substantial pleasure of a box from 
home received at school. You have sent me this time even more 
books than usual, and all good. What shall I say about the 
twenty numbers of splendid engravings laid cosily at the bottom ? 
The whole Vernon Gallery brought to one's fireside! Indeed, 
indeed I can say nothing, except that I will take care, and keep 
them clean, and send them back uninjured. In reading your 
graphic account of a visit to Oxford after an interval of thirty 
years since you last went there and of the disillusion which 
meanwhile had taken place I could not help wondering whether 
Cornhill will ever change for me as Oxford has changed for you ; 
I have some pleasant associations connected with it now will 
these alter their character some day? Perhaps they may though 
I have faith to the contrary ; because I think I do not 
exaggerate my partialities ; I think I take faults along with 
excellences blemishes together with beauties. And besides 
in the matter of friendship I have observed that disappoint- 
ment here arises chiefly, not from liking our friends too well, 
or thinking of them too highly, but rather from an overestimate 
of their liking for and opinion of us ; and that if we guard 
ourselves with sufficient scrupulousness of care from error in this 
direction and can be content, and even happy to give more 
affection than we receive can make just comparison of circum- 
stances and be severely accurate in drawing inferences thence, 
and never let self-love blind our eyes I think we may manage 
to get through life with constancy unembittered by that mis- 
anthropy which springs from revulsions of feeling. All this , 
sounds a little metaphysical but it is good sense if you consider 
it. The moral of it is, that if we would build on a sure foundation 
in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather 
than for our own, we must look at their truth to themselves fully as 
much as their truth to us. In the latter case, every wound to 
self-love would be a cause of coldness ; in the former, only some 
painful change in the friend's character and disposition some 
fearful breach in his allegiance to his better self could alienate 
the heart. 

How interesting your old maiden cousin's gossip about your 
parents must have been to you ; and how gratifying to find that 
the reminiscence turned on none but pleasant facts and char- 
acteristics 1 Life must, indeed be slow in that little decaying 
hamlet amongst the chalk hills. After all, depend upon it, it is 



better to be worn out with work In a thronged community than 
to perish of inaction in a stagnant solitude : take this truth into 
consideration whenever you get tired of work and bustle. 
Believe me, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 524 


HAWORTH,/#/J/ 27^, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, I hope you have taken no cold from your 
wretched journey home; you see you should have taken my 
advice and stayed till Saturday. Didn't I tell you I had a c pre- 
sentiment ' it would be better for you to do so ? 

I am glad you found your mother pretty well. Is she disposed 
to excuse the wretched petrified condition of the bilberry preserve, 
in consideration of the intent of the donor? It seems they had 
high company while you were away. You see what you lose by 
coming to Haworth. No events here since your departure except 
a long letter from Miss Martineau. (She did not write the article 
on c Woman 3 in the Westminster, by the way, it is the production 
of a man, and one of the first philosophers, and political economists 
and metaphysicians of the day.) Item, the departure of Mr. 
Nicholls for Ireland, and his inviting himself on the eve thereof to 
come and take a farewell tea ; good, mild, uncontentious. Item, a 
note from the stiff little chap who called about the epitaph for his 
cousin. I enclose this ; a finer gem in its way it would be difficult 
to conceive. You need not however be at the trouble of returning 
it How are they at Hunsworth yet ? It is no use saying whether 
I am solitary or not ; I drive on very well, and papa continues 
pretty well Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 525 


HAWORTH, August 6th y 1851. 

MY DEAR MRS. GASKELL, I was too much pleased with your 
letter, when I got it at last, to feel disposed to murmur now 
about the delay. 

About a fortnight ago I received a letter from Miss Martineau : 
a long letter, and treating precisely the same subjects on which 


yours dwelt, viz. the Exhibition and Thackeray's last lecture. 
It was interesting mentally to place the two documents side by 
side to study the two aspects of mind to view alternately 
the same scene through two mediums. Full striking was the 
difference ; and the more striking because it was not the rough 
contrast of good and evil, but the more subtle opposition, the 
irnore delicate diversity of different kinds of good. The ex- 
cellences of one nature resembled (I thought) that of some 
sovereign medicine harsh, perhaps, to the taste, but potent to 
invigorate ; the good of the other seemed more akin to the 
flourishing efficacy of our daily bread. It is not bitter; it is 
not lusciously sweet ; it pleases without flattering the palate ; t 
-sustains without forcing the strength. 

I very much agree with you in all you say. For the sake of 
variety I could almost wish that the concord of opinion were less 

To begin with Trafalgar Square. My taste goes with yours 
and Meta's completely on this point. I have always thought it 
a fine site (and sight also). The view from the summit of those 
-steps has ever struck me as grand and imposing Nelson Column 
included : the fountains I could dispense with. With respect, 
also, to the Crystal Palace, my thoughts are precisely yours. 

Then I feel sure you speak justly of Thackeray's lecture. You 
-do well to set aside odious comparisons, and to wax impatient 
of that trite twaddle about ( nothing-newness ' a jargon which 
simply proves, in those who habitually use it, a coarse and feeble 
faculty of appreciation ; an inability to discern the relative value 
of originality and novelty ; a lack of that refined perception which, 
dispensing with the stimulus of an ever new subject, can derive 
sufficiency of pleasure from freshness of treatment. To such 
critics the prime of a summer morning would bring no delight ; 
wholly occupied with railing at their cook for not having provided 
.a novel and piquant breakfast dish, they would remain insensible 
to such influences as lie in sunrise, dew, and breeze: therein 
-would be ' nothing new.' 

Is it Mr. J s family experience which has influenced your 

feelings About the Catholics ? I own I cannot be sorry for this 
commencing change. Good people very good people I doubt 
not, there are amongst the Romanists, but the system is not one 
-which should have such sympathy as yours. Look at Popery- 
taking off the mask in Naples ! 


I have read The Sainfs Tragedy}* As a ' work of art ' it seems 
to me far superior to either Alton Locke or Yeast. Faulty it may 
be, crude and unequal, yet there are portions where some of the 
deep chords of human nature are swept with a hand which is 
strong even while it falters. We see throughout (I think) that 
Elizabeth has not, and never had, a mind perfectly sane. From 
the time that she was what she herself, in the exaggeration of 
her humility, calls an idiot girl/ to the hour when she lay moan- 
ing in visions on her dying bed, a slight craze runs through her 
whole existence. This is good : this is true. A sound mind, a 
healthy intellect, would have dashed the priest power to the wall ;. 
would have defended her natural affections from his grasp, as a 
lioness defends her young ; would have been as true to husband 
and children as your leal-hearted little Maggie was to her Frank. 
Only a mind weak with some fatal flaw could have been influenced 
as was this poor saint's. But what anguish what struggles! 
Seldom do I cry over books, but here my eyes rained as I read. 
When Elizabeth turns her face to the wall I stopped there 
needed no more. 

Deep truths are touched on in this tragedy touched on, not 
fully elicited truths that stir a peculiar pity, a compassion hot 
with wrath and bitter with pain. This is no poet's dream : we 
know that such things have been done ; that minds have been 
thus subjected, and lives thus laid waste. 

Remember me kindly and respectfully to Mr. Gaskell, and 
though I have not seen Marianne I must beg to include her in the 
love I send the others. Could you manage to convey a small kiss 
to that dear but dangerous little person Julia ? She surreptitiously 
possessed herself of a minute fraction of my heart, which has 
been missing ever since I saw her. Believe me sincerely and 
affectionately yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 526 



Whenever I see Florence and Julia again I shall feel like a 
fond but bashful suitor, who views at a distance the fair personage 
to whom, in his clownish awe, he dare not risk a near approach. 

1 Tfa Sfftnt's Tragedy; 0r, tkc True Story of Elisatetk tf Hungary, by Charles 
JCingsley, was published in 1848. 


Such is the clearest Idea I can give you of my feeling towards 
children I like, but to whom I am a stranger. And to what 
children am I not a stranger? They seem to me little wonders ; 
their talk, their ways are all matter of half-admiring, half-puzzled 

Letter 527 


August iWi, 1851 

DEAR ELLEN, I write a line to you because you will be ex- 
pecting me to answer your last, not because I have anything worth 
hearing to say. You will wonder about the papers not coming 
as usual last week. I never got the Leader at all. As to the Ex- 
aminer, papa took a fancy to keep a long leading article about the 
Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, and also another on some other subject ; 
accordingly he cut them out, and it was not worth while to send 
the paper thus mutilated. The French paper I despatch to-day. 

Your account of Mr. Harding possesses a certain interest from 
one's having often heard his name before. He seems to have 
impressed you rather favourably than otherwise. Joe Taylor 
describes him as an enthusiastic man, but so coloured and turned his 
description as to give one the idea of a sort of spurious enthusiasm ; 
something flighty and skin deep. This is a low quality ; as low- 
as the genuine fire is lofty ; that genuine fire is however so rare, 
I can scarcely believe in Mr. Harding's possessing it His Scotch 
physiognomy is however something in his favour, if Scotch it be. 
I hope your mother and all at Brookroyd continue pretty well, 
as papa, I am thankful to say, does. Tell me what you think of 
Georgiana after you have paid your visit. 

I have been very well ever since you were here and am really 
fatter now, though I don't know how- long it will last Papa 
continues as usual, but he frequently complains of weakness, and 
laeeds often renewed encouragement It is now getting dark 
Yours faithfully, C BRONTE- 

Letter 528 


September i*/, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, I have mislaid your last letter, so cannot look it 
over to see what there is in it to answer, but it is time it was 


answered in some fashion whether I have anything to say or not* 
Miss C. Wooler's note is very like her. Mrs. Joe Taylor wrote to 
me a week or a fortnight since, a well-meaning, amiable little note. 
Mr. Morgan was here last Monday ; fat, well, and hearty, he came 
to breakfast by nine o'clock ; he brought me a lot of tracts as a 

It is useless to tell you how I live, I endure life, but whether 
I enjoy it or not is another question. However, I get on. The 
weather, I think, has not been good lately or else the beneficial 
effects of change of air and scene are evaporating in spite of 
regular exercise. The old headaches, and starting wakeful nights- 
are coming upon me again. But I do get on, and have neither 
wish nor right to complain. 

Georgiana would be the better for going out for a year as maid- 
of-all-work, or plain cook in a respectable family. 

Papa, it cheers me to say, has continued pretty well during the 
time of Mr. Nicholls 1 absence. I hope your mother is well, and 
Mary * blooming * as Amelia says, and buxom. Also Mr. and Mrs. 
Clapham. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 529 


September ioth, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, I was indulging the hope that as you had not 
written again your mother was better ; even after what you say,, 
the impression left on my mind is that you are not to lose her 
yet I think her constitutional tenacity of life will bear her 
through this attack, and perhaps others yet to come. We cannot 
be sure of this, but it is my strong persuasion ; it is no doubt the 
turn of the year which is now trying her, and perhaps something 
more. The weather here has of late been peculiar; changing 
rapidly from hot to cold, its effects have been much felt by the old 
and weakly. Papa so far has borne it well. To-day is very 
beautiful. I trust it will favour your mother's improvement. 
One of the worst results of her illness may be that you will 
overfatigne yourself, and it is difficult to give advice on this 
point ; you can but act for the best, and get fresh air and repose 
when it is in your power. I hope you will very soon write me a 
line however brief. Yours faithfully, C, BRONTE, 


Letter 530 


HAWORTH, September 13^, '51. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, I have no intention of going from 
home during the next three weeks, but I wish you would just 

make up your mind to come to Haworth now. Miss S might 

come too if you thought proper ; and if it would be any pleasure 
to her, I should be glad to see her. At present the weather is 
fine ; when it once breaks, it may be long before it settles again, 
and you would find the place too dull in wet weather. DC come 
on Tuesday afternoon^ you and Miss S . 

Write a little note to me on Monday to say you will come, and 
I will have your room duly aired and all ready. Sincerely and 
affectionately yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 531 


September i7/#, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, I well know what you are now going through, 
and very sincerely in my heart do I feel with and for you, and very 
earnestly do I trust that the strength and patience you have so 
far manifested may be continued through the heavier trial which 
seems near. It appears to me, as to you, that those symptoms 
must be the precursors of dissolution. I fancy your brother will 
find his mother a little worse than in his cold-blooded tranquillity 
he seems to anticipate. Excuse the epithet * cold-blooded ' it is 
richly deserved. Love him, however, as well as you can make 
what allowance you can he is your brother. Let him be brought 
face to face with Death as according to probabilities he seems 
likely to be ; it will bring him a little to his senses. 

I shall write no more. You need no advice. May God sustain 
you. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 532 


Saturday , September 2O/, 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, That scene you describe was truly trying and 
bitter, but accept it as an inevitable thing. These poor people 
acted, I believe, partly In dense ignorance as well as in pride. 


They cannot help being very vulgar in their mode of showing 
their feelings Endure, pity, forgive as well as you can. But the 
'unkindest cut' of all, and certainly the strangest, was your 
brother's conduct, yet it hardly surprised me. Illness sometimes 
makes an inexplicable rack of the mind, and unaccountably per- 
verts the feelings. A seeming unkindness and ingratitude in 
beings tenderly loved and cherished and waited on in their 
sufferings with devoted patience is, I incline to believe, a species 
of torture oftener experienced than confessed ; cruel is the anguish 
it strikes through the heart. I can only account for it by suppos- 
ing that the soul is sick as well as the body. One knows not 
what the poor sufferers control and refuse in the way of peevish 
and unjust impulses. Alas! a sick-bed has heart-rending accom- 
paniments. Courage, my dear Ellen. I can only wish you, in 
addition, comfort and peace. That your health will more or less 
suffer for all this must be expected. 

Richard and liza will have their overcast days sometime, and 
perhaps they will then see their present conduct in a different 
light to what they do now. Believe me, yours faithfully, 


Continue, dear Nell, to be as patient as you possibly can 

with , They are objects of pity. I could break out In strong 

language, but resist. 

Letter 533 


September zotfi, 1851. 

. . . Beautiful are those sentences out of James Martineau's 
sermons ; some of them gems most pure and genuine ; ideas deeply 
conceived, finely expressed. I should like much to see his review 
of his sister's book. Of all the articles respecting which you ques- 
tion me I have seen none, except that notable one in the West- 
minster on the Emancipation of Women. But why are you and 
I to think (perhaps I should rather say to feel) so exactly alike 
on some points that there can be no discussion between us ? Your 
words on this paper express my thoughts. Well argued it is 
clear, logical but vast is the hiatus of omission ; harsh the con- 
sequent jar on every finer chord of the soul. What is this hiatus ? 
I think I know; and knowing, I will venture to say. I think 
the writer forgets there is such a thing as self-sacrificing love and 


disinterested devotion. . . , I believe J. S. Mill would make a hard, 
dry, dismal world of it ; and yet he speaks admirabfe sense through 
a great portion of his article, especially when he says that if there 
be a natural unfitness in women for men's employment there is no 
need to make laws on the subject ; leave all careers open ; let them 
try ; those who ought to succeed will succeed, or, at least, will have 
a fair chance ; the incapable will fall back into their right place. 
He likewise disposes of the * maternity * question very neatly. . . . 
You are right when you say that there Is a large margin in human 
nature over which the logicians have r>o dominion ; glad am I that 
it is so. 

I send by this post Ruskin's Stones of Venice^ and I hope you 
and Meta will find passages in it that will please you. Some parts 
would be dry and technical were it not for the character, the marked 
individuality, which pervades every page. I wish Marianne had 
come to speak to me at the lecture ; it would have given me such 
pleasure. What you say of that small sprite Julia amuses me very 
much. I believe you don't know that she has a great deal of her 
mamma's nature (modified) in her, yet I think you will find she 
has as she grows up. 

Will it not be a great mistake if Mr. Thackeray should deliver 
his lectures at Manchester under such circumstances and conditions 
as will exclude people like you and Mr. Gaskell from the number 
of his audience? I thought his London plan too narrow. Charles 
Dickens would not thus limit his sphere of action. 

You charge me to write about myself. What can I say on that 
precious topic? My health is pretty good. My spirits are not 
always alike. Nothing happens to me. I hope and expect little 
in this world, and am thankful that I do not despond and suffer 
more. Thank you for inquiring after our old servant ; she is pretty 
well ; the little shawl, etc., pleased her much. Papa, likewise, I am 
glad to say, is pretty well. With his and my kindest regards to> 
you and Mr, Gaskell, believe me sincerely and affectionately yours, 


Letter 534 


HAWORTH, September itnd^ 1851. 

MY DEAR Miss WOOLER, Our visitor (a relative from Corn- 
wall) having left us, the coast is now clear, so that whenever you 


feel inclined to come, papa and I will be truly glad to see you. F 
do wish the splendid weather we have had and are having may 
accompany you here. I fear I have somewhat grudged the fine 
days, fearing a change before you come. Believe me, with papa's- 
regards, yours respectfully and affectionately, C. BRONTE. 

Come soon ; if you can, on Wednesday. 

Letter 535 


September z6t%, 1851. 

As I laid down your letter, after reading with interest the- 
graphic account it gives of a very striking scene, I could not 
help feeling with renewed force a truth, trite enough, yet ever 
impressive, viz. that it is good to be attracted out of ourselves, 
to be forced to take a near view of the sufferings, the privations, 
the efforts, the difficulties of others. If we ourselves live in 
fulness of content, it is well to be reminded that thousands of our 
fellow creatures undergo a different lot ; it is well to have sleepy 
sympathies excited, and lethargic selfishness shaken up. If, on 
the other hand, we be contending with the special grief the 
intimate trial the peculiar bitterness with which God has seen 
fit to mingle our own cup of existence, it is very good to know 
that our overcast lot is not singular; it stills the repining word 
and thought it rouses the flagging strength, to have it vividly 
set before us that there are countless afflictions in the world, each 
perhaps rivalling some surpassing the private pain over which 
we are too prone exclusively to sorrow. 

All those crowded emigrants had their troubles their untoward 
causes of banishment; you, the looker-on, had 'your wishes 
and regrets ' your anxieties, alloying your home happiness and 
domestic bliss; and the parallel might be pursued further, and 
still it would be true still the same; a thorn in the flesh for 
each ; some burden, some conflict for all. 

How far this state of things is susceptible of amelioration from 
changes in public institutions alterations in national habits 
may and ought to be earnestly considered : but this is a problem 
not easily solved. The evils, as you point them out, are great,, 
real, and most obvious : the remedy is obscure and vague ; yet 
for such difficulties as spring from over-competition emigration 
must be good ; the new life in a new country must give a new 


lease of hope ; the wider field, less thickly peopled, must open a 
new path for endeavour. But I always think great physical 
powers of exertion and endurance ought to accompany such a 
step. ... I am truly glad to hear that an original writer has 
fallen in your way. Originality Is the pearl of great price in 
literature the rarest, the most precious claim by which an author 
can be recommended. Are not your publishing prospects for 
the coming season tolerably rich and satisfactory ? You inquire 
after ' Currer Bell/ It seems to me that the absence of his name 
from your list of announcements will leave no blank, and that 
he may at least spare himself the disquietude of thinking he is- 
wanted when it is certainly not his lot to appear. 

Perhaps Currer Bell has his secret moan about these matters ; 
but if so he will keep it to himself. It is an affair about which 
no words need be wasted, for no words can make a change ; it 
is between him and his position, his faculties and his fate. 


Letter 536 


October yrd, 1851. 

DEAR NELL, Do not think I have forgotten you because I 
have not written since your last ; every day I have had you more 
or less in my thoughts and wondered how your mother was 
getting on ; let me have a line of information as soon as possible. 
I have been busy, first with a somewhat unexpected visitor, a 
cousin from Cornwall who has been spending a few days with us r 
and now with Miss Wooler who came on Monday. The former 
personage we can discuss any time when we meet. Miss Wooler 
is and has been very pleasant. She is like good wine ; I think 
time improves her, and really, whatever she may be in person, in 
mind she is younger than when at Roe Head. Papa and she get 
on extremely well ; I have just heard papa walk into the dining- 
room and pay her a round compliment on her good sense. I think 
so far she has been pretty comfortable and likes Haworth, but as 
she only brought a small hand-basket of luggage with her she 
cannot stay long. 

How are you ? Write directly. With my love to your mother* 
etc., good-bye, dear Nell. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 


Letter 537 


October 3o//r, '5 1. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am not at all intending to go from home at 
present, I have just refused successively Miss Martineau, Mrs. 
Gaskell, and Mrs. Forster. I could not go if I would, one person 
after another in the house has been ailing for the last month or 
more. First Tabby had the influenza, then Martha took it, and 
is ill in bed now with quinsy, her second attack, and I grieve to 
say papa too has taken cold. So far I keep pretty well, and am 
thankful for it, for who else would nurse them all. Some painful 
mental worry I have gone through this autumn, but there is no use 
in dwelling on all that. At present I seem to have some respite. 
I feel more disinclined than ever for letter- writing. I am glad 
that your mother is better, and that the Hunsworth people are 
going on well. Cease to expect me at Brookroyd, I would rather 
you came to Haworth, I should see more of you. Life is a 
struggle. Good-bye. Yours sincerely, C. B, 

Letter 538 


November 4tk y '51. 

DEAR ELLEN, Papa, Tabby, and Martha are at present all 
better, yet none of them well. Martha at present looks feeble, I 
wish she had a better constitution ; as it is, one is always afraid 
of giving her too much to do, and yet there are many things I 
cannot undertake myself, and we do not like to change when we 
have had her so long. How are you getting on in the matter of 
servants? The other day I received a long letter from India. 
I told you I did not expect to hear thence, nor did L The letter 
Is long, but it is worth your while to read It. In its way it has 
merit, that cannot be denied ; abundance of information, talent of 
a certain kind, alloyed (I think) here and there with errors of 
taste. He might have spared many of the details of the bath 
scene, which for the rest tallies exactly with Mr. Thackeray's 
account of the same process. This little man with all his long 
letters remains as much a conundrum to me as ever. Your 
account of the domestic joys at Hutisworth amused me much. 


The good folks seem very happy, long may they continue so ! 
It somewhat cheers me to know that such happiness does exist on 
the earth. Return Mr. Taylor's letter when you have read it. 
With love to your mother, I am, dear Nell, sincerely yours, 

C. B. 

Letter 539 


November 6f%, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have true pleasure in enclosing for your son 
Frank a letter of introduction to Mrs. Gaskell, and earnestly do I 
trust the acquaintance may tend to his good. To make all sure 
for I dislike to go on doubtful grounds I wrote to ask her if she 
would permit the introduction. Her frank, kind answer pleased 
me greatly. 

I have received the books. I hope to write again when I have 
read The Fair Carew. The very title augurs well it has no 
hackneyed sound. Believe me, sincerely yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 540 


November 6tft> 1851. 

If anybody would tempt me from home you would; but, just 
now, from home I must not, will not go. I feel greatly better at 
present than I did three weeks ago. For a month or six weeks 
about the equinox (autumnal or vernal) is a period of the year 
which, I have noticed, strangely tries me. Sometimes the strain 
falls on the mental, sometimes on the physical part of me ; I am 
ill with neuralgic headache, or I am ground to the dust with deep 
dejection of spirits (not, however, such dejection but I can keep 
to myself). That weary time has, I think and trust, got over for 
this year. It was the anniversary of my poor brother's death, 
and of my sister's failing health : I need say no more. 

As to running away from home every time I have a battle of 
this sort to fight, it would not do: besides the c weird * would 
follow. As to shaking it off, that cannot be. I have declined to 
go to Mrs. Forster, to Miss Martineau, and now I decline to go to 
you, But listen ! do not think that I throw your kindness away^ 
or that it fails of doing the good you desire. On the contrary. 


the feeling expressed in your letter proved by your invitation 
goes right home where you would have it to go, and heals as you 
would have it to heal. 

Your description of Frederika Bremer tallies exactly with one 
I read somewhere, in I know not what book. I laughed out when 
I got to the mention of Frederika's special accomplishment, given 
by you with a distinct simplicity that, to my taste, is what the 
French would call ( Impayable.' Where do you find the foreigner 
who is without some little drawback of this description ? It is a 
pity. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 541 


HAWORTH, November i$fh, 1851. 

MY DEAR SIR, Both your communications reached me safely 
the note of the I7th September and the letter of the 2nd 
October. You do yourself less than justice when you stigmatise 
the latter as ( ill-written/ I found it quite legible, nor did I lose 
a word, though the lines and letters were so close. I should have 
been sorry if such had not been the case, as it appeared to me 
throughout highly interesting. It is observable that the very 
same information which we have previously collected, perhaps 
with rather languid attention, from printed books, when placed 
before us in familiar manuscript, and comprising the actual 
experience of a person with whom we are acquainted, acquires a 
new and vital interest: when we know the narrator we seem to 
realise the tale. 

The bath scene amused me much. Your account of that opera- 
tion tallies in every point with Mr. Thackeray's description in the 
Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo. The usage seems a little 
rough, and I cannot help thinking that equal benefit might be 
obtained through less violent means ; but I suppose without the 
previous fatigue the after-sensation would not be so enjoyable, 
and no doubt it is that indolent after-sensation which the self- 
indulgent Mahometans chiefly cultivate. I think you did right 
to disdain it 

It would seem to me a matter of great regret that the society at 
Bombay should be so deficient in all intellectual attraction. 
Perhaps, however, your occupations will so far absorb your 
thoughts as to prevent them from dwelling painfully on this 


circumstance. No doubt there will be moments when you will 
look back to London and Scotland, and the friends you have left 
there, with some yearning ; but I suppose business has its own 
excitement The new country, the new scenes too, must have 
their interest; and as you will not lack books to fill your 
leisure, you will probably soon become reconciled to a change 
which, for some minds, would too closely resemble exile. 

I fear the climate such as you describe it must be very 
trying to an European constitution. In your first letter, you 
mentioned October as the month of danger; it is now over. 
Whether you have passed its ordeal safely must yet for some 
weeks remain unknown to your friends in England they can but 
wish that such may be the case. You will not expect me to write 
a letter that shall form a parallel with your own either in quantity 
or quality ; what I write must be brief, and what I communicate 
must be commonplace and of trivial interest 

My father, I am thankful to say, continues in pretty good 
health. I read portions of your letter to him and he was interested 
in hearing them. He charged me when I wrote to convey his 
very kind remembrances. 

I had myself ceased to expect a letter from you. On taking 
leave at Haworth you said something about writing from India, 
but I doubted at the time whether it was not one of those forms 
of speech which politeness dictates; and as time passed, and I 
did not hear from you, I became confirmed in this view of the 
subject With every good wish for your welfare, I am, yours 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 542 


Novtmfar igtti, '51. 

DEAR ELLEN, All here is much as usual and I was thinking 
of writing to you this morning when I received your note. I am 
glad to hear your mother bears this severe weather tolerably, as 
papa does also. I had a cold chiefly in the throat and chest, but 
I applied cold water which relieved me, I think, far better than 
hot applications would have done. The only events in my life 
consist in that little change occasional letters bring. I have had 
two from Miss Wooler since she left Haworth which touched me 
much. She seems to think so much of a little congenial com- 


pany. She says she has not for many days known such enjoy- 
ment as she experienced during the ten days she stayed here. 
Yet you know what Haworth is, dull enough. 

How could you imagine your last letter offended me? I only 
disagreed with you on one point. The little man's disdain of the 
sensual pleasure of a Turkish bath had, I must own, my approval. 
Before answering his epistle I got up my courage to write to 
Mr, Williams, through whose hands, or those of Mr. Smith, I knew 
the Indian letter had come, and beg him to give me an impartial 
judgment of Mr, Taylor's character and disposition, owning that I 
was very much in the dark. I did not like to continue corre- 
spondence without further information. I got the answer which I 
enclose. You say nothing about the Hunsworth Turtle-doves, 
how are they? and how is the branch of promise? I hope doing 
well Yours faithfully, C. BRONT& 

Letter 543 


December 1851. 

DEAR ELLEN, This last week has been very trying here. 
Papa has borne it unhurt, but these winds and changes have 
given me a bad cold of influenza character. Poor old Keeper 


died last Monday morning; after being ill all night, he went 
gently to sleep. We laid his old faithful head in the garden. 
Flossy Is dull and misses him. There was something very sad 
in losing the old dog; yet I am glad he met a natural fate; 
people kept hinting he ought to be put away, which neither 
papa nor I liked to think of. If I could get cod-liver oil, 


fresh and sweet, I really would take your advice and try it. 
We have got curtains for the dining-room. I ordered them at 
the Factory to be dyed crimson, but they are badly dyed and 
do not please me. 

I am truly glad to hear of your mother's improvement. The 
doctors cannot now deny that she has fairly given them the slip, 
I admire her, clever old lady ! 

You ask me about the Lily and the Bee. If you have read it, 
dear Ellen, you have effected an exploit beyond me. I glanced 
at a few pages and laid it down hopeless, nor can I find courage 
to resume it. Margaret Maitland is a good book and will just 
suit your mother. I am, yours faithfully, 


Letter 544 


HAWORTH, December I7/^, '51. 

DEAR ELLEN, I cannot at present go to see you, but I would 
be grateful if you could come and see me, even were it only for a 
few days. To speak truth, I have put on but a poor time of it 
during this month past I kept hoping to be better, but was at 
last obliged to have recourse to medical advice. Sometimes I felt 
very weak and low, and longed much for society, but could not 
persuade myself to commit the selfish act of asking you merely for 
my own relief. The doctor speaks encouragingly, but as yet I 
get no better. As the illness has been coming on for a long 
time, it cannot, I suppose, be expected to disappear all at once. 
I am not confined to bed, but I am weak ; have had no appetite 
for about three weeks, and my nights are very bad. I am well 
aware myself that extreme and continuous depression of spirits 
has had much to do with the origin of the illness ; and I know a 
little cheerful society would do me more good than gallons of 
medicine. If you can come, come on Friday. Write to-morrow 
and say whether this be possible, and what time you will be at 
Keighley, that I may send the gig. I do not ask you to stay 
long; a few days is all I request Remember me to your 
mother and all at Brookroyd* Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

I have got some cod-liver oil, but am forbidden to take it at 
present. The doctor says it would make me more feverish. 


Letter 545 


December 3U/, '51. 

DEAR ELLEN, Papa was quite charmed with his crimson 
velvet rubbers ; he liked the attention, and, besides, it will really 
be very useful to him ; I am to thank you in the most polite 
manner possible. Mr. Ruddock came yesterday ; unfortunately I 
was not so well as I had been last week, rny head continued to 
ache all Monday, and yesterday the parched mouth and loss of 
appetite returned. Mr. Ruddock, however, repeated that there 
was no organic disease, only a highly sensitive and irritable con- 
dition of the liver. It was Mr. Ruddock we saw on the moor, that 
day we were walking out ; he was going to visit a poor woman. I 
am glad to hear good news from Hunsworth. You must give my 
downright hearty sympathy to Mr. Clapham and say I do hope 
he will be better soon. Remember me also to your mother, 
Ann, and Mercy. 

I have just got a letter from Miss Wooler enclosing one to 
you. You will see she was truly pleased with yours. In haste to 
save the post. Yours very faithfully, dear Nell, 


I am better to-day. 

Letter 546 


January iff, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am glad of the opportunity of writing to 
you, for I have long wished to send you a little note, and was 
only deterred from doing so by the conviction that the period 
preceding Christmas must be a very busy one to you. 

I have wished to thank you for your last, which gave me 
very genuine pleasure. You ascribe to Mr. Taylor an excellent 
character ; such a man's friendship, at any rate, should not be 
disregarded ; and if the principles and disposition be what you 
say, faults of manner and even of temper ought to weigh 
light In the balance. I always believed in his judgment and 
good sense, but what I doubted was his kindness he seemed 
to me a little too harsh, rigid, and unsympathising. Now, judg- 


ment, sense, principle are invaluable and quite indispensable 
points, but one would be thankful for a little feeling, a little 
indulgence in addition without these, poor fallible human 
nature shrinks under the domination of the sterner qualities. 
I answered Mr. Taylor's letter by the mail of the ipth November, 
sending it direct, for, on reflection, I did not see why I should 
trouble you with it 

Did your son Frank call on Mrs. Gaskell? and how did he 
like her? 

My health has not been very satisfactory lately, but I think, 
though I vary almost daily, I am much better than I was a fort- 
night ago. All the winter the fact of my never being able to 
stoop over a desk without bringing on pain and oppression in the 
chest has been a great affliction to me, and the want of tranquil 
rest at night has tried me much, but I hope for the better times. 
The doctors say that there is no organic mischief. 

Wishing a happy New Year to you, C BRONTE. 

Letter 547 


January , 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am sorry to say my headache did turn out 
to be symptomatic of relapse, but on the whole I think I am 
better again now, and I do not in the least regret your going. 
Really when I am downright ill i.e. under the pressure of head- 
ache, sickness, or other prostrating ailment, I would rather have 
it to myself and not feel it augmented by the sense of its being 
burdensome to others. It is when bodily ailment is gone, and 
the mind alone languishes, that cheerful and cherished society 
becomes a boon. You did me great good whilst you stayed here, 
and you went away just when your kindness would become 
unavailing, and I and my liver were best left alone. All yester- 
day I was very sick ; to-day I feel somewhat relieved, though 
qualms of nausea haunt me still. I expect Mr. R. and shall ask 
him whether part of this sickness is not owing to his medicine, 
which I suspect and hope. Poor Ellen Taylor, I fear hers will 
not be a long life. Should she die in New Zealand, it will be 
most sad for Mary. Mind that the circumstance of your 
being pretty well just now does not make you grow careless, 


111 health Is sooner fallen into than got out of. I fear the 
changeful weather of the last day or two will have tried Mr. 
Clapham as it tried me, but to-day it is finer. We shall feel its 
good effects. With kindest regards to all at Brookroyd, I am, 
dearest Nell, yours faithfully, C. B. 

If I feel that it will do me good to go to Brookroyd for a few 
days, I will tell you, but at present I am best at home. 

Letter 548 


January itffr, 1852. 

My DEAR ELLEN, I have certainly been ill enough since I 
wrote to you, but do not be alarmed or uneasy. I believe my 
sufferings have been partly, perhaps in a great measure, owing 
to the medicine. It was alterative and contained mercury. This 
did not suit me. I was brought to a sad state. Thank God, I 
believe I am better, but too weak now to tell you particulars. 
Poor papa has been in grievous anxiety ; on the point of sending 
for Mr. Teale. I had hard work to restrain him. Mr. Ruddock 
was sorely flustered when he found what he had done, but I 
don't much blame him. Can't write more at present Good-bye, 
dear Nell. Yours faithfully, C. B. 

Be quite tranquil. Mr. Ruddock vows and protests I shall 
do perfectly well with time, so that it will even be all the better 
for me, but it was rough work. I return Mary Gorham's good 
and happy letter. 

Letter 549 


January i6tk, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I wish you could have seen the coolness with 
which I captured your letter on its way to papa and at once con- 
jecturing its tenor made its contents my own, 

Be quiet Be tranquil. It is, dear Nell, my decided intention 
to come to Brookroyd when I can come, but of this last I must 
positively judge for myself, and I must take my time. I am better 
to-day, much better, but you can have little idea of the sort of 
condition into w&fch mercury throws people, to ask me to go from 
home anywhere in' close or open carriage, and as to talking, four 


days since I could not well have articulated three sentences, my 
mouth and tongue were ulcerated : for a week I took no susten- 
ance except half a teacupful of liquid, administered by teaspoon- 
fuls in the course of the day ; yet I did not need nursing, and I 
kept out of bed. It was enough to burden myself, it would have 
been misery to me to have annoyed another. Mr. Ruddock says 
he never in his whole practice knew the same effect produced by 
the same dose on man, woman, or child, and avows it is owing to 
an altogether peculiar sensitiveness of constitution. He expressed 
great regret and annoyance, but affirms it will do me good in the 
end. If this be so the sufferings are welcome. 

My appetite begins to return, my mouth and tongue are healing 
fast : in short, I believe I am doing well, but it harasses me, dear 
Nell, to be urged to go from home when I know I cannot. A 
week or fortnight may make all the difference. You know I 
generally rally pretty quickly. 

With kind love and a mixture of thanks and scolding, I am, 
yours faithfully, C, BRONTE. 

Poor Mr. Clapham has a lingering time of it ; remember me 
to him and to your mother, etc. 

Letter 550 


HAWORTH,/2^rX 20//J, 1852. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, Your last kind note would not have 
remained so long unanswered if I had been in better health. 
While Ellen was with me, I seemed to revive wonderfully, but 
began to grow worse again the day she left ; and this falling off 
proved symptomatic of a relapse. My doctor called the next 
day ; he said the headache from which I was suffering arose from 
inertness in the liver. 

Thank God, I now feel better ; and very grateful am I for the 
improvement grateful no less for my dear father's sake than for 
my own. 

Most fully can I sympathise with you in the anxiety you 
express about your friend. The thought of his leaving England 
and going out alone to a strange country, with all his natural 
sensitiveness and retiring diffidence, is indeed painful ; still, my 
dear Miss Wooler, should he actually go to America, I can but 


then suggest to you the same source of comfort and support 
you have suggested to me, and of which indeed I know you 
never lose sight namely, reliance on Providence. * God tempers 
the wind to the shorn lamb/ and He will doubtless care for a 
good, though afflicted man, amidst whatever difficulties he may 
be thrown. When you write again, I should be glad to know 
whether your anxiety on this subject is relieved. I was truly 
glad to learn through Ellen that Ilkley still continued to agree 
with your health. Earnestly trusting that the New Year may 
prove to you a happy and tranquil time, I am, my dear Miss 
Wooler, sincerely and affectionately yours, C. BRONTE* 

Letter 551 


January 22^, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have continued to make progress, and I 
think very quickly. I do not suppose I am looking much worse 
than when you were here, though of course I am very thin. 

If all be well I hope to come to Brookroyd next week. Mr, 
Ruddock wished me to put off for another week, but I want to 
see you, and my spirits sadly need some little support. I do and 
have done as well as I can, but the hours have been very dark 
sometimes. Through it all papa continues well, thank God ! I 
intend coming by the same train you took and should therefore 
reach you in the course of the afternoon, but I will write again 
to mention the day, etc. I had a note from Amelia the other day 
which struck me as not being happy somehow. I don't quite like 
her frequent recurrence in a rather repining tone to Rosy's 
superior good fortune. I am glad to hear that Mr. Clapham 
is making some progress and that Mrs. Clapham is better. 
Believe me, dear Nell, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

You must not expect me to stay one day longer than a week. 

Letter 552 


HAWORTH, January 24^, 1852. 

DEAR NELL, I hope (D.Y.) to come to you on Tuesday, and 
shall be at Bradford about 2 o'clock. If Mr. Clapham can send 


the gig for me I shall be glad, it will save so much trouble. I 
dare not come if it be wet, windy, or very cold. 

And now, my dear physician, with reference to putting myself 
into your hands, you must take notice of this : I am to live on the 
very plainest fare. At present I do not take tea, only milk and 
water, with a little sugar and dry bread ; this with an occasional 
mutton chop is my diet, and I like it better than anything else. 
Mr. Ruddock has made me take tonics which have stimulated the 
appetite, but I eat little at a time. I tell you all this to prevent you 
from giving yourself one bit of trouble. It would make me miserable 
to see you bother yourself, and ill besides. Hoping Tuesday will 
be fine, I am, dear Nell, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 553 


February ind^ 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I reached home safely a little before five 
yesterday, all right but for a headache which I am sorry to say 
continues with me to-day. I found papa well ; he thanks you 
for the potted tongue, and says 'old fellows get more kindness 
from the ladies than young ones/ 

I am anxious to know how you got home, I fear you were a 
little ailing yourself. Be sure and write directly and tell me how 
Mr. and Mrs. Clapham, your mother, and Mercy are. Love to all. 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

I find I have stolen a pencil-case of yours ; I will take care of it 
till you come. 

Letter 554 


February 6t&, 1852. 

Certainly the past winter has been to me a strange time ; had 
I the prospect before me of living it over again, my prayer must 
necessarily be * Let this cup pass from me.' That depression of 
spirits, whicb I thought was gone by when I wrote last, came 
back again with a heavy recoil ; internal congestion ensued, and 
then inflammation. I had severe pain in my right side, frequent 
burning and aching in my chest; sleep almost forsook me, or 
would never come except accompanied by ghastly dreams ; 
appetite vanished, and slow fever was my continual companion. 


It was some time before I could bring myself to have recourse 
to medical advice. I thought my lungs were affected, and could 
feel no confidence in the power of medicine. When at last, how- 
ever, a doctor was consulted, he declared my lungs and chest 
sound, and ascribed all my sufferings to derangement of the liver, 
on which organ it seems the inflammation had fallen. This 
information was a great relief to my dear father, as well as to 
myself; but I had subsequently rather sharp medical discipline 
to undergo, and was much reduced. Though not yet well, it is 
with deep thankfulness that I can say I am greatly better. My 
sleep, appetite, and strength seem all returning. C BRONTE. 

Letter 555 


February 14$?, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, It has been a great delight to me to read Mr. 
Thackeray's work; and I so seldom now express my sense of 
kindness that, for once, you must permit me, without rebuke, to 
thank you for a pleasure so rare and special. Yet I am not going 
to praise either Mr. Thackeray or his book. I have read, enjoyed, 
been interested, and, after all, feel full as much ire and sorrow as 
gratitude and admiration. And still one can never lay down a 
book of his without the last two feelings having their part, be the 
subject of treatment what it may. In the first half of the book 
what chiefly struck me was the wonderful manner in which the 
writer throws himself into the spirit and letters of the times 
whereof he treats ; the allusions, the illustrations, the style, all 
seem to me so masterly in their exact keeping, their harmonious 
consistency, their nice, natural truth, their pure exemption from 
exaggeration. No second-rate imitator can write in that way ; 
no coarse scene-painter can charm us with an allusion so delicate 
and perfect. But what bitter satire, what relentless dissection of 
diseased subjects ! Well, and this, too, is right, or would be right, 
if the savage surgeon did not seem so fiercely pleased with his 
work. Thackeray likes to dissect an ulcer or an aneurism ; he 
has pleasure in putting his cruel knife or probe into quivering 
living flesh. Thackeray would not like all the world to be good ; 
no great satirist would like society to be perfect 

As usual, he is unjust to women, quite unjust. There is hardly 
any punishment he does not deserve for making Lady Castlewood 


peep through a keyhole, listen at a door, and be jealous of a boy 
and a milkmaid. Many other things I noticed that, for my part, 
grieved and exasperated me as I read; but then, again, came 
passages so true, so deeply thought, so tenderly felt, one could 
not help forgiving and admiring. 

But I wish he could be told not to care much for dwelling on 
the political or religious intrigues of the times. Thackeray, in his 
heart, does not value political or religious intrigues of any age or 
date. He likes to show us human nature at home, as he himself 
daily sees it ; his wonderful observant faculty likes to be in action. 
In him this faculty is a sort of captain and leader; and if ever 
any passage in his writings lacks interest, it is when this master- 
faculty is for a time thrust into a subordinate position. I think 
such is the case in the former half of the present volume. Towards 
the middle he throws off restraint, becomes himself, and is strong 
to the close. Everything now depends on the second and third 
volumes. If, in pith and interest, they fall short of the first, a 
true success cannot ensue. If the continuation be an improve- 
ment upon the commencement, if the stream gather force as it 
rolls, Thackeray will triumph. Some people have been in the 
habit of terming him the second writer of the day ; it just depends 
on himself whether or not these critics shall be justified in their 
award. He need not be the second. God made him second to 
no man. If I were he, I would show myself as I am, not as critics 
report me; at any rate I would do my best. Mr. Thackeray is 
-easy and indolent, and seldom cares to do his best Thank you 
once more; and believe me yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 556 


HAWORTH, February i6/^ '52. 

DEAR NELL, Many thanks for yours. You had a sad recep- 
tion at Mrs. W.'s. I had quite calculated on your getting the 
relief and rest which you needed so much. My headache after 
continuing two days left me, and I have continued very decent 
indeed ever since, much better than I was before leaving home ; 
though the headache, by making me look ill, robbed me of the 
expected congratulations on improved appearance. I do believe 


if the weather would but be pleasant and serene, I should be 
right enough, better perhaps than I was before my illness. Mr. 
Ruddock, to my dismay, came blustering in on Saturday. I have 
just returned Mr. Taylor's MS. with a criticising letter which 
Mr. Smith may show if he likes. I said what I thought, and I 
sometimes thought bitter things. 

I hope your sister is better by this time, but I somewhat fear 
that the return of stormy weather, after a few days calm, will be 
felt injuriously both by her and Mr. Clapham ; it has brought me 
back something of the pain in my side, which I had hoped 

Give my kind regards to your mother, Mr. Clapham, and all 
the rest Write again soon, and believe me, yours faithfully, 


How is your thumb nail ? No slight mischance that of turning 
it back. 

Letter 557 


HAWORTH, February 17 th, 1852. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, Your last welcome letter found me 
at Brookroyd, whence I am just returned after a fortnight's stay; 
the change has proved beneficial, not only to my health but more 
especially to my spirits, which were so prostrated by the debility 
consequent on my illness, that solitude had become somewhat too 
trying. If serene weather were only restored, I feel as if I should 
soon be well again; but these long storms, these incessantly 
howling winds, depress the nervous system much. I trust 
Mr. Taylor has been heard of ere now; continued suspense 
respecting his safe arrival at Wellington would be most painful 
during weather so inclement When you write again, just men- 
tion whether you have received news of him. 

If you would send me one of Mrs. M.'s circulars, I could at any 
rate make the best use of it in my power; though, whether any 
favourable results would ensue, must, as you will know, be very 
uncertain. Mrs. Gaskell's eldest daughter is at school near 
London ; Lady Shuttleworth has but one little girl, a child of 
seven, for whom, however, she has a foreign governess, and her 
ladyship seemed to place so little reliance on the competency of 
Englishwomen to train the young, and to entertain such sweeping 


suspicions of English schools in general, that I fear her patronage 
could hardly be looked for. 

As to the French President, it seems to me hard to say what a 
man with so little scruple and so much ambition will not attempt. 
I wish, however, the English Press would not prate so much 
about invasion ; if silence were possible in a free country, would it 
not be far better to prepare silently for what may come, to place 
the national defences in an effective state, and refrain from breath- 
ing a word of apprehension ? Doubtless such is the thought of 
practical men like the Duke of Wellington. I can well conceive 
his secret impatience at the mischievous gabbling of the news- 
papers. Wonderful is the French nature ! 


Letter 558 


February 2tfk, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Mary Gorham's with thanks. The 
time of your visit does not seem very distant ; three months will 
soon pass. I am sorry, dear Nell, you are treating the subject of 
my going to Sussex as if it were at all a probable thing. Let me 
say distinctly, it is not at all likely ; few things less so, as far as 
I can see. 

I am glad to hear your sister, Mrs. Clapham, is better ; perhaps 
this illness may improve her general health. You do not mention 
Mr. Clapham. I hope he still progresses. As to papa, his health 
has been really wonderful this winter ; good sleep, good spirits, 
an excellent steady appetite all seem to mark vigour; may it 
but continue t As for me, I yet do well ; could I but get rid 
of indigestion and headache I should manage, but these pains 
pursue me. 

The Indian mail brought me nothing. I am, dear Nell, yours 
faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 559 


HAWORTH [undated]. 

I spent a few weeks in town last summer, as you have heard, 
and was much interested by many things I heard and saw there. 


What now chiefly dwells in my memory are Mr. Thackeray's 
lectures, Mademoiselle Rachel's acting, D'Aubigne's, Melvill's, 
and Maurice's preaching, and the Crystal Palace. 

Mr. Thackeray's lectures you will have seen mentioned and 
commented on in the papers ; they were very interesting. I could 
not always coincide with the sentiments expressed, or the opinions 
broached; but I admired the gentlemanlike ease, the quiet 
humour, the taste, the talent, the simplicity, and the originality 
of the lecturer. 

Rachel's acting transfixed me with wonder, enchained me with 
interest, and thrilled me with horror. The tremendous force with 
which she expresses the very worst passions in their strongest 
essence forms an exhibition as exciting as the bull-fights of Spain 
and the gladiatorial combats of old Rome, and (it seemed to me) 
not one whit more moral than these poisoned stimulants to popular 
ferocity. It is scarcely human nature that she shows you ; it is 
something wilder and worse; the feelings and fury of a fiend. 
The great gift of genius she undoubtedly has ; but, I fear, she 
rather abuses it than turns it to good account. 

With all the three preachers I was greatly pleased. Melvill 
seemed to me the most eloquent, Maurice the most in earnest; 
had I the choice, it is Maurice whose ministry I should frequent. 

On the Crystal Palace I need not comment. You must already 
have heard too much of it. It struck me at the first with only a 
vague sort of wonder and admiration ; but having one day the 
privilege of going over it in company with an eminent country- 
man of yours, Sir David Brewster, and hearing, in his friendly 
Scotch accent, his lucid explanation of many things that have 
been to me before a sealed book, I began a little better to com- 
prehend it, or at least a small part of it ; whether its final results 
will equal expectation I know not C. BRONTE. 




FROM March to October 1852 the months in which 
Villette was being written, with long intervals of rest of 
a kind were among the saddest of Charlotte Bronte's 
life. She seemed to suffer from a reaction from all the 
visiting of the previous year. She saw few people, and 
only varied the quiet, monotonous life of Haworth by a 
lonely journey to her sister Anne's grave at Scarborough. 
The letters written during these months call for but little 
comment. One is struck, however, by the absence of 
correspondence with her literary friends. The world 
takes little count to-day of the writer who drops out of 
its ken for a year or two, and it must have been even 
so half a century back. Three years separated the 
publication of Shirley from the publication of Villette, 
and although the success of Jane Eyre and Shirley 
had been great, it is clear that the writer of these books 
could no longer be of importance to the London lion- 
hunters, even had she desired it. As it was, she led a life 
of painful isolation that must seem extraordinary to the 
average successful novelist of our time. One marked 
fact that these letters reveal is that Mr, James Taylor 
had caught a firmer hold on her mind and heart than 
she had been conscious of hitherto, and that, had the 
'little man/ as she so frequently termed him, come hastily 
over from Bombay, he might most certainly have won 
for his wife one of the most distinguished authors of her 


Letter 560 


HAWORTH, March , 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, It is not at all likely that my book will 
be ready at the time you mention. If my health is spared I 
shall get on with it as fast as is consistent with its being 
done, if not well> yet as well as I can do it not one whit 
faster. When the mood leaves me (it has left me now, with- 
out vouchsafing so much as a word of a message when it 
will return) I put by the MS. and wait till it comes back 
again. God knows I sometimes have to wait long very 
long it seems to me. Meantime, if I might make a request 
to you, it would be this : Please to say nothing about my book 
till it is written and in your hands. You may not like it. I am 
not myself elated with it as far as it has gone, and authors, you 
need not be told, are always tenderly indulgent, even blindly 
partial, to their own. Even if it should turn out reasonably well, 
still I regard it as ruin to the prosperity of an ephemeral book, 
like a novel, to be much talked of beforehand, as if it were some- 
thing great People are apt to conceive, or at least to profess, 
exaggerated expectation, such as no performance can realise; 
then ensue disappointment and the due revenge, detraction and 
failure. If when I write I were to think of the critics who, I 
know, are waiting for Currer Bell, ready * to break all his bones 
or ever he comes to the bottom of the den,' my hand would fall 
paralysed on my desk. However, I can but do my best, and then 
muffle my head in the mantle of Patience, and sit down at her 
feet and wait. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 561 


HAWORTH, March tfh, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, The news of Ellen Taylor's death * came to me 
last week in a letter from Mary; a long letter, which wrung my 
heart so, in its simple, strong, truthful emotion, I have only ventured 
to read it once. It ripped up half-seared wounds with terrible 
force. The death-bed was just the same, breath failing, etc. 

3 Ellen Taylor, Mary's cousin, who joined her in New Zealand, and who comes so 
frequently into Mary Taylor's letters to Ellen Nussey and Charlotte Bronte. 


She fears she shall now, in her dreary solitude, become a * stern, 
harsh, selfish woman.' This fear struck home ; again and again I 
have felt it for myself, and what is my position to M.'s ? I should 
break out in energetic wishes that she would return to England, if 
reason would permit me to believe that prosperity and happiness 
would there await her. May God help her, as God only can help ! 

I like to hear of your being cheerful, but I fear you impose on 
yourself too much fatigue with all this entertainment of visitors. 

Poor Emma ! Will she be at all provided for in case of her 

father's death? She will hardly like to turn governess. How 
are Mr. and Mrs. Clapham, you have not mentioned them lately, 
and how is your mother ? I continue better, and papa is getting 
through the spring admirably. 

I am sure Miss Wooler would enjoy her visit to you, as much 
as you her company. Dear Nell, I thank you sincerely for your 
discreet and friendly silence on the point alluded to. I had 
feared it would be discussed between you two, and had an in- 
expressible shrinking at the thought ; now, less than ever does 
it seem a matter open to discussion. I hear nothing, and you 
must quite understand that if I feel any uneasiness it is not that 
of confirmed and fixed regard, but that anxiety which is insepar- 
able from a state of absolute uncertainty about a somewhat 
momentous matter. I do not know, I am not sure myself, that 
any other termination would be better than lasting estrangement 
and unbroken silence. Yet a good deal of pain has been and 
must be gone through in that case. However, to each his burden, 

I have not yet read the papers; D.V., I will send them to- 
morrow. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Understand that in whatever I have said above, it was not for 
pity or sympathy. I hardly pity myself. Only I wish that in 
all matters in this world there was fair and open dealing, and no 
underhand work. 

Letter 562 


March 52$, '52. 

DEAR ELLEN, I suppose as I have heard nothing since your 
last, that the baby at Hunsworth is now better, I do not return 
Amelia's letters, conceiving that they are hardly such as you will 
make a point of retaining. Seldom have I seen any from her 


that impressed me less favourably ; the loud, weak outcry is toa 
much ; I pity her, but less than I should do if I did not feel that 
she is straining her emotions to the utmost. All that part about 
Hopkinson's wife and her child is sad. The apostrophe to you, 
f You never were a mother (!!!), etc./ is really theatrical, and 
entirely superfluous. It is well that Amelia has a better side to 
her character than all this. If such be the sort of diet on which 
she feeds Rosy, I do not wonder at the latter's occasional silence. 
This kind of correspondence would do me up. 

