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n the Foot^ 


The Brontes 

Mrs. Ellis H.Chadwick 


Photo by} 

[Emery Walker. 

Alleged portrait of Charlotte Bronte. 





No. 1 AMEN CORNER, E.C. 1914 








MY first copy of Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte was 
sent to me from Ha worth, and some years afterwards fate 
decreed that I should go to live on the edge of the glorious 
moors, within bowshot of the Ha worth vicarage. It mattered 
not to me that Mrs. Gaskell had described the moorland 
village as bleak, wild, and desolate ; it was the home of the 
Brontes, and therein lay its charm. 

After living in Haworth for nearly two years, I had the 
good fortune to reside for the next six years in two other 
districts closely associated with the Brontes, on the borders 
of the Shirley country, and within a pleasant walk of Wood- 
house Grove. In those days now nearly thirty years ago 
there were many who had known the famous family at the 
Haworth parsonage, including Dr. Ingham, the medical 
adviser to the Brontes ; the sexton's family ; and Mr. Wood, 
the village carpenter, who never failed to tell visitors that 
he made all the coffins for the Bronte family except Anne's. 
Since those days, I have met many, in different parts of 
England as well as in Brussels, who knew Charlotte and Emily 

When opportunities offered I made repeated pilgrimages to 
every Bronte shrine, both in England and abroad. To be a 
devotee of the Brontes is to find an Open Sesame wherever 
true literature is valued, and it is one of the pleasantest recol- 
lections of my life to remember that in no single instance have 
I met with a refusal when seeking permission to see the interiors 
of houses and schools with which the Brontes have been con- 
nected. It is impossible to adequately acknowledge the uni- 
form kindness which, as a stranger, I have received. Several 
who have so willingly helped me have passed away during 
the writing of this book : Miss F. Wheelwright, of Kensington ; 
Mrs. Ratcliffe, of Haworth ; and M. 1'Abbe Richardson, of 

My thanks are due to Mr. Clement K. Shorter and Messrs. 


Hodder and Stoughton for kind permission to quote from The 
Brontes : Life and Letters and The Complete Poems of Emily 
Bronte. In the study of these works I have found a wealth of 
information which has enabled me to throw new light on several 
controversial problems connected with the Brontes. 

I am also indebted to the Rev. T. W. Story, M.A., of 
Haworth ; Mr. W. Scruton, of Bradford ; and Mr. W. W. Yates, 
of Dewsbury, for kindly allowing me to quote from their books. 

For the generous assistance, by the loan of photographs, 
letters and other documents, I am especially grateful to Mr. 
and Mrs. J. J. Green, of Hastings; Dr. Heger, and Mdlle 
de Bassompierre, of Brussels ; Miss White, of Banagher ; Lord 
Shuttleworth, of Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley ; Mr. J. J. Stead, 
of Heckmondwike ; Mr. J. Horsfall Turner, of Idle, Bradford ; 
Mr. Fred Shuttleworth, of Haworth ; Mr. J. Walton Starkey, 
of Woodhouse Grove ; and Mr. John Watkinson, of 
Huddersfield the Chairman of the Council of the Bronte 


West Brae, 




PREFACE ........... v 





THE ancestors of the Brontes The claim that Ireland inspired the 
Bronte novels The Irish Brontes Birthplace of Patrick Bronte 
His early training Alice Bronte Prunty, Brunty or Bronte 
Patrick Bronte enters St. John's College, Cambridge His pride in 
his Irish nationality. ........ 1 


CAMBRIDGE, 18021805 

PATRICK BRONTE as a student at St. John's College His industry and 
success Value of the scholarships he won His ordination as deacon 
by the Bishop of London and priest by the Bishop of Salisbury. 
Curacy at Wethers field, 1806-1809 

Patrick Bronte's first curacy Wethersfield in Essex The Vicar of 
Wethersfield Mary Burder Patrick Bronte leaves Wethersfield. 
Curacies at Wellington and Dewsbury, 1809-1811 

His appointment as curate at Wellington in Shropshire His next 
curacy at Dewsbury Parish Church The Vicar of Dewsbury 
Dewsbury in Patrick Bronte's time References to Dewsbury in 
Shirley His appointment as incumbent of Hartshead Church 
Memorial tablet in Dewsbury Parish Church. . . . .15 




THE village of Hartshead-cum-Clifton St. Peter's Church, Hartshead 
The Nunnely Church in Shirley The Rev. Hammond Roberson , 
The Luddite riots The Red House, Gomersal Mary Taylor 
Apperley Bridge The Woodhouse Grove Academy The Rev. 
John Fennell Maria Branwell Patrick Bronte's marriage in 
Guiseley Church Centenary anniversary of his wedding His 
love letters Publication of his Cottage Poems His second volume 
of poems The Rural Minstrel He exchanges livings with the Rev. 
Thomas Atkinson of Thornton, near Bradford . . . .26 




HAPPY days at Thornton Mrs. Gaskell's references to Thornton 
Thornton parsonage The Old Bell Chapel St. James's Church 
Birth of Charlotte, Patrick, Emily and Anne Bronte Memorial 
tablet on the Thornton parsonage Further publications by the 
Rev. Patrick Bronte Nancy and Sarah Garrs . . . .41 







THE Rev. Patrick Bronte offered the incumbency of Haworth by the 
Vicar of Bradford The trustees claim to share in the appointment 
The Rev. Samuel Redhead Disorderly scenes in Haworth Church 
Mrs. Gaskell's account Mr. Bronte's appointment as Vicar of 
Haworth Journey from Thornton to Haworth The Haworth 
parsonage The Vicar's trials and difficulties Haworth village 
The Haworth moors Haworth customs The villagers and the 
publication of the Bronte novels Changes at Haworth Death of 
Mrs. Bronte 49 