I hope you are all better at Brookroyd ; the cold weather dis- 
agreed with me very much at first. I think, however, I am 
getting used to it, though I still have frequent headaches and 
just now a swelled face and tic in the cheek-bone. Mr. Ruddock 
has contradicted himself about Quinine, allowed that it will not 
do for me, and prescribed another tonic which I have taken, 
though without any benefit that I can perceive. 

I had a letter from Miss Martineau a few days since. She has 
actually suppressed her intended work, calls it now 'a foolish 
prank/ but it is obvious she is much chagrined. 1 

I suppose you have received your Sussex parcel ere this, and 
I trust its contents are satisfactory. This dry, fine frosty weather 
ought to suit you, dear Nell. Write soon and tell me how you 
are. Papa is well. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 563 


March *jtk, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I hope both your mother's cold and yours are 
quite well ere this. Papa has got something of his spring attack 
of bronchitis, but so far it is in greatly ameliorated form, very 
different to what it has been for three years past. I do trust it 
may pass off thus mildly. I continue better. 

Dear Nell, I told you from the beginning that my going to 
Sussex was a most improbable event ; I tell you now that unless 
want of health should absolutely compel me to give up work 
and leave home (which I trust and hope will not be the case) I 
certainly shall not think of going. It is better to be decided, and 

1 This was a cancelled novel which was to be entitled Oliver Weld. The author had 
formerly called it Edward Reward. See letters to George Smith, NOF 7 1811 and 
Jan. i, 1852, in f Haworth edition' of the Life. * 


decided I must be. You can never want me less than when in 
Sussex surrounded by amusement and friends. I do not know 
that I shall go to Scarbro', but it might be possible to spare a 
fortnight to go there (for the sake of a sad duty rather than 
pleasure), when I could not give a month to a longer excursion. 
You mention 'meanness' in connection with my going to 
Scarbro', did you think I meant to sponge upon Miss Wooler? 
No, I intend to take lodgings and pay for them honestly ! I have 
not a word of news to tell you. Many mails have come from 
India since I was at Brookroyd ; expectation would at times be 
on the alert, but disappointment knocked her down. I have not 
heard a syllable, and cannot think of making inquiries at Corn- 
hilL Well, long suspense in any matter usually proves somewhat 
cankering, but God orders all things for us, and to His Will we 
must submit. Be sure to keep a calm mind, expect nothing. 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 564 


March lofti, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, With regard to the pains in chest and shoulders, 
if they still continue there should be no delay in asking the opinion 
of a medical man, Mr, Rayner for instance. Pains of this sort often 
indicate congestion of some organ ; in my case it was the liver, and I 
had the pains at intervals for three years before I knew their origin. 
Have you tried a moderate dose of opening medicine? Two 
camomile pills might be of use, but you had better speak to a doctor. 

The hand-squeezing adventure made me smile. Who was the 

gentleman? Could it be Mr. ? Are you sure he was ? 

Was not the squeeze probably too slight to be felt ? Have you not 
tormented yourself about what was perceptible to yourself only? 

Mary Gorham's letter is very interesting ; it shows a mind one 
cannot but truly admire. Compare its serene, trusting strength 
with poor Mrs. Joe Taylor's vacillating dependence. When the 
latter was in her first burst of happiness, I never remember the 
feeling finding vent in expressions of gratitude to God. There 
was always a continued claim upon your sympathy in the mistrust 
and doubt she felt of her own bliss. Mary believes, has faith* is 
grateful and at peace : yet while happy in herself, how thoughtful 
she is for others! 



I enclose a letter from New Zealand which I ought to have sen 
before, but forgot it until my last note was sealed. It contain 
nothing new, being indeed of a date prior to the one you hav< 
already seen, but somehow it tends to confirm one's fears abou 
Ellen Taylor. With love to all at Brookroyd, Believe me, dea, 
Nell, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 565 


HAWORTH, March iith, 1852. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER. Your kind note holds out a strong 
temptation, but one that must be resisted. From home I must 
not go unless health or some cause equally imperative render a 
change necessary. For nearly four months now (i.e. since I became 
ill) I have not put pen to paper. My work has been lying un- 
touched, and my faculties have been rusting for want of exercise. 
Further relaxation is out of the question, and I will not permit 
myself to think of it. My publisher groans over my long delays ; 
I am sometimes provoked to check the expression of his impatience 
with short and crusty answers. 

Yet the pleasure I now deny myself I would fain regard as 
only deferred I heard something about your proposing to visit 
Scarbro' in the course of the summer, and could I by the close of 
July or August bring my task to a certain point, how glad should 
I be to join you there for awhile ! 

Ellen will probably go to the south about May to make a stay 
of two or three months ; she has formed a plan for my accompany- 
ing her and taking lodgings on the Sussex coast; but the scheme 
seems to me impracticable for many reasons, and, moreover, my 
medical man doubts the advisability of my going southward in 
summer, he says it might prove very enervating, whereas Scarbro' 
or Burlington would brace and strengthen. However, I dare not 
lay plans at this distance of time. For me so much must depend, 
first on papa's health (which throughout the winter has been, I 
am thankful to say, really excellent), and second, on the progress 
of work, a matter not wholly contingent on wish or will, but lying 
in a great measure beyond the reach of effort and out of the pale 
of calculation. 

I am truly glad to learn that satisfactory tidings have been 
received^regarding Mr. Taylor ; he may prosper better than could 
be anticipated, foreign scenes and faces may prove a salutary 


stimulus ; ere now I have observed that persons of diffident, self- 
doubting character are more at ease amongst total strangers than 
with those to whom they are partially known. 

I will not write more at present, as I wish to save this post. 
All in the house would join in kind remembrances to you if they 
knew I was writing. Tabby and Martha both frequently inquire 
after Miss Wooler, and desire their respects when an opportunity 
offers of presenting the same. Believe me, yours always affection- 
ately and respectfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 566 


HAWORTH, March 23^ 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, Let me fulfil in this note a duty I forgot in the 
last, to thank you for the pretty doyley, and to enclose payment 
in postage stamps. I gave your mother The Women of Chris- 
tianity* I have not been to visit Miss Wooler ; she asked me very 
kindly and I should have liked it, but felt it incumbent on me to 
refuse, as I often feel it incumbent on me to refuse you. 

My health has been decidedly better lately, less headache, pain 
in the side sometimes, not often. Papa now begins to say I am 
looking better ; he, thank God, is well and looks well. 

H. C.'s account of J. N. is beautiful ; if I were a man, that is 
the sort of family I would not marry into, the sort of father-in-law 
I would not have. I don't envy Mr. R. You may well felicitate 
yourself that such do not find you kindred in the spirit, and that 
they never will 

Did you go to Rouse Mill? How did you enjoy yourself and 
whom did you see? 

You say, dear Nell, that you often wish I would chat on paper, 
as you do. How can I? where are my materials? Is my life 
fertile in subjects of chat ? What callers do I see ? What visits 
-do I pay ? No, you must chat, and I must listen, and say * Yes/ 
and c No,' and * Thank you ! 3 for five minutes 1 recreation. 

I don't know what that dear Mrs. Joe Taylor will make of her 
little one in the end : between port wine and calomel, and Mr. B. 
and Mr. A. I should not like to be in its socks. Yet I think it 
-will live ; that it will ever be a good life I do not think. 

I am amused at the interest you take in politics. Don't expect 
to rouse me ; to me, all Ministries and all Oppositions seem to be 
pretty much alike. Disraeli was factious as leader of the Oppo- 


sition; Lord John Russell is going to be factious, now that he has 
stepped into Disraeli's shoes. Confound them all. Lord Derby's 
* Christian tone and spirit/ is worth three half-pence farthing. 
Yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 567 


March 25^, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, Mr. Smith intimated a short time since that 
he had some thoughts of publishing a reprint of Shirley. Having 
revised the work, I now enclose the errata. I have likewise sent 
off to-day, per rail, a return box of Cornhill books. 

I have lately read, with great pleasure, The Two Families^ 
This work, it seems, should have reached me in January ; but,, 
owing to a mistake, it was detained at the Dead Letter Office, 
and lay there nearly two months. I liked the commencement very 
much ; the close seemed to me scarcely equal to Rose Douglas. I 
thought the authoress committed a mistake in shifting the main 
interest from the two personages on whom it first rests viz. Ben 
Wilson and Mary to other characters of quite inferior conception. 
Had she made Ben and Mary her hero and heroine, and continued 
the development of their fortunes and characters in the same 
truthful natural vein in which she commences it, an excellent,, 
even an original book might have been the result. As for Lilias 
and Ronald, they are mere romantic figments, with nothing of the 
genuine Scottish peasant about them ; they do not even speak the 
Caledonian dialect ; they palaver like a fine lady and gentleman. 

I ought long since to have acknowledged the gratification with 
which I read Miss Kavanagh's Women of Christianity. Her 
charity and (on the whole) her impartiality are very beautiful 
She touches, indeed, with too gentle a hand the theme of Eliza- 
beth of Hungary; and, in her own mind, she evidently miscon- 
strues the fact of Protestant charities seeming to be fewer than 
Catholic. She forgets, or does not know, that Protestantism is a 
quieter creed than Romanism ; as it does not clothe its priesthood 
in scarlet, so neither does it set up its good women for saints, 
canonise their names, and proclaim their good works. In the 
records of man their almsgiving will not, perhaps, be found 
registered, but heaven has its account as well as earth. 

With kind regards to yourself and family, who, I trust, have 

1 TAt Ttoo Families and Rose Dtuglas were both published in 1852. Their author 
was Mw. S. R. WHtehead. 


all safely weathered the rough winter lately past, as well as the 
east winds, which are still nipping our spring in Yorkshire, I am, 
my dear sir, yours sincerely, C BRONTE. 

Letter 568 


April 3rd, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, The box arrived quite safely, and I very 
much thank you for the contents, which are most kindly selected. 

As you wished me to say what I thought of The School for 
Fathers}- I hastened to read it. The book seems to me clever, 
interesting, very amusing, and likely to please generally. There 
is a merit in the choice of ground which is not yet too hackneyed ; 
the comparative freshness of subject, character, and epoch gives 
the tale a certain attractiveness. There is also, I think, a graphic 
rendering of situations, and a lively talent for describing whatever 
is visible and tangible what the eye meets on the surface of 
things. The humour appears to me such as would answer well 
on the stage; most of the scenes seem to demand dramatic 
accessories to give them their full effect. But I think one cannot 
with justice bestow higher praise than this. To speak candidly, 
I felt, in reading the tale, a wondrous hollowness in the moral 
and sentiment ; a strange dilettante shallowness in the purpose 
and feeling. After all, * Jack y is not much better than a * Tony 
Lumpkin,' and there is no very great breadth of choice between 
the clown he is and the fop his father would have made him. 
The grossly material life of the old English fox-hunter and the 
frivolous existence of the fine gentleman present extremes, each 
in its way so repugnant that one feels half inclined to smile when 
called upon to sentimentalise over the lot of a youth forced to 
pass from one to the other ; torn from the stables to be ushered, 
perhaps, into the ball-room. Jack dies mournfully indeed, and 
you are sorry for the poor fellow's untimely end ; but you cannot 
forget that if he had not been thrust into the way of Colonel 
Penruddock's weapon he might possibly have broken his neck in 
a fox-hunt The character of Sir Thomas Warren is excellent; 
consistent throughout. That of Mr. Addison not bad, but sketchy, 
a mere outline wanting colour and finish. The man's portrait 

1 The School for Fathers was written by Josepha GulstoB under the pseudonym of 
'Talbot G wynne/ She also wrote Young Singleton^ Tke School for Dreamers -, Silas 
Barnstarke t and Nanettt and her Lovers. 


is there, and his costume, and fragmentary anecdotes of his life; 
but where is the man's nature soul and self? I say nothing 
about the female characters not one word ; only that Lydia 
seems to me like a pretty little actress, prettily dressed, gracefully 
appearing and disappearing, and reappearing in a genteel comedy, 
assuming the proper sentiments of her part with all due tact and 
na'fvete and that is all 

Your description of the model man of business is true enough, 
I doubt not ; but we will not fear that society will ever be brought 
quite to this standard ; human nature (bad as it is) has, after all,, 
elements that forbid it. But the very tendency to such a con- 
summation the marked tendency, I fear, of the day produces,, 
no doubt, cruel suffering. Yet, when the evil of competition 
passes a certain limit, must it not in time work its own cure ? I 
suppose it will, but then through some convulsed crisis, shatter- 
ing all around it like an earthquake. Meantime for how many is 
life made a struggle, enjoyment and rest curtailed ; labour terribly 
enhanced beyond almost what nature can bear! I often think 
that this world would be the most terrible of enigmas, were it not 
for the firm belief that there is a world to come, where conscien- 
tious effort and patient pain will meet their reward. 

Believe me, my dear sir, sincerely yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 569 


HAWORTH, April izM, 1852. 

DEAR LETITIA, Your last letter gave me much concern. I 
had hoped you were long ere this restored to your usual health, 
and it both pained and surprised me to hear that you still suffer 
so much from debility. I cannot help thinking your constitution 
is naturally sound and healthy. Can it be the air of London which 
disagrees with you ? For myself, I struggled through the winter 
and the early part of spring often with great difficulty. My friend 1 
stayed with me a few days in the early part of January she could 
not be spared longer. I was better during her visit, but had a 
relapse soon after she left me, which reduced my strength very 
much. It cannot be denied that the solitude of my position fear- 
fully aggravated its other evils. Some long, stormy days and 
nights there were when I felt such a craving for support and com- 

1 Miss Ellen Nnssey, who never met Miss Wheelwright. 


panionship as I cannot express. Sleepless, I lay awake night after 
night ; weak and unable to occupy myself, I sat in my chair day 
after day, the saddest memories my only company. It was a 
time I shall never forget, but God sent it and it must have been 
for the best 

I am better now, and very grateful do I feel for the restoration 
of tolerable health; but, as if there was always to be some afflic- 
tion, papa, who enjoyed wonderful health during the whole winter, 
is ailing with his spring attack of bronchitis. I earnestly trust it 
may pass over in the comparatively ameliorated form in which it 
has hitherto shown itself. 

Let me not forget to answer your question about the cataract. 
Tell your papa my father was seventy at the time he underwent 
an operation ; he was most reluctant to try the experiment could 
not believe that at his age and with his want of robust strength 
it would succeed. I was obliged to be very decided in the matter 
and to act entirely on my own responsibility. Nearly six years 
have now elapsed since the cataract was extracted (it was not 
merely depressed). He has never once, during that time, regretted 
the step, and a day seldom passes that he does not express grati- 
tude and pleasure at the restoration of that inestimable privilege 
of vision whose loss he once knew. 

I hope the next tidings you hear of your brother Charles will 
be satisfactory for his parents' and sisters' sake as well as his own. 
Your poor mamma has had many successive trials, and her un- 
complaining resignation seems to offer us all an example worthy 
to be followed. Remember me kindly to her, to your papa, and 
all your circle, and Believe me, with best wishes to yourself, 
yours sincerely C. BRONTE, 

' I had given Miss Bronte, in one of .my letters/ says 
Mrs. Gaskell, 'an outline of the story on which I was then 
engaged/ This would be Ruth, published in 1853. 

Letter 570 


The sketch you give of your work (respecting which I am, of 
course, dumb) seems to me very noble; and Its purpose may be 
as useful in practical result as it is high and just in theoretical 
tendency. Such a book may restore hope and energy to manv 


who thought they had forfeited their right to both, and open a 
clear course for honourable effort to some who deemed that they 
and all honour had parted company in this world. 

Yet hear my protest ! 

Why should she die? Why are we to shut up the book 
weeping ? 

My heart fails me already at the thought of the pang it will 
have to undergo. And yet you must follow the impulse of your 
own inspiration. If that commands the slaying of the victim, no 
bystander has a right to put out his hand to stay the sacrificial 
knife ; but I hold you a stern priestess in these matters. 


Letter 571 


Afril 2,2nd, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have forgotten whether the 22nd is your 
birthday or mine ; whichever it be, I wish you many happy returns. 

Poor Mr. , I am very sorry to hear of his illness, especially 

as I fear he will never be strong. 

You seem to be quite gay, in paying and receiving visits ; take 
care of your health in the midst of it all. Papa, I think, is pretty 
well again ; the attack was comparatively very slight. I, too, am 
keeping better ; a little pain sometimes ; I keep thin ; but I am 
thankful to be so well. 

When I read to papa Mrs. Joe Taylor's account of her system 
with the poor little water-patient, he said if that child died, its 
parents ought to be tried for infanticide t I think they go too far, 
yet she says it is stronger It is quite unlikely that you will 
get to Haworth before you go into Sussex. I deny myself pleasure 
just now. Yours sincerely enough (as you see), C. BRONTE. 

Letter 572 


HAWORTH, May nfk, 1852, 

DEAR ELLEN, I must adhere to my resolution of neither visit- 
ing nor being visited at present. Stay you quietly at Brookroyd 
till you go into Sussex, as I shall stay at Haworth ; as. sincere a 


farewell can be taken with the heart as with the lips, and perhaps 
less painful. I am glad the weather is changed ; this return of 
the south-west wind suits me ; but I hope you have no cause to 
regret the departure of your favourite east wind. What you say 
about Amelia does not surprise me. I read in a French book lately, 
a sentence to this effect, that ' marriage might be defined as the 
state of two-fold selfishness.' Let the single therefore take com- 
fort. Thank you for Mary Gorham's letter. She does seem most 
happy ; and I cannot tell you how much more real, lasting, and 
better-warranted her happiness seems than ever Amelia's did. 
I think so much of it is in herself, and her own serene, pure, 
trusting, religious nature. Amelia's always gave one the idea of 
a vacillating, unsteady rapture; entirely dependent on circum- 
stances with all their fluctuations. If Mary lives to be a mother, 
you will then see a still greater difference. 

I wish you, dear Ellen, all health and enjoyment in your visit ; 
and, as far as one can judge at present, there seems a fair prospect 
of the wish being realised. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE, 

Letter 573 



DEAR ELLEN, I enclose Mary's letter announcing Ellen 
Taylor's death and Ellen's two last letters, sorrowful documents, 
all of them. I received them this morning from Hunsworth 
without any note or directions where to send them, but I think, 
if I mistake not, Amelia in a previous note told me to transmit 
them to you. What you say about your sister Ann concerns me 
much; every time I have seen her for some years I have been 
struck by her sickly and weary look ; most certainly there must 
be something seriously wrong, either derangement or disease of 
some organ. It is very many years now since she has enjoyed 
good health. I hope you will write again very soon and let me 
know particularly how she gets on. Do not fear, dear Nell, that 

I shall think you conceited in what you say about Mr. , 

and do not apprehend either that I shall give you advice. I 
always think the persons most concerned are those who alone 
can rightly judge the expediency or inexpediency of their own 
case. That they always do rightly judge I will not affirm, but if 
their bias is to error, no other hand can rectify it, 


It seems desirable that you should have been able to start from 
home at once and without impediment, but who knows? A 
temporary delay may turn out for the best after all. It is really 
too bad of Mercy to give trouble just now. 

Be sure to write soon, and believe me, yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

Letter 574 


CLIFF HOUSE, FILEY, Jum ina^ 1852. 

DEAR PAPA, Thank you for your letter, which I was so glad 
to get that I think I must answer it by return of post. I had 
expected one yesterday, and was perhaps a little unreasonably 
anxious when disappointed, but the weather has been so very cold 
that I feared either you were ill or Martha worse. I hope Martha 
will take care of herself. I cannot help feeling a little uneasy 
about her. 

On the whole, I get on very well here, but I have not bathed 
yet, as I am told it is n-uch too cold and too early in the season. 
The sea is very grand. Yesterday it was a somewhat unusually 
high tide, and I stood about an hour on the cliffs yesterday after- 
noon watching the tumbling in of great tawny turbid waves, that 
made the whole shore white with foam and filled the air with a 
sound hollower and deeper than thunder. There are so very few 
visitors at Filey yet that I and a few sea-birds and fishing-boats 
have often the whole expanse of sea, shore, and cliff to ourselves. 
When the tide is out the sands are wide, long, and smooth, and 
very pleasant to walk on. When the high tides are in, not a 
vestige of sand remains. I saw a great dog rush into the sea 
yesterday, and swim and bear up against the waves like a seal. 
I y/onder what Flossy would say to that. 

On Sunday afternoon I went to a church which I should like 
Mr. Nicholls to see. It was certainly not more than thrice the 
length and breadth of our passage, floored with brick, the walls 
green with mould, the pews painted white, but the paint almost 
all worn off with time and decay. At one end there is a little 
gallery for the singers, and when these personages stood up to 
perform, they all turned their backs upon the congregation, and 
the congregation turned their backs on the pulpit and parson. 
The effect of this manoeuvre was so ludicrous, I could hardly help 
laughing ; had Mr. Nicholls been there he certainly would have 


laughed out. Looking up at the gallery and seeing only the 
broad backs of the singers presented to their audience was 
excessively grotesque. There is a well-meaning but utterly 
inactive clergyman at Filey, and Methodists flourish. 

I cannot help enjoying Mr. Butterfield's defeat ; and yet in one 
sense this is a bad state of things, calculated to make working 
people both discontented and insubordinate. Give my kind 
regards, dear papa, to Mr. Nicholls, Tabby, and Martha. Charge 
Martha to beware of draughts, and to get such help in her 
cleaning as she shall need. I hope you will continue well. 
Believe me, your affectionate daughter, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 575 


CLIFF HOUSE, FILEY, June 6^ 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am at Filey utterly alone. Do not be angry, 
the step is right. I considered it, and resolved on it with due 
deliberation. Change of air was necessary ; there were reasons 
why I should not go to the south, and why I should come here. 
On Friday I went to Scarborough, visited the churchyard and 
stone. It must be re-faced and re-lettered ; there are five errors. 
I gave the necessary directions. That duty, then, is done ; long 
has it lain heavy on my mind ; and that was a pilgrimage I felt I 
could only make alone, 

I am in our old lodgings at Mrs. Smith's ; not, however, in the 
same rooms, but in less expensive apartments. They seemed glad 
to see me, remembered you and me very well, and, seemingly, 
with great goodwill. The daughter who used to wait on us is 
just married. Filey seems to me much altered ; more lodging- 
houses, some of them very handsome, have been built ; the sea 
has all its old grandeur, I walk on the sands a good deal, and 
try not to feel desolate and melancholy. How sorely my heart 
longs for you, I need not say. I have bathed once ; it seemed to 
do rne good. I may, perhaps, stay here a fortnight. There are 
as yet scarcely any visitors. A Lady Wenlock is staying at the 
large house of which you used so vigilantly to observe the 
inmates. One day I set out with intent to trudge to Filey 
Bridge, but was frightened back by two cows. I mean to try 
again some morning. 

Mrs. Smith in talking about Mr. and Mrs. Hudson yesterday, 


observed that they were now in altered circumstances ; I was 
sorry to hear this. Dear Nell, part of your letter touched me to 
the heart, but you should have been explicit. What makes you 
so certain^ Have you just grounds for your present conclusion? 
Not that I would wish to revive deceptive hopes. You know I 
am always for facing the stern truth ; but still, life seems hard 
and dreary for some of us. And yet it must be accepted, and 
with submission. 

I left papa well. I have been a good deal troubled with head- 
ache, and with some pain in the side since I came here, but I feel 
this has been owing to the cold wind, for very cold has it been till 
lately ; at present I feel better. Shall I send the papers to you 
as usual? Write again directly, and tell me this, and anything 
and everything else that comes into your mind. Believe me, 
yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 576 


FlLEY, _///# i6//;, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I send the Examiner with this. The Leader 

will be out of place at C ; it had better not go. Be quite easy 

about me. I really think I am better for my stay at Filey ; that 
I have derived more benefit from it than I dared to anticipate. 
I believe, could I stay here two months and enjoy something like 
social cheerfulness as well as exercise and good air, my health 
would be quite renewed. This, however, cannot possibly be ; but I 
am most thankful for the good received. I may stay another week. 

Tell me no particulars, dear Nell, that would give you pain. 
I only asked because I thought you might be viewing the subject 
too hardly for yourself. 

Notice this. A visit that opens very pleasantly often closes in 
pain and disappointment, and vice versd. Be of good courage, I 
fancy somehow you will be more comfortable when the wedding 
is over. 

Your plan about the school-girls, the little caps, the flower- 
scattering, etc., made me smile, and still more the idea of my 
aiding and advising in it were I on the spot. Not at all ; I should 
not relish it in the least. Do it if you like your motive is kind 
and excellent. Mary and her spouse may like that sort of thing ; 
you know best 

I return E. Sherwood's letter. I am sorry for her. I believe she 


suffers; but I do not like her style of expressing herself; It 
absolutely reminds me of Amelia Walker. Grief as well as joy 
manifests itself in most different ways in different people; and I 
doubt not she is sincere and in earnest when she talks of her 
* sain ted precious father'; but I could wish she used simpler 
language, Write again soon, and believe me, yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

Letter 577 


, 1852. 

DEAR L^TITIA, I return that most precious document the 
letter of Maria Miller. Selfish indeed is the policy which has 
dictated it worldly the adroitness with which the suggestion has 
been carried out. The impudent pretence of revived interest 
(under the circumstances, it is sheer impudence), the sly postpone- 
ment of her real motive to the postscript, are too bad ; yet the 
whole is but clumsily managed being quite transparent If you 
wish to have my opinion about answering it I can only say it 
seems to me you are bound to consult nothing in the world in 
this matter but your own inclination and convenience* No 
deference is due to Mrs. W. P. Robertson. Alas I she proves 
herself too unmistakably selfish. 

I think the less you have to do with her or any of her affairs 
the better. The residence at Boulogne does not sound very well ;. 
Boulogne is the asylum of a not very respectable class. The 
publication of a work by subscription is a decidedly objectionable, 
shifty, shabby expedient. Wash your clean hands of them, 
Lsetitia: keep out of the mess. It grieves me much that your 
state of health is still so far from satisfactory. Yours affection- 

Letter 578 


FILEY BAY,/WW^ 23^, 1852. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, Your kind and welcome note 
reached me at this place, where I have been staying three weeks 
quite alone. Change and sea-air had become necessary ; distance 
and other considerations forbade my ^accompanying Ellen to the 
south, much as I should have liked it, had I felt quite free and 
unfettered ; Ellen told me some time ago that you were not 


likely to visit Scarbro' till the autumn, so I forthwith packed my 
trunk and betook myself here. The first week or ten days I 
greatly feared the seaside would not suit me, for I suffered almost 
constantly from headache and other harassing ailments ; the 
weather too was dark, stormy, and excessively, bitterly cold ; my 
solitude, under such circumstances, partook of the character of 
desolation ; I had some dreary evening hours and night-vigils. 
However, that passed ; I think I am now better and stronger 
from the change, and in a day or two hope to return home. 

Ellen told me that Mr. W said people with my tendency 

to congestion of the liver, should walk three or four hours every 
day ; accordingly I have walked as much as I could since I came 
here, and look almost as sunburnt and weather-beaten as a fisher- 
man or a bathing-woman, with being out in the open air. As to 
my work, it has stood obstinately still for a long while ; certainly 
a torpid liver makes torpid brains: no spirit moves me. If this 
state of things does not entirely change, my chance of a holiday 
in the autumn is not worth much. Yet I should be very sorry 
not to be able to meet you for a little while at Scarbro'. 

The duty to be discharged at Scarbro' was the chief motive that 
drew me to the East Coast : I have been there, visited the church- 
yard, seen the stone, there were five errors, consequently I had to 
give directions for its being re-faced and re-lettered. 

My dear Miss Wooler, I do most truly sympathise with you on 
the success of your kind efforts to provide for your young 
kinsman ; I have known what your feelings would be under the 
circumstances. To me, the decision of the uncles seems too 
hard, too worldly, and I am glad that Providence saw fit to make 
you the means of awarding him a milder doom. Poor youth ! 
such banishment might have been justifiable in the case of a 
rough, reckless, unmanageable boy, but for one whose disadvan- 
tages had their source in over-timidity and weak nerves, it would 
have been really cruel. Very grateful must be his mother's feelings 
towards you. 

Give my kind regards to Mr. and Mrs. Clapham. 

Letter 579 


HAWORTH,/#/K isf, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am again at home, where (thank God) I 
found all well. I certainly feel much better than I did, and 


would fain trust that the improvement may prove permanent. 
Do not be Alarmed about the pains in your chest and shoulders, 
they are certainly not desirable, but, I believe, not dangerous nor 
indicative of serious ailment. The weather no doubt has much to 
do with them ; certain states of the atmosphere produce more or 
less of visceral congestion, and these pains are the result ; such is 
my theory, gathered from experience. The first fortnight I was 
at Filey I had constantly recurring pain in the right side, just in 
the middle of the chest, burning and aching between the shoulders, 
and sick headache into the bargain. My spirits at the same time 
were cruelly depressed, prostrated sometimes. I feared the 
misery and the sufferings of last winter were all returning, con- 
sequently I am now indeed thankful to find myself so much 
better. Tell me particularly how you are? 

You ask about India. Let us dismiss the subject in a few 
words and not recur to it. All is silent as the grave. Cornhill is 
silent too. There has been bitter disappointment there at my 
having no work ready for this season. We must not rely upon 
our fellow-creatures, only on ourselves, and on Him who is above 
both us and them. My labours as you call them stand in abey- 
ance, and I cannot hurry them. I must take my own time, 
however long that time may be. 

I was amused to learn from Miss Martineau that Joe Taylor 
and suite during their late visit to Ambieside waited actually on 
her under the plea of being my friends. I fancy she received 
them very kindly. She terms Amelia a tranquil little Dutch woman. 
Joe's organ of combativeness and contradiction amused and 
amazed her. She liked the baby best. How inconsistent of Joe 
to make this call. He who railed at Lord John Manners and 
Mr. Smythe, and accused them of insolence in calling on me, 

I send the Examiner* Let me hear from you soon, and believe 
me, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 580 


HAWORTH,/tf/x26M, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Mrs. T, H/s letter. It is the language 
of happiness which dares not trust Itself to full expression. A 
kind of suppressed buoyancy is obvious throughout 

I should not have written to you to-day by choice ; lately I 
have again been harassed with headache, the heavy electric 


atmosphere oppresses me much, yet I am less miserable just now 
than I was a little while ago. A severe shock came upon me 
about papa. He was suddenly attacked with acute inflammation 
of the eye. Mr. Ruddock was sent for, and after he had examined 
him, he called me into another room, and said papa's pulse was 
bounding at 150 per minute, that there was a strong pressure of 
blood upon the brain, that in short the symptoms were decidedly 

Active measures were immediately taken, by the next day 
the pulse was reduced to 90. Thank God he is now better, 
though not well. The eye is a good deal inflamed. He does not 
know his state, to tell him he had been in danger of apoplexy 
would almost be to kill him at once, it would increase the rush 
to the brain and perhaps bring about rupture; he is kept very 

Dear Nell, you will excuse a short note. Write again soon, 
tell me all concerning yourself that can relieve you. Yours 
faithfully, C. B. 

Letter 581 


July 28M, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, Is it in contemplation to publish the new 
edition of Shirley soon ? Would it not be better to defer it for 
a time? In reference to a part of your letter, permit me to 
express this wish and I trust in so doing I shall not be regarded 
as stepping out of rny position as an author, and encroaching on 
the arrangements of business viz. that no announcement of a 
new work by the author of Jane Eyre shall be made till the MS. 
of such work is actually in my publisher's hands. Perhaps we 
are none of us justified in speaking very decidedly where the 
future is concerned ; but for some too much caution in such 
calculations can scarcely be observed : amongst this number I 
must class myself! Nor in doing so can I assume an apologetic 
tone. He does right who does his best. 

Last autumn I got on for a time quickly. I ventured to look 
forward to spring as the period of publication : my health gave 
way ; I passed such a winter as, having been once experienced, 
will never be forgotten. The spring proved little better than a 
protraction of trial The warm weather and a visit to the sea 
have done me much good physically; but as yet I have recovered 


neither elasticity of animal spirits nor flow of the power of com- 
position. And if it were otherwise the difference would be of no 
avail ; my time and thoughts are at present taken up with close 
attendance on my father, whose health is just now in a very 
critical state, the heat of the weather having produced determina- 
tion of blood to the head. I am, yours sincerely, 


Letter 582 


August $rd, 1852. 

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

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


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

Letter 583 


HAWORTH, August $t% } '52. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am thankful to say that papa's convalescence 
seems now to be quite confirmed. There is scarcely any remainder 
of the inflammation in his eyes. He begins even to look forward 
to resuming his duty ere long, but caution must be observed on 
that head. 

Martha has been very willing and helpful during papa's illness. 
Poor Tabby is ill herself at present, with English cholera, which 
with influenza has been almost universally prevalent in this 
district ; I have myself had a touch of the last, but it went off 



very gently on the whole, affecting my chest and liver less than 
any cold has done for the last three years. 

I write to you about yourself rather under constraint and in the 
dark, for your letters, dear Ellen, are most remarkably oracular, 
dropping nothing but hints; which tie my tongue a good 
deal. Your last postscript is quite Sybilline. I can hardly 
guess what checks you in writing to me. There is certainly 
no one in this house or elsewhere to whom I should show your 
notes, and I do not imagine they are in any peril in passing 
through the post. 

Perhaps you think that as I generally write with some reserve, 
you ought to do the same. My reserve, however, has its founda- 
tion not in design, but in necessity. I am silent because I have 
literally nothing to say. I might indeed repeat over and over 
again that my life is a pale blank and often a very weary burden, 
and that the Future sometimes appals me ; but what end could 
be answered by such repetition except to weary you and enervate 

The evils that now and then wring a groan from my heart, lie 
in position ; not that I am a single woman and likely to remain 
a single woman, but because I am a lonely woman and likely 
to be lonely. But it cannot be helped and therefore impera- 
tively must be borne^ and borne too with as few words about it 
as may be. 

I write all this just to prove to you that whatever you would 
freely say to me, you may just as freely write. 

Understand, I remain just as resolved as ever not to allow 
myself the holiday of a visit from you, till I have done my work. 
After labour, pleasure ; but while work is lying at the wall un- 
done, I never yet could enjoy recreation. Yours very faithfully, 


Letter 584 


HAWORTH, August i2/^, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, Papa has varied occasionally since 1 wrote to 
you last Monday was a very bad day, his spirits sunk painfully. 
Tuesday and yesterday however were much better, and to-day he 
seems wonderfully well. The prostration of spirits which accom- 


panics anything like a relapse, is almost the most difficult point 
to manage. Dear Nell, you are tenderly kind in offering your 
society ; but rest very tranquil where you are ; be fully assured 
that it is not now, nor under present circumstances, that I feel 
the lack either of society or occupation ; my time is pretty well 
filled up, and my thoughts appropriated. 

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

Letter 585 


Friday \ 1852. 

DEAR NELL, I did not think you would at all expect to hear 
from me again till you got home ; so little as I have to communi- 
cate, it did not seem to me worth while to write. 

I do hope and believe the changes you have been having this 
summer will do you permanent good, notwithstanding the pain 
with which they have been too often mingled. Yet I feel glad 
that you are soon coming home; and I really must not trust 
myself to say how much I wish the time were come when, without 
let or hindrance, I could once more welcome you to Haworth. 
But oh ! I don't get on ; I feel fettered, incapable, sometimes very 
low. However, at present, the subject must not be dwelt upon ; 
it presses me too hardly, wearily, painfully. Less than ever can 
I taste or know pleasure till this work is wound up. And yet I 
often sit up in bed at night, thinking of and wishing for you. 
Thank you for the Times \ what it said on the mighty and 
mournful subject was well said. All at once the whole nation 
seems to take a just view of that great character [the Duke of 
Wellington]. There was a review too of an American book, which 


I was glad to see. Read Uncle Toms Cabin : probably, though, 
you have read it. 

Papa's health continues satisfactory, thank God ! As for me, 
my wretched liver has been disordered again of late, but I hope 
it is now going to be on better behaviour; it hinders me in 
working, depresses both power and tone of feeling. I must expect 
this derangement from time to time. 

Write as soon as you can. I hope this letter will reach you 
before you leave town. Good-bye. Yours faithfully, 


Your hint about Mrs. Gorham does not in the least surprise me. 
I felt sure that alone you would not be so comfortable. Mary 
Gorham is a genuine pearl of pure water. 

Letter 586 


HAWORTH, September -znd^ 1852. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, I have delayed answering your 
very kind letter till I could speak decidedly respecting papa's 
health. For some weeks after the attack there were frequent 
variations, and once a threatening of a relapse, but JE" trust his 
convalescence may now be regarded as confirmed. The acute 
inflammation of the eye, which distressed papa so much as 
threatening loss of sight, but which I suppose was merely 
symptomatic of the rush of blood to the brain, is now quite 
subsided ; the partial paralysis has also disappeared ; the appetite 
is better ; weakness with occasional slight giddiness seem now the 
only lingering traces of disease. I am assured that with papa's 
excellent constitution, there is every prospect of his still being 
spared to me for many years* 

For two things I have reason to be most thankful, viz. that the 
mental faculties have remained quite untouched, and also that my 
own health and strength have been found sufficient for the occa- 
sion. Solitary as I certainly was at Filey, I yet derived great 
benefit from the change. 

It would be pleasant at the seaside this fine warm weather, 
and I should dearly like to be there with you ; to such a treat, 
however, I do not now look forward at all You will fully 
understand the impossibility of my enjoying peace of mind 


during absence from papa under present circumstances ; his 
strength must be very much more fully restored before I can 
think of leaving home. 

My dear Miss Wooler, in case you should go to Scarbro' this 
season, may I request you to pay one visit to the churchyard and 
see if the inscription on the stone has been altered as I directed. 
We have heard nothing since on the subject, and I fear the altera- 
tion may have been neglected. 

Ellen has made a long stay in the south, but I believe she will 
soon return now, and I am looking forward to the pleasure of 
having her company in the autumn. 

With kind regards to all old friends, and sincere love to your- 
self, I am, my dear Miss Wooler, yours affectionately and re- 
spectfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 587 


September gth, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I did not send the Examiner last week, not 
knowing how to address; I send it however this week as 

Thank you for Ann's notes, I like to read them, they are so full 
of news, but they are illegible, a great many words I really cannot 
make out. It is pleasing to hear that Mercy is doing so well, and 
the tidings about your mother seem also good. What she said 
about 'mending her manners ' when Ellen came home made me 

Papa continues pretty well, but his spirits often flag, and he 
complains much of weakness. 

I get a note from Hunsworth every now and then, but I fear 
my last reply has not given much satisfaction ; it contained 
a taste of that unpalatable commodity called admce v such 
advice too as might be, and I dare say was, construed into 
faint reproof* 

I can scarcely tell what there is about Amelia that in spite of one's 
conviction of her amiability, in spite of one's sincere wish for her 
welfare, palls upon one, satiates, stirs impatience. She will com- 
placently put forth opinions arid tastes as her own, which are not 
her own, nor in any sense natural to her. She pretentiously talks 
Taylorism with a Ringrose air and voice. My patience can 


really hardly sustain the test of such a jay in borrowed plumes. 
She prated so much about the fine wilful spirit of her child, 
whom she describes as a hard brown little thing who will do 
nothing but what pleases herself, that I hit out at last, not very hard, 
but enough to make her think herself ill-used, I doubt not. Can't 
help it. She often says she is not c absorbed in self/ but the fact 
is, I have seldom seen any one more unconsciously, thoroughly, 
and often weakly egotistic. Then too she is inconsistent. In the 
same breath she boasts her matrimonial happiness and whines for 
sympathy. Don't understand it. With a paragon of a husband 
and child, why that whining, craving note ? Either her lot is not 
all she professes it to be, or she is hard to content. The fact is 
she makes me a little savage. How does she write to you? 
Answer soon and believe me, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

If you be waited on by lady's-maids you '11 have to pay them 
for which reason I refuse. 

Letter 588 


HAWORTH, September zist, 1852. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, I was truly sorry to hear that when 
Ellen called at the Parsonage you were suffering from influenza. 
I know that an attack of this debilitating complaint is no trifle 
in your case, as its effects linger with you long. It has been very 
prevalent In this neighbourhood. I did not escape, but the sick- 
ness and fever only lasted a few days and the cough was not 
severe. Papa, I am thankful to say, continues pretty well ; Ellen 
thinks him little, if at all altered. 

And now for your kind present The book will be precious to 
me chiefly, perhaps, for the sake of the giver, but also for its own 
sake, for it is a good book ; and I wish I may be enabled to read 
it with some approach to the spirit you would desire. Its perusal 
came recommended in such a manner as to obviate danger of 
neglect ; its place shall always be on my dressing-table. 

As to the other part of the present, it arrived under these 
circumstances : 

For a month past an urgent necessity to buy and make some 
things for winter-wear had been importuning my conscience ; the 
buying might be soon effected, but the making was a more 


serious consideration. At this juncture Ellen arrives with a good- 
sized parcel, which, when opened, disclosed the things I required, 
perfectly made and of capital useful fabric ; adorned too which 
seemly decoration it is but too probable I might myself have 
foregone as an augmentation of trouble not to be lightly incurred. 
I felt strong doubts as to my right to profit by this sort of fairy 
gift, so unlocked for and so curiously opportune ; on reading the 
note accompanying the garments, I am told that to accept will be 
to confer a favour (!) The doctrine is too palatable to be rejected ; 
I even waive all nice scrutiny of its soundness in short, I submit 
with as good a grace as may be. 

Ellen has only been my companion one little week. I would 
not have her any longer, for I am disgusted with myself and my 
delays, and consider it was a weak yielding to temptation in me 
to send for her at all ; but, in truth, my spirits were getting low 
prostrate sometimes, and she has done me inexpressible good. I 
wonder when I shall see you at Haworth again. Both my father 
and the servants have again and again insinuated a distinct wish 
that you should be requested to come in the course of the summer 
and autumn, but I always turned a deaf ear : c Not yet,' was my 
thought, ' I want first to be free work first, then pleasure/ 

I venture to send by Ellen a book which may amuse an hour: 
a Scotch tale by a minister's wife. It seems to me well told, and 
may serve to remind you of characters and manners you have 
seen in Scotland. When you have time to write a line, I shall 
feel anxious to hear how you are. With kind regards to all old 
friends, and truest affection to yourself, in which Ellen joins me, 
I am, my dear Miss Wooler, yours gratefully and respectfully, 


Letter 589 


October 5^, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, I must write a line to accompany the two 
letters which I return with thanks. Mary's is very pleasant and 
cheerful. I hope you are safe at home by this time. Write very 
soon and tell me how you are, and how you found all. 

Dear Nell, you know very well I should as soon think of going 
to the moon as of setting off to Brookroyd at present ; no, I trust 
when we meet it will be at Haworth. 


Mr. and Mrs. Forster 1 made another of their sudden calls here 
yesterday. They came in a fly in the midst of dreadful drenching 
weather. A lady accompanied them, a Miss Dixon from Dublin ; 
it seems there is some distant connection between her family and 
that of the Birmingham Dixons, but they have no personal inter- 
course. They wanted to take me back with them ; of course, 
vainly. Papa and I are both under pressure of colds at present 
I was very uneasy about papa on Sunday, but I trust he is better 
now ; so I think am I. Do you escape pretty well ? 

I send the newspapers. Write soon. Yours faithfully, 


Letter 590 


October gth, 1852. 

DEAR NELL, Papa expresses so strong a wish that I should 
ask you to come, and I feel some little refreshment so absolutely 
necessary myself, that I really must beg you to come to Haworth 
for one single week. I thought I would persist in denying my- 
self till I had done my work, but I find it won't do, the matter 
refuses to progress, and this excessive solitude presses too heavily, 
so let me see your dear face just for one reviving week. 

Could you come on Wednesday? Write and let me know by 
what train you would reach Keighley, that I may send for you. 

I am right glad that you keep up your courage so nobly, how 
much better, how much wiser than to sink in bodily and mental 
weakness, The effort will have its reward. 

We will leave all other matters to talk about. Yours faithfully, 


Letter 591 


Tuesday, October 26t&, '52. 

DEAR NELL, Your note came only this morning, I had 
expected it yesterday and was beginning actually to feel uneasy, 

1 Mr. W. E. Forster(l8i9-iS86), the statesman and educationalist, married a daughter 
of Dr. Arnold in 1850. Mrs. Forster, in a letter to the editor, regretted that she had kept 
none of Miss Bronte's letters. 


like you. This won't do, I am afraid of caring for you too 

You must have come upon Hunsworth at an unfavourable 
moment; seen it under a cloud. Surely they are not often thus, 
or else married life is indeed but a slipshod paradise. I am glad, 
however, that the child is, as we conjectured, pretty well. 

Miss Wooler's note is indeed kind, good, and characteristic. 

I only send the Examiner y not having yet read the Leader. I was 
spared the remorse I feared. On Saturday I fell to business, and as 
the welcome mood is still decently existent, and my eyes conse- 
quently excessively tired with scribbling, you must excuse a mere 
scrawl. You left your smart shoes. Papa was glad to hear you 
had got home well, as well as myself. Regards to all. Good-bye. 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

I do miss my dear companion. No more of that calm sleep. 




THE morbid atmosphere that she had breathed during the 
months prior to the publication of Villette led Charlotte 
Bronte into a feverish uncertainty as to the views of her 
publishers upon that book. A few hours' delay in a letter 
and she would have rushed up to London to call upon her 
Cornhill friends. 

Letter 592 


October 30^, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, You must notify honestly what you think of 
Villette when you have read it. I can hardly tell you how I 
hunger to hear some opinion beside my own, and how I have 
sometimes desponded, and almost despaired, because there was 
no one to whom to read a line, or of whom to ask a counsel. 
Jane Eyre was not written under such circumstances, nor were 
two-thirds of Shirley. I got so miserable about it, I could bear 
no allusion to the book. It is not finished yet ; but now I hope. 
As to the anonymous publication, I have this to say: If the 
withholding of the author's name should tend materially to 
injure the publisher's interest, to interfere with booksellers' 
orders, etc., I would not press the point; but if no such detriment 
is contingent I should be much thankful for the sheltering shadow 
of an incognito. I seem to dread the advertisements the large- 
lettered * Currer Bell's New Novel/ or New Work by the Author 
of fane Eyre? These, however, I feel well enough, are the 
transcendentalisms of a retired wretch; so you must speak 
frankly. ... I shall be glad to see Colonel Esmond. My objec- 
tion to the second volume lay here: I thought it contained 
decidedly too much History too little Story. 


You will see that Villette touches on no matter of public 
interest. I cannot write books handling the topics of the day; 
it is of no use trying. Nor can I write a book for its moral. Nor 
can I take up a philanthropic scheme, though I honour philan- 
thropy ; and voluntarily and sincerely veil my face before such 
a mighty subject as that handled in Mrs. Beecher Stowe's work, 
Uncle Tonts Cabin. To manage these great matters rightly they 
must be long and practically studied their bearings known 
intimately, and their evils felt genuinely; they must not be taken 
up as a business matter and a trading speculation. I doubt not 
Mrs. Stowe had felt the iron of slavery enter into her heart, from 
childhood upwards, long before she ever thought of writing books. 
The feeling throughout her work is sincere and not got up. 
Remember to be an honest critic of Villette, and tell Mr. Williams 
to be unsparing : not that I am likely to alter anything, but I 
want to know his impressions and yours. 

Letter 593 


November 3rd, 1852. 

MY BEAR SIR, I feel very grateful for your letter ; it relieved 
me much, for I was a good deal harassed by doubts as to how 
Villette might appear in other eyes than my own. I feel in some 
degree authorised to rely on your favourable impressions, because 
you are quite right where you hint disapprobation. You have 
exactly hit two points at least where I was conscious of defect 
the discrepancy, the want of perfect harmony, between Graham's 
boyhood and manhood the angular abruptness of his change of 
sentiment towards Miss Fanshawe. You must remember, though, 
that in secret he had for some time appreciated that young lady 
at a somewhat depressed standard held her a little lower than 
the angels. But still the reader ought to have been better made 
to feel this preparation towards a change of mood. As to the 
publishing arrangements, I leave them to Cornhill. There is, 
undoubtedly, a certain force in what you say about the inexpedi- 
ency of affecting a mystery which cannot be sustained ; so you 
must act as you think is for the best I submit, also, to the 
advertisements in large letters, but under protest, and with a kind 
of ostrich longing for concealment. Most of the third volume is 
given to the development of the * crabbed Professor's ' character 


Lucy must not marry Dr. John ; he Is far too youthful, handsome, 
bright-spirited, and sweet-tempered; he Is a 'curled darling' of 
Nature and of Fortune, and must draw a prize In life's lottery. 
His wife must be young, rich, pretty ; he must be made very 
happy Indeed. If Lucy marries anybody it must be the Professor 
a man in whom there is much to forgive, much to * put up with.' 
But I am not leniently disposed towards Miss Frost ^ from the 
beginning I never meant to appoint her lines in pleasant places. 
The conclusion of this third volume Is still a matter of some 
anxiety: I can but 'do my best, however. It would speedily be 
finished, could I ward off certain obnoxious headaches, which 
whenever I get into the spirit of my work, are apt to seize and 
prostrate me. ... 

Colonel Henry Esmond is just arrived. He looks very antique 
and distinguished In his Queen Anne's garb ; the periwig, sword, 
lace, and ruffles are very well represented by the old Spectator 
type. C. BRONTE. 

In 1848 Thackeray sent Miss Bronte, as we have 
seen, a copy of Vanity Fair. In this year he sent her, 
through Mr. George Smith, a copy of Esmond, with the 
more cordial inscription which came of friendship. 

Letter 594 



The third volume seemed to me to possess the most sparkle, 
impetus, and interest. Of the first and second my judgment was 
that parts of them were admirable ; but there was the fault of 
containing too much History too little Story. I hold that 3 

1 In the original manuscript, in the possession of Mrs. George Smith, 'Lncy Frost* 
may be seen with the name of * Frost * erased and * Snowe * substituted. 


work of fiction ought to be a work of creation: that the real 
should be sparingly introduced in pages dedicated to the ideal 
Plain household bread is a far more wholesome and necessary 
thing than cake ; yet who would like to see the brown loaf placed 
upon the table for dessert? In the second volume the author gives 
us an ample supply of excellent brown bread ; in his third, only 
such a portion as gives substance, like the crumbs of bread in a 
well-made, not too rich, plum-pudding. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 595 


October $isf, 1852. 

DEAR ELLEN, Mrs. Upjohn's letter, which I return, interested 
me a good deal. It reads like the production of a warmhearted, 
good-natured woman. There is a sort of vivacity of temperament 
and feeling about it which seems to have had genuineness to 
survive such a catalogue of afflictions as rarely fall in succession 
on one human being. Poor woman ! she has been sorely 

Her proposal to you is peculiar. If I rightly understood it, it 
amounts to this. That you should go and spend some time with 
her, that if the result was mutually satisfactory, she would wish in 
a sense to adopt you, with the prospect of leaving you property, 
amount of course indefinite. Her affectionate remembrance, which 
has suggested this idea, says much both to your credit and hers, 
It seems to me that the visit should be made ; if not now, as you 
have so lately been from home, yet next Spring, and this is all 
(I think) you are now called upon to decide; the rest may be' 
left for future consideration. After your visit your way will 
be clearer. I cannot help wishing that something permanently 
advantageous to you may spring from this incident. Yet it is 
a case which presents difficulties. To leave your own home and 
mother for the society of two elderly invalids is a step demanding 

I have just got a letter from New Zealand, which I enclose ; it 
made me sad. I cannot help earnestly wishing that Mary were 
back in England if one could see an opening for making her way. 
Give my love to your mother and believe me, dear Nell, Yours 
faithfully, C. BRONTE. 


Letter 596 


November 6f%, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, I must not delay thanking you for your kind 
letter, with its candid and able commentary on Villette. With 
many of your strictures I concur. The third volume may, 
perhaps, do away with some of the objections ; others still remain 
in force. I do not think the interest culminates anywhere to the 
degree you would wish. What climax there is does not come 
on till near the conclusion ; and even then I doubt whether the 
regular novel-reader will consider the ' agony piled sufficiently 
high' (as the Americans say), or the colours dashed on to the 
canvas with the proper amount of daring. Still, I fear, they must 
be satisfied with what is offered ; my palette affords no brighter 
tints; were I to attempt to deepen the reds, or burnish the 
yellows, I should but botch. 

Unless I am mistaken the emotion of the book will be found to 
be kept throughout in tolerable subjection. As to the name of 
the heroine, I can hardly express what subtlety of thought made 
me decide upon giving her a cold name ; but at first I called her 
<Lucy Snowe' (spelt with an c e'), which Snowe I afterwards 
changed to * Frost.' Subsequently I rather regretted the change, 
and wished it 'Snowe' again. If not too late I should like the 
alteration to be made now throughout the MS. A cold name she 
must have ; partly, perhaps, on the * lucus a non lucendo 9 principle 
partly on that of the c fitness of things,' for she has about her 
an external coldness. 

You say that she may be thought morbid and weak, unless the 
history of her life be more fully given. I consider that she is 
both morbid and weak at times ; her character sets up no preten- 
sions to unmixed strength, and anybody living her life would 
necessarily become morbid. It was no impetus of healthy feeling 
which urged her to the confessional, for instance ; it was the semi- 
delirium of solitary grief and sickness. If, however, the book 
does not express all this, there must be a great fault somewhere. 
I might explain away a few other points, but it would be too 
much like drawing a picture and then writing underneath the 
name of the object intended to be represented. We know what 
sort of a pencil that is which needs an ally in the pen. 

Thanking you again for the clearness and fulness with which 


you have responded to my request for a statement of impressions, 
I am, my dear sir, yours very sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

I trust the work will be seen in MS. by no one except Mr. 
Smith and yourself. 

Letter 597 


November iof&, 1852. 

MY DEAR SIR, I only wished the publication of Shirley to be 
delayed till Villette was nearly ready ; to that there can now be 
no objection to its being issued whenever you think fit. About 
putting the MS. into type I can only say that, should I be able 
to proceed with the third volume at my average rate of com- 
position, and with no more than the average amount of interrup- 
tions, I should hope to have it ready in about three weeks. I 
leave it to you to decide whether it would be better to delay the 
printing that space of time, or to commence it immediately. It 
would certainly be more satisfactory if you were to see the third 
volume before printing the first and the second ; yet, if delay is 
likely to prove injurious, I do not think it is indispensable. I 
have read the third volume of Esmond. I found it both entertain- 
ing and exciting to me; it seems to possess an impetus and 
excitement beyond the other two ; that movement and brilliancy 
its predecessors sometimes wanted never fail here. In certain 
passages I thought Thackeray used all his powers ; their grand, 
serious force yielded a profound satisfaction. 'At last he puts 
forth his strength,' I could not help saying to myself. No charac- 
ter in the book strikes me as more masterly than that of Beatrix ; Its 
conception is fresh, and its delineation vivid. It is peculiar; it has 
impressions of a new kind new, at least, to me. Beatrix is not, 
in herself, all bad. So much does she sometimes reveal of what 
is good and great as to suggest this feeling ; you would think she 
was urged by a Fate. You would think that some antique doom 
presses on her house, and that once in so many generations its 
brightest ornament was to become its greatest disgrace. At times 
what is good in her struggles against this terrible destiny, but the 
Fate conquers. Beatrix cannot be an honest woman and a good 
man's wife. She c tries and she cannot' Proud, beautiful, and 
sullied, she was born what she becomes, a king's mistress. I 
know not whether you have seen the notice in the Leader\ I read 


it just after concluding the book. Can I be wrong in deeming it 
a notice tame, cold, and insufficient? With all its professed 
friendliness it produced on me a most disheartening impression. 
Surely another sort of justice than this will be rendered to Esmond 
from other quarters. One acute remark of the critic is to the 
effect that Blanche Amory and Beatrix are identical sketched 
from the same original ! To me they are about as identical as a 
weasel and a royal tigress of Bengal; both the latter are quad- 
rupeds, both the former women. But I must not take up either 
your time or my own with further remarks. Believe me yours 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 598 


Nov. 29^, 1852, Monday Morning. 

DEAR ELLEN, Truly thankful am I to be able to tell you 
that I finished my long task x on Saturday ; packed and sent 
off the parcel to Cornhill. I said my prayers when I had done it. 
Whether it is well or ill done, I don't know. D.V. I will now try 
to wait the issue quietly. The book, I think, will not be considered 
pretentious, nor is it of a character to excite hostility. 

As papa is pretty well, I may, I think, dear Nell, do as you 
wish me and come for a few days to Brookroyd. Miss Martineau 
has also urgently asked me to go and see her. I promised if all 
were well to do so, the close of November or beginning of Decem- 
ber. So that I could go from Brookroyd to Westmoreland. 
Would Wednesday suit you ? I should leave Keighley by the 2 
o'clock train reach Bradford by 20 minutes after 2. I should 
get to Heckmondwike by 8 minutes past 3. Thence, if it were 
not convenient to send the gig to meet me, I would walk, and get 
ray luggage sent on. Whether would it be better to stop at 
Heckmondwike or Liversedge? 

Esmond shall come with me, that is, Thackeray's novel. Yours 
in cruel haste, C BRONTE. 

Letter 599 


December 6th, 1852, 

MY DEAR SIR, The receipts have reached me safely. I received 
the first on Saturday, enclosed in a cover without a line, and had 

1 VitUtte. 


made up my mind to take the train on Monday, and go up to 
London to see what was the matter, and what had struck my 
publisher mute. On Sunday morning your letter came, and you 
have thus been spared the visitation of the unannounced and 
unsummoned apparition of Currer Bell in Cornhill. Inexplicable 
delays should be avoided when possible, for they are upt to urge 
those subjected to their harassment to sudden and impulsive 

I must pronounce you right again, in your complaint of the 
transfer of interest in the third volume from one set of characters 
to another. It is not pleasant, and it will probably be found as 
unwelcome to the reader as it was, in a sense, compulsory upon 
the writer. The spirit of romance would have indicated another 
course, far more flowery and inviting ; it would have fashioned a 
paramount hero, kept faithfully with him, and made him supremely 
worshipful ; he should have an idol, and not a mute, unresponding 
idol either ; but this would have been unlike real life inconsistent 
with truth at variance with probability, I greatly apprehend, 
however, that the weakest character in the book is the one I aimed 
at making the most beautiful ; and, if this be the case, the fault 
lies in its wanting the germ of the real in its being purely 
imaginary. I felt that this character lacked substance ; I fear 
that the reader will feel the same. Union with it resembles too 
much the fate of Ixion, who was mated with a cloud. The child- 
hood of Paulina is, however, I think, pretty well imagined, but 
her . . . [the remainder of this interesting sentence is torn off the 
letter]. A brief visit to London becomes thus more practicable, 
and if your mother will kindly write, when she has time, and 
name a day after Christmas which will suit her, I shall have 
pleasure, papa's health permitting, in availing myself of her 
invitation. I wish I could come in time to correct some at least 
of the proofs ; it would save trouble. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 600 


BROOKROYD, December 7/^, 1852. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, Since you were so kind as to take 
some interest in my small tribulation of Saturday, I write a line 
to tell you that on Sunday morning a letter came which put me 
VOL. ii. T 


out of pain and obviated the necessity of an impromptu journey 
to London. 

The money transaction^ of course, remains the same, and perhaps 
is not quite equitable ; but when an author finds that his work is 
cordially approved, he can pardon the rest indeed, my chief 
regret now lies in the conviction that papa will be disappointed : 
he expected me to earn ^750, nor did I myself anticipate that a 
lower sum would be offered ; however, ^500 is not to be despised. 

Your sudden departure from Brookroyd left a legacy of con- 
sternation to the bereaved breakfast-table. Ellen was not easily 
to be soothed, though I diligently represented to her that you had 
quitted Ha worth with the same inexorable haste. I am commis- 
sioned to tell you, first, that she has decided not to go to Yarmouth 
till after Christmas, her mother's health having within the last few 
days betrayed some symptoms not unlike those which preceded 
her former illness ; and though it is to be hoped that these may 
pass without any untoward result, yet they naturally increase 
Ellen's reluctance to leave home for the present. 

Secondly, I am to say, that when the present you left came to 
be examined, the costliness and beauty of it inspired some con- 
cern. Ellen thinks you are too kind, as I also think every morning, 
for I am now benefiting by your kind gift. 

With sincere regards to all at the Parsonage, and especially 

thanks to Mr. C as a friend who, having temporarily been lost, 

is again found, I am, my dear Miss Wooler, yours respectfully 
and affectionately, 


P. S. I shall direct that Esmond (Mr. Thackeray's work) shall 
be sent on to you as soon as the Hunsworth party have read it 
It has already reached a second edition. 

Letter 60 1 


Dec. gt&, 1852, Thursday Morning. 

DEAR NELL, I got home safely at five o'clock yesterday after- 
noon, and, I am most thankful to say, found papa and all the rest 
well. I did my business satisfactorily In Leeds, the head-dress 
re-arranged as I wish ; it is now a very different matter to the 
bushy, tasteless thing it was before* 


On my arrival I found no proof-sheets, but a letter from Mr. 
Smith, which I would have enclosed, but so many words are 
scarcely legible, you would have no pleasure in reading It: he 
continues to make a mystery of his ' reason ' something in the 
third volume sticks confoundedly in his throat, and as to the 
'female character 3 about which I asked, he responds crabbedly 
that, ' She is an odd, fascinating little puss/ but affirms that he is 
* not in love with her.' He tells me also that he will answer no 
more questions about Villette. 

This morning I have a brief note from Mr. Williams intimating 
that he has ' not yet been permitted to read the 3rd vol. 1 Also 
there is a note from Mrs. Smith, very kind, I almost wish I could 
still look on that kindness just as I used to do : it was very 
pleasant to me once. 

Write immediately , Dear Nell, and tell me how your mother is. 
Give my kindest regards to her and all at Brookroyd. Every- 
body was very good to me this last visit, I remember them with 
corresponding pleasure. Papa seems glad on the whole to hear 
you are not going to Yarmouth just yet; he thinks you should be 
cautious. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

I enclose a postage stamp for the Jd. you were to pay for me at 
the station. Don't forget it. 




WITHOUT the kindly assistance of the late Mr. Arthur 
Bell Nicholls, this collection of letters could never 
have been prepared. To him I owe a debt of gratitude 
in that he placed in my hands a multitude of documents 
that may never otherwise have seen the light. There 
are, however, no painful secrets to reveal, no skeletons 
to lay bare. Mr. Nicholls's story was a very simple 
one ; and that it was entirely creditable to him, there 
is abundant evidence. Amid the full discussion to 
which the lives of the Brontes have necessarily been 
subjected through their ever-continuous fame, it was 
perhaps inevitable that a contrary opinion should gain 
ground. Many of Mr. Nicholls's relatives in Ireland were 
wont to sigh over the perverted statements which obtained 
currency. * It is cruel that your uncle Arthur, the best of 
men, as we know, should be thus treated/ was the comment 
of Mr. Nicholls's brother to his daughter after reading an 
unfriendly article concerning Charlotte's husband. Yet it 
was not unnatural that such an estimate should get abroad ; 
and I may frankly admit that until I met Mr. Nicholls I 
believed that Charlotte Bronte's marriage had been an 
unhappy one an opinion gathered partly from Mrs. 
Gaskell, partly from current tradition in Yorkshire. Mrs. 
Gaskell, in fact, did not like Mr. Nicholls, and there were 
those with whom she came in contact while writing Miss 
Bronte's Life who were eager to fan that feeling in the 
usually kindly biographer. 1 Mr. Nicholls himself did not 

1 The following letter from Mrs. Gaskell to Mr. W. Smith Williams, dated 46 

Jlrthur 3) ell jVidu>Ufi 



work in the direction of conciliation. He was, as we know, 
a Scotsman, and Scots taciturnity brought to bear upon 
the genial and jovial Yorkshire folk did not make for 
friendliness. Furthur, he would not let Mrs. Gaskell 
' edit J and change The Professor. He hated publicity, and 
above all things viewed the attempt to pierce the veil of 
his married life with almost morbid detestation. 

Mr. Nicholls was born in Co. Antrim in 1817, but of 
Scots parents on both sides. His actual name was Nicoll. 
He was left at the age of seven to the charge of an uncle 
the Rev. Alan Bell who was headmaster of the Royal 
School at Banagher, in King's Co. Mr. Nicholls after- 
wards entered Trinity College, Dublin, and it was thence 

Plymouth Grove, December 20th, 1860, is one of many documentary indications of this 
that are in my possession : 

MY DEAR SIR, When I was abroad this summer, I was introduced to a Miss 
Burnett, who asked me for an introduction to Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., with a view 
to the publication of an MS. which she had then in hand. The other day she wrote 
to claim the fulfilment of my promise ; and I have thought it best to perform it by 
writing direct to yourself, as I have been sending Mr. Smith lately so many similar 
introductions that I have some scruples in troubling him further in that way. Besides 
you have always been so kind to me, however and whenever I have applied to you, that 
I think you will forgive me, if my bringing this MS. under your notice should uselessly 
waste your time. 

We had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Lowes Dickinson last Saturday week, and a real 
pleasure it was to us. Mr. Gaskell missed his share, however, owing to his inevitable 
Saturday night's sermon, but we hope that Mr. Dickinson will come and see us again 
when he returns to Manchester, and then Mr. Gaskell will make up for lost time. 

About six weeks ago I paid a visit to Mr. Bronte, and sat for about an hour with him. 
He is completely confined to bed now, but talks hopefully of leaving it again when the 
summer comes round. I am afraid that it will not be leaving it as he plans, poor old 
man ! He is touchingly softened by illness ; but still talks in his pompous way, and 
mingles moral remarks and somewhat stale sentiments with his conversation on ordinary 
subjects. Mr. Nicholls seems to keep him rather in terrorem* He is more unpopular 
in the village than ever ; and seems to have even a greater aversion than formerly to any 
strangers visiting his wife's grave ; or, indeed, to any reverence paid to her memory, 
even by those who knew and loved her for her own sake. He refused to christen Mr. 
Greenwood's last child when he heard that it was to be named * Bronte ' after her, and 
the child remained unchristened for six months in consequence, when its great delicacy 
coming to Mr. Bronte's knowledge, he sent for it privately and christened it in his own 
room, When Mr. Nicholls came upon its name upon the register book, Mr. Greenwood 
says that he stormed and stamped, and went straight home to the Parsonage to Mr. 
Bronte to ask him for his reasons in going so directly against his wishes. Fortunately 
Mr. Bronte had the excellent defence of saying that if the child had died unchristened 
Mr. Nicholls's case would have been extremely awkward, and that be had thus saved him 
from a great scrape, Believe me yours most sincerely, E. C. GASKELL. 


that he went to Haworth, his first curacy. He succeeded 
a fellow-countryman, Mr. James William Smith, in 1844. 

The first reference we have to Mr. Nicholls in Charlotte 
Bronte's letters is more favourable in its judgment than 
was that on his predecessors in the Haworth curacy. 
She writes to a Mrs. Rand, on May 26, 1844, a brief 
note of which I have not a copy, but its only important 
statement runs as follows : ' Papa has got a new curate 
lately, a Mr. Nicholls, from Ireland he did duty for the 
first time on Sunday he appears a respectable young man, 
reads well, and I hope will give satisfaction/ At a later 
date, however, she writes to her friend Ellen Nussey : 
1 1 cannot for my life see those interesting germs of good- 
ness in him you discovered ; his narrowness of mind 
always strikes me chiefly/ 1 but with the years came 
kindlier feelings until we have the description of him as 
Mr. Macarthey in Shirley, over which he laughed so 
heartily : 

Perhaps I ought to remark that, on the premature and sudden 
vanishing of Mr. M alone from the stage of Briarfield parish, . . . 
there came as his successor another Irish curate, Mr. Macarthey. 
I am happy to be able to Inform you, with truth, that this gentle- 
man did as much credit to his country as Malone had done it 
discredit ; he proved himself as decent, decorous, and conscien- 
tious, as Peter was rampant, boisterous, and (this last epithet 
I choose to suppress, because it would let the cat out of the bag). 
He laboured faithfully in the parish ; the schools, both Sunday 
and day-schools, flourished under his sway like green bay-trees. 
Being human, of course he had his faults ; these, however, were 
proper, steady-going, clerical faults : the circumstance of finding 
himself invited to tea with a dissenter would unhinge him for a 
week ; the spectacle of a Quaker wearing his hat in the church, 
the thought of an unbaptized fellow-creature being interred with 
Christian rites these things could make strange havoc in Mr. 
Macartney's physical and mental economy; otherwise he was 
sane and rational, diligent and charitable. 

Mr. Nicholls had been Mr. Bronte's curate for some 

1 Letter of October 2nd, 1844. 


eight years before he proposed for his daughter's hand. 
The father's attitude was irreconcilably adverse. Long 
years afterwards Mr. Nicholls told me, in the midst of a 
vigorous defence of Mr. Bronte alike as father, as priest, 
and as friend, that he considered the aged, infirm incum- 
bent of Haworth had much right on his side even in this 
passionate opposition. Mr. Nicholls held a curacy worth 
about ;ioo per annum. Charlotte had in a measure the 
world at her feet. She had already refused the vicar of 
Hathersage, and Mr. Taylor, a man of good status in 
London and Bombay. For this his only surviving 
daughter he had boundless ambition. Mrs. Gaskell tells 
us, moreover, that he always denounced marriage in the 
abstract. I prefer, however, here as always, that the 
letters should speak for themselves. 

Letter 602 


December i$th : 1852. 

DEAR NELL, I return Mrs. Upjohn's note which is highly 
characteristic, and not, I fear, of good omen for the comfort of 
your visit. There must be something wrong in herself as well as in 
her servants. I enclose another note which, taken in conjunction 
with the incident immediately preceding it, and with a long series of 
indications whose meaning I scarce ventured hitherto to interpret 
to myself, much less hint to any other, has left on my mind a feeling 
of deep concern. This note, you will see, is from Mr. Nicholls. 

I know not whether you have ever observed him specially when 
staying here, your perception is generally quick enough, too quick 
I have sometimes thought, yet as you never said anything, I re- 
strained my own dim misgivings, which could not claim the sure 
guide of vision. What papa has seen or guessed I will not inquire 
though I may conjecture. He has minutely noticed all Mr. 
Nicholls's low spirits, all his threats of expatriation, all his 
symptoms of impaired health, noticed them with little sympathy 
and much indirect sarcasm. On Monday evening Mr. Nicholls 
was here to tea. I vaguely felt without clearly seeing, as without 
seeing, I have felt for some time, the meaning of his constant 


looks, and strange, feverish restraint. After tea I withdrew to 
the dining-room as usual. As usual, Mr. Nicholls sat with papa 
till between eight and nine o'clock, I then heard him open the 
parlour door as if going. I expected the clash of the front-door. 
He stopped in the passage : he tapped : like lightning it flashed 
on me what was coming. He entered, he stood before me. What 
his words were you can guess ; his manner, you can hardly realise, 
nor can I forget it Shaking from head to foot, looking deadly 
pale, speaking low, vehemently yet with difficulty, he made me for 
the first time feel what it costs a man to declare affection where 
he doubts response. 

The spectacle of one ordinarily so statue-like, thus trembling, 
stirred, and overcome, gave me a kind of strange shock. He 
spoke of sufferings he had borne for months, of sufferings he 
could endure no longer, and craved leave for some hope. I could 
only entreat him to leave me then and promise a reply on the 
morrow. I asked him if he had spoken to papa. He said, he 
dared not I think I half led, half put him out of the room. 
When he was gone I immediately went to papa, and told him 
what had taken place. Agitation and anger disproportionate to 
the occasion ensued; if I had loved Mr. Nicholls and had heard 
such epithets applied to him as were used, it would have trans- 
ported me past my patience ; as it was, my blood boiled with a 
sense of injustice, but papa worked himself into a state not to be 
trifled with, the veins on his temples started up like whipcord, 
and his eyes became suddenly bloodshot. I made haste to promise 
that Mr. Nicholls should on the morrow have a distinct refusal. 

I wrote yesterday and got this note. There is no need to add 
to this statement any comment. Papa's vehement antipathy to 
the bare thought of any one thinking of me as a wife, and Mr. 
Nicholls's distress, both give me pain. Attachment to Mr. Nicholls 
you are aware I never entertained, but the poignant pity inspired 
by his state on Monday evening, by the hurried revelation of his 
sufferings for many months, is something galling and irksome. 
That he cared something for me, and wanted me to care for him, 
I have long suspected, but I did not know the degree or strength 
of his feelings. Dear Nell, good-bye. Yours faithfully, 


I have letters from Sir J. K. Shuttleworth and Miss Martineau, 
but I cannot talk of them now. 


Letter 603 


HAWORTH, December i8/A, '52. 

DEAR NELL, You may well ask, How is it? for I am sure I 
don't know. This business would seem to me like a dream, did 
not my reason tell me it has long been brewing. It puzzles me 
to comprehend how and whence comes this turbulence of feeling. 

You ask how papa demeans himself to Mr. Nicholls. I only 
wish you were here to see papa in his present mood : you would 
know something of him. He just treats him with a hardness not 
to be bent, and a contempt not to be propitiated. The two 
have had no interview as yet : all has been done by letter. Papa 
wrote, I must say, a most cruel note to Mr. Nicholls on Wednesday. 
In his state of mind and health (for the poor man Is horrifying 
his landlady, Martha's mother, by entirely rejecting his meals) I 
felt that the blow must be parried, and I thought it right to 
accompany the pitiless despatch by a line to the effect that, while 
Mr. Nicholls must never expect me to reciprocate the feeling he 
had expressed, yet at the same time I wished to disclaim partici- 
pation in sentiments calculated to give him pain ; and I exhorted 
him to maintain his courage and spirits. On receiving the two 
letters, he set off from home. Yesterday came the enclosed brief 

You must understand that a good share of papa's anger arises 
from the idea, not altogether groundless, that Mr. Nicholls has be- 
haved with disingenuousness in so long concealing his aim, forging 
that Irish fiction, etc. I am afraid also that papa thinks a little 
too much about his want of money ; he says that the match would 
be a degradation, that I should be throwing myself away, that he 
expects me, if I marry at all, to do very differently ; in short, his 
manner of viewing the subject is, on the whole, far from being one 
in which I can sympathise. My own objections arise from a sense 
of incongruity and uncongeniality in feelings, tastes, principles. 

How are you getting on, dear Nell, and how are all at Brook- 
royd? Remember me kindly to everybody. Yours, wishing 
devoutly that papa would resume his tranquillity, and Mr. N. his 
beef and pudding, C.BRONTE. 

I am glad to say that the incipient inflammation in papa's eye 
Is disappearing. 


Letter 604 


January ind* 1853. 

DEAR NELL, I thought of you on New Year's night, and hope 
you got well over your formidable tea-making. I trust that Tues- 
day and Wednesday will also pass pleasantly. I am busy too in 
my little way, preparing to go to London this week, a matter 
which necessitates some little application to the needle. I find 
it is quite necessary I should go to superintend the press, as 
Mr. Smith seems quite determined not to let the printing get on 
till I come. I have actually only received three proof-sheets since 
I was at Brookroyd Papa wants me to go too, to be out of the 
way, I suppose, but I am sorry for one other person whom nobody 
pities but rne. Martha is bitter against him ; John Brown says, 
1 he should like to shoot him.' They don't understand the nature 
of his feelings, but I see now what they are. He is one of those 
who attach themselves to very few, whose sensations are close and 
deep, like an underground stream, running strong, but in a narrow 
channel. He continues restless and ill, he carefully performs the 
occasional duty, but does not come near the church, procuring a 
substitute every Sunday, A few days since, he wrote to papa 
requesting permission to withdraw his resignation. Papa answered 
that he should only do so on condition of giving his written pro- 
mise never again to broach the obnoxious subject either to him 
or to me. This he has evaded doing, so the matter remains un- 
settled. I feel persuaded the termination will be his departure 
for Australia. Dear Nell, without loving him, I don't like to think 
of him suffering in solitude, and wish him anywhere so that he 
were happier. He and papa have never met or spoken yet, I am 
very glad to learn that your mother is pretty well, and also that 
the piece of challenged work is progressing. I hope you will not 
be called away to Norfolk before I come home : I should like you 
to pay a visit to Haworth first Write again soon. Yours faith- 
fully, C. BRONTE. 


Letter 605 


HYDE P 'ARK, January nth^ 1853, 

DEAR NELL, I came here last Wednesday. I had a delightful 
day for my journey, and was kindly received at the close. 

My time has passed pleasantly enough since I came, yet I have 
not much to tell you, nor is it likely I shall have ; I do not mean 
to go out much or see many people. Sir J. K. Shuttleworth wrote 
to me two or three times before I left home, and made me promise 
to let him know when I should be in town, but I reserved to myself 
the right of deferring the communication till the latter part of 
my stay. I really so much dread his excited fuss, that I only 
wish to see just as much of him as civility exacts. 

All in this house appear pretty much as usual and yet I see some 
changes. Mrs. Smith and her daughters are looking well, but on 
Mr. Smith hard work is telling early, the very lines of his features 
are altered ; it is rather the remembrance of what he was than 
the fact of what he is which can warrant the picture I have been 
accustomed to give of him. One feels pained to see a physical 
alteration of this kind, yet I feel glad and thankful that it is 
merely physical ; as far as I can judge, mind and manners have 
undergone no deterioration, rather, I think, the contrary. The 
weight of work bearing upon him is really fearful. In some of 
his notes to me I half suspected exaggeration ; it was no ex- 
aggeration, far otherwise. Mr, Taylor is said to be getting on 
well in India. 

No news from home, and I feel a little uneasy to hear how 
papa is. I left him well, but at his age one especially feels the 
uncertainty of health. Remember me affectionately to all at 
Brookroyd. Write again soon, and believe me, dear Nell, yours 
faithfully, C BRONTE. 

I hope you enjoyed yourself at Mrs. BJs. You must tell me 
how you got on. 


Letter 606 


LONDON, January I2th, 1853. 

It is with you the ball rests. I have not heard from you since 
I wrote last ; but I thought I knew the reason of your silence, 
viz. application to work and therefore I accept it, not merely 
with resignation, but with satisfaction. 

I am now in London, as the date above will show ; staying very 
quietly at my publisher's, and correcting proofs, etc. Before 
receiving yours I had felt, and expressed to Mr. Smith, reluctance 
to come in the way of Ruth\ not that I think she would suffer 
from contact with Villette we know not but that the damage 
might be the other way but I have ever held comparisons to be 
odious, and would fain that neither I nor my friends should be 
made subjects for the same. Mr. Smith proposes, accordingly, to 
defer the publication of my book till the 24th inst. ; he says that 
\vill give Ruth the start in the papers, daily and weekly, and also 
will leave free to her all the February magazines. Should this 
delay appear to you insufficient, speak ! and it shall be protracted. 
I dare say, arrange as we may, we shall not be able wholly to 
prevent comparisons ; it is the nature of some critics to be 
invidious ; but we need not care : we can set them at defiance ; 
they shall not make us foes, they shall not mingle with our mutual 
feelings one taint of jealousy : there is my hand on that : I know 
you will give clasp for clasp. 

Villette has indeed no right to push itself before Ruth. There 
is a goodness, a philanthropic purpose, a social use in the latter, 
to which the former cannot for an instant pretend ; nor can it 
claim precedence on the ground of surpassing power : I think it 
much quieter than Jane Eyre. 

I wish to see^, probably at least as much as you can wish to 
see me, and therefore shall consider your invitation for March as 
an engagement ; about the close of that month, then, I hope to 
pay you a brief visit With kindest remembrances to Mr. Gaskell 
and all your precious circle, I am, etc., C. BRONTE. 


Letter 607 


112 GLOUCESTER TERRACE, January 19?%, '53. 

DEAR NELL, Mrs. H.'s letter I read with pleasure; it is so 
truly kind and friendly. I thank you for your brief account of 
the party. I can hardly tell what to say about Mr. Nicholls in 
a letter ; it is a subject rather to talk than write about. 

I still continue to get on very comfortably and quietly in 
London in the way I like, seeing rather things than persons. 
Being allowed to have my own choice of sights this time, I 
selected rather the real than the decorative side of life. I have 
been over two prisons, ancient and modern, Newgate and Penton- 
ville, also the Bank, the Exchange, the Foundling Hospital, and 
to-day, if all be well, I go with Dr. Forbes to see Bethlehem 
Hospital. Mrs. Smith and her daughters are, I believe, a little 
amazed at my gloomy tastes, but I take no notice. 

Papa, I am glad to say, continues well. I enclose portions of 
two notes of his which will show you, better than anything I can 
say, how he treats a certain subject : one of the notes purports to 
be written by Flossy ! I think of staying here till next Wednes- 
day. What are your present plans with regard to Mrs. Upjohn? 
You must if possible come to Haworth before you go into Norfolk. 

My book is to appear at the close of this month. Mrs. Gaskell 
wrote so pitifully to beg it should not clash with her Ruth, that it 
was impossible to refuse to defer the publication a week or two. 

I hope your mother continues pretty well, and also Ann, Mercy, 
and Mrs. Clapham. Give my best love to all. Is the work 
getting on ? Write very soon, and believe me, yours faithfully, 





THE publication of Villette in January 1853 once more 
placed Charlotte Bronte's name to the front among con- 
temporary writers of fiction. A consensus of literary 
opinion now proclaims it to be her best book. It has 
been surmised 1 that Bretton is Burlington or Bridlington, 
the Yorkshire watering-place that Miss Bronte twice 
visited, and where she and her sister contemplated opening" 
a school ; but another topographical student of the Bronte 
novels 2 favours York as the place the author intended. 
Villette is of course Brussels, and the Pensionnat H6ger 
looms important in the story. The H6tel Crecy, the 
residence of M. de Bassompierre, is, Mr. Wroot thinks, 
the H6tel Mengelle in the Rue Royale, formerly the Hotel 
Cluysenaar. The Church of St. Jean Baptiste, whose 
bell was heard from the school, was the Church of St. 
Jacques-sur-Caudenberg, and the church of Lucy Snowe's 
confession was the Cathedral of Ste. Gudule. Brussels 
speaks at every point to the reader of this remarkable 
story. In intensity and dramatic feeling Villette puts all 
other * novels of place ' in the background. 3 

1 By Mr. P. F. Lee, Transactions of the Bronte Society^ part iv. pp. 24-25. 

2 The Persons and Places of the Bronte Novels^ by Herbert E. Wroot. Villette and 
The Profetwr: Bronte Society Publications. Supplementary Part. 

3 Yet tourists wander about Rome with Hawthorne's Marble faun, and about 
Florence with George Eliot's Romola. No one, I suppose, has carried Villette about 


Letter 608 


January 27 th, 1853. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, I received your letter here in 
London, where I have been staying about three weeks, and shall 
probably remain a few days longer. Villette is to be published 
to-morrow. Its appearance has been purposely delayed hitherto, 
to avoid discourteous clashing with Mrs. GaskelFs new work. 
Your name was one of the first on the list of presentees, and 
directed to the Parsonage, where I shall also send this letter, as 
you mention that you are to leave Halifax at the close of this 
week. I will bear in mind what you say about Mrs. Morgan ; and 
should I ever have an opportunity of serving her, will not omit 
to do so. I only wish my chance of being useful were greater. 
Schools seem to be considered almost obsolete in London. 
Ladies' colleges, with professors for every branch of instruction, 
are superseding the old-fashioned seminary. How the system 
will work I can't tell. I think the college classes might be very 
useful for finishing the education of ladies intended to go out as 
governesses, but what progress little girls will make in them 
seems to me another question. 

My dear Miss Wooler, I read attentively all you say about 
Miss Martineau ; the sincerity and constancy of your solicitude 
touches me very much. I should grieve to neglect or oppose 
your advice, and yet I do not feel that it would be right to give 
Miss Martineau up entirely. There is in her nature much that 
is very noble. Hundreds have forsaken her, more, I fear, in the 
apprehension that their fair names may suffer if seen in connec- 
tion with hers, than from any pure convictions, such as you 
suggest, of harm consequent on her fatal tenets. With these 
fair-weather friends I cannot bear to rank. And for her sin, is 
it not one of those which God and not man must judge ? 

To speak the truth, my dear Miss Wooler, I believe if you 
were in my place, and knew Miss Martineau as I do if you had 
shared with me the proofs of her rough but genuine kindliness, 
and had seen how she secretly suffers from abandonment, you 
would be the last to give her up ; you would separate the sinner 
from the sin, and feel as if the right lay rather in quietly adhering 
to her in her strait, while that adherence is unfashionable and 


unpopular, than In turning on her your back when the world sets 
the example. I believe she is one of those whom opposition and 
desertion make obstinate in error, while patience and tolerance 
touch her deeply and keenly, and incline her to ask of her own 
heart whether the course she has been pursuing may not possibly 
be a faulty course. However, I have time to think of this subject, 
and I shall think of it seriously. 

As to what I have seen in London during my present visit, 
I hope one day to tell you all about it by our fireside at home. 
When you write again will you name a time when it would suit 
you to come and see me ; everybody in the house would be glad 
of your presence ; your last visit is pleasantly remembered by all. 

With kindest regards, I am always, affectionately and respect- 
fully yours, C. BRONTE. 

This eulogy of Miss Martineau, old-fashioned as it reads 
to-day, was soon followed by a reaction. After a review 
by her of the novel in the Daily News Charlotte Bronte's 
regard cooled very much. Miss Martineau had insisted 
that the book made love too general and too absorbing a 
factor in women's lives, and protested against the assump- 
tion that ' events and characters are to be regarded through 
the medium of one passion only/ I give together the 
three fragments of correspondence that remain of this 
quarrel, if quarrel it can be called, between the two. 

Letter 609 


January 2isf, 1853. 

I know that you will give me your thoughts upon my book, 
as frankly as if you spoke to some near relative whose good you 
preferred to her gratification. I wince under the pain of con- 
demnation, like any other weak structure of flesh and blood ; but 
I love, I honour, I kneel to truth. Let her smite me on the one 
cheek good! the tears may spring to the eyes; but courage! 
there is the other side ; hit again, right sharply. 



Letter 610 


As for the other side of the question, which you so desire to 
know, I have but one thing to say ; but it is not a small one. I 
do not like the love, either the kind or the degree of it ; and its 
prevalence in the book, and effect on the action of it, help to 
explain the passages In the reviews which you consulted me 
about, and seem to afford some foundation for the criticisms they 
offered. H. MARTINEAU. 

Among Miss Bronte's papers I find the following letter 
to Miss Martineau, written with a not unnatural resent- 
ment after the publication of her review of Shirley in 
the Daily News : 

Letter 611 


MY DEAR Miss MARTINEAU, I think I best show my sense 
of the tone and feeling of your last, by immediate compliance 
with the wish you express that I should send your letter. I en- 
close it, and have marked with red ink the passage which struck 
me dumb. All the rest is fair, right, worthy of you, but I protest 
against this passage ; and were I brought up before the bar of 
all the critics in England, to such a charge I should respond, 
* Not guilty/ 

I know what love is as I understand it ; and if man or woman 
should be ashamed of feeling such love, then is there nothing 
right, noble, faithful, truthful, unselfish in this earth, as I com- 
prehend rectitude, nobleness, fidelity, truth, and disinterested- 
ness. Yours sincerely, C. B. 

To differ from you gives me keen pain. 

Once more she writes from London to her most intimate 



Letter 612 


HYDE PARK, January 28^, '53. 

DEAR NELL, I have been longing to write to you every day 
this week and have not been able, my time is much taken up. 
In the three hours of leisure afforded 'me this morning I have 
four letters to write and therefore must be brief. I have got the 
parcel of books for you. Ed. and G. brought it in propriti per- 
sond, and I saw them. . . . Next day Madame herself called, very 
stately m her carriage. I was not in, and the next day came a 
note asking me to dine in Cleveland Row on Tuesday next. I 
declined dinner, but promised to call to-morrow morning, which 
D.v. I hope to do. 

Don't you think you have been shamefully impatient about 
Villettel To-day Is the first day of publication, but the gift 
copies were sent off yesterday, yours among the number, and I 
hope you have got it by this time. 

If all be well I go home on Wednesday next without fail. I 
shall reach Kefghley at 44 m. past 3 o'clock in the afternoon, 
and I want you to meet me there, and then we can go home 
together. You must be so kind, dear Nellys to write directly 
and tell me whether this arrangement will suit, as I earnestly 
hope ft will, as I should wish to write^ line of notification to 
Martha that she may be prepared witj^t a comfortable welcome. 

My visit has on the whole passjk$leasantly enough, with some 
sorrowful impressions, I have seen a good deal of Sir J. K. 
Shuttleworth, he has been very kind ; so has Dr. Forbes, and indeed 
everybody. But I must stop. Be sure to write immediately. 
Give my kind love to all, and believe me, yours faithfully, 


Letter 613 



LONDON, January 28^, 1855. 

DEAR MARTHA, If all be well I hope to come home next 
Wednesday. I have asked Miss Nussey to come with me. We 
shall reach Haworth about half-past four o'clock in the afternoon, 


and I know I can trust you to have things comfortable and in 
readiness. The tablecloths had better be put on the dining-room 
tables ; you will have something prepared that will do for supper 
perhaps a nice piece of cold boiled ham would be as well as 
anything, as it would come in for breakfast in the morning. The 
weather has been very changeable here, in London. I have often 
wondered how you and papa stood it at home ; I felt the changes 
In some degree, but not half so much as I should have done at 
Haworth, and have only had one really bad day of headache and 
sickness since I came. I hope you and Tabby have agreed pretty 
well, and that you have got help in your work whenever you have 
wanted it. Remember me kindly to Tabby, and believe me, dear 
Martha, your sincere friend, C. BRONTE, 

Letter 614 


HAWORTH, February nth> 1853, 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, Excuse a very brief note, for I have 
time only to thank you for your last kind and welcome letter, 
and to say that in obedience to your wishes, I send you by 
to-day's post two reviews the Examiner and the Morning 
Advertiser which perhaps you will kindly return at your leisure. 
Ellen has a third, the Literary Gazette^ which she will likewise 
send. The reception of the book has been favourable thus far, 
for which I am thankful, less, I trust, on my own account than 
for the sake of those few real friends who take so sincere an 
interest in my welfare as to be happy in my happiness. Remem- 
ber me very kindly to all at Hornsea, and believe me, yours 
affectionately and respectfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 615 


HAWORTH, February i$f%, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am very glad to hear that you got home all 
right, and that you managed to execute your commissions in Leeds 
so satisfactorily. You do not say whether you remembered to 
order the Bishop's dessert I shall know, however, by to-morrow 
morning. You had a very tolerable day after all for your journey. 


I got a budget of no less than seven papers yesterday and 
to-day. The Import of all the notices is such as to make my 
heart swell with thankfulness to Him who takes note both of 
suffering and work, and motives. Papa is pleased too. As to 
friends in general, I believe I can love them still, without expect- 
ing them to take any large share in this sort of gratification. The 
longer I live the more plainly I see that gentle must be the strain, 
on fragile human nature ; it will not bear much. 

Give my kind regards to your mother, sisters, and Mrs. Clap- 
ham, and believe me, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Papa continues to improve; he came down to breakfast this 

Letter 616 



DEAR NELL, Forgive a mere scrap of writing, I am hurried. 
I send your shoes by this post. Thanks for your letter, you are 
right to go, and to go soon. I somehow wish you to get it over ; 
I hope you won't be very long away this time, whatever you 
eventually decide on. I am not sanguine. If your affections- 
bind or incline you to Mr. and Mrs. Upjohn you ought to stay ; 
if they do not, I know from your nature you never will be able 
to get on. I feel certain that for the mere prospect of c future 
advantage' you could no more live with them than I could, you 
will see how it is. I quite anticipate difficulties, but you will see 
I wish the * future advantage ' were more defined ; would it be a 
legacy of -40 or ^50 per ann. or what? When I mentioned 
it to papa, he remarked that it was not delicately expressed. I 
could not but agree in this remark. He seems, however, most 
specially solicitous that you should try the adventure, and thinks 

unimportant objections ought not lightly to weigh with you. 

Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE! 

Letter 617 



DEAR ELLEN, The parcel is come, and the contents seem 
good and all right. I enclose 6s. 6d. in postage stamps. Mrs. 
Upjohn is really too trying. I do hope before this time you have 


heard from her. What weather for you to travel so far! Your 
crotchet about papa, dear Nell, made me angry ; never was fancy 
more groundless. 

I have heard from Mrs. Gaskell, very kind, panegyrical and so 
on. Mr. Smith tells me he has ascertained that Miss Martineau 
did write the notice in the Daily News. 

Joe Taylor offers to give me a regular blowing up and setting- 
down for 5 ; but I tell him the Times will probably let me have 
the same gratis. I write in haste this morning. I shall be anxious 
to hear from you again, to know what is decided. This suspense, 
and this constant change of plan is very wearisome and wearing. 
Love to all Yours faithfully, C BRONTE. 

Letter 618 


February zis /, 1853. 

DEAR NELL, The accompanying letter was brought here by 
the post this morning, with the explanation that it was left last 
Tuesday, February iSth, at Hainworth Vicarage (the church 
between Keighley and Haworth), and that Mrs. Mayne, the 
clergyman's wife, kept it there till this day, for which she 
deserves the ducking-stool. She must have known that Miss E. 
Nussey was not one of her acquaintance. I do trust no serious 
injury will accrue from the delay. Yours in haste, 


Letter 619 


HAWORTH, February 26^, 1853. 

MY DEAR SIR, At a late hour yesterday evening I had the 
honour of receiving, at Haworth Parsonage, a distinguished guest, 
none other than W. M. Thackeray, Esq. Mindful of the rites of 
hospitality, I hung him up in state this morning. He looks 
superb In his beautiful, tasteful gilded gibbet For companion he 
has the Duke of Wellington (do you remember giving me that 
picture?), and for contrast and foil Richmond's portrait of an 
unworthy individual who, in such society, must be nameless. 1 

1 Richmond's picture of Miss Bronte, as has been already said, is now in the National 
Portrait Gallery, London. The engravings of Thackeray and the Duke of Wellington 
are still on the walls of Mrs. Nicholas drawing-room in Banagher, King's County, 


Thackeray looks away from the latter character with a grand 
scorn, edifying to witness. I wonder if the giver of these gifts 
will ever see them on the walls where they now hang ; it pleases 
me to fancy that one day he may. My father stood for a quarter 
of an hour this morning examining the great man's picture. The 
conclusion of his survey was, that he thought it a puzzling head ; 
if he had known nothing previously of the original's character, 
he could not have read it in his features. I wonder at this. To 
me the broad brow seems to express intellect. Certain lines 
about the nose and cheek betray the satirist and cynic ; the 
mouth indicates a childlike simplicity perhaps even a degree 
of irresoluteness, inconsistency weakness, in short, but a weak- 
ness not unamiable. The engraving seems to me very good. A 
certain not quite Christian expression * not to put too fine a 
point upon it' an expression of spite ', most vividly marked in 
the original, Is here softened, and perhaps a little a very little 
of the power has escaped in this ameliorating process. Did it 
strike you thus ? C. BRONTE. 

Letter 620 


February ,1853. 

For my part I have thus far borne the cold weather well. I 
have taken long walks on the crackling snow, and felt the frosty 
air bracing. This winter has, for me, not been like last winter. 
December, January, February '51-2 passed like a long stormy 
night, conscious of one painful dream, all solitary grief and sick- 
ness. The corresponding months in '52-3 have gone over my 
head quietly and not uncheerfully. Thank God for the change 
and the repose! How welcome it has been He only knows f 
My father, too, has borne the season well ; and my book and its 
reception thus far have pleased and cheered him. 


Letter 621 


March tfh, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Mrs. Upjohn's letter. She is really a 
most inconclusive person to have to do with. Have you come to 


any decision yet? The Bishop 1 has been, and is gone. He 
is certainly a most charming little Bishop ; the most benignant 
little gentleman that ever put on lawn sleeves; yet stately 
too, and quite competent to check encroachments. His visit 
passed capitally well ; and at its close, as he was going away, he 
expressed himself thoroughly gratified with all he had seen. 
The Inspector also has, been in the course of the past week; so 
that I have had a somewhat busy time of it. If you could have 
been at Haworth to share the pleasures of the company, without 
having been inconvenienced by the little bustle of the preparation, 
I should have been very glad. But the house was a good deal 
put out of its way, as you may suppose; all passed, however, 
orderly, quietly, and well. Martha waited very nicely, and I had 
a person to help her in the kitchen. Papa kept up, too, fully as 
well as I expected, though I doubt whether he could have borne 
another day of it. My penalty came on in a strong headache and 
bilious attack as soon as the Bishop was fairly gone: how thankful 
I was that it had politely waited his departure ! I continue 
mighty stupid to-day : of course, it is the reaction consequent on 
several days of extra exertion and excitement. It is very well to 
talk of receiving a Bishop without trouble^ but you must prepare for 
him. We had the parsons to supper as well as to tea. Mr. Nicholls 
demeaned himself not quite pleasantly. I thought he made no 
effort to struggle with his dejection, but gave way to it in a manner 
to draw notice; the Bishop was obviously puzzled by it. Mr. 
Nicholls also showed temper once or twice in speaking to papa, 
Martha was beginning to tell me of certain c flaysome ' looks also,, 
but I desired not to hear of them. The fact is, I shall be most 
thankful when he is well away; I pity him, but I don't like that 
dark gloom of his. He dogged me up the lane after the evening 
service in no pleasant manner, he stopped also in the passage 
after the Bishop and the other clergy were gone into the room, 
and it was because I drew away and went upstairs that he gave 
that look which filled Martha's soul with horror. She, it seems, 
meantime, was making it her business to watch him from the 
kitchen door. If Mr. Nicholls be a good man at bottom, it is a 
sad thing that nature has not given him the faculty to put goodness 
Into a more attractive form. Into the bargain of all the rest he 

1 Dr. Longley. Charles Thomas Longley (1794-1868) became the first Bishop of 
Bipon in 1836, Bishop of Durham in 1856, Archbishop of York in 1860, and Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury in 1862. 


managed to get up a most pertinacious and needless dispute with 
the Inspector, in listening to which all my old unfavourable im- 
pressions revived so strongly, I fear my countenance could not but 
show them. 

Dear Nell, I consider that on the whole it is a mercy you have 
been at home and not at Norfolk during the late cold weather. 
Love to all at Brookroyd. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 622, 


HAWORTH, March io//*, '53. 

DEAR ELLEN, I only got the Guardian newspaper yesterday 
morning and have not yet seen either the Critic or Sharpens Mag. 
The Guardian does not wound me much, I see the motive, which 
indeed there is no attempt to disguise, still I think it a choice little 
morsel for foes (Mr. Grant was the first person to bring the news 
of the review to papa), and a still choicer for f friends ' who, bless 
them! while they would not perhaps positively do one an injury, 
still take a dear delight in dashing with bitterness the too sweet 
cup of success. Is Sharpens small article like a bit of sugar-candy 
too, Ellen? or has it the proper wholesome wormwood flavour? 

Of course I guess it will be like the Guardian. It matters 
precious little. My dear ' friends ' will weary of waiting for the 
Times. ' O Sisera ! why tarry the wheels of thy chariot so long ! ' 

How is your sister Ann ? In a note I had from Miss Wooler 
lately, she mentions that Mrs. Clapham had lately been ill, con- 
fined to her bed. As your last makes no special mention of her 
illness, I trust she is now better. I hope Mercy is also convalescent 
and that your mother is pretty well. Give my love to them all. 

Mrs. Upjohn is really a strange person, but I begin to think 
that when you actually go to Gorleston, you will find her better 
than expectation, she cannot be much worse. I am, dear Ellen, 
yours faithfully, Q BRONTE, 

Letter 623 


HAWORTH, ^rt?6#&, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Mrs. Upjohn's letter. She has indeed 
acted very strangely, but it is evident to me that there is some- 


thing very wrong either in herself, her husband, or her domestic 
arrangements, or (what is perhaps most probable) In all three, and 
it may be that on the whole, provoking as this conclusion appears, 
It is the best for you that could well be arrived at. The grounds 
for expecting permanent good some time ago assumed a very un- 
substantial appearance ; the hope of present pleasure, I fear, would 
have turned out equally fallacious. Indeed I now feel little con- 
fidence in either comfort or credit ensuing from the connection in 
any shape. 

My visit to Manchester is for the present put off by Mr. Morgan 
having written to say that since papa will not go to Buckingham 
to see him, he will come to Yorkshire to see papa ; when, I don't 
yet know, and I trust in goodness he will not stay long, as papa 
really cannot bear putting out of his way. I must wait, however, 
till the infliction is over. 

You ask about Mr. Nicholls. I hear he has got a curacy, but do 
not yet know where. I trust the news is true. He and papa never 
speak. He seems to pass a desolate life. He has allowed late 
circumstances so to act on him as to freeze up his manner and 
.overcast his countenance not only to those immediately concerned 
but to every one. He sits drearily in his rooms. If Mr. Croxton or 
Mr. Grant, or any other clergyman calls to see, and as they think, 
to cheer him, he scarcely speaks. I find he tells them nothing, seeks 
no confidant, rebuffs all attempts to penetrate his mind. I own I 
respect him for this. He still lets Flossy go to his rooms and 
takes him to walk. He still goes over to see Mr. Sowden some- 
times, and, poor fellow, that is all. He looks ill and miserable. I 
think and trust in Heaven that he will be better as soon as he 
gets away from Haworth. I pity him inexpressibly. We never 
meet nor speak, nor dare I look at him, silent pity is just all I can 
give him, and as he knows nothing about that, it does not comfort. 
He is now grown so gloomy and reserved, that nobody seems to 
like him, his fellow-curates shun trouble in that shape, the lower 
orders dislike it. Papa has a perfect antipathy to him, and he, I 
fear, to papa. Martha hates him. I think he might almost be 
dying and they would not speak a friendly word to or of him. 
How much of all this he deserves I can't tell, certainly he never 
was agreeable or amiable, and is less so now than ever, and alas ! 
I do not know him well enough to be sure there is truth and true 
affection, or only rancour and corroding disappointment at the 
bottom of his chagrin. In this state of things I must be, and I 


am, entirely passive. I may be losing the purest gem, and to me 
far the most precious life can give genuine attachment or I 
may be escaping the yoke of a morose temper. In this doubt 
conscience will not suffer me to take one step in opposition to 
papa's will, blended as that will is with the most bitter and un- 
reasonable prejudices. So I just leave the matter where we must 
leave all important matters. 

Remember me kindly to all at Brookroyd, and believe rne y 
yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 624 


Tuesday Morning. 

DEAR ELLEN, Mrs. Upjohn really carries her protractions and 
vacillations a little too far, and I am truly sorry that your move- 
ments should thus inevitably be hampered by her fluctuations. 
It is a trial of Job to be thus moved backward and forward by this 
most luckless of mistresses and her tribe of reprobate servants. 

Thank you for sending Amelia's notes ; though I have not 
alluded to them lately they always amuse me. I like to read 
them ; one gets from them a clear enough idea of her sort of life. 
Joe's attempts to improve his good partner's mind make me 
smile. I think it all right enough and doubt not they are happy 
in their way, only the direction he gives his efforts seems of rather 
problematic wisdom Algebra and Optics! Why not rather 
enlarge her views by a little well-chosen general reading? How- 
ever, they do right to amuse themselves in their own way. 

The rather dark view you seem inclined to take of the general 
opinion about Villette, surprises me the less, dear Nell, as only the 
more unfavourable reviews seem to have come in your way. Some 
reports reach me of a different tendency : but no matter, time will 
show. As to the character of Lucy Snowe, my intention from the 
first was that she should not occupy the pedestal to which Jane Eyre 
was raised by some injudicious admirers. She is where I meant 
her to be, and where no charge of self-laudation can touch her. 1 

I cannot accept your kind invitation. I, must be at home at 
Easter, on two or three accounts connected with sermons to be 
preached, parsons to be entertained, Mechanics 1 Institute Meetings 

i This sentence Mrs. Gaskell inserts, by mistake, in a letter to Mr. W, S. Williams* 
It is here given in its right place. 


and Tea-drinkings to be solemnised, and ere long I have promised 
to go and see Mrs. Gaskell, but till this wintry weather is passed 
I would rather eschew visiting anywhere, I trust that bad cold 
of yours is quite well, and that you will take good care of yourself 
in future. That night work is always perilous. Yours faithfully, 


Letter 625 


DEAR ELLEN, I have the pleasure of forwarding you a racy 
review in the Morning Herald, When read, be so good as to 
send the paper to Hunsworth, whence it came. Yours faithfully, 


Letter 626 


HAWORTH, April 13^, 1853. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, Your last kind letter ought to have 
been answered long since, and would have been, did I find it 
practicable to proportion the promptitude of the response to the 
value I place upon my correspondents and their communications. 
You will easily understand, however, that the contrary rule often 
holds good, and that the epistle which importunes often takes 
precedence of that which interests. 

My publishers express entire satisfaction with the reception 
which has been accorded to Villette> and indeed the majority of 
the reviews has been favourable enough ; you will be aware, 
however, that there is a minority, small in number but influential 
in character, which views the work with no favourable eye. 
Currer Bell's remarks on Romanism have drawn down on him 
the condign displeasure of the High Church party, which dis- 
pleasure has been unequivocally expressed through their principal 
organs the Guardian, the English Churchman^ and the Christian 
Remembrancer. I can well understand that some of the charges 
launched against me by those publications will tell heavily to my 
prejudice in the minds of most readers- but this must be borne ; 
and for my part, I can suffer no accusation to oppress me much 
which is not supported by the inward evidence of conscience and 


' Extremes meet/ says the proverb ; in proof wnereof I would 
mention that Miss Martineau finds with Villette nearly the same 
fault as the Puseyites. She accuses me with attacking popery 
'with virulence, 5 of going out of my way to assault it 'passion- 
ately/ In other respects she has shown with reference to the 
work a spirit so strangely and unexpectedly acrimonious, that 
I have gathered courage to tell her that the gulf of mutual 
difference between her and me is so wide and deep, the bridge of 
union so slight and uncertain, I have come to the conclusion that 
frequent intercourse would be most perilous and unadvisable, and 
have begged to adjourn sine die my long projected visit to her. 
Of course she is now very angry, and I know her bitterness will 
not be short-lived but it cannot be helped. 

Two or three weeks since I received a long and kind letter 
from Mr. White, which I answered a short time ago. I believe 
Mr. White thinks me a much hotter advocate for change and 
what is called political progress ' than I am. However, in my 
reply, I did not touch on these subjects. He intimated a wish to 
publish some of his own MSS. I fear he would hardly like the 
somewhat dissuasive tendency of my answer ; but really, in these 
days of headlong competition, it is a great risk to publish. If all 
be well, I purpose going to Manchester next week to spend a few 
days with Mrs. Gaskell. Ellen's visit to Yarmouth seems for the 
present given up ; and really, all things considered, I think the 
circumstance is scarcely to be regretted. 

Do you not think, my dear Miss Wooler, that you could come 
to Haworth before you go to the coast? I am afraid that when 
you once get settled at the seaside your stay will not be brief. 
I must repeat that a visit from you would be anticipated with 
pleasure, not only by me, but by every inmate of Haworth 
Parsonage. Papa has given me a general commission to send 
his respects to you whenever I write accept them, therefore, and 
Believe me, yours affectionately and sincerely, 


Letter 627 


MY DEAR SIR, Were a review to appear, inspired with treble 
their animus, pray do not withhold it from me. I like to see the 
satisfactory notices especially I like to carry them to my father 


but I must see such as are ^satisfactory and hostile ; these 
are for my own especial edification ; it is in these I best read 
public feeling" and opinion. To shun examination into the 
dangerous and disagreeable seems to me cowardly. I long 
always to know what really zV, and am only unnerved when kept 
in the dark. . . . 