JULY, 1824 JUNE, 1825 

THE hamlet of Cowan Bridge The Clergy Daughters' School 
Memorial tablet The Rev. W. Carus- Wilson Mrs. Gaskell's 
account Reasons for sending the Bronte children to the school 
Miss Elizabeth Branwell Death of Maria and Elizabeth Bronte 
Schools associated with the Brontes School life at Cowan Bridge 
The school records The Cove, Silverdale Withdrawal of the children 
from the school Tunstall Church Correspondence in the press 
concerning Cowan Bridge School . . . . . .64 




THE Bronte children return to Haworth Their home life and education 
Tabitha Aykroyd Early compositions by the Brontes Sale of 
autograph manuscripts Dramatisation of stories . . . .82 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S journey from Haworth Roe Head School 
Kirklees Hall Ellen Nussey and Caroline Helstone Mary Taylor 
and Rose Yorke Martha Taylor and Jessy Yorke Miss Wooler 
and Mrs. Pryor Mary Taylor and Ellen Nussey . . . .92 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE returns to Haworth Her anxiety for the future 
She continues her studies Tuition in painting Lines to Bewick 
Charlotte Bronte and Wordsworth Her correspondence with Ellen 



Nussey The Rydings, Birstall Ellen Nussey's visit to Haworth 
Branwell Bronte's visit to London His life at Haworth Charlotte 
Bronte's return to Roe Head accompanied by Emily Bronte 
Uncongenial tasks Emily Bronte returns to Haworth Anne Bronte 
takes Emily's place as a pupil at Roe Head Anne's illness Transfer 
of Miss Wooler's school from Roe Head to Heald House, Dewsbury 
Moor Charlotte and Anne Bronte's return to Haworth Charlotte 
Bronte's correspondence with Southey. . . . . .101 




EMILY BRONTE appointed governess at Law Hill School Lack of 
training for her duties Her account of school life Her character 
The Misses Patchett Law Hill School and neighbourhood Poems 
composed whilst at the school Material and inspiration gained by 
Emily's association with the school. . . . . . .122 



ANNE BRONTE becomes a governess at Blake Hall, Mirfield Agnes 
Grey and Blake Hall Charlotte Bronte's first offer of marriage- 
Her views on marriage The Rev. Henry Nussey a prototype of 
St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre His unfortunate love affairs 
Mr. Nussey's Diary Charlotte Bronte's refusal of the offer 
Christmas time at the Haworth Vicarage Charlotte Bronte becomes 
a governess at Stonegappe Mr. John Benson Sidgwick Gateshead 
Hall in Jane Eyre She complains of her treatment at Stonegappe 
Mrs. Gaskell's Account Charlotte Bronte visits Swarcliffe, 
Harrogate Norton Conyers and Thornfield Hall Her second offer 
of marriage First visit to the sea Easton and Bridlington 
Ellen Nussey's account of the holiday ...... 138 




BRANWELL BRONTE obtains an appointment as tutor His journey to 
Broughton-in-Furness Account of his life at Broughton Rev. 
Patrick Bronte's mode of life at Haworth Mr. Leyland's Bronte 
Family Branwell Bronte becomes a clerk near Halifax Sowerby 
Bridge and Luddenden Foot His life as a railway clerk Charlotte 
Bronte's unflagging industry The Curates at Haworth . . . 157 



SCANT notice by Biographers Her Education at Home Her character 
Agnes Grey Charlotte's solicitude for Anne Her difficulties as 
governess at Blake Hall She obtains a situation as governess at 
Thorpe Green Branwell Bronte a tutor in the same family Anne 
leaves Thorpe Green Wildfell Hall Branwell's dismissal . .171 




a tR aw HA S Hn } it6d r u ange f ^mplishments Her experience** * 
at Rawdon Advice from her employers The village of Rawdon 
Charlotte Bronte's lack of interest in children-The project ~ a 
Bronte school Letter from Mary Taylor Proposal that Charing 

&%3%f ~ ^ * %$% . 

' ' ' I/O 




...... 191 



...... 199 








explanations-Charlotte Brontes experienc" used !n rth '~ US 

. 238 





CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S life and Jane Eyre Her picture of M. Heger 
as portrayed in Villette Mary Taylor's advice Charlotte Bronte's 
regard for M. Heger View of love in Shirley and Jane Eyre 
Charlotte Bronte's conception of love Her " irresistible impulse " 
to return to Brussels and its punishment Her novels as human 
documents Miss Winkworth and Paul Emanuel The Rev. A. B. 
Nicholls Publication of Charlotte Bronte's letters to M. Heger 
in The Times Reason for the long delay M. Heger's loyalty to 
Charlotte Bronte. ... . .259 




FAILURE of the East Riding scheme for a School The Bronte sisters 
determine to open a school at the Vicarage The prospectus Causes 
of the failure of the project They turn to literature as a means of 
livelihood The Vicarage familyCharlotte Bronte's invitation to 
Hathersage Emily and Anne visit York The Gondal Chronicles 
Hathersage and Jane Eyre Marriage of the Rev. Henry Nussey 
Hathersage Village Charlotte Bronte's return to Haworth . . 280 




SIMILARITY of Emily and Anne Bronte's literary taste Emily Bronte 
the moving spirit in literary work Charlotte Bronte's introduction 
to Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey Emily Bronte's surpassing 
genius Collection of the Bronte poems for publication Assumed 
names of authors Attempts to find a publisher Cost of publication 
Publishing venture a financial failure Reviews of the volume of 
poems Complete Poems of Emily Bronte ..... 298 