The note you sent this morning from Lady Harriet St. Clair 1 
is precisely to the same purport as Miss Mulock's 2 request an 
application for exact and authentic information respecting the 
fate of M. Paul Emanuel ! You see how much the ladies think 
of this little man, whom you none of you like. I had a letter the 
other day announcing that a lady of some note, who had always 
determined that whenever she married her husband should be 
the counterpart of ' Mr. Knightley ' in Miss Austen's Emma> had 
now changed her mind, and vowed that she would either find the 
duplicate of Professor Emanuel or remain for ever single! I 
have sent Lady Harriet an answer so worded as to leave the 
matter pretty much where it was. Since the little puzzle amuses 
the ladies, it would be a pity to spoil their sport by giving them 
the key. 

Letter 628 


HAWORTH, April 14^, 1853. 

MY DEAR MRS. GASKELL, Would it suit you if I were to come 
next Thursday, the 2ist? 

If that day tallies with your convenience, and if my father 
continues as well as he is now, I know of no engagement on 
my part which need compel me longer to defer the pleasure of 
seeing you. 

I should arrive by the train which reaches Manchester at 
7 o'clock P.M. That, I think, would be about your tea-time, and, 
of course, I should dine before leaving home. I always like 
evening for an arrival ; it seems more cosy and pleasant than 
coming in about the busy middle of the day. I think if I stay 

1 Lady Harriet Elizabeth, daughter of the third Earl of Rosslyn, and sister of the 
poet. She married Count Miinster, German Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, 
and died in 1867. 

2 Dinah Maria Mulock, Mrs. Craik (1826-1887), author of John Halifax? Gentleman. 


a week that will be a very long visit ; it will give you time to get 
well tired of me. 

Remember me very kindly to Mr. Gaskell and Marianne. As 
to Mesdames Flossy and Julia, those venerable ladies are requested 
beforehand to make due allowance for the awe with which they 
will be sure to impress a diffident admirer. I am sorry I shall 
not see Meta. Believe me my dear Mrs. Gaskell, yours 
affectionately and sincerely C. BRONTE. 




THE friendship of Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Bronte 
was destined to be brief, but it seems to have been of the 
most genuine character. Never, anywhere, do we find a 
single jarring note. Mrs. Gaskell gave a whole-hearted 
admiration to the novels of her friend, and Miss Bronte 
keenly enjoyed Mary Barton, Cranford, and Ruth, the 
three important books by Mrs. Gaskell that were written 
before Charlotte Bronte's death. Mrs. Gaskell has of 
late obtained a far greater reputation in literature than 
could have been anticipated by her contemporaries, 1 and 
it is pleasant to be able to bind together the two names 
in this correspondence. The house at Plymouth Grove, in 
a suburb of Manchester, stands to-day very much as it did 
when Miss Bronte visited it, and indeed is still occupied 
by two daughters of Mrs. Gaskell, whose devotion to their 
mother's memory is very beautiful. 

Letter 629 


HAWORTH, Jprti i8/^, '53. 

DEAR ELLEN, It seems they are in great trouble again at 
Hunsworth ; I have had two or three notes from Amelia giving 
sad accounts of little Tim. Do you know anything certain on the 
subject? Amelia's communications as usual seem a good deal 

1 One complete edition of her Works > edited by Dr. A. W. Ward, was issued in 1906 
by Smith, Elder & Co.; and another, published by Henry Frowde in the s World's 
Classics,' is in progress. 


coloured by alarm, natural enough no doubt under the circum- 
stances, but still involving inconsistencies of statement which 
leave one somewhat in the dark. Symptoms seern attributed to 
the poor child which would indicate scarlet fever, brain fever, and 
croup all in one. The parents watch all night, the doctor stays 
till 12 o'clock. Still I hope Tim will get through it. 

You seem quite gay at Brookroyd. I hope you continue well 
and hearty through all your visiting, and indeed, I think the variety 
quite advisable, provided you keep duly on your guard against 
the night-air. 

If all be well, I think of going to Manchester about the close of 
this week I only intend staying a few days, but I can say 
nothing about coming back by way of Brookroyd. Do not expect 
me ; I would rather see you at Haworth by-and-by. 

Two or three weeks since Miss Martineau wrote to ask why 
she did not hear from me, and to press me to go to Ambleside. 
Explanations ensued, the notes on each side were quite civil, but 
having deliberately formed my resolution on substantial grounds, 
I adhered to it. I have declined being her visitor, and bid her 
good-bye. Of course some bitterness remains in her heart. It is 
best so, however ; the antagonism of our natures and principles 
was too serious a thing to be trifled with. 

I have no news for you : things at Haworth are as they were. 
Remember me kindly to all at Brookroyd, and believe me, yours 
faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Mr. M. did not come ; and if he had, the subject you mention 
would not have been touched on. Papa alludes to it to nobody ; 
he calls it c degrading* and would not have it hinted at or known. 
This circumstance serves as a tolerably pointed illustration of his 
painful way of viewing the matter. 

Mrs. Gaskell's address is Plymouth Grove, Manchester. 

Letter 630 


MANCHESTER, April zyd, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, I came here yesterday, and found your letter. 
There is something in its tone which makes me apprehend that 
you are rather low spirited, so that I shall manage to do as you 

jrvnt a. 

cfa trick- zSranwell 

frcm a me& 


wish and return by Birstall. I expect to leave here next 
Thursday, and return home on Saturday, but I will write again, 
D.V., before Thursday. 

I only scratch this hasty line now to give you an idea of my 
movements. With kind regards to all at Brookroyd, and best 
birthday wishes to yourself, I am, dear Ellen, yours faithfully, 


Mrs. Gaskell thus records her Impression of this visit : 

She came, at the close of April, to visit us in Manchester. We 
had a friend, a young lady, staying with us. Miss Mrs 
Bronte had expected to find us alone ; and although our GaskeiTs 
friend was gentle and sensible after Miss Bronte's own Narrative. 
heart, yet her presence was enough to create a nervous tremor. 
I was aware that both of our guests were unusually silent ; and I 
saw a little shiver run from time to time over Miss Bronte's frame. 
I could account for the modest reserve of the young lady ; and 
the next day Miss Bronte told me how the unexpected sight of a 
strange face had affected her. 

It was now two or three years since I had witnessed a similar 
effect produced on her, in anticipation of a quiet evening at Fox 
How ; and since then she had seen many and various people in 
London : but the physical sensations produced by shyness were 
still the same ; and on the following day she laboured under 
severe headache. I had several opportunities of perceiving how 
this nervousness was Ingrained in her constitution, and how 
acutely she suffered in striving to overcome it. One evening we 
had, among other guests, two sisters who sang Scottish ballads 
exquisitely. Miss Bronte had been sitting quiet and constrained till 
they began c The Bonnie House of Airlie/ but the effect of that and 
< Carlisle Yetts,' which followed, was as irresistible as the playing 
of the Piper of Hamelin. The beautiful clear light came Into her 
eyes ; her lips quivered with emotion ; she forgot herself, rose, and 
crossed the room to the piano, where she asked eagerly for song 
after song. The sisters begged her to come and see them the 
next morning, when they would sing as long as ever she liked ; 
and she promised gladly and thankfully. But on reaching the 
house her courage failed. We walked some time up and down 
the street ; she upbraiding herself all the while for folly, and 
trying to dwell on the sweet echoes In her memory rather than 
on the thought of a third sister who would have to be faced if we 

VOX,, H. X 


went in. But it was of no use ; and dreading lest this struggle 
with herself might bring on one of her trying headaches, I entered 
at last and made the best apology I could for her non-appearance. 
Much of this nervous dread of encountering strangers I ascribed 
to the idea of her personal ugliness, which had been strongly 
impressed upon her imagination early in life, and which she ex- 
aggerated to herself in a remarkable manner. * I notice/ said 
she, f that after a stranger has once looked at my face he is careful 
not to let his eyes wander to that part of the room again ! ' A 
more untrue idea never entered into any one's head. Two 
gentlemen who saw her during this visit, without knowing at the 
time who she was, were singularly attracted by her appearance ; 
and this feeling of attraction towards a pleasant countenance, 
sweet voice, and gentle timid manners was so strong in one as to 
conquer a dislike he had previously entertained to her works. 

There was another circumstance that came to my knowledge 
at this period which told secrets about the finely strung frame. 
One night I was on the point of relating some dismal ghost story, 
just before bedtime. She shrank from hearing it, and confessed 
that she was superstitious, and prone at all times to the involun- 
tary recurrence of any thoughts of ominous gloom which might 
have been suggested to her. She said that on first coming to us 
she had found a letter on her dressing-table from a friend In 
Yorkshire, containing a story which had impressed her vividly 
ever since that it mingled with her dreams at night and made 
her sleep restless and unrefreshing. 

One day we asked two gentlemen to meet her at dinner, expect- 
ing that she and they would have a mutual pleasure in making 
each other's aquaintance. To our disappointment she drew back 
with timid reserve from all their advances, replying to their ques- 
tions and remarks in the briefest manner possible, till at last they 
gave up their efforts to draw her into conversation in despair, and 
talked to each other and my husband on subjects of recent local 
interest Among these Thackeray's Lectures (which had lately 
been delivered in Manchester) were spoken of, and that on Fielding 
especially dwelt upon. One gentleman objected to it strongly 
as calculated to do moral harm, and regretted that a man 
having so great an influence over the tone of thought of the day 
as Thackeray should not more carefully weigh his words. The 
other took the opposite view. He said that Thackeray described 
men from the inside, as it were ; through his strong power of 


dramatic sympathy he identified himself with certain characters, 
felt their temptations, entered into their pleasures, etc. This 
roused Miss Bronte, who threw herself warmly into the discussion; 
the ice of her reserve was broken, and from that time she showed 
her interest in all that was said, and contributed her share to any 
conversation that was going on in the course of the evening. 1 

Letter 631 


April 26th, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, I hope to reach Birstall on Thursday at 5 
o'clock, if all be well, and stay till Saturday or Monday, as we 
shall decide when we meet I have had a very pleasant visit 
here, but we can chat about it anon. I have only just time to 
pen this notification. Kind regards. I am, yours faithfully, 


Letter 632 


May r6/>fc, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, Habituated by this time to Mrs. Upjohn's 
fluctuations, I received the news of this fresh put off without 
the slightest sentiment of wonder. Indeed, I keep all my powers 
of surprise for the intelligence that you are safely arrived at 
Gorleston, and still more for the desired but very moderately 
expected tidings that you are happy there. 

The east winds about which you inquire have spared me 
wonderfully till to-day, when I feel somewhat sick physically, 
and not very blithe mentally. I am not sure that the east winds 
are entirely to blame for this ailment Yesterday was a strange 
sort of a day at church. It seems as if I were to be punished for my 
doubts about the nature and truth of poor Mr. Nicholls's regard. 
Having ventured on Whit-Sunday to stop to the sacrament, I got 
a lesson not to be repeated. He struggled, faltered, then lost 
command over himself, stood before my eyes and in the sight of 
all the communicants, white, shaking, voiceless. Papa was not 
there, thank God ! Joseph Redman spoke some words to him. 
He made a great effort, but could only with difficulty whisper and 

1 life of Charlotte Bronte, Haworth edition, pp. 607-9. 


falter through the service. I suppose he thought this would be 
the last time ; he goes either this week or the next. I heard the 
women sobbing round, and I could not quite check my own tears. 
What had happened was reported to papa either by Joseph 
Redman or John Brown ; it excited only anger, and such expres- 
sions as 'unmanly driveller.' Compassion or relenting is no 
more to be looked for than sap from firewood. 

I never saw a battle more sternly fought with the feelings than 
Mr. Nicholls fights with his, and when he yields momentarily, you 
are almost sickened by the sense of the strain upon him. However 
he is to go, and I cannot speak to him or look at him or comfort 
him a whit, and I must submit. Providence is over all, that is 
the only consolation. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 633 


HAWORTH, May igth, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, It is almost a relief to hear that you only think 
of staying at Yarmouth a month, though of course one must not 
be selfish in wishing you to come home soon, and you will be 
guided m vour final decision bv the state of things as you find it 
at Mrs. Upjohn's. There cannot, I think, be any disappointment 
in the business. I really do hope causes may be discovered of 
agreeable surprise. At any rate for a month you surely may be 
made comfortable, unless the house be really haunted, as Mr. 
Clapham supposed. 

You do not mention how you got on on Whit-Tuesday. Tell 
me when you write again. 

I cannot help feeling a certain satisfaction in finding that the 
people here are getting up a subscription to offer a testimonial of 
respect to Mr. Nicholls on his leaving the place. 1 Many are 
expressing both their commiseration and esteem for him. The 
Churchwardens recently put the question to him plainly. Why 
was he going? Was it Mr. Bronte's fault or his own ? * His own/ 
he answered. Did he blame Mr. Bronte? c No! he did not: if 

1 It took the form of a gold watch, which Mr. Nicholls showed me with natural 
pride, forty years later, while walking over his farm at Banagher. The following inscrip- 
tion was engraved upon it : 'Presented to the Rev. A. B. Nicholls, B.A., by the 
teachers, scholars, and congregation of St. Michael's, Haworth, Yorkshire, May 25, 


anybody was wrong it was himself.' Was he willing to go ? ' No ! 
it gave him great pain.' Yet he is not always right. I must be 
just. He shows a curious mixture of honour and obstinacy; 
feeling and sullenness. Papa addressed him at the school tea- 
drinking, with constrained civility, but still with civility. He did 
not reply civilly ; he cut short further words. This sort of treat- 
ment offered in public is what papa never will forget or forgive 
it inspires him with a silent bitterness not to be expressed. I am 
afraid both are unchristian in their mutual feelings. Nor do I 
know which of them is least accessible to reason or least likely to 
forgive. It is a dismal state of things. 

The weather is fine now, dear Nell. We will take these sunny 
days as a good omen for your visit to Yarmouth. With kind 
regards to all at Brookroyd, and best wishes to yourself. I am, 
yours sincerely, C BRONTE. 

If you have time before you go, I wish you would get me I Ib. 
of plain biscuits like those you had at Brookroyd, and \ Ib. of 
invalid biscuits, and send them per rail. I can pay for them in 
postage stamps. They are things I cannot get here, nor good, at 

Letter 634 


HAWORTH, May , 1853. 

The Lectures arrived safely ; I have read them through twice. 
They must be studied to be appreciated. I thought well of them 
when I heard them delivered, but now I see their real power, and 
it is great. The lecture on Swift was new to me ; I thought it 
almost matchless. Not that by any means I always agree with 
Mr. Thackeray's opinions, but his force, his penetration, his pithy 
simplicity, his eloquence his manly, sonorous eloquence 
command entire admiration. . . . Against his errors I protest, 
were it treason to do so. I was present at the Fielding lecture: 
the hour spent in listening to it was a painful hour. That 
Thackeray was wrong in his way of treating Fielding's character 
and vices my conscience told me. After reading that lecture I 
trebly felt that he was wrong dangerously wrong. Had 
Thackeray owned a son, grown or growing up, and a son brilliant 
but reckless would he have spoken in that light way of courses 


that lead to disgrace and the grave? He speaks of it all as if he 
theorised ; as if he had never been called on, in the course of his 
life, to witness the actual consequences of such failings ; as if he 
had never stood by and seen the issue, the final result of it all 
I believe, if only once the prospect of a promising life blasted at 
the outset by wild ways had passed close under his eyes, he never 
could have spoken with such levity of what led to its piteous 
destruction. Had I a brother yet living, I should tremble to let 
him read Thackeray's lecture on Fielding. I should hide it away 
from him. If, in spite of precaution, it should fall into his hands, 
I should earnestly pray him not to be misled by the voice of the 
charmer, let him charm never so wisely. Not that for a moment 
I would have had Thackeray to abuse Fielding, or even pharisai- 
cally to condemn his life ; but I do most deeply grieve that it 
never entered into his heart sadly and nearly to feel the peril of 
such a career, that he might have dedicated some of his great 
strength to a potent warning against its adoption by any young 
man. I believe temptation often assails the finest manly natures, 
as the pecking sparrow or destructive wasp attacks the sweetest 
and mellowest fruit, eschewing what is sour and crude. The true 
lover of his race ought to devote his vigour to guard and protect ; 
he should sweep away every lure with a kind of rage at its 
treachery. You will think this far too serious, I dare say ; but 
the subject is serious, and one cannot help feeling upon it 
earnestly. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 635 


HAWORTH, May 27^, 1853 

DEAR ELLEN, I was right glad to get your letter this morn- 
ing and to find that you really were safely arrived at last. How 
strange it seems though that there should have been a sort of mis- 
calculation up to the very last ! I am afraid you would feel a little 
damped on your arrival to find Mrs. Upjohn from home. How- 
ever, I do think it is well you are gone, the experiment was worth 
trying, and according to present appearances really promises 
very fairly. If tempers, etc., are only right, there seem to be many 
other appliances and means for enjoyment. I do not much like 
to hear of that supposed affection of the brain. If there be any 
thing wrong there, it is to be feared that with time it will rather 


increase than diminish ; however let us hope for the best. I trust 
Mr. Upjohn may prove a pleasant, well-informed companion. 

The biscuits came all right, but I believe you have sent about 
twice the quantity I ordered. You must tell me how much they 
cost, dear Nell, or I shall never be able to ask you to render me a 
similar service again. 

I send by this post the Examiner and French paper. I suppose 
I had better suppress the Leader while you are at Gorleston. I 
don't think it would suit Mr. Upjohn. 

You will want to know about the leave-taking ; the whole matter 
is but a painful subject, but I must treat it briefly. The testi- 
monial was presented in a public meeting. Mr. T. and Mr. Grant 
were there. Papa was not very well and I advised him to stay 
away, which he did. As to the last Sunday, it was a cruel 
struggle. Mr. Nicholls ought not to have had to take any duty. 

He left Haworth this morning at 6 o'clock, Yesterday evening 
he called to render into papa's hands the deeds of the National 
School, and to say good-bye. They were busy cleaning, washing 
the paint, etc., in the dining-room, so he did not find me there. I 
would not go into the parlour to speak to him in papa's presence. 
He went out thinking he was not to see me, and indeed, till the 
very last moment, I thought it best not. But perceiving that he 
stayed long before going out at the gate, and remembering his 
long grief, I took courage and went out trembling and miserable. 
I found him leaning against the garden door in a paroxysm of 
anguish, sobbing as women never sob. Of course I went straight 
to him. Very few words were interchanged, those few barely 
articulate. Several things I should have liked to ask him were 
swept entirely from my memory. Poor fellow ! But he wanted 
such hope and such encouragement as I could not give him. Still 
I trust he must know now that I am not cruelly blind and indif- 
ferent to his constancy and grief. For a few weeks he goes to 
the South of England, afterwards he takes a curacy somewhere in 
Yorkshire, but I don't know where. 

Papa has been far from strong lately. I dare not mention Mr. 
Nicholls's name to him. He speaks of him quietly and without 
opprobrium to others, but to me he is implacable on the matter. 
However, he is gone gone and there 's an end of it I see no 
chance of hearing a word about him in. future, unless some stray 
shred of intelligence comes through Mr. Sowden or some other 
second-hand source. In all this it is not I who am to be pitied at 


all, and of course nobody pities me. They all think, in Haworth, 
that I have disdainfully refused him, etc. If pity would do Mr. 
Nicholls any good, he ought to have and I believe has it. They 
may abuse me if they will ; whether they do or not I can't tell. 

Write soon and say how your prospects proceed. I trust they 
will daily brighten. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 636 


HAWORTH, May iBM, 1853. 

MY DEAR SIR, The box of books arrived safely yesterday 
evening, and I feel especially obliged for the selection, as it in- 
cludes several that will be acceptable and interesting to my 

I despatch to-day a box of return books. Among them will be 
found two or three of those just sent, being such as I had read 
before i.e. Moore's Life and Correspondence^ ist and 2nd vols. ; 
Lamartine's Restoration of the Monarchy, etc. I have thought of 
you more than once during the late bright weather, knowing how 
genial you find warmth and sunshine. I trust it has brought this 
season its usual cheering and beneficial effect. Remember me 
kindly to Mrs. Williams and her daughters, and Believe me, 
yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 637 


HAWORTH, June isf, 1853. 

DEAR MRS. GASKELL, June is come, and now I want to 
know if you can come on Thursday, the pth inst. 

Ever since I was at Manchester I have been anticipating your 
visit. Not that I attempt to justify myself in asking you ; the 
place has no attractions, as I told you, here in this house. Papa 
too takes great interest in the matter. I only pray that the 
weather may be fine, and that a cold, by which I am now 
stupefied, may be gone before the gth, so that I may have no let 
and hindrance in taking you on to the moors the sole, but, 
with one who loves nature as you do, not despicable, resource. 

When you take leave of the domestic circle and turn your back 


on Plymouth Grove to come to Haworth, you must do It in the 
spirit which might sustain you in case you were setting out on 
a brief trip to the backwoods of America. Leaving behind your 
husband, children, and civilisation, you must come out to 
barbarism, loneliness, and liberty. The change will perhaps do 
good, if not too prolonged. . . . Please, when you write, to 
mention by what train you will come, and at what hour you will 
arrive at Keighley ; for I must take measures to have a convey- 
ance waiting for you at the station ; otherwise, as there is no 
cab-stand, you might be inconvenienced and hindered. 


Letter 638 


June 6//z, '53. 

DEAR ELLEN, At present, I will comment on nothing you 
have told me. I am so unlucky as to have got a very bad influenza 
cold, and to-day I am so miserably sick, I cannot bear out of bed. 
Write to me again when you get to your Brother's. Yours faith- 
fully, C. BRONTE. 

Mrs. Gaskell has written to say she will come on Thursday and 
stay till Monday. Unless I alter very much and very rapidly, I 
shall be constrained to send her back word not to come. 

Letter 639 


June i-$th, 1853. 

DEAR ELLEN, You must still excuse a few scant lines. I 
have been suffering most severely for ten days with continued 
pain in the head, on the nerves it is said to be ; blistering at last 
seems to have done it some good, but I am yet weak and bewil- 
dered. Of course I could not receive Mrs. Gaskell ; it was a great 
disappointment. I now long to be better, to get her visit over if 
possible, and then to ask you ; but I must wait awhile yet. Papa 
has not been well either, but I hope he is better now. You have 
had a hard time of it and some rough experience. Good-bye for 
the present I wish much to talk with you about these strange, 
unhappy people at G . Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 


Letter 640 


June \t>th, '53. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am better now. As usual the reduction of 
strength was rapid, and the convalescence equally so. The very 
dreadful pain in my head is almost gone, and so is the influenza. 
Papa too is better, but I was frightened about him, not 
that he has in the least lost appetite, or thought himself ill, 
but the eyes, etc., betrayed those symptoms that fill me with 

I have written to Mrs. Gaskell to ask her for next week ; when I 
get her answer I will tell you what is its purport, and your coming 
can be arranged accordingly. 

I am glad, dear Nell, you are having a little enjoyment. Stay 
at Oundle, if you can, till you hear from me again. You had 
better come direct here if we can arrange it ; we shall see. Yours 
faithfully, ' C. BRONTE. 

Letter 641 


June 20//&, '53. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have been very much vexed to find that 
Martha forgot to post my letter of Saturday till too late, conse- 
quently as we have no post on Sunday it will not reach you till 
to-day at the earliest. I now write a line to tell you to be sure 
and arrange your departure from Oundle according to your own 
convenience. My health has nothing to do with the question, as 
I am now about in my usual condition, only thin, as I always am 
after illness. Be sure, however, to let me know the time of your 
arrival that I may arrange to send for you. 

I do trust it may be fine healthy weather while you are here. 
The enclosed is from Amelia to you. I have not read it, though 
it was sent to me open. It takes two posts from O. to Haworth. 

I shall expect you by next Thursday. Yours faithfully, 


I trust you will get through your journey all right. 


Letter 642 


July gth, 1853. 

Thank you for your letter ; it was as pleasant as a quiet chat, 
as welcome as spring showers, as reviving as a friend's visit ; in 
short, it was very like a page of Cranford. ... A thought strikes 
me. Do you, who have so many friends so large a circle of 
acquaintance find it easy, when you sit down to write, to isolate 
yourself from all those ties, and their sweet associations, so as to 
be your own woman, uninfluenced or swayed by the consciousness 
of how your work may affect other minds ; what blame or what, 
sympathy it may call forth? Does no luminous cloud ever come 
between you and the severe Truth, as you know it in your own 
secret and clear-seeing soul ? In a word, are you never tempted 
to make your characters more amiable than the Life, by the 
inclination to assimilate your thoughts to the thoughts of those 
who always // kindly, but sometimes fail to see justly? Don't 
answer the question ; it is not intended to be answered. . . . 
Your account of Mrs. Stowe was stimulatingly interesting. I long 
to see you, to get you to say it, and many other things, all over 
again. My father continues better. I am better too ; but to-day 
I have a headache again, which will hardly let me write co- 
herently. Give my dear love to Meta and Marianne, dear happy 
girls as they are. You cannot now transmit my message to 
Flossy and Julia. I prized the little wild-flower not that I 
think the sender cares for me ; she does not, and cannot^ for she 
does not know me ; but no matter. In my reminiscences she is 
a person of a certain distinction. I think hers a fine little nature, 
frank and of genuine promise. I often see her, as she appeared, 
stepping supreme from the portico towards the carnage, that 
evening we went to see Twelfth Night. I believe in Julia's 
future ; I like what speaks in her movements, and what is written 
upon her face. Yours very gratefully, C. BRONTE. 

The review which seemed to affect Miss Bronte most of 
all was one in The Christian Remembrancer of April 1853, 
in which the author of Villette was described as c having 
gained both in amiability and propriety since she first 
presented herself to the world soured, coarse, and 


grumbling; an alien, it might seem, from society, and 
amenable to none of its laws/ Dr. Robertson Nicoll 
has unearthed a protest from Charlotte Bronte to the 
editor of The Christian Remembrancer, in which the author 
of Villette resents the suggestion of her critic that she is 
an alien from society. 1 

Letter 643 


&, 1853. 

SIR, To him I would say that no cause of seclusion such as 
he would imply has ever come near my thoughts, deeds, or life. 
It has not entered my experience. It has not crossed my 

Providence so regulated my destiny that I was born and have 
been reared in the seclusion of a country parsonage. I have 
never been rich enough to go out into the world as a participator 
in its gaieties, though it early became my duty to leave home, in 
order partly to diminish the many calls on a limited income. 
That income is lightened of claims in another sense now, for of 
a family of six I am the only survivor. 

My father is now in his seventy-seventh year ; his mind is 
clear as it ever was, and he is not infirm, but he suffers from 
partial privation and threatened loss of sight; and his general 
health is also delicate he cannot be left often or long : my place 
consequently is at home. These are reasons which make retire- 
ment a plain duty ; but were no such reasons In existence, were 
I bound by no such ties, it is very possible that seclusion might 
still appear to me, on the whole, more congenial than publicity; 
the brief and rare glimpses I have had of the world do not incline 
me to think I should seek its circles with very keen zest nor can 
I consider such disinclination a just subject for reproach. 

This is the truth. The careless, rather than malevolent 
insinuations of reviewers have, it seems, widely spread another 
impression. It would be weak to complain, but I feel that it is 
only right to place the real in opposition to the unreal. 

Will you kindly show this note to my reviewer ? Perhaps he 
1 The Bookman, November 1899. 


cannot now find an antidote for the poison into which he dipped 
that shaft he shot at ' Currer Bell,' but when again tempted to 
take aim at other prey, let him refrain his hand a moment till he 
has considered consequences to the wounded, and recalled the 
* golden rule/ CURRER BELL. 

It was fated that the two reviews of her work which 
most offended Miss Bronte should have been written by 
women the Quarterly Review article by Miss Rigby, 
and, as I also learn from Dr. Nicoll, The Christian 
Remembrancer article by Miss Anne Mozley. 

Letter 644 


HAWORTH, August yzth, 1853. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, I was from home when your kind 
letter came, and as it was not forwarded, I did not get it till rny 
return. All the summer I have felt the wish and cherished the 
intention to join you for a brief period at the seaside ; nor do I 
yet entirely relinquish the purpose, though its fulfilment must 
depend on my father's health. At present he complains so much 
of weakness and depressed spirits, no thoughts of leaving him can 
be entertained. Should he improve, however, I would fain come 
to you before autumn is quite gone. 

My late absence was but for a week, when I accompanied Mr. 
and Mrs. Taylor on a trip to Scotland. They went with the 
intention of taking up their quarters at Kirkcudbright, or some 
watering-place on the Solway Frith. We barely reached that 
locality, and stayed but one night, when the baby (that rather 
despotic member of modern households) exhibited some symp- 
toms of indisposition. To my unskilled perception its ailments 
appeared very slight, nowise interfering with its appetite or spirits, 
but parental eyes saw the matter in a different light ; the air of 
Scotland was pronounced unpropitious to the child, and conse- 
quently we had to retrace our steps. I own to have felt some 
little reluctance to leave 'bonnie Scotland' so soon and so 
abruptly, but of course I could not say a word, since, however 
strong on my own mind the impression that the ailment m ques- 
tion was very trivial and temporary (an impression confirmed by 


the issue), I could not be absolutely certain that such was the 
case, and had any evil consequences followed a prolonged stay, I 
should never have forgiven myself. 

Ilkley was the next place thought of. We went there, but I 
only remained three days, for in the hurry of changing trains at 
one of the stations, my box was lost, and without clothes I could 
not stay. I have heard of it since, but I have not yet regained it. 
In all probability it is now lying at Kirkcudbright, where it was 

Notwithstanding some minor trials, I greatly enjoyed this little 
excursion ; the scenery through which we travelled from Dumfries 
to Kirkcudbright (a distance of thirty miles performed outside a 
stage-coach), was beautiful, though not all of a peculiarly Scottish 
character, being richly cultivated, and well wooded. I liked 
Ilkley too, exceedingly, and shall long to revisit the place. On 
the whole, I thought it for the best that circumstances obliged me 
to return home so soon, for I found papa far from well ; he is 
something better now, yet I shall not feel it right to leave him 
again till I see a more thorough re-establishment of health and 

With some things to regret and smile at, I saw many things to 
admire in the small family party with which I travelled. Mr. 
Taylor makes a most devoted father and husband. I admired 
his great kindness to his wife. But I rather groaned (inwardly) 
over the unbounded indulgence of both parents towards their only 
child. The world revolves round the sun ; certain babies, I 
plainly perceive, are the more important centre of all things. 
The papa and mamma could only take their meals, rest and exer- 
cise at such times and in such measure as the despotic infant 
permitted, While Mrs. Taylor ate her dinner, Mr. Taylor relieved 
guard as nurse. A nominal nurse indeed accompanied the party, 
but her place was a sort of anxious waiting sinecure, as the child 
did not fancy her attendance. Tenderness to offspring is a virtue, 
yet I think I have seen mothers the late Mrs. Atkinson for in- 
stance who were most tender and thoughtful, yet, in very love 
for their children, would not permit them to become tyrants 
either over themselves or others. 

I shall be glad and grateful, my dear Miss Wooler, to hear 
from you again whenever you have time or inclination to write, 
though, as I told you before, there is no fear of my misunder- 
standing silence, 


Should you leave Hornsea before winter sets in, I trust you will 
just come straight to Haworth, and pay your long-anticipated 
visit there before you go elsewhere. 

Papa and the servants send their respects. I always duly 
deliver your kind messages of remembrance because they give 
pleasure. Believe me always, yours affectionately and respect- 
fully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 645 


September , 1853. 

DEAR MRS. GASKELL, I was glad to get your little note, glad 
to hear you were at home again. Not that, practically, it makes 
much difference to me whether you are in Normandy or Man- 
chester : the shorter distance separates perhaps as effectually as 
the longer, yet there is a mental comfort in thinking that but 
thirty miles intervene. 

Come to Haworth as soon as you can; the heath is in bloom 
now ; I have waited and watched for its purple signal as the fore- 
runner of your coming. It will not be quite faded before the 
i6th, but after that it will soon grow sere. Be sure to mention 
the day and hour of your arrival at Keighley. 

My father has passed the summer, not well, yet better than I 
expected. His chief complaint is of weakness and depressed 
spirits ; the prospect of your visit still affords him pleasure. I 
am surprised to see how he looks forward to it. My own health 
has been much better lately. 

I suppose that Meta is ere this returned to school again. This 
summer's tour will no doubt furnish a lifelong remembrance of 
pleasure to her and Marianne. Great would be the joy of the 
little ones at seeing you all home again. 

I saw in the papers the death of Mr. S., of scarlet fever, at his 
residence in Wales. Was it not there you left Flossy and Julia? 
This thought recurred to me, with some chilling fears of what 
might happen ; but I trust that all is safe now. How is poor 
Mrs. S. ? 

Remember me very, very kindly to Mr. Gaskell and the whole 
circle. Write when you have time ; come at the earliest day, and 
believe me yours very truthfully, C BRONTE. 


Letter 646 


HAWORTH, September %th. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, Your letter was truly kind and made 
me warmly wish to join you. My prospects, however, of being 
able to leave home continue very unsettled. I am expect- 
ing Mrs. Gaskell next week or the week after, the day being 
yet undetermined. She was to have come in June, but then my 
severe attack of influenza rendered it impossible that I should 
receive or entertain her ; since that time she has been absent on 
the Continent with her husband and two eldest girls, and just 
before I received yours I had a letter from her volunteering a 
visit at a vague date, which I requested her to fix as soon as 
possible. My father has been much better during the last three 
or four days. 

When I know anything certain I will write to you again. 
Believe me, my dear Miss Wooler, yours respectfully and affec- 
tionately, C, BRONTE. 

Mrs. Gaskell thus describes her visit in a letter written 
from Haworth at the time and afterwards published in her 
biography of Charlotte Bronte: 

Letter 647 


It was a dull, drizzly, Indian-inky day all the way on the rail- 
road to Keighley, which is a rising wool-manufacturing town, 
lying in a hollow between hills not a pretty hollow, but more 
what the Yorkshire people call a ' bottom/ or ' botham.' I left 
Keighley in a car for Haworth, four miles off four tough, steep, 
scrambling miles, the road winding between the wavelike hills that 
rose and fell on every side of the horizon, with a long, illimitable, 
sinuous look, as if they were a part of the line of the Great Serpent 
which the Norse legend says girdles the world. The day was 
lead-coloured ; the road had stone factories alongside of it ; grey, 
dull-coloured rows of stone cottages belonging to these factories ; 


and then we came to poor, hungry-looking fields stone fences 
everywhere, and trees nowhere. Haworth is a long, straggling 
village : one steep narrow street so steep that the flagstones 
with which it is paved are placed endways, that the horses' feet 
may have something to cling to, and not slip down backwards, 
which if they did they would soon reach Keighley. But if the 
horses had cats' feet and claws they would do all the better. Well, 
we (the man, horse, car, and I) clambered up this street, and reached 
the church dedicated to St. Autest (who was he?) ; then we turned 
off into a lane on the left, past the curate's lodging at the sexton's, 
past the schoolhouse, up to the Parsonage yard-door. I went 
round the house to the front door, looking to the church ; moors 
everywhere beyond and above. The crowded graveyard surrounds 
the house and small grass enclosure for drying clothes. 

I don't know that I ever saw a spot more exquisitely clean ; 
the most dainty place for that I ever saw. To be sure the life is 
like clockwork. No one comes to the house ; nothing disturbs 
the deep repose; hardly a voice is heard; you catch the ticking- 
of the clock in the kitchen, or the buzzing of a fly in the parlour, 
all over the house. Miss Bronte sits alone in her parlour, break- 
fasting with her father in his study at nine o'clock. She helps in 
the housework ; for one of their servants (Tabby) is nearly ninety, 
and the other only a girl. Then I accompanied her in her walks 
on the sweeping moors ; the heather bloom had been blighted by 
a thunderstorm a day or two before, and was all of a livid brown 
colour, instead of the blaze of purple glory it ought to have been. 
Oh ! those high, wild, desolate moors, up above the whole world, 
and the very realms of silence ! Home to dinner at two. Mr 
Bronte has his dinner sent in to him. All the small table arrange- 
ments had the same dainty simplicity about them. Then we 
rested, and talked over the clear bright fire ; it is a cold country, 
and the fires gave a pretty warm dancing light all over the house. 
The parlour has been evidently refurnished within the last few 
years, since Miss Bronte's success has enabled her to have a little 
more money to spend. Everything fits into, and is in harmony 
with, the idea of a country parsonage, possessed by people of very 
moderate means. The prevailing colour of the room is crimson, 
to make a warm setting for the cold grey landscape without 
There is her likeness by Richmond, and an engraving from Law- 
rence's picture of Thackeray ; and two recesses, on each side of 
the high, narrow, old-fashioned mantelpiece, filled with books 



books given to her, books she has bought, and which tell of her 
individual pursuits and tastes ; not standard books. 

She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way 
she weakened her eyesight was this : When she was sixteen or 
seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini- 
pimini copper- plate engravings out of annuals ('stippling' don't 
the artists call it ?), every little point put in, till at the end of six 
months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the 
engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. 
After she had tried to draw stones, and not succeeded, she took 
the better mode of writing, but in so small a hand that it is almost 
impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time. 

But now to return to our quiet hour of rest after dinner. I soon 
observed that her habits of order were such that she could not 
go on with the conversation if a chair was out of its place ; every- 
thing was arranged with delicate regularity. We talked over the 
old times of her childhood; of her elder sister's (Maria's) death 
just like that of Helen Burns in Jane Byre of the desire (almost 
amounting to illness) of expressing herself in some way, writing 
or drawing ; of her weakened eyesight, which prevented her doing 
anything for two years, from the age of seventeen to nineteen ; of 
her being a governess ; of her going to Brussels ; whereupon I 
said I disliked Lucy Snowe, and we discussed M. Paul Emanuel ; 

and I told her of 's admiration of Shirley ', which pleased her, 

for the character of Shirley was meant for her sister Emily, about 
whom she is never tired of talking, nor I of listening. Emily must 
have been a remnant of the Titans, great-granddaughter of the 
giants who used to inhabit the earth. One day Miss Bronte 
brought down a rough, common-looking oil painting, done by her 
brother, of herself a little rather prim-looking girl of eighteen 
and the two other sisters, girls of sixteen and fourteen, with 
cropped hair, and sad, dreamy-looking eyes. . . . Emily had a 
great dog half mastiff, half bulldog so savage, etc. . . . This 
dog went to her funeral, walking side by side with her father; 
and then, to the day of its death, it slept at her room door, 
snuffing under it, and whining every morning. 

We have generally had another walk before tea, which is at 
six ; at half-past eight prayers ; and by nine all the household 
are in bed, except ourselves. We sit up together till ten, or past; 
and after I go I hear Miss Bronte come down and walk up and 
down the room for an hour or so. E. C. GASKELL. 


Mrs. Gaskell thus continues in the Life her reminis- 
cences of that visit : 

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the de- 
scription given of its effects in Villette was so exactly Mrs 
like what I had experienced vivid and exaggerated GaskeiTs 
presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct Narrat * v e. 
or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied that she had never, to 
her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she 
had followed the process she always adopted when she had to 
describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience ; 
she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before 
falling to sleep wondering what it was like, or how it would be 
till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had 
been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the 
morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone 
through the experience, and then could describe it, word for 
word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psycholo- 
gically ; I only am sure that it was so because she said it. 

She made many inquiries as to Mrs. Stowe's personal appear- 
ance ; and it evidently harmonised well with some theory of hers 
to hear that the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin was small and slight 
It was another of her theories that no mixtures of blood produce 
such fine characters, mentally and morally, as the Scottish and 

I recollect, too, her saying how acutely she dreaded a charge of 
plagiarism when, after she had written Jane Eyre, she read the 
thrilling effect of the mysterious scream at midnight in Mrs. 
Marsh's story of The Deformed. She also said that, when she 
read The Neighbours, she thought every one would fancy that she 
must have taken her conception of Jane Eyre's character from 
that of ' Francesca/ the narrator of Miss Bremer's story. For my 
own part, I cannot see the slightest resemblance between the two 
characters, and so I told her ; but she persisted in saying that 
Francesca was Jane Eyre married to a good-natured *Bear r of 
a Swedish surgeon. 

We went, not purposely, but accidentally, to see various poor 
people in our distant walks. From one we had borrowed an 
umbrella ; in the house of another we had taken shelter from a 
rough September storm. In all these cottages her quiet presence 
was known. At three miles from her home the chair was dusted 


for her, with a kindly * Sit ye down, Miss Bronte' ; and she knew 
what absent or ailing members of the family to inquire after. Her 
quiet, gentle words, few though they might be, were evidently 
grateful to those Yorkshire ears. Their welcome to her, though 
rough and curt, was sincere* and hearty. 

We talked about the different courses through which life ran. 
She said in her own composed manner, as if she had accepted the 
theory as a fact, that she believed some were appointed before- 
hand to sorrow and much disappointment; that it did not fall to 
the lot of all as Scripture told us to have their lines fall in 
pleasant places ; that it was well for those who had rougher paths 
to perceive that such was God's will concerning them, and try to 
moderate their expectations, leaving hope to those of a different 
doom, and seeking patience and resignation as the virtues they 
were to cultivate, I took a different view : I thought that human 
lots were more equal than she imagined ; that to some happiness 
and sorrow came in strong patches of light and shadow (so to 
speak), while in the lives of others they were pretty equally 
blended throughout She smiled, and shook her head, and said 
she was trying to school herself against ever anticipating any 
pleasure ; that it was better to be brave and submit faithfully ; 
there was some good reason, which we should know in time, why 
sorrow and disappointment were to be the lot of some on earth. 
It was better to acknowledge this, and face out the truth in a 
religious faith. 

In connection with this conversation she named a little abortive 
plan which I had not heard of till then : how, in the previous 
July, she had been tempted to join some friends (a married couple 
and their child) in an excursion to Scotland. They set out joy- 
fully ; she with special gladness, for Scotland was a land which 
had its roots deep down in her imaginative affections, and the 
glimpse of two days at Edinburgh was all she had yet seen of it 
But, at the first stage after Carlisle, the little yearling child was 
taken with a slight indisposition; the anxious parents fancied 
that strange diet had disagreed with it, and hurried back to their 
Yorkshire home as eagerly as, two or three days before, they 
had set their faces northward in hopes of a month's pleasant 

We parted with many intentions, on both sides, of renewing 
very frequently the pleasure we had had in being together. We 
agreed that when she wanted bustle, or when I wanted quiet, we 


were to let each other know, and exchange visits as occasion 

I was aware that she had a great anxiety on her mind at this 
time; and being acquainted with its nature, I could not but 
deeply admire the patient docility which she displayed in her 
conduct towards her father. 




DURING these months Mr. Nicholls had not been for- 
gotten. He had left Ha worth, as we have seen, in May 
and had taken up duties at Kirk-Smeaton. 1 During the 
ensuing five or six months a Mr. De Renzi had assisted at 
Haworth. But Mr. Bronte missed the diligent care of his 
former curate, and was becoming restive, and doubtful 
perhaps if his passionate objection to his daughter's lover 
was altogether worldly-wise, not to say Christian. Thus 
matters stood when Charlotte returned home from visiting 
Manchester and her old schoolmistress at Hornsea. 

Letter 648 


HAWORTH, October Wi, 1853. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, I wished much to write to you 
immediately on my return home, but I found several little 
matters demanding attention, and have been kept busy till now. 
Mr. C could not come to preach the sermons, and conse- 
quently Mr. F was applied to in his stead; he arrived on 

Saturday and remained till yesterday. 

My journey home would have been pleasant enough had it not 
been spoilt in the commencement by one slight incident. About 
half-way between Hull and Hornsea, a respectable-looking woman 
and her little girl were admitted into the coach. The child took 
her place opposite me : she had not sat long before, without any 
warning, or the slightest complaint of nausea, sickness seized her, 

1 Six miles south-east of Pontefract. 


and the contents of her little stomach, consisting apparently 
of a milk breakfast, were unceremoniously deposited in my lap ! 
Of course I alighted from the coach in a pretty mess, but 
succeeded in procuring water and a towel at the station, with 
which I managed to make my dress and cloak once more 

I reached home about five o'clock in the afternoon, and the 
anxiety which is inseparable from a return after absence was 
pleasantly relieved by finding papa well and cheerful. He 
inquired after you with interest. I gave him your kind regards, 
and he specially charged me whenever I wrote to present his in 
return, and to say also that he hoped to see you at Haworth at 
the earliest date which shall be convenient to you. 

The week I spent at Hornsea was a happy and pleasant week. 
Thank you, my dear Miss Wooler, for the true kindness which 
gave It its chief charm. I shall think of you often, especially 
when I walk out, and during the long evenings. I believe the 
weather has at length taken a turn : to-day is beautifully fine. I 
wish I were at Hornsea and just now preparing to go out with 
you to walk on the sands or along the lake. 

I would not have you to fatigue yourself with writing to me 
when you are not inclined, but yet I should be glad to hear from 
you some day ere long. When you do write, tell me how you 
liked The Experience of Life^ and whether you have read The 
NewcomeS) and what you think of it. Believe me, always yours, 
with true affection and respect, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 649 


HAWORTH, Thursday Morning, 

DEAR ELLEN, I duly and safely reached home with my pur- 
chases at about 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon. I found papa, 
etc., very well. The maps, the carpet and rug, all gave satisfaction, 
the other purchases I kept from observation, but they will be 
appreciated I dare say when they appear in their proper time and 
place. I hope you also reached home all right, but I fear the 
fatigue you underwent will leave its effects to-day. It was not a 
very good preparation for the long walk to Scholes. 

Write to me soon and tell me how you are. I have some head- 


ache to-day, but not violent ; a general jaded, weary feeling was 
to be expected. With love to your mother and Mercy, and kind 
regards to Mr. Clapham. I am, dear Ellen, yours, fagged but 
faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 650 



DEAR ELLEN, I find I cannot have the gig till Friday ; on 
that day it shall (D.V.) be at the station at the hour you name, 
and then I hope it will bring you safe to me. The prospect of 
seeing you already cheers. 

One reason which I shall tell you when you come partly recon- 
ciles me to this temporary delay. If I do not hear anything to 
the contrary, I shall consider the matter settled. May no 
hindrance arise either here or at Brookroyd. Kind regards to all. 
Dear Nell, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 651 


December 6tk, 1853. 

MY DEAR SIR, I forwarded last week a box of return books to 
Cornhill, which I trust arrived safely. To-day I received the 
Edinburgh Guardian} for which I thank you. 

Do not trouble yourself to select or send any more books. 
These courtesies must cease some day, and I would rather give 
them up than wear them out, Believe me, yours sincerely, 


Letter 652 


HAWORTH, December iztti. 

MY DEAR Miss WOOLER, I wonder how you are spending these 
long winter evenings. Alone, probably, like me. The thought 

1 This article was by Sir John Skelton, K.C.B. (1831-1897), who, under the 
pseudonym of ' Shirley,' made a considerable reputation in literature. He was Chair- 
man of the Local Government Board for Scotland. 


often crosses me, as I sit by myself how pleasant It would be if 
you lived within a walking distance, and I could go to you some- 
times, or have you to come and spend a day and night with me. 
Yes; I did enjoy that week at Hornsea. I remember it with 
pleasure, and I look forward to spring as the period when you 
will fulfil your promise of coming to visit me. 

I fear you must be very solitary at Hornsea. How hard to 
some people of the world it would seem to live your life how 
utterly impossible to live it with a serene spirit and an unsoured 
disposition ! It seems wonderful to me, because you are not like 

Mrs. R , phlegmatic and impenetrable, but received from 

nature feelings of the very finest edge. Such feelings, when they 
are locked up, sometimes damage the mind and temper. They 
don't with you. It must be partly principle, partly self-discipline, 
which keeps you as you are. 

Do not think that your kind wish respecting Mr. Nicholls and 
myself does not touch or influence me; it does both ; yet I hardly 
know how to take the step you recommend C. BRONTK 

Letter 653 

HAWORTH, NEAR KEIGHLEY, February ^rd, 1854, 

MY DEAR SIR, I can hardly tell you how glad I am to have 
an opportunity of explaining that taciturnity to which you allude. 
Your letter came at a period of danger and care, when my father 
was very ill, and I could not leave his bedside. I answered no 
letters at that time, and yours was one of three or four that, when 
leisure returned to me, and I came to consider their purport, it 
seemed to me that the time was past for answering them, and I 
laid them finally aside. If you remember, you asked me to go to 
London ; it was too late either to go or to decline. I was sure 
you had left London. One circumstance you mentioned your 
wife's illness which I have thought of many a time, and wondered 
whether she is better. In your present note you do not refer 
to her, but I trust her health has long ere now been quite 

Balder arrived safely. I looked at him, before cutting his 
leaves, with singular pleasure. Remembering well his elder 
brother, the potent Roman, it was natural to give a cordial 


welcome to a fresh scion of the same house and race. I have 
read him. He impresses me thus: He teems with power; I 
found in him a wild wealth of life, but I thought his favourite and 
favoured child would bring his sire trouble would make his heart 
ache. It seemed to me that his strength and beauty were not so 
much those of Joseph, the pillar of Jacob's age, as of the Prodigal 
Son, who troubled his father, though he always kept his love. 

How is it that while the first-born of genius often brings 
honour the second almost as often proves a source of depression 
and care? I could almost prophesy that your third will atone 
for any anxiety inflicted by this his immediate predecessor. 

There is power in that character of * Balder/ and to me a certain 
horror. Did you mean it to embody, along with force, any of the 
special defects of the artistic character? It seems to me that 
those defects were never thrown out in stronger lines. I did not 
and could not think you meant to offer him as your cherished 
ideal of the true great poet ; I regard him as a vividly coloured 
picture of inflated self-esteem, almost frantic aspiration ; of a 
nature that has made a Moloch of intellect offered up, in pagan 
fires, the natural affections sacrificed the heart to the brain. Do 
we not all know that true greatness is simple, self-oblivious, prone 
to unambitious, unselfish attachments ? I am certain you feel 
this truth in your heart of hearts. 

But if the critics err now (as yet I have seen none of their 
lucubrations) you shall one day set them right in the second part 
of Balder. You shall show them that you too know better, 
perhaps, than they that the truly great man is too sincere in his 
affections to grudge a sacrifice ; too much absorbed in his work 
to talk loudly about it; too intent on finding the best way to 
accomplish what he undertakes to think great things of himself 
the instrument. And if God places seeming impediments in his 
way if his duties sometimes seem to hamper his powers he 
feels keenly, perhaps writhes under, the slow torture of hindrance 
and delay ; but if there be a true man's heart in his breast he can 
bear, submit, wait patiently. 

Whoever speaks to me of Balder though I live too retired a 
life to come often in the way of comment shall be answered 
according to your suggestion and my own impression. Equity 
demands that you shall be your own interpreter. Good-bye for 
the present, and believe me, faithfully and gratefully, 



Letter 654 


WELLINGTON, February 242^, '54. 

DEAR ELLEN, I got a letter from you some time ago Pr. 
Constantin, dated Brookroyd, Aug. 12/53, J ust about six months 
ago. Thank you for your trouble concerning my dress and 
bonnet You may have the satisfaction of knowing it was not in 
vain, as they both turned out wonderfully well, and I shall 
certainly accept your kind offer and get another in time for next 
winter but one. How ever did you manage to make the dress so 
heavy? and then call it not a winter dress ! It fitted well, tho j it 
was too long; a very small fault. The bonnet just suited me. 
The thermometer just now rises to about 80 every day, wherefore 
the fine things are put by. I shall bring them out in due time. 
You cannot imagine the importance they give ; the peak behind 
is the object of universal admiration. 

I am glad you approved of my lecture to Joe on diet ; tho' you 
are mistaken in thinking that I follow my own advice. In summer 
I never eat six dinners in the week, seldom more than three. My 
health suffers less from low living than it would from biliousness 
were I to eat more. Luckily winter comes, and I can keep up my 
strength and have an easy mind and clear head at the same time 
I seldom taste anything stronger than tea, either in hot weather 
or cold. 

You talk wonderful nonsense about Charlotte Bronte in your 
letter. What do you mean about c bearing her position so long, and 
enduring to the end'? and still better, 'bearing our lot, whatever 
it is.' If it's Charlotte's lot to be married, shouldn't she bear that 
too ? or does your strange morality mean that she should refuse to 
ameliorate her lot when it is in her power. How would she be in- 
consistent with herself in marrying? Because she considers her own 
pleasure ? If this is so new for her to do, it is high time she began 
to make it more common. It is an outrageous exaction to expect 
her to give up her choice in a matter so important, and I think 
her to blame in having been hitherto so yielding that her friends 
can think of making such an impudent demand, . , . Your account 
of your trip to Yarmouth is amusing. I am right glad you came 
back again. 


All your gossip is very interesting. Mrs. Joe Taylor sends me 
very little, being used, I think, to spend her time too much at 
home. Perhaps when her health improves she will take more 
interest in her neighbours. 

I wish you could see how busy I am going to be. I have got 
such a lot of things coming. Finery of all kinds. It will take me 
a fortnight's hard work to get them all arranged and ticketed. 
And then the people that will come to see them ! I always find 
myself wondering at these people with one eye, while I wait on 
them with the other. It gives them such evident pain to see any- 
thing they can't buy, and it is so impossible for them not to look 
at the most expensive things, even when they can't buy any but 
the cheapest. Then the tricks they play on their husbands' head, 
or heart, or purse, to get the money ! And then the coolness with 
which they J ll say they don't care a bit aboutitjjajjjj^ 
might as well have it! There are some silk mantles cor 
about which more lies will be told than would make a lawyer's" 
fortune, to me, their husbands, friends, and neighbours. Don't 
think all my customers answer to this description. Yet it's 
wonderful how many do. 