SECRECY observed in writing the novels The village postman nearly 
discovers the secret Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey and The Pro- 
fessor Publishers' repeated refusal of The Professor Why The 
Professor was refused Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey accepted 
Origin of many of Charlotte Bronte's characters in her novels 
Contrast between The Professor and Jane Eyre . . . .311 



AUTHORSHIP of the novel Various claims examined Charlotte Bronte's 
testimony Late recognition of Emily Bronte's genius Swinburne's 
opinion of the novel M. Heger's influence on Emily Bronte Poem 
by Emily Bronte Charlotte's discovery of some of Emily's poems 
Emily's position at home Her workshop and material. . . .321 





ANNE BRONTE and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Branwell Bronte and 
Anne's second novel Charlotte and Anne Bronte visit London 
They stay at the Chapter Coffee House Interview with the publishers 
Visit to the Opera Death of Branwell and Emily Bronte . . 355 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S preparations for writing the story Difficulties 
in her way The curates in Shirley Charlotte Bronte and Mr. A. B. 
Nicholls Characters in the novel Writing of the novel laid aside 
owing to Anne Bronte's death The story continued and completed 
Reception of Shirley Mrs. Gaskell's first letter to Charlotte Bronte 
The curates in the story recognised and defended . . . 365 




Jane Eyre and the Quarterly Review Anne Bronte's illness 
Charlotte and Anne Bronte go to Scarborough, accompanied by Ellen 
Nussey The journey broken at York Arrival at Scarborough 
Ellen Nussey's account of Anne Bronte's last hours Funeral at 
Scarborough Inexplicable conduct of Mr. Bronte Grave-stone in 
St. Mary's Churchyard Charlotte Bronte's return to Haworth . 378 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE visits London at the invitation of her publisher 
Her stay at Westbourne Place, Paddington She dedicates the 
second edition of Jane Eyre to Thackeray Unfounded rumours 
in consequence Charlotte Bronte meets Thackeray and Miss 
Martineau She renews the acquaintance with the Wheelwright 
family Return to Haworth Visit to Gawthorpe Hall Her fifth 
visit to London A disputed portrait Sue's story in the London 
Journal Kitty Bell and Jane Eyre A Bronte manuscript bought 
at a public auction in Brussels ....... 388 





CHARLOTTE BRONTE invited to Briery Close, Windermere Her first 
meeting with Mrs. Gaskell Mrs. Gaskell's account Visits to the 
Arnolds of Fox How Return to Haworth Second visit to the Lake 
District She stays with Miss Martineau at Ambleside . . .415 





CHARLOTTE BRONTE visits London to hear Thackeray lecture Mr. 
George Smith Thackeray's lecture at Willis's Rooms Charlotte 
Bronte's annoyance at his reference to Jane Eyre Meeting between 
Thackeray and Charlotte Bronte at Gloucester Terrace Thackeray's 
second dinner party The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park Charlotte 
Bronte sees Madame Rachel Short visit to Mrs. Gaskell at Man- 
chester Return to Haworth Visit to Scarborough She writes 
Villette Difficulties with the third volume Alterations in the 
manuscript She pays another visit to London to correct the proofs 
of Villette Reception of Villette Price paid for her novels Review 
by Harriet Martineau Mrs. Gaskell' s defence of Charlotte Bronte's 
novels ........... 422 



THE Haworth Curates Mr. Bronte's partiality for Irish Curates 
Rumours of Charlotte Bronte's engagement to Mr. Nicholls Mr. 
Bronte refuses his consent Mr. Nicholls leaves Haworth Charlotte 
Bronte visits Mrs. Gaskell Her shyness with strangers Ellen 
Nussey's letters Mrs. Gaskell pays her first visit to Haworth Vicarage 
A break in the Cornhill friendship Correspondence between 
Mr. Nicholls and Charlotte Bronte 446 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S engagement to Mr. Nicholls Marriage Honey- 
moon in Wales and Ireland Mr. Bronte's strange conduct Mr. 
Nicholls is offered the living of Padiham He remains at Haworth 
Charlotte Bronte as a clergyman's wife Visit to Gawthorpe Hall 
Illness and death Funeral at Haworth Church Thackeray's 
appreciation .......... 456 



MBMORIAL tablets in Haworth Church Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte 
Bronte Memorial tablet at Thornton The Bronte Museum at 
Haworth The Bronte Falls Memorial tablet in Dewsbury Parish 
Church Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery The Bronte 
Society 477 


INDBX . 491 



(see p. 395) 










ROE HEAD SCHOOL ........ 92 








REV. PATRICK BRONTfi, 1809 168 

DO. DO. 1860 168 



M. HEGER, 1886 214 





MADAME HEGER 1886 252 















REV. A. B. NICHOLLS ....... 446 

REV. A. B. NICHOLLS, BANAGHER, 1890 .... 466 



MISS ELLEN NUSSEY . . . . . . 472 






THE ancestors of the Brontes The claim that Ireland inspired the 
Bronte novels The Irish Brontes Birthplace of Patrick Bronte 
His early training Alice Bronte Prunty, Brunty or Bronte 
Patrick Bronte enters St. John's College, Cambridge His pride in 
his Irish nationality. 

SEVERAL attempts have been made to retrace the steps of the 
Rev. Patrick Bronte, the father of the famous authors of 
Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, for the purpose of trying 
to discover if Ireland held the secret of the passionate novels 
written by Emily and Charlotte Bronte ; but this research 
was not begun sufficiently early to meet with much chance of 
success. If Mrs. Gaskell had crossed the Irish Sea, when she 
was gathering the material for her Life of Charlotte Bronte, she 
might possibly have been fortunate in obtaining some clue 
to the ancestors of the Brontes, which might have helped her 
to gauge the peculiar character of the famous sisters, whose 
novels differed so much from any that had been written 

Few novels have ever aroused so much curiosity with regard 
to their origin as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. The 
scenes and characters in Jane Eyre have been traced to a certain 
extent, but there is little or nothing that can claim to be Irish. 
Ireland is mentioned but once, and then as the place where 
Rochester tells Jane Eyre that he will secure a situation 
for her when he marries Blanche Ingram. There is nothing 


I (220*) 


in Wuthering Heights that can be called peculiarly Irish, and 
it has not been proved that the foundation of the story owes 
anything directly to Irish tales, which have gathered round the 
names of the Brontes in Ireland. 

The Bronte sisters wrote of places they had actually seen, 
and as none of them had visited Ireland before they wrote their 
novels, Irish life is not referred to at all, unless Charlotte's 
sarcastic reference to Ireland and the Irish in Shirley may be 
allowed to count. Here, it will be remembered, she designates 
her father's native place as " the land of shamrocks and 
potatoes," and she describes the Irish curate, Mr. Malone, as 
" a tall, strongly-built personage, with real Irish legs and arms, 
and a face as genuinely national : not the Milesian face not 
Daniel O'Connell's style, but the high-featured, North American- 
Indian sort of visage, which belongs to a certain class of the 
Irish gentry, and has a petrified and proud look, better suited 
to the owner of an estate of slaves, than to the landlord of a 
free peasantry." Neither the nationality nor the brogue of the 
Irish curate, Malone, seems to have gained the respect of the 
author of Shirley, which is somewhat surprising, since she was 
the daughter of an Irish curate herself. " When Malone's 
raillery became rather too offensive, which it soon did, they 
joined in an attempt to turn the tables on him, by asking him 
how many boys had shouted 'Irish Peter !' after him as he came 
along the road that day (Malone's name was Peter the Rev. 
Peter Augustus Malone) ; requesting to be informed whether 
it was the mode in Ireland for clergymen to carry loaded pistols 
in their pockets, and a shillelagh in their hands, when they 
made pastoral visits ; inquiring the signification of such words 
as vele, firrum, helium, storrum (so Malone invariably pro- 
nounced veil, firm, helm, storm), and employing such other 
methods of retaliation as the innate refinement of their minds 

This incident was probably based upon Patrick Bronte's 
habit of carrying a loaded pistol and stout walking-stick 
in his early days when a curate at Dewsbury, for he was in 
Yorkshire during the Luddite riots. 

Dr. Wright, in his Brontes in Ireland, did his best to give 


Ireland the credit of being the background of the Bronte 
novels, but there has been very little to confirm the stories 
which he relates. It must, however, be recognised, that the 
Celtic fire of the Irish race glows in the tales, and the Bronte" 
sisters had the fierce Irish temperament, which revolts against 
injustice and conventionality. Heredity must also claim its 
full share in moulding the Bronte character, for there is no 
doubt that the Rev. Patrick Bronte influenced his daughters 
more than anyone else in their early days, and it was from him 
that they inherited a love of literature. The books and 
magazines which he provided, though strong meat for young 
people, helped to make them mentally robust and imaginative, 
even when mere children. 

Although Ireland cannot claim to have inspired the Bronte* 
novels directly, yet the father of the famous sisters deserves 
more credit than it has been usual to accord to him. Much 
of what he published was of Ireland and the Irish people, 
and there is no doubt that he was in the habit of telling his 
children stories and legends of his native country. He was 
reared among Irish peasants and, in his day, " fairies, witches, 
goblins, spectres, magic wells and caverns, and haunted dells" 
were as real to the Irish peasant as any of the physical appear- 
ances with which he was daily confronted. It is not then a 
matter for wonder that the Bronte children coloured their 
stories with their vivid imagination. 

Emily Bronte was the most imaginative of the trio, and she 
was always considered the most typically Irish of the family. 
In some respects she resembled her father in build and 
features tall and lanky " with a man's big stride, an oval 
face, shifting eyes, beautiful brown hair, and a proud and 
reserved manner." 

The ancestors of Emily and Charlotte Bronte cannot be 
traced beyond their settlement on the banks of the Boyne. 

Every effort has been made to prove that the Bronte' sisters 
came of a literary stock, though it is not possible to do that 
without changing the Greek name of Bronte (which accounts 
for Charlotte Bronte in her early days signing herself 
Charles Thunder) to that of the Hibernian OTrunty, which is 


now considered to be the original family name, though this 
cannot be absolutely proved. 

One of the most cherished items supposed to refer to the 
Irish Brontes has been unearthed by Dr. Douglas Hyde, 
who in 1895 published The Story of Early Gaelic Literature, in 
which he mentions an old Irish tale contained in a manuscript 
in his possession, written in 1763 by one Patrick O'Prunty, 
whom he assumes to be an ancestor of Charlotte Bronte. 
The romance is entitled The Adventures of the Son of Ice 
Counsel. According to Dr. Douglas Hyde there is a colophon 
on the last page in Irish, which invokes the blessing of the 
reader, in honour of the Trinity and of the Virgin Mary, on the 
author, Patrick O'Prunty. The tale tells of a fight which 
continued " from the beginning of the night till the rising of 
the sun in the morning, and was only just stopped, as 
Diodorus says battles were, by the intervention of the bards." 