I Ve got an addition to my store, by which you may see I 'm 
getting on in the world. It has 20 feet frontage and is 16 feet 
deep. I could let it for ,50 or 60 Pr. an., but then the ground 
is not paid for. I intend to pay for it this winter. My coming 
home seems just as far off as ever; that is, two or three years 
more. In that time I expect this town and colony to advance 
wonderfully. There will be steam communication vi& Panama 
perhaps 1 11 come home that way. There will be a large export 
of wool to England and kai provisions, to Australia. Then 
there are signs of a mania for emigration to N. Zealand coming 
on a sort of fever which will injure those who get it, but will 
benefit the colony generally. All settlers of course encourage this 
mania, as it is to their own advantage. Indeed, so long as people 
come of their judgment there is no doubt they will do well 
Labouring men get six shillings a day, and every other kind of 
work is paid in proportion. But once let it be understood that a 
- man can get rich just by coming here and we shall have such 
cargoes of helpless, silly people ! 

There was a family of that kind came here once and settled in 
the country. They brought a man-servant for the gentleman and 
a maid for the lady and a few more servants. They went into the 


country, about two days' journey from Wellington, after making 
themselves remarkable for a while in the town with their ex- 
traordinary ringlets, ribbons, fly-away hats, and frippery of all 
kinds. After a few months I heard they were in great distress 
nearly starving. All their servants had left them, and they were 
all ill in bed. < Why, what 's the matter with them ? ' ' Oh, the 
mosquitoes have bitten them so ! ' 

I wish you would send me some more particular account of 
yourself in your next letter. You write twice a year and I quite 
lose the thread of your wanderings between the letters. One 
newspaper sent me is addressed to you at Oundle vicarage. 
Where in the world is Oundlet And what have you been doing 
there? You appear to travel about a good deal. When I see 
you again you will have travelled much more than I have, though 
people won't think so, You don't mention Miss Wooler. Have 
you seen her, or rather do you see her when you come home from 
your peregrinations ? 

Good-bye, dear Ellen, I have written to the last minute, March 
3d/S4. Yours affectionately, MARY TAYLOR. 

Letter 655 


HAWORTH, March u/, 1854. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I am sorry to hear that Mrs. Richard 
Nussey has had a paralytic stroke. Is this true, or is it an ex- 
aggerated account ? At her age one would scarcely have expected 
an attack of that nature, but I believe paralysis attacks more 
persons and younger persons than formerly. A clergyman of 
not more than thirty-five, in the neighbourhood of Skipton, is 
entirely disabled from duty by the effects of a paralytic stroke. 
How does your mother continue to get on? Papa has so far 
borne the winter surprisingly well on the whole, though now and 
then he still complains of muscular weakness, and other slight 
symptoms which renew anxiety. Still I have more reason for 
gratitude than fear in his case. Your sister Ann it seems has 
consulted Mr. Teale is she better for his advice? Last, but not 
least, how are you yourself? Yours affectionately, 



Letter 656 


HAWORTH, March *jth> '54. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am very glad to hear Mrs. Richard is pro- 
nounced out of danger. It is well, too, that the brain has so far 
escaped serious injury ; it seems to me perhaps the worst of all 
dooms for the death of the mind to anticipate that of the body, 
yet, sometimes when these attacks fall chiefly on the nervous 
system a state of irritation follows which is found very trying, 
not only for the poor patient, but most especially for friends. 
You do not say that such is the case in the present instance, and 
I hope it will not prove so. ... 

So far I have been so favoured as to escape severe colds, but 
my headaches, etc., still at times harass me and keep me thin. 
I am truly glad to hear that your mother, Mr. Clapham, and 
Mercy are well, and that your sister Ann is better. Mr. Teale 
will do a good deed if he succeeds in curing her. Papa still 
continues well, Believe me, my dear Ellen, yours affectionately, 


Letter 657 


HAWORTH, March i%th, 1854. 

MY DEAR LJETITIA, I was very glad to see your handwriting 
again ; it is, I believe, a year since I heard from you. Again 
and again you have recurred to my thoughts lately, and I was 
beginning to have some sad presages as to the cause of your 
silence. Your letter happily does away with all these ; it brings, 
on the whole, good tidings both of your papa, mamma, your 
sister, and, last but not least, your dear respected English self. 

My dear father has borne the severe winter very well, a circum- 
stance for which I feel the more thankful, as he had many weeks 
of very precarious health last summer, following an attack from 
which he suffered last June, and which for a few hours deprived 
him totally of sight, though neither his mind, speech, nor even 
his powers of motion were in the least affected. I can hardly 
tell you how thankful I was, dear Laetitia, when, after that dreary 
and almost despairing interval of utter darkness, some gleam of 


daylight became visible to him once more. I had feared that 
paralysis had seized the optic nerve. A sort of mist remained 
for a long time, and indeed his vision is not yet perfectly clear, 
but he can read, write, and walk about, and he preaches twice 
every Sunday, the curate only reading the prayers. 024 can well 
understand how earnestly I pray that sight may be spared him to 
the end ; he so dreads the privation of blindness. His mind is 
just as strong and active as ever, and politics interest him as they 
do your papa. The Czar, the war, the alliance between France 
and England into all these things he throws himself heart and 
soul. They seem to carry him back to his comparatively young 
days, and to renew the excitement of the last great European 
struggle. Of course, my father's sympathies, arid mine too, are 
all with justice and Europe against tyranny and Russia. 

Circumstanced as I have been, you will comprehend that I 
had neither the leisure nor inclination to go from home much 
during the past year. I spent a week with Mrs. Gaskell in the 
spring, and a fortnight with some other friends more recently, 
and that includes the whole of my visiting since I saw you last 
My life is indeed very uniform and retired, more so than is quite 
healthful either for mind or body; yet I feel reason for often 
renewed feelings of gratitude in the sort of support which still 
comes and cheers me from time to time. My health, though not 
unbroken, is, I sometimes fancy, rather stronger on the whole 
than it was three years ago ; headache and dyspepsia are my 
worse ailments. Whether I shall come up to town this season 
for a few days I do not yet know ; but if I do I shall hope to call 
in Phillimore Place. With kindest remembrances to your papa, 
mamma, and sisters, I am, dear Lsetitia, affectionately yours, 


Letter 658 


March zind, 1854. 

MY BEAR ELLEN, I put off writing yesterday because I had 
a headache; I have it again ta-day, not severe, but depressing. 
However, I will write a few lines, and if they are inefficient you 
will know the reason. 

Miss Wooler kindly asked me likewise to go and see her at 
Hornsea, but I had a prior engagement this month, which, how- 


ever, it seems very doubtful whether I shall keep. It would have 
given one true pleasure to have joined Miss Wooler had not my 
previous promise stood in the way. 

I was very glad to hear of Miss Cockhill's engagement ; offer 
her my sincere congratulations on the subject. I don't know 
John Battye, but if he only prove as kind a husband as I feel 
sure she will be a good wife, they have a good chance of 

Mrs. R. Nussey's convalescence was good news also. I trust 
she will now steadily improve, and many years may elapse before 
she has any return. The third stroke of paralysis or apoplexy 
is generally said to be fatal, but there is an instance in this 
neighbourhood of three strokes occurring within a period of 
twenty years, and the patient lives still, and is indeed almost 
entirely recovered from the effects of the third attack. One leg 
only is stiff and unmanageable, but he can walk pretty well. 

Be sure and look after yourself, dear Ellen ; mind cold and the 
night-air. Tell me if you are in good spirits when you write 
again. Yours affectionately, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 659 


HAWORTH, March iSf%, '54. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, The enclosure in yours of yesterday puzzled 
me at first, for I did not immediately recognise my own hand- 
writing ; when I did, the sensation was one of consternation and 
vexation, as the letter ought by all means to have gone on 
Friday. It was intended to relieve him of great anxiety. How- 
ever, I trust he will get it to-day, and on the whole, when I think 
it over, I can only be thankful that the mistake was no worse, 
and did not throw the letter into the hands of some indifferent 
and unscrupulous person. I wrote it after some days of indis- 
position and uneasiness, and when I felt weak and unfit to write. 
While writing to him, I was at the same time intending to answer 
your note, which I suppose accounts for the confusion of ideas, 
shown in the mixed and blundering address. 

I wish you could come about Easter rather than at another 
time, for this reason Mr. Nicholls, if not prevented, proposes 
coming over then. I suppose he will stay at Mr. Grant's as he has 


done two or three times before, but he will be frequently coming 
here, which would enliven your visit a little. Perhaps, too, he 
might take a walk with us occasionally. Altogether it would be 
a little change ; such as, you know, I could not always offer. 

If all be well he will come under different circumstances to any 
that have attended his visits before ; were it otherwise I should 
not ask you to meet him, for when aspects are gloomy and un- 
propitious, the fewer there are to suffer from the cloud the better. 

He was here in January and was then received, but not 
pleasantly, I trust it will be a little different now. 

Papa breakfasts in bed and has not yet risen ; his bronchitis is 
still troublesome. I had a bad week last week, but am greatly 
better now, for my mind is a little relieved, though very sedate 
and rising only to expectations the most moderate. 

Sometime, perhaps in May, I may hope to come to Brookroyd, 
but as you will understand from what I have now stated, I could 
not come before. 

Think it over, dear Nell, and come to Haworth if you can. 
Write as soon as you can decide. Yours affectionately, 


Letter 660 


April isf, '54. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, You certainly were right in your second 
interpretation of my note ; I am too well aware of the dulness 
of Haworth for any visitor, not to be glad to avail myself of the 
chance of offering even a slight change. But this morning my 
little plans have been disarranged by an intimation that Mr. 
Nicholls is coming on Monday. I thought to put him off, but 
have not succeeded. As Easter now consequently seems an 
unfavourable period both from your point of view and mine, we 
will adjourn it till a better opportunity offers. Meantime, I 
thank you, dear Ellen, for your kind offer to come in case I 
wanted you. Papa is still very far from well, his cough very 
troublesome and a good deal of inflammatory action in the chest. 
To-day he seems somewhat better than yesterday, and I earnestly 
hope the improvement may continue. 

With kind regards to your mother and all at Brookroyd, I am, 
dear Ellen, yours affectionately, C. BRONTE. 



Letter 66 1 


HAWORTH, April nf%, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, Thank you for the collar ; it Is very pretty, and 
I will wear It for the sake of her who made and gave it 

Mr. NIcholls came on Monday, and was here all last week. 
Matters have progressed thus since July. He renewed his visit 
in September, but then matters so fell out that I saw little of 
him. He continued to write. The correspondence pressed on 
my mind. I grew very miserable in keeping it from papa. At 
last sheer pain made me gather courage to break it. I told all. 
It was very hard and rough work at the time, but the Issue after 
a few days was that I obtained leave to continue the communica- 
tion. Mr. Nicholls came in January ; he was ten days in the 
neighbourhood. I saw much of him. I had stipulated with papa 
for opportunity to become better acquainted. I had it, and all I 
learnt inclined me to esteem and affection. Still papa was very, 
very hostile, bitterly unjust 

I told Mr. Nicholls the great obstacle that lay in his way. He 
has persevered. The result of this, his last visit, is, that papa's 
consent is gained, that his respect, I believe, is won, for Mr. 
Nicholls has In all things proved himself disinterested and for- 
bearing. Certainly I must respect him, nor can I withhold from 
him more than mere cool respect. In fact, dear Ellen, I am 

Mr. Nicholls, in the course of a few months, will return to the 
curacy of Haworth. I stipulated that I would not leave papa, 
and to papa himself I proposed a plan of residence which should 
maintain his seclusion and convenience uninvaded and in a 
pecuniary sense bring him gain instead of loss. What seemed 
at one time impossible is now arranged, and papa begins really to 
take a pleasure in the prospect 

For myself, dear Ellen, while thankful to One who seems to 
have guided me through much difficulty, much and deep distress 
and perplexity of mind, I am still very calm, very inexpectant. 
What I taste of happiness is of the soberest order. I trust to 
love my husband. I am grateful for his tender love to me. I 
believe him to be an affectionate, a conscientious, a high-prin- 
cipled man ; and if, with all this, I should yield to regrets, that 


fine talents, congenial tastes and thoughts are not added, it seems 
to me I should be most presumptuous and thankless. 

Providence offers me this destiny. Doubtless then it is the 
best for me. Nor do I shrink from wishing those dear to me one 
not less happy. 

It is possible that our marriage may take place in the course 
of the summer. Mr. Nicholls wishes it to be in July. He spoke 
of you with great kindness, and said he hoped you would be at 
our wedding. I said I thought of having no other bridesmaid. 
Did I say rightly? I mean the marriage to be literally as quiet 
as possible. 

Do not mention these things just yet. I mean to write to 
Miss Wooler shortly. Good-bye. There is a strange half-sad 
feeling in making these announcements. The whole thing is 
something other than imagination paints it beforehand ; cares, 
fears, come mixed inextricably with hopes. I trust yet to talk 
the matter over with you. Often last week I wished for your 
presence, and said so to Mr. Nicholls, Arthur as I now call him, 
but he said it was the only time and place when he could not 
have wished to see you. Good-bye. Yours affectionately, 


Letter 662 


HAWORTH, April 12^/2, 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, The truly kind interest which you 
have always taken in my affairs makes me feel that it is due to you 
to transmit an early communication on a subject respecting which 
I have already consulted you more than once. I must tell you then 
that since I wrote last papa's mind has gradually come round to a 
view very different to that which he once took ; and that after 
some correspondence, and as the result of a visit Mr. Nicholls 
paid here about a week ago, it was agreed that he was to resume 
the curacy of Haworth, as soon as papa's present assistant is 
provided with a situation, and in due course of time he is to be 
received as an inmate into this house. 

It gives me unspeakable content to see that now my father has 
once admitted this new view of the case he dwells on it very 
complacently. In all arrangements his convenience and seclusion 
will be scrupulously respected, Mr. Nicholls seems deeply to feel 


the wish to comfort and sustain his declining years. I think from 
Mr. Nicholls's character I may depend on this not being- a mere 
transitory, impulsive feeling, but rather that it will be accepted 
steadily as a duty, and discharged tenderly as an office of affection. 
The destiny which Providence in His goodness and wisdom seems 
to offer me will not, I am aware, be generally regarded as brilliant, 
but I trust I see in it some germs of real happiness. I trust the 
demands of both feeling and duty will be in some measure recon- 
ciled by the step in contemplation. It is Mr. Nicholls's wish that 
the marriage should take place this summer ; he urges the month 
of July, but that seems very soon. 

When you write to me, tell me how you are. , . . I have now 
decidedly declined the visit to London ; the ensuing three months 
will bring me abundance of occupation ; I could not afford to 
throw away a month. . . . Papa has just got a letter from the 
good and dear Bishop, which has touched and pleased us much ; 
it expresses so cordial an approbation of Mr. Nicholls's return to 
Haworth (respecting which he was consulted), and such kind 
gratification at the domestic arrangements which are to ensue. It 
seems his penetration discovered the state of things when he was 
here in June 1853. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 663 


April -L$th, '54. 

MY OWN DEAR NELL, I hope to see you somewhere about the 
second week in May 

The Manchester visit is still hanging over my head. I have 
deferred it, and deferred it, but have finally promised to go about 
the beginning of next month, I shall only stay three days, then 
I spend two or three days at Hunsworth, then come to Brook- 
royd. The three visits must be compressed into the space of a 
fortnight, if possible. 

I suppose I shall have to go to Leeds. My purchases cannot 
be either expensive or extensive. You must just resolve in your 
head the bonnets and dresses ; something that can be turned to 
decent use and worn after the wedding-day will be best I think. 

I wrote immediately to Miss Wooler and received a truly kind 
letter from her this morning. If you think she would like to 
come to the marriage, I will not fail to ask her. 


Papa's mind seems wholly changed about the matter, and he 
has said both to me and when I was not there, how much happier 
he feels since he allowed all to be settled. It is a wonderful 
relief for me to hear him treat the thing rationally, to talk over 
with him themes on which once I dared not touch. He is rather 
anxious things should get forward now, and takes quite an 
interest in the arrangement of preliminaries. His health improves 
daily, though this east wind still keeps up a slight irritation in 
the throat and chest. 

The feeling which had been disappointed in papa was ambi- 
tion, paternal pride ; ever a restless feeling, as we all know, Now 
that this unquiet spirit is exorcised, justice, which was once 
quite forgotten, is once more listened to ; and affection, I hope, 
resumes some power. 

My hope is that in the end this arrangement will turn out more 
truly to papa's advantage than any other it was in my power to 
achieve. Mr. Nicholls in his last letter refers touchingly to his 
earnest desire to prove his gratitude to papa, by offering support 
and consolation to his declining age. This will not be mere talk 
with him ; he is no talker, no dealer in professions. 

Dear Nell, I will write no more at present. You can of course 
tell your mother, Mrs. Clapham, etc., the Healds, too, if you 
judge proper : indeed, I now leave the communication to you. I 
know you will not obtrude it where no interest would be taken. 
Yours affectionately, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 664 


April ^tk, 1854. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I have delayed writing till I could give you 
some clear notion of my movements. If all be well, I go to 
Manchester on the 1st of May. Thence, on Thursday, to Huns- 
worth till Monday, when (D.V.) I come to Brookroyd. I must be 
at home by the close of the week. Papa, thank God ! continues 
to improve much. He preached twice on Sunday and again on 
Wednesday and was not tired ; his mind and mood are different 
to what they were, so much more cheerful and quiet. I trust the 
illusions of ambition are quite dissipated, and that he really sees 
it is better to relieve a suffering and faithful heart, to secure its 
fidelity, a solid good; than unfeelingly to abandon one who is 


truly attached to his interest as well as mine, and pursue some 
vain empty shadow. 

I thank you, dear Ellen, for your kind invitation to Mr. 
Nicholls. He was asked likewise to Manchester and Hunsworth. 
I would not have opposed his coming had there been no real 
obstacle to the arrangement; certain little awkwardnesses of 
feeling I would have tried to get over for the sake of introducing 
him to old friends ; but it so happens that he cannot leave on 
account of his Rector's absence. Mr. C. will be in town with his 
family till June, and he always stipulates that his Curate shall 
remain at Kirk-Smeaton while he is away. 

How did you get on at the Oratorio ? And what did Miss 
Wooler say to the proposal of being at the wedding? I have 
many points to discuss when I see you. I hope your mother and 
all are well. With kind remembrances to them, and true love to 
you, I am, dear Nell, faithfully yours, C. BRONTE. 

When you write, address me at Mrs. Gaskell's, Plymouth 
Grove, Manchester. 

Letter 665 


HUNSWORTH, May 6th, 1854. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I came to Hunsworth on Thursday after- 
noon, and if all be well, I hope to come to Brookroyd on Monday 
just in time for tea. 

I leave you to judge by your own feelings whether I long to 
see you or not. 

Amelia tells me you are looking well. She tells me also that 
I am not ; rather ugly as usual : but never mind that, dear Ellen, 
as indeed you never did. On the whole I feel very decently at 
present, and within the last fortnight have had much respite from 

You are kind to be so much in earnest in wishing Mr. Nicholls 
to come to Brookroyd, and I am sorry that circumstances do not 
favour such a step, but knowing how matters stood, I did not 
repeat the proposal to him, for I thought it would be like 
tempting him to forget duty. 

No more at present, dear Nell, except love to all Yours 
affectionately, C BRONTE. 


Letter 666 


HAWORTH, May 14^, 1854. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I took the time of the Leeds and Skipton 
trains from Mr. C. 7 s February Time-Table, and when I got to 
Leeds, found myself all wrong ; the trains are changed, one had 
that moment left the station, indeed it was just steaming away, 
there was not another till a quarter after five o'clock ; so I had 
just four hours to sit and twirl my thumbs. I got over the time 
somehow, but I was vexed to think how much more pleasantly 
I might have spent it at Brookroyd. It was just seven when 
I reached home. I found papa well. He has already given 
Mr. de Renzi notice. That gentleman is still perfectly smooth 
and fair spoken to papa. He never told him a word of what he 
has written to Mr. Nicholls. 

Dear Ellen, I could not leave you with a very quiet mind, or 
take away a satisfied feeling about you. Not that I think that 
bad cough lodged in a dangerous part, but it wears you and makes 
you look ill. Take care, do, dear Nell, observe precaution. 
Believe me it does not do at present to be exposed to variations 
of temperature. I send the [white lace] mantle with this, but I 
have made up my mind not to let you have the cushion [pattern] 
now, lest you should sit stitching over it too closely. It will do 
any time, and whenever it comes it will be your present all the 
same. Write soon, and believe me, faithfully yours, 


Remember me to all at Brookroyd, and thank them for their 
kindness of word and deed. 

Letter 667 


May und) 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I wonder how you are, and whether that 
harassing cough is better. Be scrupulously cautious about undue 
exposure. Just now, dear Ellen, an hour's inadvertence might 
cause you to be really ill. So once again, take care. Since I 
came home I have been very busy stitching ; the little new room 


is got into order, and the green and white curtains are up ; they 
exactly suit the papering, and look neat and clean enough. I had 
a letter a day or two since announcing that Mr. Nicholls comes 
to-morrow. I feel anxious about him, more anxious on one point 
than I dare quite express to myself. It seems he has again been 
suffering sharply from his rheumatic affection. I hear this not 
from himself, but from another quarter. He was ill while I was 
at Manchester and Brookroyd. He uttered no complaint to me, 
dropped no hint on the subject. Alas! he was hoping he had 
got the better of it, and I know how this contradiction of his 
hopes will sadden him. For unselfish reasons he did so earnestly 
wish this complaint might not become chronic. I fear, I fear. 
But, however, I mean to stand by him now, whether in weal or 
woe, This liability to rheumatic pain was one of the strong 
arguments used against the marriage. It did not weigh somehow. 
If he is doomed to suffer, it seems that so much the more will he 
need care and help. And yet the ultimate possibilities of such 
a case are appalling. You remember your aunt. Well, come 
what may, God help and strengthen both him and me. I look 
forward to to-morrow with a mixture of impatience and anxiety. 
Poor fellow ! I want to see with my own eyes how he is. 

It is getting late and dark. Write soon, dear Ellen. Good- 
night and God bless you. Yours affectionately, 


Letter 668 


HAWORTH, May 27^, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter was very welcome, and I am glad 
and thankful to learn you are better. Still, beware of presuming 
on the improvement, don't let it make you careless. Mr. Nicholls 
has just left me. Your hopes were not ill founded about his ill- 
ness. At first I was thoroughly frightened. However, inquiring 
gradually relieved me. In short, I soon discovered that my 
business was, instead of sympathy, to rate soundly. The patient 
had wholesome treatment while he was at Haworth, and went 
away singularly better ; perfectly unreasonable, however, on some 
points, as his fallible sex are not ashamed to be. 

Man is indeed an amazing piece of mechanism when you see, 
so to speak, the full weakness of what he calls his strength. 


There is not a female child above the age of eight but might 
rebuke him for spoilt petulance of his wilful nonsense. I bought 
a border for the table-cloth and have put it on. 

Good-bye, dear Ellen, write again soon and mind and give a 
bulletin. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 669 


HAWORTH,yi7Z y/7z, 1854. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I am very glad and thankful to hear you 
continue better. I was very miserable about papa again some 
days ago. While the weather was so sultry and electric, about a 
week since, he was suddenly attacked with deafness, and com- 
plained of other symptoms which showed the old tendency to the 
head. His spirits too became excessively depressed, it was all I 
could do to keep him up, and soon I was sad and apprehensive 
myself. The change to cooler weather has suited him, the tem- 
porary deafness has quite disappeared, and his head is again clear 
and cool. I can only earnestly trust he will continue better. Mr. 
de Renzi's aim is to leave papa without curate for some weeks. 
Good-bye for the present. 

My kind regards to all at Brookroyd. Thank you for ordering 
another fifty cards. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 670 


June 12th, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, Papa preached twice to-day as well and as 
strongly as ever. It is strange how he varies, how soon he is 
depressed and how soon revived, It makes me feel so thankful 
when he is better. I am thankful too that you are stronger, dear 
Nell. My worthy acquaintance at Kirk-Smeaton refuses to ac- 
knowledge himself better yet I am uneasy about not writing to 
Miss Wooler. I fear she will think me negligent, while I am only 
busy and bothered. I want to clear up my needlework a little, 
and have been sewing against time since I was at Brookroyd. 
Mr. Nicholls hindered me a full week. 

I like the card very well, but not the envelope. I should like a 
perfectly plain envelope with a silver initial. 


I got my dresses from Halifax a day or two since, but have not 
had time to have them unpacked, so I don't know what they are 

Next time I write, I hope to be able to give you clear informa- 
tion, and to beg you to come here without further delay. Good- 
bye, dear Nell Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 671 


June i6th, '54. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Can you come next Wednesday or Thurs- 
day? I am afraid circumstances will compel me to agree to an 
earlier day than I wished. I sadly wished to defer it till the 2nd 
week in July, but I fear it must be sooner, the ist week in July, 
possibly the last week in June, for Mr. de Renzi has succeeded 
in obtaining his holiday, and whereas his quarter will not be up 
till the 20th of August, he leaves on the 25th June. This gives 
rise to much trouble and many difficulties as you may imagine, 
and papa's whole anxiety now is to get the business over. Mr. 
Nicholls with his usual trustworthiness takes all the trouble of 
providing substitutes on his own shoulders. 

I write to Miss Wooler to-day. Would it not be better, dear 
Nell, if you and she could arrange to come to Haworth on the 
same day, arrive at Keighley by the same train, then I could order 
the cab to meet you at the station and bring you on with your 
luggage. In this hot weather, walking would be quite out of the 
question, either for you or her, and I know she would persist in 
doing it if left to herself, and arrive half-killed. I thought it 
better to mention this arrangement to you first, and then if you 
liked it, you could settle the time, etc., with Miss Wooler and let 
me know. Be sure to give me timely information that I may 
write to the Devonshire Arms about the cab. 

Mr. Nicholls is a kind considerate fellow, with all his masculine 
faults in some points ; he enters into my wishes about having the 
thing done quietly in a way which makes me grateful, and if 
nobody interferes and spoils his arrangements, he will manage so 
that not a soul in Haworth shall be aware of the day. He is so 
thoughtful too about 'the ladies/ i.e. you and Miss Wooler, 
anticipating the very arrangements I was going to propose to 
him about providing for your departure, etc. 


He and Mr. Sowden will come to Mr. Grant's the evening 
before ; write me a note to let me know they are there. Precisely 
at 8 in the morning they will be in the Church, and there we are 
to meet them. Mr. and Mrs. Grant are asked to the breakfast, 
not the ceremony. 

Let me hear from you as soon as possible, dear Nell, and believe 
me faithfully yours, C. BRONTE. 

I had almost forgotten to mention about the envelopes. 
Mr. Nicholls says I have ordered far too few, he thinks sixty will 
be wanted. Is it too late to remedy this error? There is no 
end to his string of parson-friends. My own list I have not 
made out. 

Charlotte Bronte's list of friends, to whom wedding- 
cards were to be sent, is in her own handwriting, and is 
not without interest : 


The Rev. W. Morgan, Rectory, Hulcott, Aylesbury, Bucks. 

Joseph Branwell, Esq., Thamar Terrace, Launceston, Cornwall, 

Dr. Wheelwright, 29 Phillimore Place, Kensington, London. 

George Smith, Esq., 65 Cornhill, London. 

Mrs. and Misses Smith, 65 Cornhill, London. 

W. S. Williams, Esq., 65 Cornhill, London. 

R. Monckton Milnes, Esq. 

Mrs, Gaskell, Plymouth Grove, Manchester. 

Francis Bennoch, Esq., Park, Blackheath, London. 

George Taylor, Esq., Stanbury. 

Mrs. and Miss Taylor. 

H. Merrall, Esq., Lea Sykes, Haworth. 

E. Merrall, Esq., Ebor House, Haworth. 

R. Butterfield, Esq., Woodlands, Haworth. 

R. Thomas, Esq., Haworth. 

J. Pickles, Esq., Brow Top, Haworth. 

Wooler Family. 

Brookroyd. 1 

Here is Mrs. GaskelFs account of the wedding. One 

1 The Nusseys. 


wishes she had actually been present as erroneously stated 
by one of her biographers : l 

It was fixed that the marriage was to take place on June 29. 
Her two friends arrived at Haworth Parsonage the day before ; 
and the long summer afternoon and evening were spent by 
Charlotte in thoughtful arrangements for the morrow, and for her 
father's comfort during her absence from home. When all was 
finished the trunk packed, the morning's breakfast arranged, the 
wedding dress laid out just at bedtime, Mr. Bronte announced 
his intention of stopping at home while the others went to church. 
What was to be done? Who was to give the bride away ? There 
were only to be the officiating clergyman, 2 the bride and bride- 
groom, the bridesmaid, and Miss Wooler present The Prayer 
Book was referred to ; and there it was seen that the rubric 
enjoins that the minister shall receive 'the woman from her 
father's or friend's hand,' and that nothing is specified as to the 
sex of the * friend.' So Miss Wooler, ever kind in emergency, 
volunteered to give her old pupil away. 

The news of the wedding had slipt abroad before the little 
party came out of church, and many old and humble friends were 
there, seeing her look ' like a snowdrop, 5 as they say. Her dress 
was white embroidered muslin, with a lace mantle, and white 
bonnet trimmed with green leaves, which perhaps might suggest 
the resemblance to the pale wintry flower. 

The following letter was written on her wedding-day, 
June 29, 1854: 

Letter 672 


Thursday Evening. 

DEAR ELLEN, I scribble one hasty line just to say that after 
a pleasant enough journey, we have got safely to Conway; the 
evening is wet and wild, though the day was fair, chiefly, with 

1 Mr. A. W. Ward, in the Dictionary of National Biography. The error is repeated 
in the Introduction to the Knutsford edition of the Works of Mrs. GaskelL 

2 The officiating priest was the Rev. Sutcliffe Sowden. He and his brother, the 
Rev. George Sowden (1822-1899), canon of Wakefield Cathedral and vicar of Hebden 
Bridge, Yorks, were the most intimate friends of Mr. Nicholls at the time of his 


sorre gleams of sunshine. However, we are sheltered in a com- 
fortable Inn, My cold is not worse. If you get this scrawl to- 
morrow and write by return, direct to me at the Post Office, 
Bangor, and I may get it on Monday. Say how you and Miss 
Wooler got home, Give my kindest and most grateful love to 
Miss Wooler whenever you write. On Monday, I think, we cross 
the Channel, No more at presentYours faithfully and lovingly, 

C. B. N. 

The next letter is dated from Banagher, King's County, 
Ireland, whither the pair wended their way after visiting 
Killarney, Glengarriff, and Cork. At Banagher lived the 
Bells, Mr. Nicholls's uncle and aunt, and Charlotte Bronte 
stayed on her honeymoon in the very house in which I 
visited Mr. Nicholls forty years later. This letter was 
once in the possession of the editor, but is now lost, and 
can only be given in the fragment copied by Mrs. Gaskell. 

Letter 673 


BANAGHER,/^ , 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, Some parts exceeded all I had ever imagined, 
... I must say I like my new relations. My dear husband, too, 
appears in a new light in his own country. More than once I 
have had deep pleasure in hearing his praises on all sides. Some 
of the old servants and followers of the family tell me I am a 
most fortunate person ; for that I have got one of the best gentle- 
men in the country. ... I trust I feel thankful to God for having 
enabled me to make what seems a right choice ; and I pray to be 
enabled to repay as I ought the affectionate devotion of a truthful, 
honourable man. C. B. NlCHOLLS* 




THE married life of Charlotte Bronte lasted but nine 
months in all, but that, had her health been preserved, 
it was destined to be happy there can be no doubt It 
has often been suggested that Mr. Nicholls discouraged 
her literary effort, but this he strenuously denied, and 
his statement to the contrary is endorsed by the discovery 
of sundry * openings ' to stories written during these few 
months. It is further urged although such criticisms are 
always impertinences that, after all, he was not the ideal 
husband. If women of intellect always waited for the 
ideal husband, most of them would die unmarried. Clearly 
the correspondence of these last months breathes a less 
morbid note than during the previous year or two. We 
may leave that matter with the remembrance that Charlotte 
Bronte lived up to the adage, that in marriage it is better 
to begin with a little aversion, and clearly she had come 
to love her husband with very genuine devotion. Those 
who knew him in his later years found that perfectly 
natural. He impressed me as a peculiarly lovable man. 

Letter 674 


HAWORTH, August gth, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I earnestly hope you are by yourself now, and 
relieved from the fag of entertaining guests. You do not com- 
plain, but I am afraid you have had too much of it. E, S. will 
probably end by accepting L. K., and judging from what you say, 


It seems to me that it would be rational to do so. If indeed some 
one else whom she preferred wished to have her, and had duly and 
sincerely come forward, matters would be different, but this it 
appears is not the case, and to cherish any ungrounded and un- 
sanctioned preference is neither right nor wise. 

Since I came home, I have not had an unemployed moment ; 
my life is changed indeed, to be wanted continually, to be con- 
stantly called for and occupied seems so strange: yet it is a 
marvellously good thing. As yet I don't quite understand how 
some wives grow so selfish. As far as my experience of matrimony 
goes, I think it tends to draw you out of and away from yourself. 

We have had sundry callers this week. Yesterday, Mr. Sowden 
and another gentleman dined here, and Mr. and Mrs. Grant joined 
them at tea. 

I do not think we shall go to Brookroyd soon, on papa's account 
I do not wish again to leave home for a time, but I trust you will 
ere long come here. 

I really like Mr. Sowden very well. He asked after you. Mr. 
Nicholls told him we expected you would be coming to stay with 
us in the course of three or four weeks, and that he should then 
invite him over again as he wished us to take sundry rather long 
walks, and as he should have his wife to look after, and she was 
trouble enough, it would be quite necessary to have a guardian 
for the other lady. Mr. Sowden seemed perfectly acquiescent. 

Dear Nell, During the last six weeks the colour of my thoughts 
is a good deal changed: I know more of the realities of life than 
I once did. I think many false ideas are propagated, perhaps 
unintentionally. I think those married women who indiscrimi- 
nately urge their acquaintance to marry, much to blame. For my 
part, I can only say with deeper sincerity and fuller significance, 
what I always said in theory, * Wait God's will. 7 Indeed, indeed, 
Nell, it is a solemn and strange and perilous thing for a woman to 
become a wife. Man's lot is far, far different. Tell me when you 
think you can come. Papa is better, but not well. How is your 
mother? give my love to her, and Ann and Mr. Clapham, and 
Mercy, if she is good. Yours faithfully, C. B. NICHOLLS. 

Have I told you how much better Mr. Nicholls is? He looks 
quite strong and hale; he gained 12 Ibs. during the four weeks 
we were in Ireland. To see this improvement in him has been a 
main source of happiness to me, and to speak truth, a subject of 
wonder too. 


Letter 675 


HAWORTH, August 292$. 

DEAR ELLEN, Can you come here on Wednesday week (Sept 
6th)? Try to arrange matters to do so if possible, for it will be 
better than to delay your visit till the days grow cold and short. 
I want to see you again, dear Nell, and my husband too will receive 
you with pleasure, and he is not diffuse of his courtesies or par- 
tialities, I can assure you. One friendly word from him means as 
much as twenty from most people. 

We have been busy lately giving a Supper and Tea-drinking 
to the Singers, Ringers, Sunday-school Teachers, and all the 
Scholars of the Sunday and National Schools, amounting in all 
to some 500 souls. It gave satisfaction and went off well. 

Papa, I am thankful to say, is much better ; he preached last 
Sunday. How does your mother bear this hot weather ? Write 
soon, dear Nell, and say you will come. Yours faithfully, 

C. B. N. 

Letter 676 


September , 1854. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, I really seem to have had scarcely 
a spare moment since that dim, quiet June morning when you, 
Ellen, and myself all walked down to Haworth Church. Not that 
I have been wearied or oppressed ; but the fact is my time is not 
my own now ; somebody else wants a good portion of it, and says, 
' We must do so and so. 3 We do so and so, accordingly; and it 
generally seems the right thing. . . . We have had many callers 
from a distance, and latterly some little occupation in the way of 
preparing for a small village entertainment Both Mr. Nicholls 
and myself wished much to make some response for the hearty 
welcome and general goodwill shown by the parishioners on his 
return ; accordingly the Sunday and day scholars and teachers, 
the church ringers, singers, etc., to the number of five hundred, 
were asked to tea and supper in the schoolroom. They seemed 
to enjoy it much, and it was very pleasant to see their happiness. 
One of the villagers, in proposing my husband's health, described 


him as a ' consistent Christian and a kind gentleman! I own the 
words touched me deeply, and I thought (as I know you would 
have thought had you been present) that to merit and win such a 
character was better than to earn either wealth, or fame, or power. 
I am disposed to echo that high but simple eulogium. . . . My 
dear father was not well when we returned from Ireland. I am, 
however, most thankful to say that he is better now. May God 
preserve him to us yet for some years ! The wish for his con- 
tinued life, together with a certain solicitude for his happiness and 
health, seems, I scarcely know why, even stronger in me now than 
before I was married. Papa has taken no duty since we returned ; 
and each time I see Mr. Nicholls put on gown or surplice I feel 
comforted to think that this marriage has secured papa good aid 
in his old age. C BRONTE. 

Some letters from Mary Taylor to Ellen Nussey 
naturally come here. It will be remembered that Miss 
Nussey had contemplated the post of companion to a 
Mrs. Upjohn at Gorleston upon conditions \vhich made 
her consult her two friends. We have seen Charlotte 
Bronte's letters upon the point. Here is Mary Taylor's 
sarcastic treatment of the matter. 

Letter 677 


W ELLINGTON, July 2l$t, 1853. 

received your letter expressing a wish to have my services as 
companion. Your terms are so indefinite and so low that I had 
rather have nothing to do with you. As I understand your pro- 
posal, you offer me board and lodging, but no clothes or means of 
getting any. If you intend providing my dress, I should like to 
know what liberty I should have in the choice and make, and who 
had worn the things before me, tho' I must say this would not 
alter my refusal of your offer, as I should still not be so well off 
as a servant-girl, The pecuniary advantages you offer at some 
future time I consider worth nothing. They are quite indefinite ; 

VOL, II, 2 A 


the time when I am to receive them is too far off, and the condi- 
tion that you make that you must be dead before I can profit 
by them decides me to refuse them altogether. 

Your letter is as indefinite about the services you require as 
about the wages you offer. As to the companionship, affection, 
etc., I have very little to offer to a stranger, and 'it strikes me I 
should never have much for you. Your coarseness of feeling that 
allows you to pay me the greater part of my wages only after your 
death, your evident dishonesty in leaving the engagement so in- 
definite that I might do two women's work for twenty years to 
come and then have no legal claim on you or your heirs, your 
evident notion that an expensive dress and diet is to compensate 
for the absence of money wages, all make me think that your 
feelings, principles, and pleasures are very different to mine, and 
there could be no companionship in the case. As to my services, 
I would not give them without certain money wages paid quar- 
terly, and certain time to be at my own disposal. These are what 
every servant gets, and I should want something more. 



Dear Ellen, Here's my opinion on the impudent proposal you 
mention in your letter, which I received this morning along with 
one from Amelia. All your news is very interesting, particularly 
that concerning Amelia, Joe, and Charlotte. My last letters told 
quite a contrary tale. They were none of them well, and that was 
proved more by their low spirits than their complaints. I Ve no 
doubt Tim is a little pest, as Joe says, but that is no reason why 
it should not be brought up healthily if possible. I am sorry to 
hear its intellect is so forward ; it ought to look stupid and get 

June 26. 

I have kept my letter back because I had not said all I had to 
say, and now it's gone out of my head. Since then I have 
received a letter from you, dated 7th October 1852. It came along 
with some from Hunsworth of 2oth and 23rd February 1853, and 
one from John, dated 2Oth October 1852. You mention Mr. 
Bronte's illness and Charlotte Bronte's liver complaint. I had 
heard of them both, but not from her. I did not know her 
liver complaint still continued, and since the date of yours I 


hear from Amelia that you and she have been at Hun., and 
Charlotte Bronte was very well indeed. How are you all now 
I wonder ? 

I hear I mean read that there is a box full of treasures on 
the way to me per Maori, now at Nelson. All the sailors have 
-run away very sensible of them when they are probably for 2 
a month, and by keeping out of sight till the Maori is gone, can 
hire themselves here for y. They I don't mean the sailors 
'have got some Maoris to land the cargo, but as they can't per- 
suade them to go up aloft, there is no knowing when the ship can 
-come on here. 

Well, in the said box is a pair of lace cuffs from you for me to 
wear ' when I go to a dance.' Do you think I go once a week to 
a dance? I am very curious to see them, and particularly to 
know if the fashion of them is still unknown here in which case 
they will certainly set me up for a twelvemonth. It is a great 
mercy and a particular favour of Providence that they were not 
.sent in the Mahomet Shaft. 

I go to a dance now and then. I get an invitation from some- 
body in the name of some 'party' or parties unknown. We 
dance at the Hall of the Athenaeum, hired and decorated with 
flags and green stuff for the occasion. We muster about 25 
couples, dance with great gravity, and call ourselves very select, 
The thing is managed by some second- and third-rate bachelors 
who don't know how to give their invites properly in a body, and 
individually had rather not * come forward/ 

My best amusement is to put on a hood such as children wear, 
,and very common here for grown people and go after I've 
shut up at night, and gossip with a neighbour. I have four or five 
houses where I do this, and talk more real talk in an hour than all 
the night at a dance. 

July 2. 

I have just found out it was not you but Amelia that sent me 
the lace cuffs, and you and Charlotte Bronte concocted the rest 
of the box. I have no doubt I shall approve of your choice, as 
Amelia says. Were you all together in the little room at 
Hunsworth? Giving her your advice? Mind, if the dress is 
scarlet or pale green, I '11 never forgive you. 

I folded this letter once without putting my name to. 

Don't go and live with Mrs. Clergyman. M. TAYLOR. 


Letter 678 


WELLINGTON, August loth, 1854.. 

DEAR ELLEN, My conscience has been reproaching me for 
this last month for neglecting my correspondence. I have done 
neither that nor anything else except what I could not shirk. 
Without being positively ill, I have been dull and indifferent to 
everything but new arrivals or something equally important I 
have cured myself, or at least bettered myself for the present, 
having a 'clean down,' and have just taken out a bundle that 
ought to have been answered long since. 

I am very well content with my dresses and bonnets, and more 
thankful than you would think to be saved the trouble and respon- 
sibility of dressing myself. Neither of the dresses fit it would 
be a wonder if they did. They are rather too expensive for my 
habits, and make rather a contrast to my usual wear. The last 
bonnet fitted my face to a T, and was altogether a hit, being 
neither too good nor too flimsy, nor too wintry nor too summery. 
The one before it (blue satin) I sold ; it being only fit for winter,, 
and likely to last me, at the rate I should wear it, about six years. 

I thank you for your information in medical matters. It is so 
difficult a thing for women to get, that it is a particular favour 
to come by any at a less expense than an illness of one's own. 
From Amelia's last letter I learn that you had been, or were, ill,. 
and she could not see you, being confined herself to the sofa. I 
am afraid myself that you have more courage than good fortune, 
and that your illness has not been so temporary as you hoped in 
your letter that it would be. 

We have lately had a wonder here viz. a steamer. Not a war 
steamer, but a merchant vessel. We thought so much of it that 
the authorities agreed with the owners to hire it for twelve months 
certain, to ply between the N.Z. ports. Two days ago carne 
another wonder on the top of the first one another steamer- 
walked in, coming from Sydney vtd Auckland. This one is likely 
to be a trader between here and Australia. This last one coming- 
in met the other going out, so we had two in sight at once, a thing: 
that has never happened before. 

We are in general thriving that is, commercially, for as to 
health the place is worse off than usual. I suppose it is time for 


the cholera to have come round to us, and though we have not 
got it, we have some change in the air or climate which makes the 
place unhealthy. We have scarlatina, influenza, etc. Your last 
letter has little news, and that not lively. I fear the confinement 
and dulness of illness will cast down your spirits in spite of your 
good intentions. I wish this letter could raise them for you. 
You are certainly better at home when out of health, even when 
without any definite illness to complain of. It is in this state that 
one feels the misery of that service that requires you not to do 
anything, but to be at the beck of another person, and no liberty 
even to be alone. Ten hours' work at breaking stones is not such 
a burden as this, if you only have the other fourteen to yourself, 
with or without the ' comforts of a home.' 

Amelia's letter speaks of little but illness and Tim ; she calls 
Tim of a forgiving disposition. It is amusing to think of her not 
venturing to vex the child for fear it should be angry, and then, 
when the baby fit of passion was over, breaking out into praise of 
its forgiving disposition ! Children don't forgive, they forget. 
And many full-grown people who get praise for being placable 
are children in this respect. To forgive requires a mind full 
grown, which does not always exist in a full-grown body. 


Letter 679 


HAWORTH, September 72$, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I send a French paper to-day. You would 
almost think I had given them up, it is so long since one was 
despatched. The fact is they had accumulated to quite a pile 
during my absence. I wished to look them over before sending 
them off, and as yet I have scarcely found time. That same 
Time is an article of which I once had a large stock always on 
hand ; where it is all gone now it would be difficult to say, but 
my moments are very fully occupied, Take warning, Ellen, the 
married woman can call but a very small portion of each day her 
own. Not that I complain of this sort of monopoly as yet, and 
I hope I never shall incline to regard it as a misfortune, but it 
certainly exists. We were both disappointed that you could not 
come on the day I mentioned. I have grudged this splendid 
weather very much, the moors are in glory, I never saw them fuller 


of purple bloom. I wanted you to see them at their best ; they are 
just turning now, and in another week, I fear, will be faded and 
sere. As soon as ever you can leave home, be sure to write and 
let me know. 

I am afraid Amelia continues to get on but poorly. At least I 
had a grievous letter from her a day or two since detailing a visit 
from Dr. Henriquez, whom it appears she felt herself under the 
necessity of summoning down from London. I wish her nervous- 
system, or whatever is wrong with her, could get into better order. 

Papa continues greatly better ; my husband flourishes, he begins- 
indeed to express some slight alarm at the growing improvement 
in his condition. I think I am decent, better certainly than I was 
two months ago ; but people don't compliment me as they do 
Arthur, excuse the name, it has grown natural to use it now. I 
trust, dear Nell, that you are all well at Brookroyd, and that your 
visiting stirs are pretty nearly over. I compassionate you from my 
heart for all the trouble to which you must be put, and I am rather 
ashamed of people coming sponging in that fashion one after 
another; get away from them and come here. Yours faithfully, 


How does the romance of real life between E. S. and L. K, 
get on ? 

Letter 680 


HAWORTH, September itfh, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, Mr. Nicholls and I have a call or two to make 
in the neighbourhood of Keighley ; we wish so to arrange as to 
meet you there and bring you back with us in the cab. On Wed- 
nesday Mr. Nicholls is always engaged, as it is a lecture day, but 
on Thursday next (the 2ist) we will D.v. expect you at the 
station by the dii train. We shall be very, very glad to see you, 
dear Nell, and I want the day to come. 

E. S, does not seem to me one of the wise virgins, and I must 
candidly add that L. K. strikes me also as one of the slightly 
infatuated; it must be outside which chiefly attracts him, and then 
her reluctance stimulates his pursuit. However, I trust we shall 
have plenty of time to talk them and others over ere long. Good- 
bye, dear Nell. Yours very faithfully, C. B. NlCHOLLS. 


Letter 68 1 


September iqtk. 

Yes ! I am thankful to say my husband is in improved health and 
spirits. It makes me content and grateful to hear him from time 
to time avow his happiness in the brief, plain phrase of sincerity. 
My own life is more occupied than it used to be : I have not so 
much time for thinking: I am obliged to be more practical, for 
my dear Arthur is a very practical as well as a very punctual and 
methodical man. Every morning he is in the National School 
by nine o'clock; he gives the children religious instruction till 
half-past ten. Almost every afternoon he pays visits amongst the 
poor parishioners. Of course he often finds a little work for his 
wife to do, and I hope she is not sorry to help him. I believe it 
is not bad for me that his bent should be so wholly towards matters 
of life and active usefulness, so little inclined to the literary and 
contemplative. As to his continued affection and kind attentions, 
it does not become me to say much of them ; but they neither 
change nor diminish. C. B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 682 


September list, 1854. 

... I say nothing about the war, but when I read of its 
horrors I cannot help thinking that it is one of the greatest 
curses that ever fell upon mankind. I trust it may not last long, 
for it really seems to me that no glory to be gained can com- 
pensate for the sufferings which must be endured. This may 
seem a little ignoble and unpatriotic ; but I think that as we 
advance towards middle age nobleness and patriotism have a 
different signification to us to that which we accept while young. 

You inquire kindly about papa. He is better, and seems to 
gain strength as the weather gets colder; indeed of late years 
his health has always been better in winter than in summer. We 
are all indeed pretty well, and for my own part, it is long since 
I have known such comparative immunity from headache, etc., as 
during the last three months. My life is different from what it 
used to be. May God make me thankful for it ! I have a good, 
kind, attached husband, and every day my own attachment to 
him grows stronger. C. B. NlCHOLLS* 


Letter 683 


HAWORTH, October nth, '54. 

DEAR ELLEN, I cannot say I was surprised when I received 
yours to learn that you had had to wait at Keighley Station two 
long hours without fire or company, but I was truly vexed and 
concerned. On looking at the clock after you were gone, I feared 
how it would be, so did Arthur, and we were both exceedingly 
grieved that you had not stayed for the later train. I must say 
Mr. E.'s behaviour was very creditable to him, the man mu-t have 
the germ of innate politeness in his nature. I return his courteous 
little note. 

You will ask how we got on with the party yesterday. Read 
the enclosed which I received on Monday morning, and it will 
tell you, Amelia is really a simpleton in some things, she will now 

be worshipping Mrs. , fine clothes, open pink muslin gown, 

worked petticoat, velvet cape, and carriage and pairs included. I 
do not say that she should show or feel one shade of jealousy of 
her husband's former flames, but that assiduous cultivation of 
their society and countenance seems strained, odd, unnatural. 
Arthur is very strong upon it and much out of patience with 

I don't know whether I shall be able to keep him at home now 
whenever she does come. He threatens to bolt He flourishes, 
and desires his kind regards to you. He also often says he 
wishes you were well settled in life. He is just gone out this 
morning in a rather refractory mood about some Dissenters. On 
Sunday, we had a pair of very sweet sermons indeed, really good, 
and touching the better springs of our nature. Just before g jing 
to Church he menaced me with something worse than the pre- 
ceding Sunday. I was agreeably disappointed. 

I cannot say I wonder at Mr, Heald's resignation. It seems to 
me that all who truly believe the doctrines and trust the promises 
of Cfa/istianity must, after watching the sufferings of sickness and 
agonies -of death in one they love, feel, in the first instance, a sort 
of peace in their release, and resignation to their loss. It is some 
time afterwards that the dark and durable regrets arise, and 
perhaps, surrounded bv his family and parishioners, he may be 
spared these. 


With love to your dear mother, and all at Brookroyd, most to 
yourself, Nell, I am, yours faithfully, C. B. NlCHOLLS, 

Papa, I am sorry to say, is still a good deal troubled with his 
cough, though better than he has been. 

Letter 684 


October , ' 54. Friday Morning. 

DEAR NELL, You would have been written to before now if I 
had not been very busy. Joe Taylor and the child came on 
Tuesday morning. Amelia only stayed till the same evening, we 
had the others till yesterday. We got on with them better than I 
expected. Amelia seemed pleased and content and forgot her 
fancies for the time ; she looked not at all pretty but stronger and 
in better health. Tim behaved capitally on the whole. She 
amused papa very much, chatting away to him very funnily, his 
white hair took her fancy, she announced a decided preference for 
it over Arthur's black hair, and coolly advised the latter to 'go to 
the barber and get his whiskers cut off.' Papa says she speaks as 
I did when I was a child, says the same odd unexpected things. 
Neither Arthur nor papa liked Amelia's looks at first, but she 
improved on them, I think. 

Arthur will go. to the Consecration of Heptonstall Church, 
D.V., but I don't mean to accompany him. I hardly like 
coming in contact with all the Mrs. Parsons ; if you were here 
I should go. 

Arthur heard from Mr. Sowden lately an uninteresting letter, 
no remark on our vote of thanks, etc. A brother of his is coming 
over, Arthur means to invite them both here for a night I shall 
take stock of them and tell you what I think. 

Arthur is impatient for his walk. I am obliged to scrawl 
hurriedly. When I go to Brookroyd, if I hear Mr. Clapham or 
anybody else say anything to the disparagement of single women, 
I shall go off like a bomb shell, and as for you, but I won't 

Arthur has just been glancing over this note. He thinks I 
have written too freely about Amelia. Men don't seem to under- 
stand making letters a vehicle of communication, they always 


seem to think us incautious. I 'm sure I don't think I have said 
anything rash ; however, you must burn it when read. Arthur 
says such letters as mine never ought to be kept, they are 
dangerous as lucifer matches, so be sure to follow a recommenda- 
tion he has just given, ' fire them ' or ' there will be no more, 7 such 
is his resolve. I can't help laughing, this seems to me so funny. 
Arthur, however, says he is quite 'serious 1 and looks it, I assure 
you ; he is bending over the desk with his eyes full of concern. I 
am now desired ( to have done with it/ so with his kind regards- 
and mine, good-bye, dear Ellen. Yours affectionately, 


Letter 685 


H AWO RTH, October 31^, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I wrote my last in a hurry, and as soon as I 
had sealed it, remembered that it contained no comment on what 
you had said about Elizabeth's illness. I was sorry, for the news 
had impressed me painfully, and I wished much to know how she 
was getting on. Does the slight improvement continue? Her 
particular wish for champagne might imply a turn either for the 
better or the worse. I trust it was the former in her case, though 
I have known where such a caprice of the appetite has been of 
fatal augury. You will kindly remember to give me information 
respecting her when you write again. 

The Consecration of Heptonstall Church took place last Thurs- 
day ; Arthur fully intended to go, but a funeral kept him at home. 
I regretted this as the day happened to be very fine. Mr. Grant 
went He said there was a good attendance of the laity, but 
very few clergy, this was owing to the fact of invitations not 
having been sent. 

I return Mrs. J s letter; it bears that character of un- 
assuming goodness and sense which mark all her letters, but 
I should fear her illness has perhaps been more serious than 
she allows. She is evidently not one to make much of her own 

Dear Ellen, Arthur complains that you do not distinctly 
promise to burn my letters as you receive them. He says you 
must give him a plain pledge to that effect, or he will read every 
line I write and elect himself censor of our correspondence. 


He says women are most rash in letter-writing, they think only 
of the trustworthiness of their immediate friend, and do not look 
to contingencies ; a letter may fall into any hand. You must give 
the promise, I believe, at least he says so, with his best regards, or 
else you will get such notes as he writes to Mr. Sowden, plain, 
brief statements of facts without the adornment of a single 
flourish, with no comment on the character or peculiarities of any 
human being, and if a phrase of sensibility or affection steals in, 
it seems to come on tiptoe, looking ashamed of itself, blushing 
1 pea-green } as he says, and holding both its shy hands before its 
face. Write him out his promise on a separate slip of paper, in a 
legible hand, and send it in your next Papa, I am glad to say, 
continues pretty well. I hope your mother prospers, and that 
Ann is better, with love to all, Mr. Clapham included. I am, 
yours faithfully, C. B. NlCHOLLS. 1 

Letter 686 


HAWORTH, November jtk, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, The news of an acquaintance's death always 
seems to come suddenly. I thought ill of the previous accounts 

you had given of poor Elizabeth , but still I did not expect 

she would die so soon. And theirs is a family into which it is 
difficult to realise the entrance of death. They seemed so cheerful, 
active, sanguine. How does S. bear her loss ? Will she not feel 
companionless, almost sisterless ? I should almost fear so, for a 
married sister can hardly be to her like the other. I should like to 
know too how Mrs. Hewitt is. Did she ever lose a child before? 

Arthur wishes you would burn my letters. He was out when I 
commenced this letter, but he is just come in. On my asking- 
whether he would give the pledge required in return, he says, * Yes, 
we may now write any dangerous stuff we please to each other' ; 
it is not * old friends ' he mistrusts, but the chances of war, the 
accidental passing of letters into hands and under eyes for which 
they were never written. 

All this seems mighty amusing to me : it is a man's mode of 
viewing correspondence. Men's letters are proverbially uninter- 

1 Upon this letter Miss Nussey had written a note to the effect that Mr* Nicholls 
and Mr, Bronte were the very first to break his (Mr. Nicholls's) objections by requesting 
the use of Charlotte Bronte's Letters for Mrs. Gaskell. 


-esting and uncommunicative. I never quite knew before why they 
made them so. They may be right in a sense. Strange chances 
do fall out certainly. As to my own notes, I never thought of 
attaching importance to them or considering their fate, till Arthur 
seemed to reflect on both so seriously. 

Mr. Sowden and his brother were here yesterday, stayed all 
night, and are but just gone. George Sowden is six or seven 
years the junior of Sutcliffe Sowden (the one you have seen) ; he 
looks very delicate and quiet, a good sincere man, I should think. 
Mr. Sowden asked after Miss Nussey. 

I will write again next week if all be well, to name a day for 
-coming to see you. I am sure you want, or at least ought to have, 
a little rest before you are bothered with more company : but 
whenever I come, I suppose, dear Nell, under present circum- 
stances, it will be a quiet visit, and that I shall not need to bring 
more than a plain dress or two. Tell me this when you write. 
Believe me, faithfully yours, C. B. NlCHOLLS. 

I intend to write to Miss Wooler shortly. 

Letter 687 


HAWORTH, November 14?%, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am only just at liberty to write to you; 
guests have kept me very busy during the last two or three days. 
Sir J. Kay-Shuttle worth and a friend of his came here on Saturday 
afternoon and stayed till after dinner on Monday. His chief errand 
was to see my husband, and when he had seen him he took a 
fancy to him, and before his departure made him a formal offer 
of the living of Padiham (near his house at Gawthorpe), now 
vacant, or on the point of becoming so. Arthur of course is tied to 
Haworth so long as papa lives, and was obliged to decline for 
that reason, had there been none other. Arthur suggested Mr. 
Sowden, Mr. Sowden's present income is only ^"130; So fixed, 
the rest quite uncertain. There is a beautiful Church at Padiham, 
and a Parsonage is about to be erected. 

When I go to Brookroyd, Arthur will take me there and stay 
one ni^ht, but I cannot yet fix the time of my visit. Joe and 
Amelia, it seems, are off to Scarbro', they mean to stay a fortnight, 
and Amelia has written in great anxiety that I should wait till 


they come home. Indeed, I have so long promised to visit them 
when I go to Brookroyd that it would not be right to fall off. 
You are aware of the inconvenience and expense of making Huns- 
worth the subject of a second visit direct from Haworth. I am 
sorry too to be obliged to defer seeing you, very sorry, but I hope 
to manage the matter before Christmas. Good-bye for the 
present, dear Nell. Yours faithfully, C. B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 688 


HAWORTH, November list, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I hope you will write very soon and let me 
know how Mercy is getting on, and how you all are. I trust the 
fever will soon be allayed in Mercy's case, and, above all, that it 
will be confined to her, and not spread to others of the family, 
and, indeed I quite hope this will not be the case, because the 
fever was not generated at Brookroyd, proving miasma in the 

neighbourhood, but was imported it seems from Leeds. Mrs. 

was indeed thoughtless. I fear you will have much to do, too 
much ; but yet I hope and believe you will be supported. 

You ask about Mr. Sowden's matter. He walked over here on 
a wild rainy day. We talked it over. He is quite disposed to 
entertain the proposal, but of course there must be close inquiry 
and ripe consideration before either he or the patron decide. 
Meantime, Mr. Sowden is most anxious that the affairs should be 
kept absolutely quiet ; in the event of disappointment it would 
be both painful and injurious to him if it should be rumoured at 
Hebden Bridge that he has had thoughts of leaving. Arthur says 
if a whisper gets out, these things fly from parson to parson like 
wild-fire. I cannot help somehow wishing that the matter should 
be arranged, if all on examination is found tolerably satisfactory. 

Papa continues pretty well, I am thankful to say ; his deafness 
is wonderfully relieved. Winter seems to suit him better than 
summer, besides he is settled and content, as I perceive with 
gratitude to God. 

Dear Ellen, I wisfci you well through every trouble. Arthur is 
not in just now or he would send a kind message. With love to 
Mercy and all at Brookroyd, and in the hope that you will, as 
soon as possible, let me know how she is doing.- Believe me,. 
yours faithfully, C. B. NlCHOLLS. 




THE few letters of the next few weeks tell their own story. 
Charlotte Bronte died on March 31, 1855. 

Letter 689 


HAWORTH, November 29^, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I intended to have written a line yesterday, but 
just as I was sitting down for the purpose, Arthur called to me to 
take a walk. We set off not intending to go far, but though wild 
and cloudy, it was fair in the morning. When we had got about 
half a mile on the moors, Arthur suggested the idea of the water- 
fall ; after the melted snow, he said, it would be fine. I had often 
wanted to see it in its winter power, so we walked on. It was fine 
indeed, a perfect torrent raving over the rocks white and bountiful. 
It began to rain while we were watching it, and we returned home 
under a streaming sky; however, I enjoyed the walk inexpressibly, 
and would not have missed the spectacle on any account. 

How is Mercy now? I hope still better. I hope she will get 
forward with her convalescence in clever style, and riot linger 
half-fondly over the business. How are you ? Can you get out 
now and take a walk sometimes? Let me know soon, dear Ellen, 
about your welfare and hers. 

Arthur somewhat demurs about my going to Brookroyd as yet : 
fever, you know, is a formidable word. I cannot say I entertain 
any apprehensions myself further than this, that I should be 
terribly bothered at the idea of being taken ill from home and 
causing trouble, and strangers are sometimes more liable to in- 
fection than persons living in the house. 

Mr. Sowden has seen Sir J. K. Shuttleworth, but I fancy the 


matter is very uncertain as yet. It seems the Bishop of Man- 
chester stipulates that the clergyman chosen should, if possible, 
be from his own Diocese, and this, Arthur says, is quite right and 
just. An exception would have been made in Arthur's favour, 
but the case is not so clear with Mr. Sowden. However, no harm 
will have been done if the matter does not take wind, as I trust 
it will not. Write very soon, dear Nell, and believe me, yours 
faithfully, C. B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 690 


HAWORTH, December jft, 1854. 

DEAR ELLEN, I shall not get leave to go to Brookroyd before 
Christmas now, so do not expect me. For my own part I really 
should have no fear, and if it just depended on me, I should come ; 
but these matters are not quite in my power now, another must be 
consulted, and where his wish and judgment have a decided bias 
to a particular course, I make no stir, but just adopt it. Arthur 
is sorry to disappoint both you and me, but it is his fixed wish 
that a few weeks should be allowed yet to elapse before we meet. 
Probably he is confirmed in this desire by my having a cold at 
present. I did not achieve the walk to the waterfall with im- 
punity, though I changed my wet things immediately on returning 
home, yet I felt a chill afterwards, and the same night had sore 
throat and cold ; however, I am better now, but not quite well. 

I am truly glad to hear that Mercy is recovering so nicely, I 
trust for your sake as well as hers there will be no drawback, and 
that you will soon have some complete rest, which you must need. 

It is good news about Mrs. Hewitt. The affair seems to have got 
over admirably. Was it not a little sooner than she expected? 

Did I tell you that our poor little Flossy is dead? He drooped 
for a single day, and died quietly in the night without pain. The 
loss even of a dog was very saddening, yet perhaps no dog ever 
had a happier life or an easier death. 

Papa continues pretty well, I am happy to say, and my dear 
boy flourishes ; I do not mean that he continues to grow stouter, 
which one would not desire, but he keeps in excellent condition. 

You would wonder I dare say at the long disappearance of the 
French paper. I had got such an accumulation of them unread 
that I thought I would not wait to send the old ones, Now you 


will receive them regularly. I am writing in haste. It is almost 
inexplicable to me that I seem so often hurried now, but the fact 
is, whenever Arthur is in, I must have occupations in which he can 
share, or which will not at least divert my attention from him ; thus 
a multitude of little matters get put off till he goes out, and then I 
am quite busy. Good-bye, dear Ellen, I hope we shall meet soon* 
Yours faithfully, C B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 691 


HAWORTH, December 2fati t '54. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return Mrs. Hewitt's letter. It is as you say, 
very genuine, truthful, affectionate, maternal, without a taint of 
sham or exaggeration. Mary will love her child without spoiling 
it, I think. She does not make an uproar about her happiness 
either : the longer I live, the more I suspect exaggerations. I 
fancy it is sometimes a sort of fashion for each to vie with the 
other in protestations about their wonderful felicity, and some- 
times they FIB. I am truly glad to hear you are all better at 
Brookroyd. In the course of three or four weeks more, I expect 
to get leave to come to you. I certainly long to see you again ; 
one circumstance reconciles me to this delay, the weather. I do 
not know whether it has been as bad with you as with us, but 
here for three weeks we have had little else than a succession of 

In your last, you asked about Mr. Sowden and Sir James. I 
fear Mr. Sowden has little chance of the living ; he had heard 
nothing more of it the last time he wrote to Arthur, and in a note 
he had from Sir James, yesterday, the subject is not mentioned. 

You inquire too after Mrs. Gaskell. She has not been here, 
and I think I should not like her to come now till summer. She 
is very busy with her story of North and South. 

I must make this note short that it may not be overweight 
Arthur joins me in sincere good wishes for a happy Christmas, 
a many of them to you and yours. He is well, thank God, and 
so am I, and he is 'my dear boy' certainly, deafer now than he 
was six months ago. In three days we shall actually have been 
married that length of time! Good-bye, dear Nell Yours 
faithfully. C. B. NlCHOLLS, 


Letter 692 


HAWORTH, December 28^, 1854. 

MY DEAR MRS. CLAPHAM, Ellen will have already received 
a note from me which partly answers your kind note of yesterday. 
I hope to visit Brookroyd about the beginning of February, but 
before that time, I do not think it likely I shall get off. Do not 
therefore postpone any engagements that may offer for yourself 
on my account. As to infection, I have not the slightest fear on 
my own account, but there are cases, as I need not remind you, 
where wives have just to put their own judgment on the shelf and 
do as they are bid. 

I am truly glad to hear through you that Ellen has borne her late 
fatigues pretty well, for I know that much anxiety or over-exertion 
does not suit her, and she must have had a good deal of both lately. 

It would be cheering to see your mother and Mercy both down 
on Christmas Day. Give my love to Mercy. I hope she will be 
a very good girl, eat nourishing things and get strong as fast as 
she can. You do not mention your own health, but I trust you 
are now quite recovered from your late painful attack. 

Tell Mr. Clapham I have long been wanting to pay my bride- 
visit to Brookroyd and that I shall be sincerely glad to shake 
hands with him once more. I want to introduce him to my 
husband too, and I have an idea that they would not disagree, 
that is, if they had time to know each other, which, however, 
could scarcely be done in a day. 

With love to your mother, Ellen, Mercy, and yourself. Believe 
me, my dear Mrs. Clapham, affectionately yours, 


Letter 693 


, January igtft, 1855. 
DEAR ELLEN, Since our return from Gawthorpe, we have 
had a Mr. Bell, one of Arthur's cousins, staying with us. It was 
a great pleasure ; I wish you could have seen him and made his 
acquaintance : a true gentleman by nature and cultivation is not 
after all an everyday thing. 

VOL. II. 2 B 


As to the living of Habergham or Padiham, it appears the chance 
is doubtful at present for anybody. The present incumbent wishes 
to retract his resignation, and declares his intention of appointing 
a curate for two years. I fear Mr. Sowden hardly produced a 
favourable impression. A strong wish was again expressed that 
Arthur could come, but that is out of the question. 

I very much wish to come to Brookroyd, and I hope to be able 
to write with certainty and fix Wednesday the 3ist January as 
the day : but the fact is, I am not sure whether I shall be well 
enough to leave home. At present I should be a most tedious 
visitor. My health has been really very good ever since my 
return from Ireland till about ten days ago, when the stomach 
seemed quite suddenly to lose its tone, indigestion and continual 
faint sickness have been my portion ever since. Don't conjecture, 
dear Nell, for it is too soon yet, though I certainly never before 
felt as I have done lately. I am rather mortified to lose my good 
looks and grow thin as I am doing, just when I thought of going 
to Brookroyd. Poor Joe Taylor ! I still hope he will get better, 
but Amelia writes grievous, though not always clear or con- 
sistent accounts. Dear Ellen, I want to see you, and I hope I 
shall see you well. My love to all. Yours faithfully, 


Thank Mr. Clapham for his hospitable wish, but it would be 
quite out of Arthur's power to stay more than one night or two 
at the most. 

Early in the new year, as stated in the above letter, Mr. 
and Mrs. Nicholls spent three days with Sir James Kay- 
Shuttleworth at Gawthorpe. Mrs. Gaskell informs us that : 

' Soon after her return she was attacked by new sensations of 
perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness. After this state 
of things had lasted for some time she yielded to Mr. Nicholls's 
wish that a doctor should be sent for. He came, and assigned a 
natural cause for her miserable indisposition a little patience and 
all would go right. She, who was ever patient in illness, tried 
hard to bear up and bear on. But the dreadful sickness increased 
and increased, till the very sight of food occasioned nausea. " A 
wren would have starved on what she ate during those last six 
weeks," says one. Tabby's health had suddenly and utterly given 
way, and she died in this time of distress and anxiety respecting 


the last daughter of the house she had served so long. Martha 
tenderly waited on her mistress, and from time to time tried to 
cheer her with the thought of the baby that was coming. "I 
dare say I shall be glad some day," she would say ; " but I am so 
ill so weary " Then she took to her bed, too weak to sit up.' 

Letter 694 


HAWORTH, January 23^4 1855. 

DEAR MlSS NUSSEY, As Charlotte is not well, she requests 
me to answer your letter, and say that it will not be possible for 
her to visit you earlier than the 3ist. / should say that unless 
she improves very rapidly, it will not be advisable for her to leave 
home even then. 

She will be obliged to you to keep 2 Ibs. of honey for her. 
She does not know of a customer for the Queens of Scotland. 
The remainder of your note she will answer, I hope, soon. 
Believe me, sincerely yours, A. B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 695 


HAWORTH, KEIGHLEY, January 29^, 1855. 

DEAR Miss NUSSEY, As Charlotte continues unwell, I again 
write a line for her. She has been confined to bed for some days. 
I have sent for Dr. MacTurk 1 to-day, as I wish to have better 
advice than Haworth affords. Under these circumstances you 
will see that it is quite impossible to name any date for our visit 
to you. 

Charlotte sends her love, and says she will write as soon as she 
is able. Believe me, faithfully yours, A. B. NlCHOLLS, 

Letter 696 


HAWORTH, February ist> 1855. 

DEAR MlSS NUSSEY, Dr. MacTurk saw Charlotte on Tuesday. 
His opinion was that her illness would be of some duration, but 

3 Dr. MacTurk was the most able physician in Bradford at this period. 


that there was no immediate danger. I trust, therefore, that in 
a few weeks she will be well again. 

We were very much concerned to hear of your mother's con- 
tinued illness, both on your account and hers. Charlotte begs 
you will write a line soon to let her know how Mrs. Nussey gets 
on, and she is sure she can trust you to excuse her from answer- 
ing until she is able. Believe me, yours faithfully, 


Letter 697 


HAWORTH, February 14?%, 1855. 

DEAR MISS NUSSEY, It is difficult to write to friends about 
my wife's illness as its cause is yet uncertain ; at present she is 
completely prostrated with weakness and sickness and frequent 
fever. All may turn out well in the end, and I hope it will ; if 
you saw her you would perceive that she can maintain no corre- 
spondence at present 

She thinks of you and sympathises with you in your present 
affliction, and longed much to hear from you. Believe me, 
sincerely yours, A. B. NlCHOLLS. 

P. S. Till lately Mr. Bronte was very well ; he is now, however, 
suffering from bronchial irritation. 

There are but three more letters, all written in faint 
pencil, from the bed of sickness : 

Letter 698 


February i$th, 1855. 

A few lines of acknowledgment your letter shall have, whether 
well or ill. At present I am confined to my bed with illness, 
and have been so for three weeks. Up to this period, since my 
marriage, I have had excellent health. My husband and I live 
at home with my father ; of course I could not leave kirn. He 
is pretty well, better than last summer. No kinder, better husband 
than mine, it seems to me, there can be in the world. I do not 
want now for kind companionship in health and the tenderest 


nursing in sickness. Deeply I sympathise in all you tell me 
about Dr. Wheelwright and your excellent mother's anxiety. I 
trust he will not risk another operation. I cannot write more 
now ; for I am much reduced and very weak. God bless you all ! 
Yours affectionately, C B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 699 


MY DEAR ELLEN, I must write one line out of my weary bed 
The news of Mary's probable recovery came like a ray of joy to 
me. I am not going to talk about my sufferings, it would 
be useless and painful I want to give you an assurance which I 
know will comfort you and that is that I find in my husband 
the tenderest nurse, the kindest support the best earthly comfort 
that ever woman had. His patience never fails, and it is tried by 
sad days and broken nights. Write and tell me about Mrs. 
Hewitt's case, how long she was ill and in what way. Papa, 
thank God ! is better. Our poor old Tabby is dead and buried. 
Give my truest love to Miss Woolen May God comfort and help 
you. C. B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 700 


MY DEAR ELLEN, Thank you very much for Mrs. Hewitt's 
sensible clear letter. Thank her too. In much, her case was 
wonderfully like mine but I am reduced to greater weakness 
the skeleton emaciation is the same, etc., etc., etc. I cannot talk 
even to my dear, patient, constant Arthur, I can say but few 
words at once. 

These last two days I have been somewhat better and have 
taken some beef- tea spoonsful of wine and water a mouthful of 
light pudding at different times. 

Dear Ellen, I realise full well what you* have gone through, and 
will have to go through O may you continue to be supported 
and not sink ! Sickness here has been terribly rife. Papa is well 
now. Kindest regards to Mr. and Mrs. Clapham, your mother, 

Write when you can. Yours, C. B. NlCHOLLS. 


Letter 701 


March \$th> 1855. 

MY DEAR Miss NUSSEY, Be assured you have all our 
sympathies in the awful and painful event which has just befallen 
your household. I broke the sad news to Charlotte as gently as 
I could, but it was a great shock. She is much concerned both 
on your account and that of poor Mrs. Clapham, and also at the 
thought that she shall never see again one whom she greatly 
respected, These seem troubled times, my dear Miss Nussey. 
May God support you through them. 

Charlotte was better last week this week I am sorry to say 
she has again suffered much. The bad weather has thrown her 

You do not mention Miss Mercy, but we should be glad to 
know how she is getting on when you can write again. Believe 
me, yours very sincerely, A. B. NlCHOLLS. 

Letter 702 


HAWORTH, March 31 st, 1855, 

DEAR Miss NUSSEY, Mr. Bronte's letter would prepare you 
for the sad intelligence I have to communicate. Our dear 
Charlotte is no more. She died last night of exhaustion. For 
the last two or three weeks we had become very uneasy about 
her, but it was not until Sunday evening that it became apparent 
that her sojourn with us was likely to be short. We intend to 
bury her on Wednesday morning. Believe me, sincerely yours, 


Mrs. Gaskell is our only other authority for the last sad 
days : 

Long days and longer nights went by ; still the same relentless 
Mrs ^ nausea and faintness, and still borne on in patient trust. 

Gaskeil's About the third week in March there was a change ; a 
Narrative. ] OWj wandering delirium came on ; and in it she begged 
constantly for food and even for stimulants. She swallowed 


eagerly now ; but it was too late. Wakening for an Instant from 
this stupor of intelligence she saw her husband's woe-worn face ? 
and caught the sound of some murmured words of prayer that 
God would spare her. * Oh !' she whispered forth, I am not going 
to die, am I ? He will not separate us, we have been so happy/ 

Early on Saturday morning, March 3ist, the solemn tolling of 
Haworth church bell spoke forth the fact of her death to the 
villagers who had known her from a child, and whose hearts 
shivered within them as they thought of the two sitting desolate 
and alone in the old grey house. 

Letter 703 


April \\tJi, 1855. 

MY DEAR MADAM, Mr. Bronte and myself thank you very 
sincerely for your sympathy with us in our sad bereavement 
Our loss is indeed great the loss of one as good as she was 
gifted. Although she had been ill from the beginning of 
January, it was only a few days previous to her death that we 
became alarmed for her safety. On the whole she had not much 
suffering she spoke little during the last few days, but continued 
quite conscious. 

Mr. Bronte is pretty well, tho' of course the present trial is a 
great shock to him. 

I return your letter as I do not know her address. 1 Again 
thanking you for your sympathy, I am, my dear madam, yours 
faithfully, A. B. NlCHOLLS. 

1 The address of Miss Lsetitia Wheelwright 




THERE still remain some interesting documents to add to 
the Bronte story. By her will, 1 Mrs. Nicholls left her 
husband the very small property that she had derived 
from her novels. Mr. Nicholls stayed on at Haworth 
for the six years that followed his wife's death. When 
Mr. Bronte died he returned to Ireland to Banagher in 
King's County. Some years later he married again 
a cousin, Miss Bell by name. That second marriage was 
one of unmixed blessedness. I found him forty years 
later in a home of supreme simplicity and charm, esteemed 

1 The will runs as follows : 

Extracted from the District Probate Registry at York attached to Her Majesty's High 

Court of Justice. 

In the name of God. Amen. /, CHARLOTTE NICHOLLS, of Haworth, in the garish 
of Bradford and county of York) being of sound and disposing mind, memory, and tinder- 
standing, but mindful of my own mortality, do this seventeenth day of February, in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, make this my last Will and 
Testament in manner and form following, that is to say: In case 1 die without issue I 
give and bequeath to my husband all my property to be his absolutely and entirely, but, In 
tase I leave issue I bequeath to my husband the interest of my property during his life- 
time, and at his death 2 desire that the principal should go to my surviving child or 
children; should there be more than one child, share and share alike. And I do hereby 
make and appoint my said husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, clerk, sole executor of this my 
last Will and Testament In witness whereof I have to this my last Will and Testament 
subscribed my hand, the day and year first above wrz/tew^CHARLOTTR NlCHOLLS. 
Signed and acknowledged by the said testatrix CHARLOTTE NlCHOLLS, as and for her 
last Will and Testament in the presence of us, who, at her request, in her presence and 
in presence of each other, have at the same time hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses 
thereto: Patrick Bronte, B, A. 9 Incumbent of Haw orth, Yorkshire; Martha Brown* 

The eighteenth day of April 1855, the Will of CHARLOTTE NlCHOLLS, late of 
Haworth, in the parish of Bradford in the county of York (wife of the Reverend 
Arthur Bell fricholls, Clerk in Holy Orders") (having bona notabilia within the. 
province of York) Deceased was proved in the prerogative court of York by th& 
oath of the said Arthur Bell Nicholls (the husband}, the sole executor to whom 
administration was granted, he having been first sworn duly to administer. 
Testatrix died 3ist March 1855. 


by all who knew him and idolised in his own household. 
It was not difficult to understand that Charlotte Bronte 
had loved him and had fought down parental opposition 
in his behalf. The qualities of gentleness, sincerity, 
unaffected piety, and delicacy of mind were his. He 
lived for years as a country farmer, attending the neigh- 
bouring markets and looking after his stock. He wrote 
once or twice to English newspapers when questions arose 
concerning his wife's fame otherwise he broke no silence. 

Martha Brown went to stay with him and his wife for 
a time, but the only visitors from England who were 
Bronte enthusiasts whom he consented to receive other 
than the editor of these letters were Mr. Reginald Smith 
of the firm of Smith, Elder, and Mr. Field of the Bronte 
Society. He read every word written about the Brontes 
with keenest interest, and his house was full of mementos. 
There were drawings on the walls by the three sisters, and 
books in the cases that they had handled. Assuredly the 
Bronte tradition was well maintained in that quiet little 
Irish town. 1 

Mr. Bronte died on June 7, 1861, and his funeral in 
Ha worth Church is described in the Bradford Review of 
the following week : 

Great numbers of people had collected in the churchyard, and 
a few minutes before noon the corpse was brought out through 
the eastern gate of the garden leading into the churchyard. The 
Rev. Dr. Burnet, Vicar of Bradford, read the funeral service, and 
led the way into the church, and the following clergymen were 
the bearers of the coffin : The Rev. Dr. Cartman of Skipton ; 
Rev. Mr. Sowden of Hebden Bridge; the Incumbents of Culling- 
worth, Oakworth, Morton, Oxenhope, and St. John's Ingrow. The 
chief mourners were the Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls, son-in-law of 
the deceased ; Martha Brown, the housekeeper ; and her sister ; 
Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Wainwright. There were several gentle- 
men followed the corpse whom we did not know. All the shops 
in Haworth were closed, and the people filled every pew, and the 

1 Arthur Bell Nicholls died on Monday, December 3, 1906, aged 90, and was buried 
in the new churchyard of Banagher. 


aisles in the church, and many shed tears during the impressive 
reading of the service for the burial of the dead, by the vicar. 
The body of Mr. Bronte was laid within the altar rails, by the 
side of his daughter Charlotte. He is the last that can be interred 
inside of Haworth Church. On the coffin was this inscription : 
'Patrick Bronte, died June 7th, 1861, aged 84 years. 1 

His will, which was proved at Wakefield, 1 left the bulk 
of his property, as was natural, to the son-in-law who had 
faithfully served and tended him for the six years which 
succeeded Charlotte Bronte's death. 

There are also other documents concerning the autho- 
rised biography, as, for example, the following from Mary 
Taylor ; 

Letter 704 


WELLINGTON, April igfb, '56. 

DEAR ELLEN, I got your letter a week ago, that is 5 months 
after it was written. It has been the same with those from John 
and from Amelia. It is quite old-fashioned to be so long without 
news from England 1 There were 3 mails due at once, Your 
letter is most interesting concerning poor Charlotte's Life. If, 
for the sake of those who behaved ill to her, the truth cannot be 

1 Extracted from the Principal Registry of the Probate Divorce and Admiralty 
Division of the High Court of Justice. 

Being of sound mind and judgment ', in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost, /, PATRICK BRONTE, B.A., Incumbent of Haworth, in the Parish of Bradford 
and county of York, make this my last Will and Testament : I leave forty pounds to be 
equally divided amongst all my brothers and sisters to -whom / gave considerable sums 
in times past ; And I direct the same sum of forty pounds to be sent for distribution to 
Mr. Hugh Bronte", Ballinasceaugh^ near Loughbrickland^ Ireland ; / leave thirty 
pounds to my servant ', Martha Brown, as a token of regard for long and faithful services 
to me and my children ; To my beloved and esteemed son-in-law, the Rev. Arthur Bell 
NichollS) JB.A., 2 leave and bequeath the residue of my personal estate of every description 
which I shall be possessed of at my death for his own absolute benefit; And I make him- 
my sole executor ; And I revoke all former and other Wills ^ in witness whereof /, the 
said PATRICK BRONTE, have to this my last Will^ contained in this sheet of paper > set 
my hand this twentieth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and fifty "five. 

PATRICK BRONTE. Signed and acknowledged by the said PATRICK BRONTfi as his 
Will in the presence of us present at the same time> and who in his presence and in the 
presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses: JOSEPH R.EDMAN, 


spoken, still people should not tell lies. The fact reached me 
even here that Mr. Bronte did not choose his daughter should 
marry she wrote to me that she once dismissed Mr. Nicholls 
because he (her papa) was so angry that she was frightened 
frightened for him. It was long after, years I think, that she 
told him that she had determined to see Mr, Nicholls again, and 
without positively saying yes, to retract her refusal. I can never 
think without gloomy anger of Charlotte's sacrifices to the selfish 
old man. How well we know that, had she left him entirely and 
succeeded in gaining wealth, and name, and influence, she would 
have had all the world lauding her to the skies for any trivial 
act of generosity that would have cost her nothing ! But how on 
earth is all this to be set straight ! Mrs Gaskell seems far too 
able a woman to put her head into such a wasp nest, as she 
would raise about her by speaking the truth of living people. 
How she will get through with it I can't imagine. Charlotte 
once wrote to me that Miss Martineau had no bump of secretive- 
ness at all, and that she (Charlotte) had dropped her acquaintance 
on that account. I am very curious about Miss Martineau's life. 
What do you mean about her having written it is it published ? 
Otherwise how do you know what she has said of Charlotte? 

Your account of Joe and Amelia agrees with the impression 
Amelia's letters give me. She writes late at night and seems to 
have spent her time nursing until every other idea has gone out 
of her head. She gives no news, mentions no friends, and seems 
to know nothing but how unhappy she is. This want of power 
to turn her thoughts abroad shows more depression than she 
herself is aware of. But what remedy? No one can take her 
place, even if they had the authority to send her away. Her 
very mind gets warped by the constant strain on it I begin now 
to incline to John's opinion that Joe's hopelessness is a symptom 
of his disorder and not to be believed in. John seems to think he 
will get better by slow degrees. 

We have been in danger of a terrible misfortune here. A fire 
broke out in a lot of warehouses at 2 o'clock in the morning a 
week ago (3rd May) and was not subdued till five. It was so 
calm (a most unusual thing) that the smoke and flame rose 
perpendicularly, If there had been any wind at all, all our end 
of the town must have been burnt. We roof our houses with 
thin pieces of wood put on like slates, and a slight breeze would 
have set a dozen roofs on fire at once. Waring's place is about 


200 yds. off, mine 300 yds. more ; but there are wooden buildings 
all the way, and I should only have had the favour of being burnt 
last. In three hours the fire destroyed the value of 1 5,000, and 
then we were much indebted to a brick wall, the only one about 
the whole clump of buildings, that delayed the fire a little and 
gave the engines power over it. Twelve years ago there was a 
fire and a raging wind, and buildings as distant as mine were set 
on fire by the sparks and embers. Nearly the whole town was 
burnt Du reste, I am plodding on as usual. I have good health 
and pleasant times, though no great pleasures ; yet little unhappi- 
ness except the recollection that I am getting old and shall soon 
be solitary, for my friends are slipping away. I cannot say I 
make no new ones, but somehow I don't believe in them. I 
suppose I get selfish and suspicious. I suppose you know that 
in the last 18 months I have not prospered in wealth, being fust 
where I was in that respect a year and a half ago. I have no 
right to call this a misfortune, but having been improving several 
years before made me unreasonable. I do not work hard 
enough to justify me in expectations of getting rich. Just now 
I have more to do and probably shall have. I wish I could set 
the world right on many points, but above all respecting 
Charlotte. It would do said world good to know her and be 
forced to revere her in spite of their contempt for poverty and 
helplessness. No one ever gave up more than she did and with 
full consciousness of what she sacrificed. I don't think myself 
that women are justified in sacrificing themselves for others, but 
since the world generally expects it of them, they should at least 
acknowledge it. But where much is given we are all wonderfully 
given to grasp at more. If Charlotte had left home and made a 
favour of returning, she would have got thanks instead of tyranny 
wherefore take care of yourself, Ellen, and if you choose to give 
a small modicum of mention of other people, grumble hard, 
Yours affectionately, MARY TAYLOR. 

Letter 705 


MANCHESTER,/^ 9//%, '56. 

MY DEAR Miss NUSSEY, You must excuse any kind of writing, 
for my girls are all from home, and I suppose I have between thirty 


and forty notes and letters to answer this morning, if possible 
(which it is not), and yet I want to write you a long letter, and tell 
you all my adventures. Brussels, where Mme. Hger, under- 
standing that I was a friend of Miss Bronte's, refused to see me ; 
but I made M. Roger's acquaintance, and very much indeed I both 
like and respect him. Mr, and Mrs. Smith, junr., and Mrs. Smith, 
senr. (exactly like Mrs. Bretton). Mr. Smith said (half suspiciously, 
having an eye to Dr. John, I fancied), 'Do you know, I sometimes 
think Miss Bronte had my mother in her mind when she wrote 
Mrs. Bretton in Villetter As I had not then seen Mrs. Smith I 
could only answer, f Do you ? ' a very safe reply. I went with Mr. 
Smith to see the Chapter Coffee-House in Paternoster Row, where 
she and Anne Bronte took up thei* abode that first hurried rush 
up to London. In fact, I now think I have been everywhere 
where she ever lived, except of course her two little pieces of 
private governess-ship. I still want one or two things to complete 
my materials, and I am very doubtful if I can get them at any 
rate, I think they will necessitate my going to Haworth again, 
and I am literally afraid of that. I will tell you the things I 
should like to have, and shall be glad if, knowing the parties, you 
could give me advice. First of all, I promised M. Hger to ask 
to see his letters to her ; he is sure she would keep them, as they 
contained advice about her character, studies, mode of life. I 
doubt much if Mr. Nicholls has not destroyed them. Then again, 
Mr. Smith suggests and I think with great justice that if I 
might see the MS. of The Professor (which Mr. Nicholls told me 
last July that he had in his possession), I might read it, and 
express my opinion as to its merits and demerits as a first work 
He says that much of it whole pieces of it, as far as he remem- 
bers are so interwoven with Villette that it could never be pub- 
lished, nor would it be worth while to give extracts, even if Mr. N. 
would allow it ; but if I might read it, I could give the kind of 
criticism and opinion upon it that Mr. Bronte was anxious I should 
give on those published works of hers, on which (I told him) public 
opinion had already pronounced her fiat, and set her seal. So 
much for The Professor and M. H6ger's letters. Now another of 
Mr. Smith's suggestions is this : Might I, do you think, see the 
beginning (fifty pages, Mr. Nicholls said) of the new story she had 
commenced ? Reasons why desirable. Her happy state of mind 
during her married life would probably give a different character 
of greater hope and serenity to the fragment 


One thing more. Mr. Smith says that her letters to her father 
from London, giving an account of places and persons she saw, 
were long, constant, and minute ; they would not refer to any 
private affairs, but to the impressions celebrated strangers made 
upon her, etc. 

I agree with Mr. Smith that it would be a great advantage to 
me, as her biographer, and to her memory also, for I am convinced 
the more her character and talents are known the more thoroughly 
will both be admired and reverenced. But I doubt much if Mr. 
Nicholls won't object to granting me the sight of these things; 
and all the remains, etc., appear to be in his hands. Read (and 
return, please) this note of Mr. Bronte's to Mr. Smith in reply to 
his application to be allowed to have a copy for himself (ht thought 
it best to ask for this only, which he had promised him) at first. It 
seems as if Mr. Bronte's own consent or opinion on these matters 
had very little weight with Mr. Nicholls. I found Mr. Smith an 
agreeable, genial-mannered man, with a keen eye to business; 
he is rather too stout to be handsome, but has a very pretty, 
Paulina-like little wife, and a little girl of eighteen months old. 
Mr. Williams dined there when I did: grey-haired, silent, and 

Now for questions I should be much obliged to you if you would 
answer I am afraid to say by return of post, but I should like 
that ! Did Emily accompany C. B. as a pupil when the latter went 
as teacher to Roe Head ? This was evidently the plan ; yet 
afterwards it seems as if it were Anne that went. Why did not 
Branwell go to the Royal Academy in London to learn painting ? 
Did Emily ever go out as a governess? I know Anne and Char- 
lotte did. 

I wrote twenty pages yesterday because it rained perpetually, 
and I was uninterrupted ; such a good day for writing may not 
come again for months. All August I shall be away. But I am 
thoroughly interested in my subject, and Mr. Smith, who looks at 
the affair from the experienced man of business point of view, 
says, ' There is no hurry ; there would be a great cry of indelicacy 
if it were published too soon. Do it well, and never fear that the 
public interest in her will die away.' But a note of his (written 
after reading as much of my MS. which was then written, which 
you remember, I read to you), and which I enclose for your own 
private reading, makes me rather uncomfortable. See the passage 
I have marked at the side. Now I thought that I carefully pre- 


served the reader's respect for Mr. Bronte, while truth and the 
desire of doing justice to her compelled me to state the domestic 
peculiarities of her childhood, which (as in all cases) contributed so 
much to make her what she was ; yet you see what Mr. Smith 
says, and what reviews, in their desire for smartness and careless- 
ness for scrupulous consideration, would be sure to say, even yet 
more plainly. May I call you simply ' Ellen' in the book? 
Initials give so little personality they are so like a mathematical 
proposition. I should not even put an initial to your surname. 

I have written you a terribly long letter, because, as somebody 
says, * I have not time to write you a short one/ but I both wanted 
answers to my questions, and also wanted you to know how I am 
going on. We look forward to seeing you in the autumn. Mr. 
Gaskell desires his kind regards ; every one else is. from home. 
Your sister must not forget me, for I do not forget her and her 
kind reception of me. Yours faithfully, E, C. GASKELL. 

Letter 706 


January 8^*57. 

DEAR ELLEN, A few days ago I got a letter from you dated 
2nd May /S6 along with some patterns and a fashion book. They 
seem to have been lost somehow, as the box ought to have come 
by the Hastings, and only now makes its appearance by the 
Philip Lang. It has come very a propos for a new year's gift, 
and the patterns were not opened twenty-four hours before a silk 
cape was cut out by one of them. I think I made a very 
impertinent request when I asked you to give yourself so much 
trouble. I thought you would just look out a few paper patterns 
which you might happen to have. Your being from home made 
the matter give you still more trouble. The poor woman for 
whom I wanted them is now our first-rate dressmaker; her 
drunken husband, who was her main misfortune, having taken 
himself off and not been heard of lately. Your account of Joe 
and Amelia, like all that I get of them, is very melancholy 
more melancholy than illness even. It seems to show them 
absdrbed in themselves and their misfortunes so as to shut other 
people out by their own miseries. That Amelia should want to 
keep Tim's affection all to herself I can well imagine. I often 
see the feeling here, especially where there is only one child. It 


needs to have half a dozen and plenty to do, for the Mama to 
find out that she may as well let any one love the children who 
will take the trouble even if the children should love them in return. 
Poor Amelia has a hard life of it, for her one hope is so delicate, 
and the care they take of it is so little successful in its results, that 
I am afraid there is more pain than pleasure on the whole. 

I am glad to hear that Mrs. Gaskell is progressing with the 
Life. I wish I had kept Charlotte's letters now, though I never felt 
safe to do so until latterly that I have had a home of my own. 
They would have been much better evidence than my imperfect 
recollection, and infinitely more interesting. A settled opinion 
is very likely to look absurd unless you give the grounds for it, 
and even if I could remember them, it looks as if there might be 
other facts which I have neglected which ought to have altered 
it Your news of the * neighbours J is very interesting ; especially 
of Miss Wooler and my old school-fellows. Why on earth has 
Susan Ledgard had an attack of paralysis ? She is still in the 
thirties. There must have been some strong cause for it. Was it 
mental or bodily ? I wish I knew how to give you some account 
of my ways and doings here and the effect of my position on me. 
First of all, it agrees with me. I am in better health than at any 
time since I left school. This difference won't seem much to 
other people, since I never was ill since then ; but it is very great 
to me, for it is just the difference between everything being a 
burden and everything being more or less a pleasure. Half from 
physical weakness and half from depression of spirits my judg- 
ment in former days was always at war with my will There 
was always plenty to do, but never anything that I really felt was 
worth the labour of doing. My life now is not overburdened with 
work, and what I do has interest and attraction in it I should 
think it is that part that I shall think most agreeable when I 
look back on my death-bed a number of small pleasures 
scattered over my way, that, when seen from a distance, will 
seem to cover it thick. They don't cover it by any means, but I 
never had so many. 

I look after my shopwoman ; make out bills ; decide who shall 
have 'trust' and who not. Then I go a-buying; not near such an 
anxious piece of business now that I understand my trade and 
have, moreover, a good * credit' I read a good deal ; sometimes 
on the sofa ; a vice I am much given to in hot weather. Then I 
have some friends, Not many and no geniuses which fact pray 


keep strictly to yourself, for somehow the doings and sayings of 
Wellington people in England always come out again to N.Z. 
I do not think my acquaintances are inferior to what I should 
have had elsewhere, even with more means and a higher position 
of my own. They are most of them narrow-minded and ignorant. 
Those of the higher class only differ by being less practical and 
more exacting. They are not very interesting anyway. This is 
my fault in part, for I can't take an interest in their concerns. It 
would be dreadful to me to spend as much time as they do on 
the details of dressing and eating at least providing the eating. 
Then their children, of course, concern me but little. A book is 
worth any of them and a good book worth them put together, 
Mamas included. 

Our place is thriving on the whole, though there is an attempt 
making just now to get up a rage for emigrating and exporting 
to N. Zealand. Such rages always go too far, and we shall likely 
get a bad character among you in consequence. It's all the same 
to us. I wish I had better news of your own health. I think 
pain in the chest a serious thing. Our east winds are much the 
pleasantest and healthiest we have ; the soft moist north-west brings 
headache and depression, it even blights the trees. Yours affec- 
tionately, MARY TAYLOR. 

Letter 707 


PLYMOUTH GROVE, April 15^, 1857. 

MY DEAR MISS NUSSEY, Among a huge heap of letters await- 
ing me on my arrival from Newcastle last night (where I had been 
since Thursday) was the enclosed. As you may suppose, it was 
anything but agreeable to think what you must have been setting 
me down as an unlettered, unmannered, ungrateful, good-for- 
nothing sort of brute. I send the envelope by way of exculpation, 
though perhaps it leaves me open to the charge of defect but I 
was obliged to write in a hurry, and was not sure whether to 
put on Halifax or Leeds. I hope your copy of the Life and the 
one for Miss Wooler came safe. All the notices that I have seen 
have been favourable, and some of the best exceedingly so, I 
have had a considerable number of letters too from distinguished 
men expressing high approval. Mr. Bronte, too, I am happy to 

VOL. II. 2 C 


say, is pleased, and I can only hope that Mr, Nicholls will (as Sir 
J. K. Shuttleworth says) 'learn to rejoice that his wife will be 
known as a Christian heroine, who could bear her cross with the 
firmness of a martyr saint/ I have not time to give you any long 
account of the travellers. They were to leave Rome for Florence 
yesterday, after going through all the crushing and excitement 
of the Holy Week, I only hope they won't be kilt and spilt 
entirely. They intend to get as far as Venice, and then I suppose 
will turn their steps homeward. My two chickens here are very 
well, and if they were not gone to school could send their love. 

Hoping your mother is better, I am, my dear Miss Nussey, 
yours very hastily but sincerely. WM. GASKELL. 

Letter 708 



MY DEAR Miss ELLEN, I must not detain your 
longer, and now thank you for the loan of it. 
have occurred since Mary left England, and if a year ^on on meTV 
before she again treads its shores, there may be xihary others. 
Yesterday I met Mrs. Marshall, and who do you think had been 
her guest and had just left Hornsea for Edinburgh ? Mrs. Joe 
Taylor ! I did not hear that she was inconsolable ; but I am to 
take tea there soon and shall then hear more. The third edition 
has at length ventured out our curate tells me he is assured it is 
quite inferior to the former one so you see Mrs. Gaskell displayed 
worldly wisdom in going out of her way to furnish gossip for the 
discerning public. Did I name to you that Mrs. E. Gibson knows 
two or three young ladies in Hull who finished their education at 
Madame H6ger's pension? Mrs. Gaskell said they read Vilhtte 
with keen Interest of course they would. I had a nice walk with 
a Mrs. Goldsmith, a Suffolk lady, a visitor of the Marshalls, who 
was evidently delighted to meet with one who had personally 
known our dear Charlotte Bronte, and would not soon have 
weaned of a conversation in which she was the topic. Mrs. 
Palmer says she was more interested in her biography than in 
any she ever perused. I am truly sorry to hear that the vicars of 
Birstall and Dewsbury are both incapacitated for duty. Mrs. A/s 
attack has been more severe than I had any idea of, and it is not 
the first. The loss of their papa would indeed be a severe trial 


to dear Clifford and Marianne. May it please God to avert it for 
a few years at least! During the last six weeks I have been 
almost free from indigestion. How thankful should I be ! 


Letter 709 


WELLINGTON, June 4$, '58. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have lately heard through Amelia that you 
have lost your mother and that you are leaving Brookroyd. 
Where to ? And how will you be situated ? I imagine you now 
with plenty of leisure and independence, but with a sense of 
desolation arising from the strange place you are in, and even 
from the want of your accustomed work and anxiety. I shall not 
even see Brookroyd again, and one of the people who lived there 
and one whom I used to see there, I shall never see more. Keep 
yourself well, dear Ellen, and gather round you as much happiness 
and interest as you can, and let me find you cheery and thriving 
when I come. When that will be I don't yet know ; but one thing 
is sure, I have given over ordering goods from England, so that I 
must sometime give over for want of anything to sell. The last 
things ordered I expect to arrive about the beginning of the year 
1859. In the course of that year therefore I shall be left without 
anything to do or motive for staying. Possibly this time twelve- 
month I may be leaving Wellington. Amelia writes that Tim 
has got her last tooth through, so that I suppose the danger is 
over. Certainly Amelia's life does not impress me favourably as 
to the happiness of even a suitable marriage. I think (my choice 
being free) that I would rather not have my all of earthly pleasure 
hang on so slender a thread, though it might be that my enjoy- 
ment were less intense. The absorption of her letters makes one 
tremble for her. I can well imagine that she will gradually drop 
all her friends out of sheer forgetfulness and be quite un- 
conscious of her selfishness owing to the disguise it takes. I 
should not like to be the one to advise her to think now and then 
of something else, for were the poor thing to die, she would cer- 
tainly think it had got its mortal injury in the time she was not 
thinking of it 

We are here in the height of a political crisis. The election for 
the highest office in the province (Superintendent) comes off in 


about a fortnight. Moreover, we have just got a judge landed, for 
the first time these two years, and one of the members of our pro- 
vincial council has been waiting for the Supreme Court to sit to 
go to law with the late Superintendent, who is also a candidate 
for re-election. There is altogether a small storm going on in 
our teacup, quite brisk enough to stir everything in it. My prin- 
cipal interest therein is the sale of election ribbons ; though I am 
afraid, owing to the bad weather, there will be little display. Be- 
sides the elections there is nothing interesting. We all go on 
pretty well I have got a pony about four feet high that carries 
me about ten miles from Wellington, which is much more than 
walking distance, to which I have been confined for the last ten 
years. I have given over most of the work to Miss Smith, who will 
finally take the business, and if we had fine weather I think I 
should enjoy myself. We have a very wet and early winter, and 
have had no earthquakes for a long time, which is always thought 
a bad sign. People expect a sharp one when one comes after a 
long interval of quiet. My main want here is for books enough 
to fill up my idle time. It seems to me that when I get home I 
will spend half my income on books, and sell them when I have 
read them, to make it go farther. I know this is absurd, but 
people with an unsatisfied appetite think they can eat enormously. 
It rains just now five days out of six. 

Remember me kindly to Miss Wooler, and tell me more about 
her in your next. You must by no means give over writing to 
me until I tell you. If I don't sail till next year at this time you 
may safely write until April, i.e. by the March mail. Fill your 
letter with gossip. You are mistaken in thinking I hear much. 

Describe your new dwelling and employment where you will 
go or what you will do, without work. Write quickly and fully,, 
and tell me all about it. Yours affectionately, 


Letter 710 



February ist 9 1858. 

MY DEAR MADAM, I thank you for your kind offer of the 
excellent newspaper you have mentioned, but there is no neces- 
sity of sending to me, since, owing to the newspapers I take, and 


the various institutions in the village, I can see the Record, or any 
other I may choose, daily. And truly, in this changeable and 
ever-changing world, this state of our probation, we clergymen 
ought to read and know what is passing, and to discern the signs 
of the times, so that we may be able to speak a word in season to 
the people committed to our charge, I have forgotten the age of 
my dear old friend Mr. Nunn will you be so kind as to mention 
it when you next write. I am now in the eighty- first year of my 
age. I think he must be six or seven years younger; but it 
appears that his bodily strength has considerably failed him, and 
that it is now his duty not to exert himself, as formerly, but to be 
a little cautious, so that by Divine aid his useful life may be 
spared long for the benefit of the flock of our blessed Lord and 
Saviour. I preach once every Sabbath afternoon, but I cannot 
do more, Mr. Nicholls joins me in kind regards. I remain, 
my dear madam, yours in the best of bonds, P, BRONTE, 

Mrs. NUNN, near Eye, Suffolk. 

Letter 711 


October 26t&, 1859. 

MY DEAR MADAM, I thank you for the picture of the Rectory. 
It is well executed, and shows a very respectable and convenient 
building, which is, I hope and believe, only the earnest and fore- 
runner of 'that House, not made with hands, eternal in the 
Heavens/ But large and commodious as your house is, I think 
it has no room for a third person as a lodger, who would probably 
be a discordant string that would spoil your domestic harmony. 
You inquired whether your parcels and letters cost me anything ; 
they all come free, and I pay for all I send to you. The news- 
paper account of the idle and ostentatious pageantry got up in 
the church, where the Gospel was once faithfully preached, 
grieves me. But, my dear madam, a bad spirit, some call it the 
spirit of the age (I fear it might rather be called the spirit of 
revolution, vanity, scepticism, and Romish idolatry), this ominous 
spirit of the age is actuating numbers ; and the young, thought- 
less, and vain have looked upon, loved, and greedily embraced the 
delusion. But Christ, who conquers death and hell, will give his 


followers the victory, and make all things work together for good 
to those who enlist in his service, and fight the good fight of 
Faith, in his name, and by his wisdom and power. All things 
work together for good to those who love God. Yes, for good, in 
reference to both the worlds. I hope that you will be able to read 
.this miserable scrawl. My sight is very scanty, and the day is 
dim. Mr. Nicholls joins me in kind regards to you and my dear 
old friend. Yours very truly, in the best of bonds, 


Mrs. NUNN, Rectory, near Eye. 
I have posted for you a picture of my house and church. 