This Patrick O'Prunty is assumed to be the elder brother 
of Charlotte Bronte's grandfather, Hugh Bronte. In that 
case he must have written his manuscript some fourteen years 
before Patrick Bronte was born. That being so, it is somewhat 
singular that Patrick Bronte did not know of it, for, if he had, 
he would probably not only have told his children but also 
Mrs. Gaskell, when she was interviewing him to gain particu- 
lars of his early home and his forbears. It is well known that 
Mrs. Gaskell got very little information about the Irish Brontes, 
and she confessed that she was afraid both of Charlotte Bronte's 
Irish father and her Irish husband, and consequently she did 
not probe far, but was content with the scant information 
which Patrick Bronte supplied. It must, however, be remem- 
bered that Mr. Bronte at this time was nearly eighty years 
old, and his memory was failing ; he was almost blind, so that, 
if he knew of any tradition, the absence of documents or letters 
referring to his early home would prevent him from proving 
his points with any degree of satisfaction ; and, moreover, 
it was the Life of his daughter that Mrs. Gaskell was writing, 
so that the old man was justified in keeping his daughter's 
biographer to the strict bounds of her subject. 

Patrick O'Prunty, author of The Adventures of the Son of 


Ice Counsel, judging by his colophon, was evidently a Roman 
Catholic. On the other hand, Hugh Bronte appears to have 
brought up all his children as Protestants, and Patrick Bronte 
was ever a staunch defender of the Church of England, as was 
his daughter Charlotte. 

Old Alice Bronte maintained that the Bronte family had 
always been Protestant, and she doubted if her mother at 
any time had been a Roman Catholic, for all the Brontes 
were bitter opponents of Roman Catholicism. It is strange 
that, with their well-known hatred of Roman Catholics, Char- 
lotte and Emily Bronte should have been sent to be educated 
at a school in Brussels, which was under the care of Monsieur 
and Madame Heger, who were very strict Roman Catholics. 

That the thoughts of the Bronte girls often turned to Ire- 
land is proved by a small manuscript, still in existence in 
the Bronte Museum, which was written by Charlotte Bronte 
when she was but thirteen years of age ; its title is An 
Adventure in Ireland. As was common in many of the Irish 
tales of that day, it tells of ghosts, and possibly it is based 
on one of her father's Irish fire-side stories. At fourteen, 
Charlotte Bronte wrote another fairy tale, The Adventures of 
Ernest Alembert, which has since been published in Literary 
Anecdotes of the Nineteenth Century, by Sir W. Robertson 
Nicoll. Instead of the usual title page, it has a kind of 
colophon on the last page 

" The adventures of Ernest 
Alembert. A Tale 
By Charlotte Bronte 
May the 25th, 


The sixteen pages of this well-told fairy tale are stitched in a 
cover of rough brown paper, and it is noticeable that Charlotte 
Bronte does not use the double-dotted final in writing her 

Devotees of the Brontes, in their eagerness to prove Charlotte 
Bronte's descent from a literary ancestry, have said that 
Patrick Bronte was named after his literary uncle, Patrick 
O'Prunty, and that in consequence he struggled hard to become 


an author who would add lustre to his family. However 
desirable this may seem, it lacks all the elements of truth. 
It is quite sufficient to know that Patrick Bronte was born 
on St. Patrick's day, 17th March, 1777, and for those who are 
interested in figures, it is said that a child born on a date which 
contains so many sevens seven being considered the perfect 
number as could be crowded into the actual date, was des- 
tined to become famous. It has also been noted that Patrick 
Bronte died on the seventh day of June, 1861. Both Patrick 
Bronte and his daughter Charlotte were superstitious concerning 
numbers, and Patrick was proud to remember that he took 
his B.A. degree on 23rd April, 1806 Shakespeare's accredited 
birthday. His eldest daughter, Maria, was also christened on 
23rd April, 1814. Charlotte Bronte and her life-long friend, 
Ellen Nussey, never failed to remember that their respective 
birthdays, one on 21st April, and the other on 22nd April, 
were so near to that of Shakespeare as in one case to be possibly 
the same date. 

That Patrick Bronte was proud of his Christian name there 
is no doubt, though in England it always pointed to the fact 
that he was an Irishman. In those days Ireland was not 
held in high esteem, especially by the inhabitants of Great 
Britain. Patrick Bronte, however, gave his Christian name 
to his only son, who was considered in his early days the genius 
of the remarkable Bronte family. Though in his own home he 
was always called by his second name, Branwell his mother's 
maiden name yet everyone in Haworth knew him as Pat 
Bronte, the surname being pronounced as one syllable ; others 
referred to him as " the Vicar's Patrick," and, though all the 
Bronte children were born in Yorkshire, they had no Yorkshire 
blood in their veins, and were always known as the Irish 
Parson's children. 

There is little that is worthy of the name of a Bronte 
shrine in Ireland to-day, though the district in which Patrick 
Bronte spent his early years has not greatly changed. The 
little thatched cabin in Emdale, County Down, in which Patrick 
Bronte was born, has been demolished, and nothing definite 
remains to mark the birthplace of the much maligned father 


of the immortal Brontes. It was a lonely little cottage with 
its mud floor and its two tiny rooms one used as a bedroom 
and the other as a kitchen and corn kiln ; the rent was said 
to be sixpence a week. 

Patrick Bronte was very reticent about his early Irish home, 
and his poor relations. He told Mrs. Gaskell that he was a 
native of Aghaderg, but this was not quite correct, as Emdale 
is in the townland or parish of Drumballyroney-cum-Drumgoo- 
land, which adjoins the parish of Aghaderg. It must be said, 
however, that the parish boundary is not well defined, and 
Patrick Bronte's memory in his old age may have been at fault. 
The little cabin was on the Warrenpoint and Banbridge Road, 
at right angles to the Newry and Rathfriland Road, and about 
eight miles from Newry. Banbridge is still noted for its 
linen manufacture. The tiny cabin in which Patrick Bronte 
was born soon became too small for the growing family, and 
a second house, about half a mile away, in the Lisnacreevy 
Townland was taken, where all his brothers and sisters, except 
the youngest, were born. 

Patrick Bronte was the eldest of a family of ten five boys 
and five girls. He said that his father, Hugh Bronte, was a 
small farmer, and that he was left an orphan at an early age. 
He claimed that his ancestors had originally come from the 
South of Ireland and had settled near Loughbrickland. There 
was a tradition that Patrick Bronte's forbears, humble as they 
were, had descended from an ancient family of good position. 
Patrick Bronte always clung to this idea, and it is possible 
that this suggested to Emily the remark of Ellen Dean to 
Heathcliff in Withering Heights. " Were I in your place, I 
would frame high notions of my birth ; and the thoughts of 
what I was, should give me courage and dignity to support 
the oppressions of a little farmer." 

Of Patrick Bronte's mother little is known. It is clear, 
however, that her eldest son regarded her with affection, for 
he is credited with sending her twenty pounds the year after 
he left Ireland, and he kept up the practice all her life. She 
was known before her marriage as Alice McClory, " the prettiest 
girl in County Down, with a smile that would charm a mad 


bull." In Shirley, Charlotte Bronte assigns that magic 
witchery to Shirley Keeldar, a character, she tells us, drawn 
from her sister Emily, and supposed to represent her as she 
would have been under the circumstances given in Shirley. 

It is said that Emily Bronte resembled her paternal grand- 
mother, as well as her father, for Patrick Bronte was tall and 
thin, though his father, Hugh Bronte, was described by his 
youngest daughter, Alice, as " not very tall and purty stout." 
Whilst Emily was the most like her father, Charlotte and 
Patrick Branwell Bronte were small in stature, like their 
Cornish mother, but with much of the Irish temperament, 
whilst the gentle Anne, the youngest child, was like her mother 
both in mind and build so thought Miss Branwell, their 
aunt and it was probably for this reason she was always 
looked upon as the aunt's favourite. This was shown in 
Miss Branwell's will, by which Anne received a valuable watch 
and chain, with the trinkets attached, whilst Charlotte only got 
a workbox, Emily a workbox and an ivory fan, and Branwell a 
Japan dressing box, though Mrs. Gaskell makes the mistake of 
saying that Branwell was left out of the will altogether. 

Patrick Bronte's youngest sister, Alice Bronte, died on 
15th January, 1891, at the age of ninety-four. She was inter- 
viewed during her later years by several Bronte enthusiasts, 
including the late Rev. Thomas Leyland, who said she liked 
to talk to him of her eldest brother Patrick, who was twenty 
years her senior. As he left Ireland for Cambridge when 
she was only a girl of five, and only returned to his native 
land once when she was a girl of eight, she knew very little 
of him, except to regard him as the clever member of the family, 
and that he was of a studious disposition, and loved reading. 
She was proud of being a Bronte, and she delighted to talk 
about the literary success of her clever nieces. 

Patrick Bronte was first a hand-loom weaver, and it is said 
that whilst weaving he might often have been seen with a book 
propped up in front of him, trying to ply the shuttle and read 
a little at the same time, just as in later days Emily Bronte 
was accustomed to have a German book in front of her when 
ironing in the kitchen at the Haworth parsonage. 


Patrick Bronte's parents were poor, and so far as is known 
they were quite illiterate, but he evidently got his first interest 
in learning from them and from the Presbyterian minister. 
When quite a boy, he had to earn his own living as a hand- 
loom weaver. Hence his great interest in later days in the 
hand-loom weavers of Yorkshire. He composed a poem which 
was intended to stimulate and encourage those of his parish- 
ioners who followed this form of employment. On the title 
page of the Cottage Poems the first verse is printed 

" All you who turn the sturdy soil, 
Or ply the loom with daily toil, 
And lowly on, through life's turmoil 

For scanty fare : 
Attend : and gather richest spoil, 

To sooth your care." 

Patrick Bronte never forgot " the rock from which he was 
hewn," and his early literary efforts were reminiscent of his 
early days, when, to quote his poem, 

" My food is but spare 
And humble my cot." 

At the first exhibition in the Bronte Museum at Haworth, 
the Rev. J. B. Lusk, of Ballynaskeagh, lent a copy of a very 
old calico backed arithmetic by Voster, of Dublin, dated 1789. 
At this time Patrick Bronte would be a boy of twelve years 
of age. Inside the book are the following inscriptions : 
" Patrick Pruty's book, bought in the year 1795." The n 
in Prunty has been omitted. 

Patrick Prunty his book and pen. 

Patrick Prunty his book and pen (in red ink). 

Patrick Brunty, (in larger letters). 

Patrick Prunty, (large handwriting). 

There is a geography, now in the Bronte Museum, which 
was printed in Dublin in 1795, and on page 129 is written "The 
Revd. P. Bronte." There are also the names Walter Sellon 
and Walsh Bront, the latter name appearing several times, 
and in addition there is written, "Hugh Bronte His Book, in the 
year 1803." Besides these are written on the inside of the cover 
some remarks on Irish characteristics which conclude by 


saying that the Irish are " violent in affection." Also in a 
small copy of a New Testament is to be seen in faint writing 
the signature Alice, or Allie Bronte, which seems to point 
to the fact that it probably belonged to Patrick Bronte's 
mother, who was known as Alice, Allie or Ayles Bronte, though, 
according to the parish registers of Drumgooland, her name 
was either Elinor, which appears three times in connection 
with the baptism of three of her children, or Eleanor in three 
other cases, whilst the surname is given as Brunty in every 
case but one, when it is entered as Bruntee, the handwriting 
probably being that of the minister or the parish clerk. All 
this helps to prove that the original name was Prunty or 
O'Prunty. Charlotte Bronte mentions a geography book 
" lent by papa " to her sister Maria, which was 120 years old 
in 1829. 