POVERTY is generally, if not universally, considered an evil; and not 
only an evil in itself, but attended with a train of innumerable other 
evils. But is not this a mistaken notion one of those prevailing errors 
which are so frequently to be met with in the world and are received 
as uncontroverted truths? Let the understanding be enlightened by 
divine grace, the judgment improved and corrected by an acquaintance 
with the holy Scriptures, the spirit of the world subdued, and the heart 
filled with the earnest desires for heavenly attainments and heavenly 
enjoyments, and then, what is poverty? Nothing or rather something, 
which, with the assistance and blessing of our Gracious Master, will 
greatly promote our spiritual welfare, and tend to increase and strengthen 
our efforts to gain that Land of pure delight, where neither our souls 
nor bodies can possibly know pain or want. Perhaps some who are 
daily and hourly sinking under the distresses and privations which attend 
extreme poverty, should this paper fall in the way of any such, may be 
ready to say that the writer never experienced its horrors, and is therefore 
unqualified to judge of its effects they may indignantly exclaim, ' Is it 
not an evil to be deprived of the necessaries of life? Can there be any 
anguish equal to that occasioned by the sight of objects, dear as your 
own soul, famishing with cold and hunger? Is it not an evil to hear 
the heart-rending cries of your children craving for that which you have 
it not in your power to give them ? And, as an aggravation of this dis- 
tress, to know that some are surfeited by abundance at the same time 
that you and yours are perishing for want ? ' Yes, these are evils indeed 
of peculiar bitterness; and he must be less than man that can behold 
them without sympathy and an active desire to relieve them. But those 
sufferers possess not the qualifications described above, which alone 
can enable any human being to consider poverty in any other light than 
an evil They have not had their hearts, understandings, and judgments 
changed by divine grace; nor are these the characters who can look 
forward to another life with the pleasing, invigorating hope of finding it 
to be a life of perfect, unchanging, and everlasting bliss. Such a wretched 
extremity of poverty is seldom experienced in this land of general benevo- 
lence. When a case of this kind occurs, it is to be feared the sufferers 
bring it on themselves by their own excess and imprudent folly; but 
even when they reap the fruit of their doings, they are not permitted 


long to suffer. The penetrating eye of Christian charity soon discovers, 
and its hand is as soon stretched out for their relief. The poor but 
honest and industrious Christian, for whose benefit this humble attempt 
is made, is scarcely ever suffered to languish in extreme want, yet he 
may be exposed to great distresses, which at times he is tempted to 
consider evils hard to be endured : at most repines at his lot, and thinks 
that the God who is declared to be merciful to #//, and whose tender 
mercies are said to be over all His works^ has forgotten to be gracious to 
him. Dismiss these unworthy thoughts, my Christian friends ; they come 
from the enemy of your immortal interests and the father of lies. Rather 
consider that though you have now no visible supply, and know not 
from whence the wants of to-morrow are to meet with relief, there is 
One above in Whose hands are all the riches of the earth, Who sees 
your necessities, and has faithfully promised that all things shall work 
together for your good. Consider that you are not exposed to the 
prevailing temptation of laying up treasure on earth. Though your 
circumstances prevent you from providing fortunes for your children, 
yet there are many honest callings and respectable trades open ever to 
the children of poverty whereby they may get their bread in peace and 
credit, and with the blessing of their Heavenly Father gain a supply for 
nature's wants. Being prevented from sharing in the luxuries of life, 
you are less liable to be assailed by the corrupt dispositions and dis- 
orderly passions which an enjoyment of these luxuries tends to produce. 
You think now, perhaps, that you could be temperate in the midst of 
plenty, but the human heart is not to be trusted, and we are assured from 
the sacred writings that 'it is deceitful above all things and desperately 
wicked/ Possessing the means of gratifying every perverse, idle, and 
inordinate inclination, who dares say he would not be led into those vain 
and sinful excesses which would infallibly lead to unhappiness in this 
world and to endless misery in the world to come ? That poverty which 
is sanctified by true religion is perhaps the state most free from care and 
discontent, the farthest removed from pride and ambition, and the most 
calculated to promote scriptural views and feelings, awl the universal 
welfare of the soul. The man who possesses little of this world has 
consequently but little to attach him to it ; he is not so much tempted 
to be attracted by its riches nor its pleasures; he cannot experimentally 
love that which he does not possess ; he cannot delight in that which he 
has no opportunity of enjoying. Having nothing to lose, he fears not 
the approach of the ^spoiler. Neither oppression nor violence can add 
to his wants or deprive him of his riches. As he has no property to 
improve or secure, he is free from the anxious inquietude and perplexing 
care of the man of business. If his days are spent in honest labour, his 
nights afford the sweet refreshment of peaceful slumbers. His coarse 
but wholesome meal, eaten with relish and followed by thankfulness and 
contentment, invigorates the active body, and fits it for the exertions 
necessary to earn another. Content with his lot, he envies not his more 
prosperous neighbour; unless, perhaps, in seasons of peculiar distress, 
when he has himself been relieved by the bounty of another, a wish has 
been excited in his heart that it were in his power to show his gratitude 
to his Heavenly Benefactor by contributing to the necessities of others. 


But this wish is quickly repressed by the conviction that God knows 
what is best, and has given to each that portion which will tend most to 
His glory and the lasting good of His children. 

Far removed from the ensnaring and tumultuous scenes of a vain, 
unthinking world, he is not ambitious of its honour nor proud of its fame. 
He does not even understand its principles nor its language. It might 
be said that though the poor man is not liable to the temptations which 
peculiarly assail the rich, yet he is liable to others which commonly 
prevail among the poor, such as envy, murmuring, ingratitude, and 
covetousness. But it is necessary to remind the reader that poverty is 
here considered as united with religion, and that, so united, it is exposed 
to fewer temptations than is a state of prosperity, and attended with 
greater religious advantages. The poor need not fear incurring con- 
tempt by making a religious profession. A religious and orderly conduct 
will ensure him commendation rather than censure. And if his habitual 
practice is found to agree with his profession, he will meet with that 
confidence, respect, and attention which he could never have experienced 
on any other ground. Free from the pride and prejudice of learning 
and philosophy, his mind is prepared to receive the truths that the Bible 
inculcates. He yields to the inward workings of the spirit of truth 
with simplicity receives the various and unspeakable blessings purchased 
for him by the Saviour's blood ; nor once thinks of opposing the weakness 
of human reason to the divine Revelation. He may have less leisure 
for reading, but he has little to call his thoughts from divine meditation 
and mental prayer, the practice of which tends more to keep up the life 
of God in the soul than the closest study and most enlarged acquaintance 
with human learning independent of these. Having no worldly ties, he 
contemplates with holy joy the inheritance laid up for the saints, and, 
with a hope full of assurance through the alone merits of his Redeemer, 
expects ere long to be made a partaker of that inheritance, and to join 
the heavenly throng in eternal bliss. 

Taking this view of Poverty, where are the evils attending it? Do 
they not appear to be imaginary? But 0, what words can express the 
great misery of those who suffer all the evils of poverty here, and that, 
too, by their own bad conduct, and have no hope of happiness hereafter, 
but rather have cause to fear that the end of this miserable life will be 
the beginning of another, infinitely more miserable, never, never to have 
an end ! 

It surely is the duty of all Christians to exert themselves in every 
possible way to promote the instruction and conversion of the poor, and, 
above all, to pray with all the ardour of Christian faith and love that 
every poor man may be a religious man, M. 

Endorsed on the Manuscript in Mr. Bronte's handwriting are the 
words : 

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



[This document was contributed by Prof. C. C. Moore Smith, of University College, 
Sheffield, to the Bookman for October 1904, and is by his permission included here.] 


MY grandmother, Miss Elizabeth Firth, was born on January 2, 1797. 
She was the only child of John Scholefield Firth, of Kipping House, 
Thornton, near Bradford, the house which a century earlier was the home 
of his ancestor, Dr. John Hall, a stalwart Independent, whose name is 
well known to the readers of Joseph Lister's Autobiography and Oliver 
Heywood's Diaries. Kipping House still stands, and by it a barn-like 
building bearing the date 1669, which was ready for use as a meeting- 
house when the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 allowed meeting- 
houses to be opened. The licence granted to Dr. Hall for this purpose 
is now in the possession of my cousin, Mr. H. E, Franks. My grand- 
mother was sent in the years 1812-1813 to the famous ladies' school 
established at Crofton Hall, near Wakefield, and presided over by Miss 
Richmal Mangnall, the author of MangnaWs Questions. Leaving school in 
June 1813 she returned to her home at Thornton. A year later her 
mother (before marriage, Miss Elizabeth Holt) was thrown out of a gig 
and killed instantaneously before her own windows. Accordingly my 
grandmother as a young girl of eighteen was keeping house for her 
father, when in 1815 the Rev. Patrick Bronte removed from Hartshead to 
succeed the Rev. Thos. Atkinson as incumbent of Thornton Chapel. 1 
Mr. Bronte had married (Dec. 29, 1812) Miss Maria Branwell of 
Penzance, and two daughters, Maria and a second infant, had been 
born to him before his removal to Thornton on i9th May 1815. My 
grandmother naturally made speedy acquaintance with the new clergy- 
man and his wife, and when the baby daughter (born at Hartshead on 
Feb. 8th) was christened at Thornton on August 26th, Mr. Firth was its 
godfather, and Miss Firth was godmother together with Miss Branwell, 
the child's aunt. It was probably in honour of my grandmother that the 
child was named Elizabeth. From this time onwards till the Brontes left 
Thornton for Haworth 2 there was constant friendly intercourse between 

1 The old Bell Chapel at Thornton was demolished about fifteen years ago after the 
opening of a new church. 

2 Mrs* Gaskell, Lift of Charlotte Bronte^ p. 26 (ed. 1891), states that the removal 
took place on 25th Feb. i#2O Curiously enough, under this very date my grandmother 
writes, * Mr. Bronte was licensed to Haworth, ' but from subsequent entries it would 
seem that the Brontes still remained at Thornton for some time longer. On April 5 
the entry in the diary is, 'Took leave of Mr. Bronte before leaving home.' It wouM 
seem that the Brontes left Thornton between this date and May 2, when Miss Firth 
returned from Scarborough. 


the _ clergyman's family at Kipping House (Mr. Firth had been married 
again on 6th Sept. 1815 to Miss Ann Greame). During these years 
at Thornton all the rest of Mr. Bronte's children were born, Charlotte 
on April 21, 1816, Patrick Branwell (called in my grandmother's diary 
on the day of his birth Branwell Patrick) on June 26, 1817, Emily Jane 
on July 30, 1818, and Anne on Jan. 17, 1820. I may point out that 
these dates, except that of the birth of Charlotte, seem not to have been 
known to the writer of the article on the Brontes in the Dictionary of 
National Biography, My grandmother was again godmother to Anne 
Bronte, and, as I have always been told, to Charlotte, though I do not 
find the latter fact recorded by herself. I have also heard that my grand- 
father, Mr. Franks, claimed to have been Charlotte's godfather. 

During all the years from 1812 to 1820 my grandmother put down in 
the briefest and barest form in a pocket-book some fact for almost each, 
day of her uneventful life. They are in a sense very insignificant entries, 
but such is the interest felt in that strange Bronte household, that it seems 
worth while to put into print even the number of times that the Rev. 
Patrick Bronte went out to tea, if only to show that Mrs. Gaskell's picture 
of the stern man, unsocial in his habits, however true of the Haworth 
time, is not true of the years spent at Thornton. And other entries, 
again, help to make a picture of the daily employments and interests of a 
young lady living in the coup try in the time when Miss Austen was draw- 
ing other such young ladies in her novels. After 1820 the entries in Miss 
Firth's diary are more scanty and have little more than a family interest 
The volumes extended to 1825, but thatfor 1821 is unfortunately missing. 
In that year (on Sept. 15) Mrs. Bronte died at Haworth. Mr. Firth had died 
on Dec. 27, 1819, an ^ n * s daughter lived on at Kipping in her own right 
with her stepmother, to whom she evidently became much attached. At 
this time, according to a family tradition, Mr. Bronte wooed Miss Firth 
to be his second wife, and his letters to her were only destroyed just 
before the Miss Brontes became famous. It is interesting to surmise how 
the lives of the sisters and the history of English literature would have 
been affected if Mr. Bronte's income had been largely increased by the 
addition of Miss Firth's little fortune, and if his children had had the 
motherly care of one who, according to .all accounts, was a most sweet 
and perfect woman. Perhaps literature gained by the sisters 7 loss : and it 
was necessary for them to learn in suffering what they taught in romance. 
Mr. Bronte did not succeed in his suit, perhaps because the lady's heart 
was already engaged elsewhere. Miss Firth left her childhood's home on 
April 27, 1824, and was married on the following aist Sept. to the Rev. 
James Clarke Franks, Vicar of Huddersfield, son of an old family friend, 
the Rev. James Franks, incumbent of Sowerby Bridge, Halifax. I have 
a record that on their wedding tour Mr. and Mrs. Franks called to see the 
Miss Brontes at Cowan Bridge, where they were at the Clergy Daughters' 
School, directed by the Rev. William Carus Wilson, and in my grand- 
mother's account-book there is the entry, '3 Miss Brontes, 2/6 each,' 
The letters from Charlotte Bronte and her father which I include in this 
paper, show that Mrs. Franks's interest in the motherless girls was not lost. 
But already at the date of Charlotte's second letter, June 2, 1836, my 
grandmother's health had failed in consequence of an attack of the 


prevalent influenza in 1835, and she died when on a visit to her friend 
Dr. Outhwaite at Bradford, on nth Sept. 1837. My grandfather left 
Huddersfield in 1840, and from that time neither he nor his children 
probably saw any of the Brontes again. 

There is a lady now living at an advanced age from whose bright 
intellect I had hoped to have gleaned a few memories of the early days 
recorded in Miss Firth's diary. But she was born, it seems, a few years 
too late. She writes : ' My recollection of your grandmother is simply 
that she was the sweetest lady I have ever seen, but I think I only saw 
her once, on her return from her wedding trip. I only saw the Miss 
Brontes once, and had difficulty in realising one of those very queer girls 
as the authoress of fane Eyre. I was very little at Kipping, a raw school- 
girl, 80 years since.' 

I append extracts from Miss Firth's diary, which illustrate the life led by 
the Brontes at Thornton : l 


March $th. The last time I heard Mr. Atkinson preach. i6th* We met 
Mr. Atkinson, he wished me good-bye. 17^. I came to Lascelles Hall. 

April $Qth. Mr. Atkinson preached his farewell sermons at Thornton 
Chapel from these words Romans, c. x. v. ist; 2 Corinthians, c. xiii. 
v. nth 'Finally, brethren, farewell.' The congregation appeared much 
affected, and at the conclusion sung the hymn beginning : 

'With all Thy power, O Lord, defend 
Him whom we now to Thee commend.' 

May igtb, Mr. Bronte came to reside at Thornton. 

June 6th. We came home in the evening. ith. I called at Mr. Bronte's. 
gth. We met Mr. Bronte's family at Mr. Kay's, iith. See St. Matthew, 
c. xiii. vs. 3-9. The Parable of the Sower, The first time I heard Mr. 
Bronte preach. 12 fh. Mrs. Bronte and Miss Bran well called. 14^, 
Drank tea at Mrs. Bronte's. i$th. I called at Mr. Bronte's, sort. We 
had the Outhwaites, Brontes, and Miss M. Ibbotson to dinner. z6th. 
We walked with Mr. Brontes 2 to the top of Allerton. 

July tfh. I walked to Swill Hill with Mr. Brontes. t^th. I called at 
Mr. Bronte's. 2$rd. See Psalm xlvi. A collection was made for the 
widows and orphans of those who fell at the battle of Waterloo. 24^ 
Mrs. Bronte and Miss Branwell called. 

August ist. Mr. Bronte called, yd. I went to sit with Mrs. Bronte in 
the evening, zisf. Mrs. Bronte, Miss Branwell, and I drank tea at Mr. 
Tom Ibbotson's. 262^, Sunday, Mr. Bronte's second daughter was 
christened Elizabeth by Mr, Fennel. My papa was godfather. Miss 
Branwell and I were godmothers. 

September 2nd, I called at Mr. Bronte's. 6th, My papa was married to 

1 I have been told that the clerk of Thornton Chapel, who was something of a 
curiosity, once when giving out in church a notice about the schools announced ' Miss 
Firth will teach the graces his rendering of 'will teach gratis. 3 

2 This form of expression occurs so often that it would seem to be an abbreviation for 
Mr. Bronte's family, or 'Mr. and Mrs. Bronte.' 


Miss Greame at Bradford Church by Mr. Morgan. 1 The bridal party 
dined at Exley and came here in the evening. i8M. Mr. Brontes called. 
zoth. Mr Brontes and Mrs. Morgan drank tea here. 2ist. We called at 
Mr. Bronte's. 

October iith. Oratorio and concert. 12 th. Oratorio of the Messiah. 
Christ's Church at Bradford was consecrated. 13^. We attended the 
oratorio and concert as we had done the two preceding days. 242$. Miss 
Branwell called. *$th. We drank tea at Mr. Bronte's. 302^. Mr. Brontes 
drank tea here. 

November *6th. Miss Branwell and I went to J. Jowett's. 30^. Miss 
Branwell came to tea. 

December 6th. I attended a chemical lecture by Mr. Webster. 
Mr. Bronte called. iStA. I attended Mr. Lancaster's lecture, igth. I 
attended a lecture on optics by Mr. Webster. 2\st. I attended Mr. 
Webster's second astronomical lecture. 25^. Mr. Bronte took tea here. 


January 6th. Mrs. Firth and I called at Mr. Bronte's. 13^. I called 
at Mr. Bronte's. 182$. A day of public thanksgiving for the restoration 
of Peace. 22nd. Read Lord of the Isles again. 23^. Mr. Bronte drank 
tea here. 302$. Mrs. Bronte and Miss Branwell called. 

February ^rd. Mr. Bronte called. $th. Mrs. Bronte and Miss Branwell 
called. 7/A Mr. Bronte called. 8M. Elizabeth Bronte was a year old 
this day. gtk. Mrs. Bronte and I called at Mrs. J> Ibbotson's. i^th. I 
called at Mr. Bronte's. i8/^, Sunday. Mr. Morgan preached. 2ist. 
I called at Mr. Bronte's. 

March t$th. Miss Branwell drank tea here. Mr. Bronte came in the 

April 2ist, Sunday. C. Bronte was born, 

May 2$rd. My papa was worse again; another blister. 242$. Papa 
had twelve leeches on. 2$th. Mr. Bronte went to prayer with my papa. 
27 th. Mr. Bronte again. My papa was very ill. zgth. My papa's dis- 
order came to a crisis and, thank God, took a favourable turn. 

June 4//. Mr. Bronte called. *jth. Called at Mr. Bronte's, gth. I was 
most happy to see my dear papa once more downstairs. May I be truly 
thankful for this great mercy, fjth. Mrs. Bronte called. iStft. Mr, and 
Mrs. Bronte and Miss Branwell came to tea. 

July ist. Mr. Bronte drank tea here., tfh. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 
I7//&. We drank tea at Mr. Bronte's. i8*#. The ladies assisted me in 
altering a gown. 25^. Mrs. Bronte and Miss Branwell drank tea here 
the last time. 28^. I took leave of Miss Branwell. She kissed me and 
was much affected. She left Thornton that evening. 29^. We called at 
Mr. Bronte's. 31^. We called at Mr. Bronte's. 

1 About the same time as Mr. Bronte married Miss Maria Branwell of Penzance, the 
Rev. Wm. Morgan had married her cousin, Mr. Morgan was afterwards incumbent of 
Christ Church > Bradford. 


August ist. Mr. Brontes to tea. nth. Thornton-tide; a wet day; did 
not go to church, i2th. Called at Mr. Bronte's. Had a party of twenty- 
nine, chiefly from Bradford. 

September 2$rd. Came home. Mr. Bronte called. $oth. I called at 
Mr. Bronte's. (In Cash Account for September 1816 occurs the entry : 
' Frock for one of the Brontes, 1 6s. : ) 

October izth. Mr. Bronte drank tea here. 22nd, Mrs. Bronte called. 

November 142^. Mr. and Mrs. Bronte to tea. iqth. Tea at Mr. 
Bronte's. We observed a beautiful eclipse of the sun ; the sky was very 
clear till it arrived at its greatest obscurity ; it was afterwards enveloped 
in clouds a great gloom, 302$. We called at Mr. Bronte's. 

December nth. Mr. Bronte at tea. i$th, Mr. and Mrs. Bronte to tea. 
i6th. Mr. and Mrs, Bronte to dinner. 28^. I called at Mr. Bronte's. 


January $Qth. Mrs. Bronte called. 

February ist. Mr. Bronte called. i2th. I called at Mr. Bronte's. 
i$th. Mrs. Bronte to tea. i^th. Got two new shillings. A new silver 
coinage was exchanged for the old. zisf. Mr, Bronte to tea. 26th. 
Called at Mr. Bronte's. 28^. Tea at Mr. Bronte's. 

March $rd. Called at Mr. Bronte's. i$th. Mr. and Mrs. Bronte to 
tea. iStfr. Miss Thomas came to Mr. Bronte's. 19 f A. Mrs. Kays and 
Mr. Bronte to tea. 2o//%. Called at Mr. Bronte's, 2ist. Tea at Mr. 
Bronte's. 27^. Went to Bradford. 28^. I came home with Mr. and 
Mrs. Bronte. Bought Mason on Self- Knowledge. $ist. Mr. and Mrs. 
Bronte called. 

April nth. We had Mr. Brontes to tea. 22nd. Called at Spring Head 
with Mr. Bronte and Miss Thomas. 2-$rd. Walked with Mrs. Bronte and 
Miss Thomas. 

May 2nd. We called at Mr. Bronte's. 6th. Mrs. Bronte called. 8M. 
Finished moss-basket. A ramble with Miss Thomas. 92$. Mr. Horsfall 
and Mr. and Mrs. Bronte's family dined here. nth. Sunday-school 
commences. 132^. My papa and Mr. Bronte went to Wakefield to vote 
for Mr. Scott. Stopped all night at Longlands. t^th. They came home. 
i6th. Walked to Lower Height Farm, Miss Thomas with us. i8/^. I 
began of attending Sunday-school. F. Greame and Miss Thomas 
with me. 

June >jth. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 9^. Mrs. Bronte called. 
Called at Mr. Bronte's. 2ist, Read Old Mortality, did not like it. . 

Called at Mr. Bronte's. 26th. Went to see Mrs. Bronte. Branwell Patrick 
was born early in the morning. 

July ist. I drank tea at Mr. Bronte's. >jth. I called to see Mrs. Bront& 
i%th. We saw the Confirmation and Visitation at Wakefield. 

August 6th. We called at Mr. Bronte's. j/. Mr. Bronte* called. n/A 
Mr. Bronte called. 26th. Mr. Bronte to supper. 


Seffemter 8///. Mr, Brontes to tea. 23^. Mr. Sterndale sketched 
Kipping. 24/7*. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 

October 8//. Mr. Brontes to tea. i6//j. Mr. Brontes to tea. $ist. Mr. 
Bronte called. 

November $rd. Mr. Bronte and I drank tea with Mrs. John Ibbotson. 
6th. I went to Bradford with Mr. Bronte. The Princess Charlotte of 
Wales died, i zth. Mr. and Mrs. Franks and Mrs. Naylor came and Mr. 
Redhead and Mr. Brontes dined here. iZth. The ever to be lamented 
Princess Charlotte was interred. Service in all places of worship. 19^. 
Mr. Bronte called. 2\th* I drank tea at Mr. Bronte's. 

December ust* Mr. Bronte called. 


January ^th. Mr. Bronte to supper. Zth. Mr. Bronte spent the 
evening here. 12/72. I called at Mr. Bronte's, zznd. I drank tea with 
Mrs. Bronte. 272^. Tea at Mr. Bronte's. 

February izth, Expected Mr. Bronte to tea, but Mrs. B. was poorly. 
1 6th. I called at Mr. Bronte's. 

April i6th. Mr. and Mrs. Bronte took tea here. 2oth. We walked to 
Bradford with Mr. Bronte and returned the same evening. 22nd. Read 
Lalla Rookh, 

May i$th. Read Young's Night Thoughts, iqth. Mr. Bronte, F. O., 1 
and I went to Ogden Kirk. 22nd. Read Remains of H. K. White. 29^. 
Mr. Bronte called. 

June i2th. Mr. Bronte drank tea here. i$th. Mr. Bronte to tea. 25^. 
Called at Mr. Bronte's. 26th, Mr. Brontes and Miss Ibbotson to dinner. 
2gth. F. 0., Mr. Bronte, and I took tea at Mr. J. Ibbotson's. 

July %th. Mr. Bronte called. n/A. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 15^. I 
called at Mr. Bronte's. \6th. Mr. Bronte called here. 302$, Emily Jane 
Bronte was born. 

August I7/& We were at Mr. Bronte's. 19^. Mr. Bronte to dinner. 
I drank tea at Mr. Bronte's. 

September 24^. Mr. Brontes to tea. 

October %th. Mr. Brontes to dinner. 2$rd, Tea at Mr. Bronte's, 

November znd> Mr. Brontes and Miss Ibbotson to tea. $th. I went to 
hear Mr. Richmond yesterday. Came home with Mr, Bronte. loM. 
Went to look at the Angel in Thornton Chapel, i^jth. Mr. Bronte called. 
I9/& Heard of the Queen's death. 22nd, Put on mourning for the 
Queen. 30/A. Mr. Brontes to tea, 

JDtamier tfh* Called at Mrs. Bronte's. 6M. Thornton Chapel reopened. 
8/& Called at Mr. Bronte's. 9^. Repaired Chapel books, ivth. Mr, 

1 Miss Fanny Outhvraite of Bradford, a schoolfellow and almost a sister to Miss Firth, 
stood with her as godmother to Anne Bronte and left the latter ^200 by wilL 


Brontes to tea. nth. We drank tea at Mr. Bronte's. 172^. I went to 
Bradford with Mr. Bronte. iqth. Came home with Mr. Bronte. 26th. 
Called at Mr. Bronte's. 2%tL Mr. Bronte to tea. 


January 2nd. Read the Heart of Midlothian. $th. Mr. Brontes to tea 
Sth. M. E. and C. Bronte to tea. i8/& Mr. Brontes to tea. 26th. Mr 
Bronte in the evening. 

March ^th. Mr. Brontes to tea. Zth. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 17/4. 
Mr. Bronte called. 26th. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 27^. Tea at Mr. 

May 6th. Mr. Brontes to tea. 

September 2<)th. Came home in safety, thank God. $oth. Mr. Bronte 
to breakfast. He and Mrs. Bronte to tea. 

October ^th. The little Brontes called, yth. Mr. Brontes to tea. 
Mr. Brontes to tea. 19^. Tea at Mr. Bronte's. 2$th. Mr. Bronte to 
tea. 2%th. Mr. and Mrs. Bronte to tea. 

November 2nd. Called at Mr. Bronte's. $rd. My mother and I walked 
to Swirrel, 1 Mr, Bronte with us. 6th. Called at Mr. Bronte's, nth. I 
called at Mr. Bronte's. i2th. Mr. Bronte called. i6th. I called to see 
Mrs. Bronte. 182$. I called at Mr. Bronte's. 2$rd. Mr. Bronte to 

December $rd. I called at Mr. Bronte's. lo/A Mr. Bronte called, 
Mr. Bronte to supper. i$th. Drank tea at Mr. Bronte's. 2yd. We called 
at Mr. Bronte's. 2%th. Mr, Bronte to tea. $Qth. Mr. Bronte and I went 
to Bradford. 


January tfh. Mr. Bronte called. 6th. Read Goldsmith's History oj 
Rome. >]th. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 17 th. Anne Bronte born. The 
other children spent the day here. (The Cash Account for January 1820 
contains the entry, 'Gave at A. Bronte's christening, i. 9 ) i8//$. I called 
at Mr. Bronte's. 26th. Mr. Bronte to tea. 

February iSth. Called at Mr. Bronte's. 2ist. Mr. Bronte in the even- 
ing. 2$rd. Tea at Mr. Bronte's. 25^. Mr. Bronte was licensed to 

March yd. Mr. and Mrs. Bronte to dinner. 8/A Mr. Bronte in the 
evening. 13^. Mr. Bronte in the evening. i8rt. Mr, BrontS called 
2isf. Mr. and Mrs. Bronte to tea. 2$th, Anne Bronte was christened by 
Mr. Morgan; F. Outhwaite and I were godmothers. 31^. Good Friday; 
no service. We sat up expecting the Radicals. 2 

1 A farm at Thornton belonging to Mr. Firth. 

2 I have been told that Mr. Bronte, who had seen the Irish rebellion, by his pro- 
phecies of what was coming in England, almost frightened Mr. Firth to death, so that 
he had all his windows barred up in consequence of Mr. Bronte' ? s warnings. 


April yd. I called at Mr, Brontes. $th. Took leave of Mr. Bronte 
before leaving home. 

June 6tk. Mr. Bronte came. Mr. Bronte went home. 

December %rd. My papa complained of shivering. $th. My papa was 
very ill. Q//Z. My papa worse. lo/Vi My papa was carried into the 
drawing-room, i$t/i. Mr. Bronte dined here. i^th. Alarmed with my 
father. i8/A My papa very ill, aoM, My dear papa suffered great 
depression of mind. zist. By God's blessing and Mr. Bronte's conversa- 
tion became more happy. 2 2nd. In holy ecstasies all day, blessed be 
God. ^$rd. Pretty composed. 241/1. My poor father's ideas still 
wandering, but very cheerful. 26^. My dear father's last words at half- 
past eleven All's well, all's happy. 27^. At half-past two A.M. he 
breathed his last without a struggle. 

The following letters will explain themselves : * 

Addressed Mrs. Franks, Vicarage, Huddersfield. 
Postmark Bradford, Yorks. Ap. 29, 1831. Postal charge, 6d 


YORKSHIRE, April 2%th, 1831. 

DEAR MADAM, Having heard of your kind attention to Charlotte, I 
have taken the liberty of writing to thank both Mr. Franks and you for 
this, and to assure you that we have not forgotten, in our little family, 
your other various acts of kindness. Charlotte would be highly gratified. 
She still remembered having seen you at Kipping, and has often heard us 
speak of you, whilst we took a retrospective view of Good Old Times. I 
have just received a letter from our mutual friend, Miss Outhwaite, which 
has given me some uneasiness. It appears that some whose opinions I 
highly value greatly misunderstand my motives, in being an advocate for 
temperate reform, both in church and state. I am in all respects now, 
what I was when I lived in Thornton in regard to all political considera- 
tions, A warmer or truer friend to church and state does not breathe the 
vital air. But, after many years' mature deliberation, I am fully convinced 
that, unless the real friends of our excellent institutions come forward 
and advocate the cause of temperate reform, the inveterate enemies will 
avail themselves of the opportunity which this circumstance would give 
them, and will work on the popular feeling already but too much excited 
so as to cause, in all probability, general insurrectionary movements, 
and bring about a revolution. We see what has been lately done in 
France. We know that the Duke of Wellington's declaration against 
reform was th@ principal cause of the removal of him and the other 
ministers from power. And there is now another instance before our 
eyes of the impolicy of this perverseness* The anti^reformers have im- 

1 The following letters, excejjt No, V., arc in the possession 0f niy cousin, Mr, H, E. 
Franks, and are published by his kind permission. 

II 2D 


prudently thrown the ministers into a minority, and consequently Parlia- 
ment is dissolved by the King in person, and in all probability another 
Parliament will soon be returned, which may be less particular than the 
other, and perhaps go too far in the way of reformation. 

Both, then, because I think moderate, or temperate reform, is wanted 
and that this would satisfy all wise and reasonable people, and weaken 
the hands of our real enemies, and preserve the church and state from 
ru i n I am an advocate for the Bill, which has been just thrown out of 
parliament. It is with me merely an affair of conscience and judgment, 
and sooner than violate the dictates of either of these, I would run the 
hazard of poverty, imprisonment, and death. My friends or some of 
them, at least may differ from me as to the line of conduct which ought 
to be followed, but our motives and our good wishes towards church and 
state are the same. 

But to come nearer home. I have for nearly a year past been in but 
a very delicate state of health. I had an inflammation in my lungs last 
summer, and was in immediate and great danger for several weeks. For 
the six months last past I have been weak in body, and my spirits have 
often been low. I was for about a month unable to take the church 
duty. I now perform it, though with considerable difficulty. I am, 
certainly, a little better; yet I fear I shall never fully recover. I some- 
times think that I shall fall into a decline. But I am in the Lord's hands, 
and hope that he will at the last give me a happy issue out of all my 
troubles, and take me for ever into His heavenly kingdom. We have been 
much concerned to hear from time to time that you have not been quite 
so strong as usual. It is our earnest wish and prayer that the Lord may 
support and comfort you, and spare you long and in mercy to your 
husband and your children. I have only once been at Kipping since I 
last saw you and Mrs. Firth there. The family were kind to me, 
but I missed my old friends, and I could not feel comfortable, and I 
soon departed, intending never to call again. Miss Branwell still con- 
tinues with me, and kindly superintends my little family, and they all 
join with me in the kindest and most respectful regards. When you 
write to, or see, Mrs. Firth, be so kind as to remember us all to her in the 
most respectful and affectionate manner. Be so good also to thank 
Mr. Franks in our name for his kind attention to Charlotte, and believe 
me to be, dear madam, very respectfully and truly yours, 



ROE HEAD, May 1831. 

DEAR MADAM, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of the parcel which 
arrived the other day from Huddersfield, and to thank yourself for the 
frock and muslin and Miss puthwaite for the shawl which she has so 
kindly sent me. My chilblains are quite well I am sorry I was out 
when Mr. Atkinson called the other day. Pray give my love to Mrs* 
Firth, and present my thanks to her for her welcome note. The Miss 
Woolers desire their kindest respects to you \ they are much obliged to 
Mr. Franks for the loan of Keith on the Prophtcies^ with which they 



greatly pleased. Accept, dear madam, my sincere thanks for all the 
kindness you have shown me, and permit me to subscribe myself, Yours 
gratefully and affectionately, C. BRONTE. 

Has Mrs. F sent the parcel to 





Addressed Mrs. Franks, Vicarage, Huddersfield. 
Postmark Bradford, Yorks, Jy. 7, 1835. 
Postal charge, 6d. Seal ' B.' 

HAWOR.TH, near BRADFORD, YORKSHIRE, July 6, 1835. 
MY BEAR MADAM, As two of my dear children are soon to be placed 
near you, I take the liberty of writing to you a few lines in order to 
request both you and Mr, Franks to be so kind as to, interpose with your 
advice and counsel to them in any case of necessity, and, if expedient, 
to write to Miss Branwell or me if our interference should be requisite. 
I will charge them strictly to attend to what you may advise, though it is 
not my intention to speak to them of this letter. They both have good 
abilities, and as far as I can judge their principles are good also, but they 
are very young, and unacquainted with the ways of this delusive and 
insnaring world ; and though they will be placed under the superintendence 
of Miss Wooler, who will I doubt not do what she can for their good, yet 
I am well aware that neither they nor any other can ever, in this land of 
probation, lie beyond the reach of temptation. It is my design to send 
my son, for whom, as you may remember, my kind and true friends, 
Mr. Firth and Mrs. Firth, were sponsors, to the Royal Academy for 
Artists in London; and my dear little Anne I intend to keep at home for 
another year under her aunt's tuition and my own. For these dispositions 
I feel I am indebted, under God, to you, and Miss Outhwaite, and Mrs. 
Firth and other kind friends; and for every act of kindness I feel truly 
grateful It has given us all unfeigned pleasure to learn that your health 
is nearly restored, and that Mr. Franks and your dear little children are 
all well Several years ago I saw in Bradford a fine little child of yours, 
whom I took into my arms and would have nursed, but it took the 
alarm and would not stay with me 3 and so I was obliged to return it to 
Miss Outhwaite, in whom it placed greater confidence. My own health 
<is generally but wry delicate, yet through a gracious Providence, and 
-with great care, I am for the most part able to perform my various 


ministerial duties; indeed I have never been very well since I left 
Thornton. My happiest days were spent there. In this place I have 
received civilities, and have, I trust, been civil to all, but I have not tried 
to make any friends, nor have I met with any whose mind was congenial 
with my own. I have not been at Thornton or Kipping for many 
years. The last time I was there I traveled over some of my ancient 
paths and thought of my dear wife and children whom death had 
removed, and when I was in the church and reflected that my beloved 
friend, with whom I was wont to take sweet counsel, was beneath my 
feet, sadness came over my heart; and afterwards, as I walked round 
your garden, I called to mind all my dear friends who were removed 
from thence by the vicissitudes of life and I soon found the whole 
aspect of affairs to be entirely changed ; and so I returned home, fully 
intending to visit Thornton and Kipping no more, unless I should be in 
a ftreat measure forced by reason of circumstances. I have heard, how- 
ever, that 'some alterations and perhaps a few improvements have been 
made there. But of those you must know more than I do, as probably 
you often revisit the place of your nativity and the scenes of your early 
youth. Amidst all the chances, changes, and trials of this mortal life, 
we have still the glorious conviction on oar minds that we may have our 
hope immovably anchored in heaven, by the throne of God, in whom 
there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, And I trust this 
blessed consideration will be a never-failing source of comfort to you 
during the remainder of your journey through life, and especially at that 
last hour when you will step out of time into eternity. We are now, as 
members of the Church of England, placed under peculiar trials outwardly 
from the numerous and inveterate enemies of both the church and state, 
and we may have enemies within. Yet still, if we look to the Lord in 
humility, patience, and faith, and use the appropriate scriptural means,, 
we shall at last come off more than conquerors over death and hell, and 
obtain houses, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 

Be so good as to give my very kind and respectful regards to Mr, 
Franks, and to my old and kind friends, Mrs. Firth and Miss Outhwaite r 
when you see them ; and also excuse the trouble which I have here given 
you, and believe me, my dear madam, ever yours, very sincerely" and: 
truly, P. BRONTE. 


Addressed Mrs. Franks, Vicarage, Huddersfield, Yorkshire. 
Postmark Bradford, Yorks, Ju. 14, 1836, 'Seal B/ 
Postal charge, 6d* 

x HAWORTH, near BRADFORD, YORKSHIRE, June 13^, 1836. 

MY Dih&R MADAM, My dear little Charlotte has informed me that you 
and Mr. Franks have been so kind as to invite her and Anne to pay you 
a visit for a\week, but that through impatience, as is very natural, they 
have curtail'd v ^hat invitation to a few days. I have written to them to 
countermand this intention. I esteem it as a high privilege that they 
should be under v jour roof for a time, where, I am sure, they will see and 

APPENDIX 11 421 

hear nothing but what, under Providence, must necessarily tend to their 
best interest in both the worlds. You I have long known, Mr. Franks' 
character I am well acquainted with through the medium of authentic 
report; and hence I came to this conclusion. I have written to Char- 
lotte and Anne to this effect, but as my letter may not reach them (owing 
to a bye-post) in due time, I will thank you to communicate to them this 
intelligence. I will send the horse and gig for them to your house, and, 
if necessary, they may return from thence by Roe Head. In these 
sentiments Miss Branwell perfectly agrees with me, and at the same time 
joins with me and my family in the most respectful and kind com- 
pliments and icgards to you and Mr. Franks, and to Mr. and Mrs. 
Atkinson when you see them. For many years I have visited no friends 
in Bradford, but, having heard that our old friend, Miss Outhwaite, had 
broken her arm, I went over a few days ago to that town, where I saw 
those who awakened in me many lively recollections of ' Auld Lang SyneJ 

On some, perhaps on all, time had made a difference ; but there was 
only one whom I did not at first recognise. They complimented me, in 
general, on renewing my age ; but perhaps this was owing to their kind 

Sincerely and ardently wishing and praying for your health and happi- 
ness, both here and hereafter, I remain, my dear madam, your old friend 
and obliged servant, P. BRONTE 


DEAR MADAM, I have been obliged to delay answering your kind invita- 
tion until I could fix a time for accepting it. Till this morning Miss 
Wooler had not decided when her school should break up; she has now 
fixed upon Friday the iyth of this month for the commencement of the 
vacation. On that day, if all be well, Anne and I hope to have the very 
great pleasure of seeing you at Hudders field. We are both extremely 
glad to hear that your health is at least partially recovered, and I do 
hope the fine weather we have recently had may contribute to confirm it. 
Changes, I have no doubt, have taken place in your little family since 
I last saw it. John must now be grown a very fine boy indeed, and 
dear little Henry and Elizabeth must also have risen some grades in the 
ascent of life. When I first heard of Miss Outhwaite's accident it shocked 
me much, but I trust her good constitution will soon get the better of its 
effects. I feel anxious to know how she recovers. We propose coming 
by the four or five o'clock coach on Friday afternoon and returning by an 
early morning coach on Monday as papa, I fear, will scarcely be willing 
to dispense with us longer at home, even though we should be staying 
with so valued a friend as yourself. Excuse what is faulty in this hasty 
scrawl, my dear madam, and do not think me negligent in having so long 
delayed to answer your kind note, because I really could not help it ; 
accept my own and my sister's respectful and sincere love, and believe me 
to be, affectionately yours, C BRONTE. 

ROB HEAD, June 2nJ, '36. 

A pencil drawing by Charlotte Bronte is in my keeping, given by her, 
BO doubt, to my grandmother. It is executed on a card with an embossed 


frame in the fine or finicky manner of the period, and represents a castle, 
with moat, bridge, trees, and two very badly drawn figures. It is inscribed 
in a flowing hand on the right of the foreground, ' Ludlow Castle, Shrop- 
shire,' but more interesting is the 'C. Bronte' in minute characters on the 
left. As has been said, my grandmother died on nth September 1837, 


Addressed Rev. J. C. Franks, Vicarage, Huddersfield. 

Postmark Bradford, Yorks, Ja. n, 1839. 

Stamped Bradford Yor(ks) Penny Post. Postal charge, 6d. 


YORKSHIRE, Jany. roM, 1839. 

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, I have lately written to several Clergymen re- 
questing that they would exert themselves to find for me a suitable Clerical 
Assistant. I have got a grant from the Pastoral Aid Society, in case I can 
procure a man congenial with their sentiments, and who would be active, 
as well as zealous. Their conditions, though not unreasonable, are some- 
what strict a good deal more so, I believe, than those are generally 
imposed by the Clergy Aid Society. Will you be so good as to give me 
your advice and assistance on this occasion ? The Bishop, to whom I 
have applied, has been very kind and attentive to my case, and offers, if 
no better may be, to ordain on my Nomination. I know not what your 
religious opinions may be on some particular points, but it is expedient 
that on this occasion I should candidly tell you some of mine, lest 
inconvenience might arise from a collision with my future Assistant in our 
preaching and exhortation. As far as I know myself, I think I may 
venture to say that I am no Bigot. Yet I could not feel comfortable with 
a coadjutor who would deem it his duty to preach the appalling doctrines 
of personal Election and Reprobation. As I should consider these 
decidedly derogatory to the Attributes of God, so also I should be fearful of 
evil consequence to the hearers from the enforcement of final perseverance 
as an essential article of belief. I am well aware that many Clergymen, 
far wiser and better than I am, do not accord with me here ; but as I 
freely leave them to the possession of their views, so I hope that they will 
kindly permit me to enjoy mine. I want for this region a plain rather 
than an able preacher; a zealous, but at the same time a judicious man 
one not fond of innovation, but desirous of proceeding on th& good old 
flan which, alas ! has often been mar'd^ but never improved. I earnestly 
wish that some of the clergy in our excellent Establishment were as 
solicitous for improvement as they are for change, and that they would 
give less way to the hazardous fitful air of popularity. The signs of the 
times in which we live are of ominous portent. Without our Citadel we 
have numerous vigilant, inveterate, and active enemies ; and within, many 
who are utterly unsafe either through shallow ignorance or evil design, 
Yet, blessed be God, there has lately been an increase of men of great 
learning, genuine piety, and vast resources of the most valuable kind, 
and who are as willing as they are able to stand forward at all hazards, in 
order to do their duty, as Ministers of the Gospel, and good members of 


society. God and His Holy Word, too, are on our side, and thus, after 
all, it may prove, ere long, that the gloomy season we have may only 
be the immediate forerunner of an early dawn and a bright and 
cheering day. 

I have written a longer letter than I intended but I felt I was address- 
ing the late partner of one of the best and most esteem'd friends that my 
family and I have ever had, and whose memory is still held in lively 
remembrance by us, though she is herself removed to another, and a 
better, world. 

All my little flock join with me in the kindest and most respectful 
regards to you and yours. I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, yours very 

The Kev. J. C. FRANKS, 

Vicar of Huddersfield. 

Probably from 1840, the date of my grandfather's leaving Huddersfield, 
there was no further intercourse between him or his children and the 
family of Haworth Parsonage. 






IT will be remembered that after the publication of Jane Eyre a fierce 
controversy broke out about this gentleman's character. 1 Some, like the 
elderly clergyman who first recognised the portrait in the novel, asserted 
that he deserved the chastisement he had got.' Others declared that 
he had been slandered. His son-in-law maintained that Charlotte ( saw 
the scenes of her childhood through the glass of her own imagination, 
and certainly under the colour of prejudice,* and pronounced the portrait 
of Mr, Carus Wilson a wild caricature. So far as this controversy touches 
Mr. Wilson's motives we have nothing to do with it, except to acknow- 
ledge that his beliefs were sincere, and that his intentions throughout 
were undoubtedly good. Leaving motives aside altogether, we have only 
to ask, were Mr. Wilson's actions and opinions such as Charlotte has 
depicted? and were they such that if she had witnessed them when her 
intellect was matured, she would have pronounced the same verdict as is 
recorded in Jane Eyrel To both these questions the answer is an 
emphatic affirmative. I base this answer upon an unpublished document 
which has lately been shown me, Thoughts Suggested to the Superintendent 
and Ladies of the Clergy Daughters* School^ written long after Jane Eyre> 
and also upon certain published writings of Mr. Wilson which certainly 
could not have fallen into Charlotte's hands. 

Mr. Wilson was a pious man, who wished to be a real benefactor to 
the young whom he gathered into the school at Cowan Bridge, Yet 
there is no sober Christian in these days who would not agree that 
methods more unsuitable than his could not well have been devised. 
He wrote many books for the young, which show very clearly what 
manner of man he was. Youthful Memoirs, published in 1828, is full of 
death-bed scenes of little children, ail of whom speak an unnatural 
language, are precocious in prayer, and have a most unchildlike love of 
death for instance, the boy of 3^ years, who, when asked whether he 
would choose death or life, replied, ' Death for me? I am fonder of 
death.' A local children's magazine called the Children's JFriend (i%2&~ 
1828), of which Mr. Wilson was the author rather than the editor, 
abounds in stories of sudden death and damnation. When these are not 
the themes, such subjects as the Horrors of the Plague or the Massacre 
of St. Bartholomew are chosen, and the terrible details most unfit read- 
ing for little children are even italicised. Another book is First lales^ 
being stones in words of one syllable for infants, published two years 
1 The Rev. W. Carus Wilson. 


after Jane Eyre. Its suitability for little ones may be judged from the 
fact that in the very first page is a picture of a man being hanged, and 
the book opens : ' Look there ! Do you see a man hung by the neck ? ' 
These children's books most of them grotesquely illustrated have all 
a local character, and were undoubtedly intended in the first place for 
the pupils at Cowan Bridge. 

A glance through these little volumes proves that the portrait in Jane 
Eyre is exact. The very expressions put into the mouth of the ' black 
marble clergyman ' may be found in them repeatedly. Let a few of the 
parallels serve. Mr. Brocklehurst says to Jane Eyre, 'Children younger 
than you die daily. I buried a little child five years old only a day or 
two since a good little child, whose soul is now in Heaven.' Youthful 
Memoirs is full of the death-beds of these good little children. He says 
to Jane, You have a wicked heart, and you must pray God to change it ; 
to give you a new and clean one: to take away \our heart of stone and 
give you a heart of flesh.' Almost the exact words occur in three of the 
stories ; for example, Sarah Bickers says to a naughty companion that she 
* must humble her pride and pray to God, and He would be sure to take 
away her heart of stone and give her a heart of flesh.' Mr. Brocklehurst 
says, ' I have a little boy younger than you who knows six psalms by 
heart.' There are a number of these little boys in Youthful Memoir* and 
the Children's Friend] one of them, aged eight, 'Knew many of the most 
important parts of God's Word, and got by heart many portions of it, 
which he often repeated in the night while lying awake.' Mr. Brockle- 
hurst says to Jane's aunt, speaking of Lowood, ' Madam, she shall be 
placed in that nursery of chosen plants,' etc., and in the Thoughts 
Suggested to the Superintendent and Ladies, Mr. Wilson calls his school 
''a nursery for Christ's Spiritual Church on Earth, and a nursery for 
Heaven.' Mr. Brocklehurst catechises Jane unpleasantly about the pit 
of fire and brimstone, and just such dialogues may be found in his books : 
these lines of his from the Children's Friend give succinctly tLe moral of 
many of his stories for children : 

' Tis dangerous to provoke a God 

Whose power and vengeance none can tell ; 
One stroke of His almighty rod 

Can send young sinners quick to hell.' 

At the close of the interview with Jane, Mr. Brocklehurst gives her a 
tract, entitled 'The Child's Guide,' containing * An account of the awfully 
-sudden death of Martha G,, a naughty child addicted to falsehood. 7 
One of his little stories actually is entitled, 'An Awful History' ; he did 
distribute just such tracts, for I have read one called ( The Burnt Bible/ 
of a most gruesome and bloodcurdling character; and he did not 
hesitate to terrify sven the youngest children with these stones. In the 
Children's Friend he relates how a child, three years of age, ' had its 
naughty will crossed by its mother and flew into a violent passion. She 
screamed and cried and stamped, and, dreadful to relate, it pleased God 
to strike her dead. How awful her state ! ' He even repeats this story 
with amplification in his Tales of one syllable for infants : { All at once 
God struck her dead, no time to pray, no time to call on God to save her 
soul . . . Where is she now? We know that bad girls go to Hell. 


She is in a rage with herself now.' Mr. Wilson really believed that a little 
dot, hardly old enough to walk, was doomed to eternal torments for 
getting into a pet. Charlotte's portrait of him is sober when placed 
beside the original. 

It has been questioned whether the whipping scene in Jane Eyre repre- 
sented a fact, and whether Mr. Cams Wilson could ever have advised 
the teachers *to punish the body to save the soul. 3 But these books, 
both as regards illustrations and letterpress, seem, as one glances through, 
to bristle with canes and rods, and Mr. Wilson frequently insists on the 
necessity of corporal punishment. I quote one of his anecdotes because 
it seems to refer to some girl at Cowan Bridge. ' A poor little girl who 
had been taken into a school was whipped. She a^ked, " If they love us, 
why do they whip us?" A little girl of six replied, "It is because they 
love us, and it is to make us remember what a sad thing sin is. God 
would be angry with them if they did not whip us." ' 

No one, I am sure, could read Mr. Carus Wilson's Thoughts Suggested 
to the Superintendent^ without being astonished at the accuracy with which 
Charlotte Bronte has represented in Jane Myrc his aims and religious 
ideas. The document which is earnest in tone takes us into the very 
atmosphere of Chapter vi. of Jane Eyre. Every one remembers the 
scene in which Mr. Brocklehurst orders the curls to be cut off, and 
declares it his mission * to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh, and 
to teach them to clothe themselves with shamefacedness and sobriety.' 1 
In his Thoughts^ written thirty-three years after Charlotte left Cowan 
Bridge, Mr. Wilson writes : * The pupils are necessarily put into a very 
simple and uniform attire. Many of them no doubt feel it. They have 
been unfortunately accustomed, perhaps, even to excess in this very pre- 
vailing and increasing love of dress, for alas, clergymen's families are not 
exempt from the mania not even the poorest. With me it was always 
an object to nip in the bud any growing symptom of vanity/ Mr. Brockle- 
hurst everywhere insists that the pupils should be 'made useful and 
kept humble,' and Mr. Wilson, in his final manifesto, says that the teacher 
must discountenance * trivial and useless work.' The children are to be 
'brought up usefully, not tawdrily. . . . The tinsel and the varnish are 
of little moment compared with excellence in plain, useful work. ... It 
will be a sorry look-out for a clergyman's daughter if she is sent out from 
the school, for instance, a first-rate performer in crochet and worsted work,, 
and that sort of thing however useful it may be but unable to cut out 
and rnend her own garments.' 

Let me repeat, these extracts which might be increased indefinitely 
are not given for the purpose of reopening the question of Mr. Carus- 
Wilson's character. It may be that most people nowadays will think that 
his lights were dim, and his methods mistaken, but there can be no doubt 
about his conscientiousness and good intentions. My purpose is only to 
show how marvellously accurate was the insight into character and thef- 
memory for words and incidents of Charlotte Bronte when she was a little 
girl of eight. We have here a phenomenon quite as unaccountable as- 
that of the ' calculating boys ' or the musical prodigies that from time to 
time have puzzled the world ; and we see here one of the constituents of 
the genius which produced Villette and Shirley. 





AN inquiry into certain charges made by the Rev. Cams Wilson of 
Casterton against the Board of Guardians in the Kene'al Union has 
excited a great deal of conversation in the neighbourhood of Kirkby 
Lonsdale, where the Rev. gentleman resides. The charge against the 
Board of Guardians was one of wanton cruelty; and Mr. Wilson instanced 
the case of Mary Cornthwaite, a poor and aged woman, whom he charged 
them with having starved to death. The Poor Law Commissioners having 
received from Mr. Wilson a copy of his letter containing the charges in 
question immediately directed Mr. Voules, the Assistant Commissioner of 
the Westmoreland district, to institute an inquiry into the case. 

Mr, Voules accordingly appointed Tuesday, the 24th ult., for the 
investigation, and wrote to Mr. Wilson to apprise him thereof, and 
challenging him to appear and support the charges he had made. Mr. 
Wilson appeared to be startled at this instruction, for he wrote to say that 
he never intended to appear publicly in support of his charge, that he 
expected his name would be concealed, and he thought he would be ill- 
used if he were thus dragged from his privacy ] but he assured Mr. 
Voules, we understand, that he had the power to prove all that he had 
alleged, and he cautioned Mr. Voules against the danger to which he was 
exposing the Kendal Guardians by prosecuting the inquiry. 

To this threat Mr. Voules made no other answer than that the inquiry 
would proceed; and that if he failed to appear, his absence would be 
construed into a tacit admission that his charges were unsupportable. 

The inquiry took place accordingly on the day above named, and 
Mr. Wilson, accompanied by two magistrates of the neighbourhood, 
Christopher Wilson, Esq., of Rigmaden, and Welch, Esq., of Leek, made 
his appearance. The examination was chiefly confined to the case of 
Mary Cornthwaite, an old woman, who was burnt to death at Casterton. 
This was tKe person whom Mr. Wilson charged the Board of Guardians 
with having starved. 

He came prepared with a host of witnesses, who were examined on 
oath by Mr. Voules, and from the evidence of these his own witnesses, 
it appeared that the woman had 4, 175. in Kirkby Lonsdale Savings 
Bank ; that this money stood there in the name of Mr. Wilson's mother 
until her death, when he himself changed it to the name of Mary Corn- 
thwaite ; that he himself is a director of the Bank ; that after the death of 


Mary Cornthwaite and before he wrote the letter complained of, he had 
either himself obtained or assisted in obtaining from the Bank the money 
in question for Mary Cornthwaite's relatives ; that he himself called and 
presented the cheque (which was partially burnt) to Mr. Gregg, the 
manager of the Bank, and that he described the Mary Cornthwaite to 
the satisfaction of Mr. It also appeared that this woman, whom 
Mr. Wilson alleged to have died of starvation, had in her house at the 
time of her death the greater part of a loaf of bread, about two ounces 
of butter, one-third of a pound of sugar, a quarter of a pound of tea, two 
black puddings, a piece of beef, and a piece of pork; that she had eight 
shillings and sixpence in silver in her pocket, which was found amongst 
the ashes on the floor, and she had a cart of coals just got in, that a 
respectable labouring man owed her sixteen or seventeen shillings, and 
that she had either lent or had owing to her by her neighbours other 
smaller sums. She had abundance of wearing apparel, bedding and bed- 
linen, of which an inventory was taken at the time of her death, and 
which was now given to the Assistant Commissioner. It was also proved 
that .she had a clock, a chest of drawers, and a good bedstead and hang- 
ings, and other useful household furniture and utensils; and it was 
moreover proved, and we regret to state it, that all this was known to 
Mr. Wilson when he wrote the libel. 