As Patrick Bronte loved his books better than his hand- 
loom, he decided early in his teens to be a teacher. This 
meant much burning of the midnight oil in his case a tiny 
rush-light. It was owing to his pursuit of knowledge under 
such unfavourable conditions that he injured his eyesight 
a source of much trouble and pain in later life. By much self- 
denial, never allowing himself more than six hours sleep, he 
managed to pass the qualifying examination as a teacher, and 
at sixteen he was appointed master of Glascar Hill Presbyterian 
School. This appointment he kept for some five years. 

According to Dr. Wright, a Presbyterian stickit minister, 
the Rev. David Harshaw, who had previously befriended 
the young teacher, assisted him in various ways, and especially 
by the loan of books. He was thus enabled to improve his 
qualifications, and he succeeded in being appointed master 
of the Church School at Drumballyroney. 

Patrick Bronte was then a tall, handsome fellow of twenty- 
one, and he appears in his younger days to have been particu- 
larly fortunate in the guidance and help he obtained from 
ministers. Until he was able to manage his own affairs, " he 
hung on to the coat tails of a good minister," which, as Mrs. 
Gaskell says, "is as wise a thing as any young man can do 
in his youth." 


The Rev. Thomas Tighe, Rector of Drumballyroney, was 
evidently much interested in young Bronte since he entrusted 
to him the education of his own children, and it was probably 
on the rector's advice that Patrick Bronte decided to become 
a clergyman, first seeking to qualify for this office by entering 
Cambridge University. Mrs. Gaskell says, " This proved no 
little determination of will, and scorn of ridicule." Why 
" scorn of ridicule " is not clear, for shortly after entering the 
University he gained three scholarships and several prizes, 
but he did not gain a scholarship before he entered Cambridge, 
as several writers have affirmed, but saved a sum of money 
and used it at Cambridge. 

Although Patrick Bronte's children were born and reared 
in Yorkshire, they were all noted for their Irish brogue. Mary 
Taylor told Mrs. Gaskell that when she first met Charlotte 
Bronte at Roe Head School, Dewsbury, she was struck with 
her strong Irish accent. 

The passionate revolt of the Irish race and their strenuous 
struggle for freedom are evident in the Bronte novels, and there 
is more of sadness than of joy in them. The violence of the 
storm, the fury of intense passion, the weirdness of a moonlight 
night, and the moaning of the wind across the moors appealed 
to their Celtic nature. 

The mother of the famous Bronte sisters, Maria Bran well, 
a daughter of a respected Methodist from Penzance, has not 
been proved to have been a true Celt, and it is just as well, 
for a passionate nature such as Patrick Bronte possessed 
would not have mated well with one equally fierce. The 
youngest daughter gentle, patient Anne was most like her 
mother, and her novels are very characteristic, lacking the 
fire and passion of her sisters. 

The Bronte shrines in Ireland are held in veneration, not 
because of Patrick Bronte's fame, but because he was the father 
of the famous novelists. The Bronte Glen, near Emdale, 
and the surrounding neighbourhood are rich in Irish relics. 

There is a poem entitled " The Irish Cabin " in Patrick Bronte's 
first book, a small volume of poems, published in 1811. There 
are now very few copies of this book extant : one is in the 


Bronte Museum at Haworth, and another at Knutsford, 
from which the following inscription in Patrick Bronte's 
handwriting is copied. 

" The gift of the author to his beloved sister, Miss Bran well, 
as a small token of his affection and esteem. 

" March 29th, 1816." 

Patrick Bronte had a sincere affection for his humble Irish 
home, and in this poem he writes 

" All peace, my dear cottage be thine ! 

Nor think that I'll treat you with scorn ; 
Whoever reads verses of mine 

Shall hear of the Cabin of Mourne ; 
And had I but musical strains, 

Though humble and mean in your station, 
You should smile whilst the world remains, 
The pride of the fair Irish Nation." 

The very fact that Patrick Bronte published these poems, 
reminiscent of his Irish home, shows how mistaken Mrs. 
Gaskell was when she wrote that he dropped his Irish accent 
on leaving Cambridge, and had no further intercourse with his 
Irish relatives. She gives the impression that Mr. Bronte 
was ashamed of his Irish origin, which was not the case. Even 
to the day of his death he preferred Irish curates. 

With the death in January, 1891, of Patrick Bronte's 
youngest sister Alice, the last link with Patrick Bronte's 
family was broken. Had it not been for the timely help of 
friends and relatives, old Alice Bronte would have spent her 
last days in poverty. When it was known that she was in 
actual need, after all her brothers had died, there were many 
who expected that the Rev. A. B. Nicholls would have allowed 
her a small income, seeing that he got all the money that his 
wife, Charlotte Bronte, left, and also the greater portion of 
what Patrick Bronte left, which together amounted to nearly 
3,000. Added to this was the money he received from the 
Bronte furniture. It was with the Brontes' money that Mr. 
Nicholls was able to retire from preaching and settle as a 
gentleman farmer. Miss Ellen Nussey was indignant that Mr. 


Nicholls did not come to the aid of the last of the Bronte aunts, 
and she also thought that Charlotte Bronte's publishers might 
have allowed the old lady something, though it is not certain 
that they were even approached on the matter. A former 
friend of the Brontes in Ballynaskeagh, Dr. Caldwell of 
Birmingham, who was always keenly interested in the Bronte 
family, collected a sum of money for Alice Bronte's immediate 
use. In 1882 he was also instrumental in securing for her an 
annuity of twenty pounds from the Pargeter's Old Maids' 
Charity Trustees, Birmingham, which allowance was continued 
until her death. 