It was proved that she had applied for relief in order to find out her 
settlement, but had said that she had enough to live upon for a year, and 
then she must go to the Parish. She further declared to persons who 
gave evidence on the inquest that she had been seized with a fit of 
dizziness, and had fallen into the fire, and that when she came to her 
senses her clothes were burning. 

A hint, it is said, was given after the inquest had concluded, that a 
rumour was abroad that she had been starved, on hearing which the 
Coroner (we believe, R. Wilson, Esq., of Kendal) gave directions to have 
the inventory taken, which afterwards turned out so useful. Mr. Carus 
Wilson's case having thus completely failed, the Rev. gentleman at- 
tempted to get rid of the case by a childish and contemptible shuffle. 
He said it might be a Mary Cornthwaite three hundred miles off that he 
alluded to. Mr. Voules checked this trifling by handing this Christian 
minister a Bible, and putting him on his oath. In answer to Mr. Voules' 
questions, he said he was the Rev. W. Carus Wilson, Vicar of Tunstall, 
the author of many religious works, and of the letter in question, etc., and 
he very reluctantly admitted the fact, that it was Mary Cornthwaite to 
whom he had referred. After much prevarication, he was at last com- 
pelled to admit the blackness of the charge, and to sue for mercy. This, 
however, was not a point for Mr. Voules to determine on, and Mr. Wilson 
having retracted every part of his statement, and affixed his signature to 
the retraction, the inquiry closed. The result of the examination was 
transmitted to London by Mr. Voules, and the case is before them for 
decision. Wnether law proceedings will be instituted against Mr, WUson 
for the libel, or whether the Commissioners will be satisfied with the 
publication of the apology and retraction, we have not heard. The latter 
appears to us the more likely. 

At the conclusion of the inquiry, we understand, Mr. Welch expressed 


himself in terms of strong disapprobation of Mr. Wilson's conduct, and 
warmly complimented Mr. Voules upon the impartial manner in which 
the inquiry had been conducted. Upon the general accuracy of the pre- 
ceding statement we believe our readers may implicitly rely. We have 
contented ourselves with a plain and simple recital of the facts of the case 
as they have come to our knowledge, and if they are incorrect in any 
particular we shall gladly rectify them. We shall not trust ourselves at 
present to make a single word of comment of the conduct of the chief 
actor in this scene, the Rev. W. Carus Wilson. The injury to the cause 
of religion, and particularly to the established church, from such conduct 
cannot well be overrated. 




THE following list includes the whole of the early Bronte Manuscripts 
known to me, or of which I can find any record : 


The Young Men's Magazines. In Six Numbers, . . . .1829 
[Only four out of these six numbers appear to have been preserved.] 

The Search after Happiness : A Tale. By Charlotte Bronte, . 1829 
Two Romantic Tales ; viz. The Twelve Adventures^ and An Adven- 
ture in Ireland, ......... 1829 

Natural History: A Magazine^ ..... January 1829 

Characters of Great Men of the Present Age , Dec. 1 7th, . . 1829 
Tales of the Islanders. By Charlotte Bronte ;- 

Vol. i. dated June 31, 1829. 
Vol. ii. dated December 2, 1829. 
Vol. iii. dated May 8, 1830. 
Vol. iv. dated July 30, 1830. 

[Accompanying these volumes is a one-page document detailing ' The 
Origin of the Islanders* Dated March 12, 1829.] 

JBlackwood's Young Mens Magazine. Edited by the Genius C. B. 

Printed by Captain Tree, and sold by Captain Cory, , . 1829 
The Silver Cup : A Tale, ......... ^29 

An Interesting Story. By Lord Charles Wellesley. Charlotte 

Bronte, , 1830 

The Adventures of Mont. Edouard Clark. By Lord C. Wellesley. 

Printed for Sergeant Tree, and sold by , . . ,1830 

The Adventures of Ernest Alembert : A Fairy Tale. By Charlotte 

Bronte, 1 5:830 

Scenes on the Great Bridge. By the Genius C. B,, 1830 

The Poetaster : A Drama. In two volumes. By Lord Charles 

Wellesley. Volume the First, .... July 3rd, 1830 
The Evening Walk: A Poem. By the Marquis Douro, , . 1830 

1 Ernest Alembert was printed in Literary Anecdotes t by Thomas J. Wise and Dr. 
Robertson Nicoll, and reprinted for private circulation by Mr, Wise in the Ashley 


A Translation into English Verse of the first Book of Voltaire 's 

Henriade. By Charlotte Bronte, 1830 

Albion and Marina: A Tale. By Lord Wellesley, . . . 1830 
The Violet : A Poem. With several smaller Pieces. By the 
Marquis of Douro. Published by Sergeant Tree. Glass- 
town, 1830, 1830 

The Bridal. By C. Bronte, 1832 

Arthuriana; or, Odds and Ends : Being a Miscellaneous Collection 
of Puces in Prose and Verse. By Lord Charles A. F. Wel- 
lesley, 1833 

Something about Arthur. Written by Charles Albert Florian 

Wellesley, 1833 

The Vision. By Charlotte Bronte, 1833 

The Secret and Lily Hart; Two Tales. By Lord Charles Wel- 
lesley, 1833 

[The first pasje of this book is given in facsimile in vol. i. of Mrs. 
Gaskell's Life of Charlotte BronM.] 

Visits in Verdopolis* By the Honourable Charles Albert Florian 

Wellesley. Two vols., 1833 

The Green Dwarf: A Tale of the Perfect Tense. By Lord Charles 

Albert Florian Wellesley. Charlotte Bronte, . . . 1833 

The Foundling: A Tale of our own Times. By Captain Tree, . 1833 

Richard C&ur de Lion and Blondel. By Charlotte Bronte. 8vo, 
pp. 20. Signed in full Charlotte Bronte, and dated Haworth, 
near Bradford, Dec. syth, 1833, 1833 

My Angria and the Angrians. By Lord Charles Albert Florian 

Wellesley 1834 

A Leaf from an Unopened Volume; or, The Manuscript of an 
Unfortunate Author. Edited by Lord Charles Albert Florian 
Wellesley 1834 

Corner Dhhes ; Btin% a small Collection of . . . Trifles in Prose 

and Verse. By Lord Charles Albert Florian Wellesley, . 1834 

The Spell: An Extravaganza. By Lord Charles Albert Florian 
Wellesley. Signed Charlotte Bronte, June 2ist, 1834. The 
contents include: i. Preface, half page; 2. The Spell, 26 
pages; 3. High Life in Verdopolis : or The Difficulties of 
Annexing a Suitable Title to a Work Practically Illustrated 
in Six Chapters. By Lord C. A. F. Wellesley, March 20, 
1834, 22 pages; 4. The Scrap-Book : A Mingling of Many 
Things. Compiled by Lord C. A. F. Wellesley. C. Bronte, 
March iyth, 1835, 31 pages. 

[This volume is in the British Museum.] 

Death of Darius Cadomanus : A Poem. By Charlotte Bronte. 

Pp. 24, Signed in full, and dated, 1835 

Saul and Memory : Two Poems. By C. Bronte. Pp. 12, . . 1835 

Passing Events, 1836 

* We. Wove a Web in Childhood* : A poem (pp. vi.), signed C 

Bronte, Haworth, Dec'br, iQth, 1835, . . . . , 1835 


The Wounded Stag, and other Poems. Signed C. Bronte. Jan'y, 

19, 1836. Pp. 20, ........ 1836 

Poems, 50 pages, ........ 1836-37 

Lord Dour o\ A Story. Signed C. Bronte. July 2ist, 1837, . 1837 
Poems. By C. Bronte. Pp. 16, ....... 1838 

Caroline Vernon : A Story. In three Books. Signed Charles 

Townsend, .......... 1839 

A Story. (Without Title.) Signed C. Townsend, . . . 1839 
Lettre <f Invitation a un Ecclesiastique. Signed Charlotte Bronte. 

Le 21 Juillet, 1842. Large 8vo, pp. 4. A French exercise 

written at Brussels, ........ 1842 

The Moores. By Charlotte Bronte. Crown Svo, pp. 36, written 

in pencil, ......... circa 1852 

Reprinted in Dr. Robertson Nicoll's edition si Jane Eyre, 

Willie Ellin. By Charlotte Bronte. Crown 8vo, pp. 18, 

May and June 1853 
Reprinted in The Woman at Home for December 1898. 

The following, included in Charlotte's 'Catalogue of my Books,' printed 
by Mrs. Gaskell, are not now forthcoming : 

Leisure Hours : A Tale, and two Fragments . July 6th, 1829 

An Interesting Incident in the Lives of some of the most eminent 

Persons of the Age: A Tate, ..... June loth, 1830 
A Book of Rhymes. Finished, .... December xyth, 1829 
Miscellaneous Poems. Finished, ..... May 3rd, I83O 1 

[These Miscellaneous Poems are probably poems written upon separate 
sheets, and not forming a complete book indeed, some half-dozen 
such separate poems are still extant. The last item given in Char* 
lotte's list of these Miscellaneous Poems is The Evening Walk> 
1820; this is a separate book, and is included in the list above.] 


A volume of Poems^ Svo, pp. 29 ; signed (at the top of the first 
page) E.J, B. Transcribed February 1844. Each poem is 
headed with the date of its composition. Of the poems in- 
cluded in this book four are still imprinted, the remainder 
were published in the Poems of 1846. The whole are 
written in microscopic characters, ...... i 844 

A volume of Poems> square Svo, pp. 24. Each poem is dated, and 
the first is signed E.J. Bronte, August iQth, 1837. Written 
in an ordinary, and not a minute, handwriting. All un- 
published, ........ 1837-1839 

A series of poems written in a minute hand upon both sides of 
fourteen or fifteen small slips of paper of various sizes. All 
unpublished, ........ 

1 'The Poems of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte* in these lists were sold to 
America, and privately printed by Dodd, Mead and Company of New York in, 1903 
under that title no copies only. Those of Emily were reprinted in Collected Poems , 
1908 (Hodder and Stoughton). 


Z,eftr3.n& Rcponse. An exercise in French. Large 8vo, pp, 4, 

Signed E. /. Bronte, and dated 16 Juillet, . . . 1842 

E Amour Filial. An exercise in French. Small quarto, pp. 4. 

Signed in full Emily J. Bronte, and dated 5 Aoiit, . . , 1842 


Verses by Lady Geralda, and other poems. A crown 8vo volume 
of 28 pages. Each poem is signed (or initialled) and dated, 
the dates extending from 1836 to 1837. The poems are all 
unpublished, 1836-1837 

The North Wind, and other poems. A crown Svo volume of 26 
pages. Each poem is signed (or initialled) and dated, some 
having in addition to her own name the nom-de-guerre 
Akxandrina Zenobia or Olivia Vernon. The dates extend from 
1838 to 1840. The poems are all unpublished, . . 1838-1840 

To Cowper, and other poems. 8vo, pp. 22. Of the nine poems 
contained in this volume three are signed Anne Bronte, four 
are signed A. Bronte, and two are initialled 'A. B? All 
are dated. Part of these Poems are unpublished, the 
remainder appeared in the Poems of 1846, . . . 1842-1845 

A thin Svo volume of poems (mostly dated 1845), PP- T 4> eac h 
being signed A. Bronte, or simply 'A. J3. 7 some having in 
addition to, or instead of, her own name the nom-de-guerre 
Zerona. A few of these poems are imprinted ; the remainder 
are a portion of Anne's contribution to the Poems of 1846, 

circa 1845 

Song: f Should Lif s first feelings be forgot* (one octavo leaf), . 1845, 

[A fair copy (2 pp. Svo) of a poem by Branwell Bronte, in the hand- 
writing; of Anne Bronte.] 

The Power of Love -, and other poems. Post octavo, pp, 26. Each 

poem is signed (or initialled) and dated, . . . 1845-1846 

Self- -Communion , a Poem. 8vo, pp. 19. Signed A. B?, and dated 

April i yth, 1848, , , 184$ 


The Battle of Washington, By P. B. Bronte. With full-page 

coloured illustrations, , . . . . . , .1827 

[An exceedingly childish production, and the earliest of all the Bronte- 

History of the Rebellion in my Army, 1828 

The Travels of Rolando Segur : Comprising his Adventures through- 
out the Voyage, and in America, Europe, the South Pole, etc. 
By Patrick Branwell Bronte. In two volumes, . . . 1829 
JBranwell's Blackwood's Magazine. Two volumes Glasstown, July 1829 
VOL. II. 2 E 


A Collection of Poems. By Young Soult the Rhymer. Illustrated 
with Notes and Commentaries by Monsieur Chateaubriand. 

In two volumes, 1829 

The Liar Detected. By Captain Bud, 1830 

Caractacus: A Dramatic Poem. By Young Soult, . . . 1830 
The Revenge: A Tragedy, in three Acts. By Young Soult. P. B. 

Bronte. In two volumes. Glasstown, 1830 

[Although the title-page reads *in two volumes,' the book is complete 
in one volume only.] 

The History of the Young Men. By John Bud, , . . .1831 
Letters from an Englishman. By Captain John Flower. In six 

volumes, 1830-1832 

The Monthly Intelligencer. No. i, .... March 27, 1833 

[The only number produced of a projected manuscript newspaper, by 
Branwell Bronte. The MS. consists of 4 pp. 4to, arranged in 
columns, precisely after the manner of an ordinary journal.] 

Real Life in Verdopolis: A Tale. By Captain John Flower, M.P. 

In two volumes. P. B. Bronte, 1833 

The Politics of Verdopolis: A Tale. By Captain John Flower. 

P. B. Bronte, 1833 

The Pirate ; A Tale. By Captain John Flower, . , . -1833 

[The most pretentious of Bran well's prose stories.] 

Thermopylae: A Poem. By P. B. Bronte. 8vo, pp. 14, . . 1834 
And the Weary are at Rest: A Tale. By P. B. Bronte, . . 1834 
The Wool is Rising: An Angrian Adventure. By the Right 

Honourable John Baron Flower, 

Ode to the Polar Star, and other Poems. By P. B* Bronte. Quarto, 

pp. 24, 1834 

The Life of Fidd- Marshal the Right Honourable Alexander Percy ^ 

Earl of Northangerland. In two volumes. By John Bud. 

P. B. Bronte, 1835 

The Rising of the Angrians : A Tale. By P. B. Bronte, , . 1836 
A Narrative of the First War. By P. B. Bronte, . . . 1836 
The Angrian Welcome: A Tale. By P. B. Bronte , . * 1836 

Percy : A Story : By P. B. Bronte, 1837 

A packet containing four small groups of Poems^ of about six or 

eight pages each, mostly without titles, but all either signed or 

initialled, and dated from 1836 to 1838. 

Love and Warfare : A Story. By P. B. Bronte, , . , , 1839 
Lord Nelson, and other Poems. By P. B. Bronte. Written in 

pencil. Small 8vo, pp. 26, , . 1844 

[This book contains a full-page pencil portrait of Branwell Bronte, 
drawn by himself, as well as four carefully finished heads. These 
give an excellent idea of the extent of Branwell's artistic skill,] 





IN the year eighteen hundred and fifty, literature had not yet become the 
multitudinous entanglement it has now grown into. Mudie was little 
known in the Metropolis and not at all in the provinces. There were no 
Smith's stalls at the railway stations. The only shilling magazine was the 
now defunct Tait's ; and an assiduous reader could keep up with all the 
periodical and book literature of the day : and, as it seems to me, there was 
a different spirit in the readers. The reading youth of the country regarded 
literature with enthusiasm and passion. They looked forward to forth- 
coming works of their favourite authors with an intense eagerness, and 
gave themselves infinite trouble to get early possession of them, and 
devoured them with ecstasy, and would have walked miles to catch even 
a passing glimpse of their authors. The vapid, * used-up ' tone that char- 
acterises the young men of to-day did not exist. Our provincial streets 
did not swarm with languid Lord Dundrearys in their teens. To have 
written a book was then a distinction ; and it was a passport of admittance 
to whatever of thought and culture our northern towns professed. Those 
who were indifferent to literature simply didn't read at all, and were 
thought no worse for it But nearly every town contained its distinct 
reading set, who were looked down upon as muffs, or up to with respect, 
as the looker up or down was a man of sense or an ass. Such a small 
coterie of enthusiastic admirers of literature existed then in a little York- 
shire town which I will designate Horton. They were its intellectual salt. 
For the mass of the people were so utterly given to money-making hard, 
narrow, grasping, grinding money-making to adoration of the stomach 
to ignorant snobbery among the older families, and brutal, rude ignor- 
ance among the poorer classes that the place had no apparent raison 
tfetre in any intelligible theory of the universe, had it not been for this 
little knot of thoughtful and earnest-minded young men. In all that 
appertains to the noblest and highest in man, they were the best, the true 
aristocracy of the place ; and those that thought themselves the best would 
not have had one of them within their doors. The bulk of the middle"" 
classes were sheer, hard money-grubbers through the day, and the majority 
fuddled away a modicum of the day's winnings at the various inn-bars at 
night; and the rest were dismal, unlettered bigots of the most narrow 
section of Edward Bainesism. 

i John Stores Smith wrote Mirabeau 1 , A Life History, 1848; Social Aspects > 1852; 
A Treatise on the Principles of Equity -, 1856; Men of the Scottish Reformation^ 1860; 
Practice of th& Court of Chancery, 1862, 


But this small clique held its own, and, while following their respective 

occupations in life successfully, avoided the gin of the public-house on the 

one hand, and the bitters of Bainesitios on the other. One or two were 

scientific in their tastes, some musical, but all were literary. Among the 

number was the present Dean of University College and Dr. John 

Tyndall, famous over the wide, wide world. There was a solicitor who 

would sit a long evening without talking, but who would crack you a 

German nut that would puzzle many a German himself to whom Jean 

Paul Richter was easy, and who, if questions were made of a poem of 

Goethe's, or a ballad of Schiller's, would slip an elegant translation of it 

into your hands when next you met him. There was a bookkeeper in a 

manufacturer's office who knew all the flora and fauna of the West Riding 

who walked miles in the morning or on Sundays for a rare specimen, 

and who came to these little reunions to superadd somewhat of poetry, 

criticism, art, and science. The most many-sided and brilliant of the 

circle was a gentleman actively engaged in trade, but who had found 

leisure to acquire three modern languages and to read music critically at 

sight. Well, it so chanced that circumstances made me an inhabitant of 

this town for the better part of the year 1850; and as my tastes and 

pursuits were similar to those of this coterie, I soon found my way into 

their society, and as, in addition, I had previously published a work which 

had excited some little attention and been most gloriously abused, I was 

received with open hands and hearts more open. We met every Saturday 

evening at the rooms of the present dean, and when I joined them, I 

found the chief topic of absorbing interest, the temporary subject of their 

hero-worship was Charlotte Bronte. 

Her Jane Eyre had appeared in 1848, issuing from the same publisher's 
press at precisely the same time as my own fiasco. How that extra- 
ordinary work took the public by storm ; how the press and public were 
unanimous that an original genius, of a most delicate and remarkable 
organisation, with the subtle powers of observation and an almost weird 
gift of analysis, had flashed upon the world, is a matter of the literary 
history of the age. It is not so much a matter of remembered history 
how great and tantalising a mystery surrounded its authorship. The 
critics could not even decide whether the writer were man or woman. 
Some maintained the one and some the other, but for nearly two years 
not a corner of the curtain that veiled the writer had been lifted, 
Shirley had followed, and the world knew the author only by the 
ambiguous pseudonym of 'Currer Bell. 7 None had read these works 
with greater relish, or taken a deeper interest in the discovery of their 
author than our little Horton circle; and just before I made their 
acquaintance, a rumour, treated first of all as absurd, had gradually 
grown probable, and it was then as near a matter of certainty as any 
unavowed fact can be, that these magic pictures were from the pen of a 
lady, living only nine miles off across the moors, and whose very brother 
had only recently ceased to be a station-master in the very immediate 

This being the state of affairs as regards Currer Bell, it was one 
evening decided, in full conclave of our little society, that as fate had 
seemed somehow to connect me with the author by sending us both 


upon the world of books in the same year, and from the same press, and 
in now bringing me to her very threshold so to speak, it might not be 
unbecoming to help fate a little, and bring myself into personal relation- 
ship to her. It was resolved that I might, without any impertinence, nay, 
with a loyal frankness that could not be other than agreeable to her, 
forward a presentation copy of my work, with a note expressive of niy 
own and my friends' admiration for the productions of our wondrous 
neighbour. With that glowing oblivion of conventionality which glorifies 
youth, I followed this course, and on our next Saturday evening I was 
able to exhibit the following acknowledgment : 

March 6th, 1850. 

DEAR SIR, I have to thank you very sincerely for your kind note and 
the volumes accompanying it. Through the kindness of my publishers, 

I had already enjoyed the opportunity of reading e , J but it is an 

additional pleasure to possess the work as a gift from the author. 

I am happy to learn that my writings have afforded you some agreeable 
moments, and if my gratification is a little chastened by the fear that you 
ascribe to me a merit beyond my deserts, perhaps it is better so ; the 
unmixed cup is rarely salutary. 

With every good wish for your success in the honourable but difficult 
career of literature, I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely } 


For Currer Bell to acknowledge by return of post the receipt of a letter 
addressed to Miss Bronte placed their identity beyond a doubt; and 
many Sundays had not elapsed before two of our party were seized with 
an ardent desire to attend Divine Service at the Parish Church, Haworth. 
I was not one of the two. Rising betimes they crossed the moors, and 
reached the place in time for morning service, and when it was over they 
left the church, and, ostensibly studying epitaphs, placed themselves in 
such a position as to command a sight of any one coming from the 
church to the parsonage. They were gratified by the vision of a lady, 
who perfectly realised their preconceived idea of Currer Bell, and who it 
subsequently was made manifest was not Miss Bronte. But we were not 
the less deeply interested with their graphic account of the place and the 
personal appearance of our supposed authoress. 

It was somewhere about this time that Miss Bronte visited London and 
appeared in various circles of society, as the avowed writer of fane Eyrt 
and Shirley ; and, as in that visit she made the acquaintance of several 
friends of my own, I had no scruple in forwarding her a copy of a second 
work of mine, which appeared in July. In a day or two the following 
letter came to hand ; 

HA wo RT H , July 2$tA 9 1850, 

MY DEAR SIR, I have not yet read the whole of the work you have 
kindly sent me, but I have read enough of it to feel impatient to offer my 
sincere congratulations on the marked the important progress made by 
the author since the publication of his c ,' I find ' ' deeply in- 
teresting, as all must find it who accord the book an attentive perusal. It 
seems to me that the views here expressed have a peculiar rectitude, that 
the thoughts are full of sound sense, and that these views are advocated, 


and these thoughts advanced with an earnestness that deserves, and, I 
trust, will command general attention. 

In writing this book you have cast good seed into the ground ; that 
you may see it ripen and gather ihe produce a hundredfold, is the sincere 
wish of Yours very truly, C. BRONTE. 

P.S. You mention Mrs. Gaskell and Miss Jewsbury. I regard as an 
honour any expression of interest from these ladies. The latter I had 
once the pleasure of meeting in London. 

Still, Currer Bell was only a shadow to me, and often during my rambles 
over the hills and moorlands around Horton, my eye would wander over 
the tumbled billows, and wavy stretches of heather, to certain crests and 
eminences, whose grey old tops I knew well looked down upon the lonely 
hamlet wherein this bright daughter of the empyrean had her mortal 
dwelling ; and a desire would steal over me to extend my walk an hour or 
two and pay a passing call. At length it chanced that to find my way 
from a certain place I had to visit, to journey through Keighley, and 
Haworth would be what the country-folk call my 'gainest' road to 
Horton. I therefore dropped a short note to Miss Bronte, saying that, if 
quite agreeable to her, I would do myself the honour of calling upon her 
on such and such a day and having received a very kind reply, saying 
she would be glad to see me and inviting me to dinner, I found myself at 
Keighley Station on a lovely morning in September, and I was, I believe, 
the first person out of her own immediate circle of relatives and friends 
who spent a day with Charlotte Bronte in her own home, now familiar by 
pen and pencil to every one to whom genius is admirable and the tragedies 
of domestic life are sacred. 



THE village of Haworth, its weather-beaten church, and lonely and 
desolate parsonage, have been painted in words so very frequently and, at 
times, so very well, since the lamented death of her who alone rendered 
that obscure hamlet worth a passing word, as to render it almost superero- 
gatory for me to add another to that multitude of descriptions. And yet 
any attempt to give a full and vivid conception of Charlotte Bronte would 
altogether fail if quite stripped of due local colouring. For the material 
aspects of Haworth the quiet desolation of its mouldy struggle to the 
unbroken solitudes of the boundless moors, are the background upon 
which, and upon which only, can Miss Bronte's portrait be portrayed. 
Haworth was a part of her innermost nature ; it was the ground melody 
that ran through her every book, and laid the basis of her idiosyncrasy, 
Had the Bronte family lived in any other village in England, there might 
have been a Charlotte Bronte, but assuredly there would have been no 
Currer Bell. It was the visible, material Haworth, and its surrounding 
belt of trackless and unpopulated moorland, that made poets of the young 
Brontes poets none the less because their inspiration did not have a 
rhythmic utterance that gave the strange, almost unearthly tone to their 


intellectual characteristics. Haworth called their genius into being 
moulded it into ripened originality, and then slew them. It was at once 
the creator of Currer Bell and her assassin. Therefore a few descriptive 
touches are essential to any attempted photograph of that lady. More- 
over, I am conscious to this moment how thoroughly the spirit of the 
place weighed upon my own mind and nature, and coloured my first 
impressions of Miss Bronte, and has entwined itself around her in my 
memory inseparable for ever. Inquiring my way in the town of Keighley, 
I was told that the village of Haworth lay some three miles off, on the 
road to Bradford and Halifax ; accordingly I set my face southward, with 
a brisk foot and a light heart. After walking a good half-hour, I per- 
ceived the long line of a single street which, leaving the main road 
abruptly, climbed steeply to the western hills for about a mile, and then 
terminated sharply and at once with the grey-green tower of a church. 
This place seemed so directly out of the way to Bradford, that I paid little 
attention to it, and never dreamed that it could be the temporary ending 
of my walk. But when I reached the point of bifurcation, and saw the 
southern road stretching over the uplands rather to the eastward, without 
a trace of any village on its course, I made inquiries, and then found that 
this street-village was the Haworth I was in search of. It lay there like 
a speculation given up in despair, as one comes across, in lonely places, 
up and down, a half-sunk coal shaft, with an abandoned pump atop, or a 
scraped hillside giving evidence of an abandoned stone delph, both 
telling their own sad tale of fruitless hope, and bootless expenditure, and 
ruined fortunes; so did this single-street Haworth give you the idea, that, 
in some impulsive intoxication of the past, vigorous spirits had determined 
to run one long Oxford Street of houses over the moors to Colne, and 
having lost heart and energy by the way, had flung the attempt up in 
despair, and with a last expiring effort had erected a church to 
administer consolation to the baffled and dispirited projectors. What 
Haworth may be now I do not know. The vast extension of the woollen 
trade may have galvanised even it into the semblance of prosperous and 
vigorous life. But in 1850 it was the most dead-alive, melancholy- 
looking place it has ever been my lot to see. No sign of life, or trade, or 
traffic, was perceptible. The very houses seemed miserable, and if stones 
could look positively heartless, they did. Divested of all the beauty and 
Oriental colouring, it was a very Lotus land ; a place where, let the sun 
shine never so brightly and most gloriously it did that day 'it seemed 
always afternoon.' By the time I had reached the end of its steep hill, my 
body was wearied, and my high spirits had all given way to an oppressive 
numbness of soul. How any one could live a lifetime there, and not 
grow morbid, was incomprehensible; and now I could read the secret 
of Patrick Bronte's life, some details of which had even reached me, 
long ere Mrs. Gaskell laid them so inaccurately bare to the public gaze. 
But when I had traversed the damp and depressing churchyard a 
flagged congregation of the dead, which seemed to combine all the 
dismal ugliness of a city graveyard with the savage isolation of the wilds 
and stood in front of the parsonage, all the inner mysteries of Wuther 
ing Heights and Wildfell Hall, and the gnome-like genius and premature 
deaths of Ellis and Acton Bell, were clear to me. The parsonage was a 


low stone house which occupied one corner of the graveyard, A field 

had evidently been set apart, and the founders of the church had said, 

* In three-fourths of it we will inter the dead, and in that other fourth we 

will bury the living.' A little garden was before it, and you stept straight 

off the gravestones into it. You also went down one step, as toward a 

larger grave. A flagged walk led up to the front door, and it was covered 

over with a damp, green film, and in the interstices grew an almost black 

moss. The garden on either side was filled with various common country 

plants and shrubs, but bore no trace of any care of attention, and the 

exuberant vegetation of autumn's excess hid their nature, and gave me 

the phantom-like feeling that I was looking upon the colony of the fabled 

Mandrake. The stone of the house was of the same melancholy tint as 

the flags of the walk ; a small door was in the centre, and a window on 

either side ; in the only storey about were three windows, I think. Of all 

the sad, heart-broken-looking dwellings I had passed through, this looked 

the saddest. A great sinking of spirit came over me, and I wished I had 

not come. I felt that my face, could I have seen it, had instinctively put 

on that expression one endeavours to wear when attending a funeral; I 

also felt that I was out of keeping with the atmosphere of the place. 

What was I doing taking the hot blood and rollicking high spirits of one- 

and-twenty into the sombre, silent catacomb? I stood at the gate 

irresolute, half thinking I would sneak away and not pay my promised 

visit, when a ludicrous and rather grotesque incident decided for me 


In those days I possessed a dog, which had become a loved companion 
of my rambles. He was a young creature, having just attained the age 
that, according to the laws of dog-hood, might be considered his majority. 
I never rightly knew his breed, but his descent was Scotch. He was 
covered with long, thick, wiry drab hair, was of great length and little 
height He commenced with a black nose and shaggy face, as shrewd- 
looking as that of a U. P. elder, and a pair of bandy legs ; and then went 
on for such a length that it seemed as though nature had purposed to 
extend him indefinitely, but, getting tired, had clapped on a tail by way of 
writing c to be continued,' and so left him. This dog arrived at the 
garden wicket simultaneously with myself. Now it so chanced that the 
dog of the parsonage was taking his siesta in the sun at the very moment, 
and lay curled into a huge ball on the doorstep. He was very old, and 
almost toothless, and I believe wholly blind. His breed was conglo- 
merate, combining every species of English canininity from the turnspit 
to the sheep-dog, with a strain of Haworth originality superadtled. This 
had been the companion of Emily Bronte in her long stroll across the 
hills, when she wandered afar, with brain seething with weird imaginings ; 
and later, when she sought the congenial melancholy of the moors with 
weakening footsteps, and heart and brain gradually fading before the fatal 
advance of the English Atropos consumption. In the exuberance of his 
youth, with tail wagging and ears cocked, my dog trotted gaily up to this 
poor old memento of the past, and in a second there was such an uproar 
as Haworth churchyard had seldom or never heard. With an angry roar, 
the old dog, by sheer weight, rolled the younger one over and commenced 
a painless worrying with his toothless gums; and the other, smarting 


under the first rebuff he had yet encountered, howled for vexation rather 
than pain. In a minute or less I had nipped up my animal, and held 
him under my arm, barking furiously, while the old one rolled to and fro 
among the mandrakes, blindly seeking his vanished enemy. At this 
instant the door opened and the servant appeared, and behind her on the 
stairs the authoress of Jane Eyre. Here was a romantic meeting. An 
enthusiastic genius-lover and hero-worshipper, with a heart aflame 
towards literature, and all its priests and sybils, literally blazing with 
earnestness, makes a pilgrimage to the most original lady of the age, and 
he meets her thus ; with a barking terrier under his arm, and a growling 
old conglomerate mumbling at his calves. To this hour I have only a 
confused recollection of the servant taking my dog from me, saying that 
she would fasten him up in the stable ; of a slender lady, more like a 
spirit than a corporal being, bidding me welcome with a quiet, amused 
smile on her lips ; of her telling me that she had half-an-hour's writing 
that must be done ere dinner, and, having asked me to be so good as to 
pass that interval with her father, of her opening a door to the right and 

showing me into a small room, with the words 'Father, this is Mr. , 

whom I have told you about,' closing the door behind me, and leaving 
me flustered and confused in the presence of a blind old man. 1 Had I 
never seen more of Miss Bronte, I should have had no impression of her 
left on my mind. 

The Reverend Mr. Bronte was the ruin of what had been a striking and 
singularly handsome man. He was tall, strongly built, and even then 
perfectly erect. His hair was nearly white, but his eyebrows were still 
black; his features were large and handsome, but he was quite blind. 
He was dressed very carelessly, in almost worn-out clothes, had no proper 
necktie, and was in slippers. He sat beside the fireplace erect in his 
chair, facing the window, and he seemed to look steadfastly towards the 
light with his sightless orbs, which were never again to behold it, until 
the celestial splendour of the New Jerusalem flash upon them, when the 
sun and moon shall be no more. The blind old dog curled himself on 
the hearth at his blind old master's feet. He commenced conversation 
almost immediately upon his daughter. I had read and admired her 
works ? I told him I had, and gave my honest opinion of their fascinating 
interest and startling originality. And was that the general verdict of the 
world? I gave him a summary of many criticisms I well remembered, 
and at every pause he rubbed his knees slowly, and muttered in half 
soliloquy : f And I hadn't an idea of it. To think of me never even sus- 
pecting it. Strange ! Strange ! ' And then he talked about Emily and 
the other sister, and told me how he had considered Emily the genius of 
the family, how he never fancied Charlotte capable of writing anything, 
and could scarcely realise it, and as he did so, he ever and anon fell into 
reverie again, and muttered the old refrain : c And I knew nothing about 
it, positively nothing. Strange ! Strange ! Perhaps I might have stopped 
it if I had. But I knew nothing nothing/ He seemed to have a three- 
fold feeling regret that novels should have proceeded from his daughters ; 
paternal pride, evident and sometimes garrulous, demonstrative pride; 

1 We know from Charlotte Bronte's letters that her father was not blind at this time. 


and a wandering inability altogether to believe it. After a little he turned 
upon the untimely deaths of his younger children ; dwelt much upon 
both, and then fell into soliloquy once more: * And she is dead ! And 
Emily dead too ! both dead ! All dead ! ' 

* While he was talking thus, the lonely place, 
The Old Man's shape and speech all troubled me.' 

How could I talk to him ? What were my inflated schemes and random 
day-dreams, what was the weather, or trade, or politics, to this blind old 
ruin sitting there, confused amid the splendour of his child's success, and 
mourning on the sad hearth-stone of a bereaved fireside ? I could not 
talk. I could only sit subdued and depressed, as I might have kept 
watch beside a corpse. For the first time in my life, I had practical 
experience that even in the comet-like track of genius, all is not brilliance. 
Here was the most original living Englishwoman, who had broken out 
into the full glory of an achieved success, whose pen was wealth to her, 
whose name was on every cultivated tongue, and whose creations were in 
every cultivated mind, and this this was her home ! I was so musing, 
when, after the lapse of about an hour, the door opened and the servant 
announced dinner. 

I was shown across the lobby into the parlour to the left, and there I 
found Miss Bronte standing in full light of the window, and I had ample 
opportunity of fixing her upon my memory, where her image is visibly 
present to this hour. She was diminutive in height and extremely fragile 
in figure. Her hand was one of the smallest I ever grasped. She had 
no pretensions of being considered beautiful, and yet was far removed 
from being plain. She had rather light brown hair, somewhat thin and 
drawn plainly over her brow. Her complexion had no trace of colour in 
it, and her lips were pallid also ; but she had a sweet smile, with a touch 
of tender melancholy in it. Altogether she was as unpretending, unde- 
monstrative, quiet a little lady as you could meet. Her age I took to be 
about five-and-thirty. But when you saw and felt her eyes, the spirit that 
created Jane Eyre was revealed to you at once. They were rather 
small, but of a very peculiar colour, and had a strange lustre and intensity. 
They were chameleon-like, a blending of brown and various olive tints. 
But they looked you through and through, and you felt they were forming 
an opinion of you, not by mere acute noting of Lavaterish physiognomical 
peculiarities, but by a subtle penetration into the very marrow of your 
mind and the innermost core of your soul. Taking my hand, again she 
apologised for her enforced absence, and as she did so, she looked right 
through me. There was no boldness in the gaze, but an intense, direct, 
searching look, as of one who had the gift to read hidden mysteries, and 
the right to read them. I had a feeling that I never experienced before 
or since, as though I was being mesmerised. It was almost a relief when 
the look was removed, and we sat down together to table. During dinner 
I had always a feeling that those eyes were upon me, when I was looking 
down myself, and when I looked at her, and her gaze was on her plate, I 
still could not divest myself of the sensation that those eyes could see 
through their lids. We did not converse much while the simple meal was 
being despatched, but afterwards we had a ceaseless talk extending over 


fully two hours. I have not one single phrase of her conversation to 
chronicle. There was neither wit, nor fancy, nor brilliance in her remarks. 
Her talk was remarkable for strong, shrewd, homely sense, tersely, briefly, 
directly, and vigorously expressed. There was not a trace of the literary 
woman about her; no attempt at effect, no tours de phrase. The merit of 
her remarks lay altogether in the matter, and not the least in the manner. 
About herself, and sisters, and family generally, she was reticent, and 
seemed to put the subject markedly away from her. She confined her 
observations to myself, my designs and prospects, and to the expression 
of her views of London literary men and their lives and characters. 

As regards myself, she at once assumed an almost maternal tone. I 
was then about to perpetrate one of those colossal follies which only the 
fervour of youth renders possible ; which we lament for many years, and 
then, later in life, envy the heart that was capable of such courageous, 
hopeful recklessness. I was about to abandon reliable commerce, and go 
up to London and take my chance in the intricate jungle of literature. 
She did not directly endeavour to dissuade me. I fancy those mesmeric 
eyes had told her that that would be as useless a task as to attempt to 
make Haworth lively. But she did point out that if I continued to write 
such matter as, she was complimentary enough to say, was alone worthy 
of me, I must starve, and she seemed to think the tamest Haworth life 
was preferable to the turning of the pen into a literary tight-rope dancing- 
machine for gold. But she sought to turn me away from London by an 
indirect method. Whether she exaggerated her real sentiments for my 
benefit, or whether she afterwards in any way modified her views, I do not 
know, but certainly in 1850, shortly after her visit to London as a literary 
lioness, she pictured her impressions of metropolitan literary life in most 
forbidding colours, and with clear, cutting, intense distaste of it ; I may 
even say contempt. Dickens she had met, 1 and admired his genius, but did 
not like him. Her homely thrift and unpretending, retiring nature shrunk 
from him, from an idea she had acquired of ostentatious extravagance on 
his part. Thackeray she absolutely worshipped. Carlyle she knew little 
of, but reverenced the dignity of his life, though she disliked his writings. 
Of one eminent man in criticism, and metaphysical and scientific litera- 
ture, she had an absolute loathing ; and of the ruck and run of the minor 
Guerillas and Bohemians of Letters she spoke with a supreme contempt. 
She had looked literary life full in the face, and was contented to die in 
Haworth, rather than to live in that. Throughout all this she evinced an 
almost tender interest in myself. Here is an ingenuous youth, with 
the sails of his fresh manhood full set, and the colours of an exalted 
imagination flying, bearing straight down upon Charybdis ; I will strain 
my graphic power to show him clearly that it is to Charybdis he is 
going. I remember well her last words. They were : ' When you get to 
London, seek out and gain the friendship of Mr. Thackeray maintain that 
of Mr. Carlyle ; but as for the general body who call themselves literary 
men, avoid them as a moral pestilence,' 

By this time it was five o'clock, and I took my leave. I left by the 
back way, and so got my dog off without another fracas. I strode away 

1 This is an error. Charlotte Bronte never met Charles Dickens. 


through the long street of Haworth, and mounted the eastward hills ; and 
it was not until the fresh breezes of the moors were blowing over me, that 
I felt the sense of despondent depression in any way lightened. As it was, 
I turned round and bade adieu to the receding church and parsonage 
with feelings of pain and sorrow. I was sorry for the solitary lady I had 
left behind. I never dreamed that she would have married, but I felt that 
she must die. I was sorry for myself. I felt that I had met a Cassandra, 
and though my will was determined not to heed her, the still small voice 
within me said that her vaticinations were correct, and that I was on my 
way to disaster. Both feelings were correct. I encountered shipwreck, 
and Miss Bronte died. 

So ended my day with Charlotte Bronte. A more unrelieved, oppres- 
sive story than hers and her sisters I do not recollect. Their brief 
existence was one overclouding nightmare, and the hand that touched 
them and dispelled it was the hand of death. 


THESE letters were received after the volumes had gone to press. The 
editor will be obliged if any of his readers will send him other letters by 
Charlotte Bronte for incorporation in later editions. 

Letter i 


January^ 1840. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I write a hasty line to assure you we shall be happy 
to see you on the day you mention, Friday week. I will do my best to 
give you what assistance I can while you stay with us, and as you are 
now acquainted with the neighbourhood and its total want of society, 
and with our plain, monotonous mode of life, I do not fear so much as 
I used to do that you will be disappointed with the dulness and sameness 
of your visit. 

One thing, however, will make the daily routine more unvaried than 
ever. Branwell, who used to enliven us, is to leave us in a few days to 
enter the situation of a private tutor in the neighbourhood of Ulverston. 
How he will like or settle remains yet to be seen ; at present he is full of 
hope and resolution. 

I, who know his variable nature, and his strong turn for active life, dare 
not be too sanguine. We are as busy as possible preparing for his depar- 
ture, and shirt-making and collar-stitching fully occupy our time. Friday 
week I look forward to with impatience ; don't change your day. Good- 
bye, my dear Ellen. C BRONTE, 

I think it is your turn to scold about bad writing. 

P.S. The bag I was working for you remains just in the state it wa* 
four months ago. When you come I '11 try to finish it. 


Letter 2 


October 14^, 1850. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return A.'s letters. She seems quite happy and fully 
satisfied of her husband's affection. Is this the usual way of spending 
the honeymoon? To me it seems as if they overdo it; that travelling, 
and tugging, and fagging about and getting drenched and muddied, by 
no means harmonises with my notions of happiness; besides, the two 
meals a day, etc., would do me up. It all reminds me too sharply of the 
few days I spent in London nearly ten years ago, when I was many a time 
fit to drop with the fever and faintness resulting from long fasting and 
excessive fatigue. However, no doubt, a bride can bear such things better 
than others. I smiled to myself at some passages; she has wondrous 
faith in her husband's intellectual powers and acquirements. Joe's illu- 
sion will soon be over, but Amelia's will not, and therein she is happier 
than he. 

What will be the proper thing for me to do when they come home by 
way of acknowledging the cards sent me ? I suppose I must send my 
card ; didn't you say so ? 

John Taylor will probably discover that he too wants a wife when he 
gets to Ropely ; the opposite hill will form a convenient prospect But 
I will say no more; you know I disapprove jesting and teasing on these 
matters. Idle words sometimes do unintentional harm. 

I have had a letter from Mary lately; she is well, happy, and pros- 
perous her shop thriving, herself content. I am glad of this. Good- 
bye, dear Nell. God bless you ! C. BRONTE, 

Papa continues much better. 

Letter 3 


, 1854. 

DEAR KATIE, It was at a little wild spot on the south-west coast of 
Ireland that your letter reached me. I did not at first recognise the hand- 
writing, and when I saw the signature and afterwards read the full and 
interesting communication, I was touched; you are very good, Katie, 
very thoughtful for others. 

Yes ! I am married. A month ago this very day (July 27th) I changed 
my name. The same day we went to Conway ; stayed a few days in 
Wales ; then crossed from Holyhead to Dublin. After a short sojourn in 
the capital we went to the coast. Such a wild rock-bound coast : with 
such an ocean view as I had not yet seen, and such battling of waves with 
rocks as I had never imagined ! 

My husband is not a poet or a poetical man, and one of my grand 
doubts before marriage was about 'congenial tastes' and so on. The 
first morning we went out on to the cliffs and saw the Atlantic coming in, 
all white foam, I did not know whether I should get leave or time to take 


the matter in my own way. I did not want to talk, but I did want to 
look and be silent. Having hinted a petition, licence was not refused \ 
covered with a rug to keep off the spray, I was allowed to sit where I 
chose, and he only interrupted me when he thought I crept too near the 
edge of the cliff. So far, he is always good in this way, and this protec- 
tion which does not interfere or pretend, is, I believe, a thousand times 
better than any half sort of pseudo-sympathy. I will try with God's help 
to be as indulgent to him whenever indulgence is needed. 

We have been to Killarney, I will not describe it a bit. We saw and 
went through the Gap of Dunloe. A sudden glimpse of a very grim 
phantom came on us in the Gap. The guide had warned me to alight 
from my horse, as the path was now very broken and dangerous ; I did 
not feel afraid and declined. We passed the dangerous part, the horse 
trembled in every limb and slipped once, but did not fall. Soon after, 
she started and was unruly for a minute; however I kept my seat, rr>y 
husband went to her head and led her. Suddenly, without any apparent 
cause, she seemed to go mad reared, plunged; I was thrown on the 
stones right under her. My husband did not see that I had fallen he 
still held on: I saw and felt her kick, plunge, trample round me. I 
had my thoughts about the moment its consequences, my husband, my 
father. When my plight was seen, the struggling creature was let loose, 
and she sprang over me. I was lifted off the stones, neither bruised by 
the fall nor touched by the mare's hoofs ! Of course the only feeling left 
was gratitude for more sakes than my own, 

I go home soon; good-bye, dear Katie. I direct this to Plymouth 
Grove, not being sure of your address. 


Letter 4 


HAWORTH, September 30^, '54, 

DEAR MRS. GASKELL, We all know that it is not precisely advanta- 
geous to a really good book to be published piecemeal in a periodical, but 
still, such a plan has its good side. North and South will thus be seen 
by many into whose hands it would not otherwise fall. What has appeared 
I like well, and better and better each fresh number; best of all the last 
(to-day's). The subject seems to me difficult ; at first, I groaned over it 
If you had any narrowness of views or bitterness of feeling towards the 
Church or her Clergy, I should groan over it still ; but I think I see the 
ground you are about to take as far as the Church is concerned ; not that 
of attack on her, but of defence of those who conscientiously differ from 
her, and feel it a duty to leave her fold. Well, it is good ground, but still 
rugged for the step of Fiction; stony, thorny will it prove at times, I fear. 
It seems to me you understand well the genius of the North. Where the 
Southern Lady and the Northern Mechanic are brought into contrast and 
contact, I think Nature is well respected, Simple, true and good did I 
think the last number, clear of artificial trammels of style and thought. 





From ' Halifax Guardian, May 23^, 1857 


ALTHOUGH we did not insert the letters to which the following refers 
(having confidence that the late eminent writer, whose memory they 
sought to darken, was not the woman to pen what she knew to be untrue), 
we willingly give insertion to the Rev. Mr. Nicholls's vindication of his lost 
wife's character, which, dear as it will be to him must also be dear to all 
the readers of her wonderful works ; 

To the Editors of the 'Leeds Mercury? 

GENTLEMEN, On Saturday last you published, by request of Mr. W. 
W. Carus Wilson, an extract from a review, containing, he says, * a com- 
plete answer to the statements regarding his father's charitable institu- 

The statements referred to are, I presume, the following: That the 
unhealthy situation of Cowan Bridge, unwholesome food, and exposure to 
cold, etc., enfeebled the girls, and predisposed them to disease ; that fever 
broke out among them ; that about forty of them suffered from it ; that 
the surgeon, who was called in, condemned the girls' daily food by the 
expressive action of spitting out a portion of it, which he had taken in 
order to taste it ; that the school was removed to a new situation, and a 
committee of management appointed. 

Now let us examine the * complete answer,' and see how these charges 
are disposed of. And first, the reviewer assumes that these statements 
rest solely on the testimony ' of one who, when but a child of nine, left 
the establishment ' ; a reference, however, to the Life of Charlotte Bronte 
will show that this is a false assumption. He praises the situation of the 
school, < on Mr. Carus Wilson's property, half a mile from Casterton 
Hall, high and healthy 7 ; but he has not the candour to state that this 
description applies to the present site, and not to that referred to in 'Jane 

He eulogises Mr. Wilson's liberality, but omits to state that funds are 
raised from the public for the support of the establishment which Mr. W. 
W. Carus Wilson modestly calls his 'father's charitable institutions/ 

He makes no mention whatever of the condemnation of the girls' daily 


food by the medical man, of the fever which scourged the school, and the 
consequent change of site and reformation of the establishment. 

But surely the former superintendent, 4 whose able letter appeared in a 
review,' will supply the gentleman's omissions, and in her 4 long and com- 
plete answer to the assertions in Jane EyrtJ make some reference to 
this eventful period in the existence of 'The Clergy Daughters' School.' 
She does no such thing ; at least as quoted in the review. She eulogises 
Mr. Wilson ; asseverates her own impartiality ; refers to her apostasy from 
her church and expatriation from her country ; makes a somewhat 
erroneous statement respecting Mr. Bronte's family \ hazards some con- 
jectures about the intentions of the author si Jane Eyre\ and lays before 
us a bill of fare at Cowan Bridge 'Meat, vegetables, and puddings, 
daily in abundance.' Very good, madam ! But what about the cooking 
that spoiled these provisions, boiled the puddings in unclean water, 
compounded the Saturday's nauseous mess from the fragments accumu- 
lated in a dirty larder during the week, and too often sent up the porridge, 
not merely burnt, but with offensive fragments of other substances dis- 
coverable in it? 

The Reviewer says: 'The whole of this letter Mrs. Gaskell must have 
seen, as she quotes one sentence out of it word for word.' Whether Mrs. 
Gaskell has seen this letter, I do not know but if the Reviewer will refer 
to the Zz/e, vol. i. page 78, he will find that Mrs. Gaskell quotes from a 
letter which she had herself received from the same lady, who evidently, 
in both instances, used the same form of expression identical, however, 
in only three words, 'bright, clever, happy 3 in reference to the same 
child. May I not justly retort the charge of disingenuousness on the 
Reviewer, who must have known this when he charged Mrs. Gaskell with 
making a garbled quotation. 

Jane Eyre was published in 1847 ; Lowood was almost immediately 
identified with Cowan Bridge, yet 'the lady, who was superintendent in 
1824,' was discreetly silent for more than seven years, in fact until the 
author was laid in her grave. So were Mr. W. W. Carus Wilson and the 
Reviewer, for aught I know. Their present proceedings are merely an 
illustration of a very old fable. 

To the day of her death ' Currer Bell 7 maintained that the picture drawn 
in. Jane Eyre was on the whole a true picture of Cowan Bridge School, as 
she knew it by experience : that the institution was subsequently greatly 
improved she knew and stated in the same work in which she exposed its 
former mismanagement. 

I am told that the Reviewer, referred to in this letter, has with exyufstfe 
taste and great chanty alluded to the closing hours of my wife's life, 
describing them as painful. Painful indeed they were, but not in his 
sense of the term. On this subject I would say to him, 'Who art thou 
that judgest another? Judge not that ye be not judged. First cast out 
the beam out of thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to pull 
out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.' 

Trusting to your sense of justice to give this letter a place in your 
Saturday's impression, I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant, 


. HAWORTH PARSONAGE, May zoth, 1857, 


From ' Halifax Guardian? June 6th, 1857 

To the Editor of the 'Halifax Guardian? 

SIR, I was aware that the Reviewer had expressed the wish, referred 
to by Mr. W. Cams Wilson, and I now see that, while inserting all that 
was favourable to the management of the school, the writer carefully 
omitted whatever told against it. 

Let me, however, thank Mr. Wilson for his last letter. In his former 
statement all was perfection at Cowan Bridge, now we have the following 
points admitted; That c during the spring of 1825 there prevailed a low 
fever, though not an alarming one' (what would alarm Mr. W. if the 
illness of about forty girls failed to do so?); that 'the doctor rather 
scornfully ' condemned the girls' food ; that ' thoughtless servants spoiled 
it' that there were ' privations ' ; that the schools were removed to a new 
site from what cause Mr. Wilson does not say. 

But mark how easily Mr. Wilson disposes of adverse testimony; 'if 
there are any besides (C. Bronte), perhaps a dismissed pupil or teacher.' 

Now even at the risk of incurring such a summary dismissal I cannot 
forbear giving him the following extract from a letter which I have 
received from a former pupil at Cowan Bridge : 

'On first reading Jane Eyre several years ago I recognised immediately 
the picture there drawn, and was far from considering it any way exagger- 
ated ; in fact, I thought at the time, and still think the matter rather 
understated than otherwise. I suffered so severely from the treatment 
that I was never in the schoolroom during the last three months I was 
there, until about a week before I left, and was considered to be far gone 
in consumption. My mother (whose only child I was) was never in- 
formed of my illness, and I might certainly have died there without her 
being informed of it, had not a severe illness of her own caused her 
hastily to summon me home. She was so much shocked at my appear- 
ance that she refused to allow rne to return, though pressed to do so. 
... I attribute my illness to the unhealthy situation of the school, the 
long walks to church in bad weather (for in winter our feet were often 
wet during the whole of the service), and the scanty and ill-prepared 
food* . . . The housekeeper was very dirty with the cooking. I have 
frequently seen grease swimming on the milk and water we had for break- 
fast, in consequence of its having been boiled in a greasy copper, and I 
perfectly remember once being sent for a cup of tea for a teacher, who 
was ill in bed, a