Only one of Patrick Bronte's brothers is known to have 
visited his relatives at Ha worth, but the tales told of the 
castigation he administered to the reviewer of Jane Eyre in 
the Quarterly Review are not true. County Down and Ha worth 
were too far apart in those days, and neither the Vicar of 
Ha worth nor his relatives had money to spare for long journeys. 
Consequently, the Irish members of the Bronte family knew 
less of their illustrious relatives than the friends in England, 
and even to this day they know little except what is published. 
A great grandchild of Sarah Bronte, the only sister of Patrick 
Bronte who married, resided for some years at Oakenshaw, 
near Bradford. There is also an Emily Bronte, a descendant 
of one of Patrick Bronte's brothers, living in England to-day. 
It has been said that Patrick Bronte had little regard for his 
own native country, and that he was anxious to hide his 
Irish nationality, but this cannot be substantiated, for in 1836 
he published A Brief Treatise on the best time and mode of Bap- 
tism, which was chiefly an answer to a tract issued by the 
Baptist Minister at Ha worth. In this pamphlet, Patrick 
Bronte says : " One thing, however, I think I have omitted. 
You break some of your jokes on Irishmen. Do you not 
know, that an Irishman is your lord and master ? Are you 
not under the king's ministry ? And are they not under 
O'Connell, an Irishman ? And do not you or your friends pay 
him a yearly tribute under the title of rent ? And is not the 
Duke of Wellington, the most famous, and the greatest of living 
heroes, an Irishman ? And dare you, or your adherents,take 


one political step of importance without trembling, lest it 
should not meet the approbation of your allies in Ireland ? 
Then, as an Irishman might say to you, refrain from your 
balderdash at once, and candidly own your inferiority." 

In The Maid of Killarney the only novel ascribed to 
Patrick Bronte he describes the Irish as " free, humourous, 
and designing ; their courage is sometimes rash, and their 
liberality often prodigal : many of them are interesting and 
original ; so that he who has once seen them will not easily 
forget them, and will generally wish to see them again." 


Cambridge, 1802-1806 

PATRICK BRONTE as a student at St. John's College His industry and 
success Value of the scholarships he won His ordination as 
deacon by the Bishop of London and priest by the Bishop of 

Curacy at Wethersfield, 1806-1809 

Patrick Bronte's first curacy Wethersfield in Essex The Vicar of 
Wethersfield Mary Burder Patrick Bronte leaves Wethersfield. 

Curacies at Wellington and Dewsbtiry, 1809-1811 

His appointment as curate at Wellington in Shropshire His next 
curacy at Dewsbury Parish Church The Vicar of Dewsbury 
Dewsbury in Patrick Bronte's time References to Dewsbury in 
Shirley His appointment as incumbent of Hartshead Church 
Memorial tablet in Dewsbury Parish Church. 

DURING Patrick Bronte's nine years' experience as a teacher, 
he saved enough to enable him to go to Cambridge, where, by 
means of scholarships and as sizar or servitor, he was able 
to be independent of help from anyone. He was probably 
recommended to St. John's because the fees were very low, 
and because he would be sure to find there others, like himself, 
who could only obtain a University training by practising 
the greatest frugality. 

Whatever may be said of Patrick Bronte in later life, he was 
most exemplary in his student days, working almost night and 
day to improve himself, and showing a fine spirit of manly 

By the courtesy of the Master of St. John's College, I am 
allowed to copy the following particulars relating to Patrick 
Bronte's residence at Cambridge. 

The first entry is, " Patrick Branty, born in Ireland ; admitted 
sizar 1st October, 1802 ; tutors Wood and Smith/' It is 
supposed that the men supplied the details to the Registrar 



of the College verbally and in person, and that the Irish brogue 
led to the mistake. The butler kept the Residence Register, 
in which appears Sizar Patrick Branty (erased) Bronte. First 
day of residence, 3rd October, 1802 : kept by residence the 
following Terms 

1802 Michaelmas. 

1803 Lent, Easter, Michaelmas. 

1804 Lent, Easter, Michaelmas. 

1805 Lent, Easter, Michaelmas. 

1806 Lent. 

Admitted B.A. 23rd April, 1806. 

In the Register of Scholars and Exhibitions, opposite the 
name of Patrick Bronte appears 

Hare Exhibition February, 1803. 

19th March, 1804. 
March, 1805. 
There is no mention of an Exhibition in 1806. 

The Hare Exhibitioners received amongst them the annual 
value of the Rectorial Tithe of Cherry Marham, Norfolk. The 
rent was 200 which, if they shared equally, would give 
6 6s. 8d. as the value of each exhibition. 

At Midsummer, 1805, Patrick Bronte was elected a Dr. 
Goodman Exhibitioner ; the value of the exhibition was 
\ 17s. 6d., and he appears to have held it only one year. 

From Christmas, 1803, to Christmas, 1807, he held one of 
the Duchess of Suffolk's exhibitions of the value of 1 3s. 4d. 

It is difficult to see how he managed to pay his mother 20 a 
year, during his stay at Cambridge, as stated by Dr. Wright, 
unless he made a fair income by acting as coach to other 
students. The three scholarships only brought him the sum 
of 9 7s. 4d. per annum, and it is evident that Dr. Wright did 
not know their small value, when he wrote in his Brontes 
in Ireland : " Bronte's savings were ample to carry him over 
his first few months at Cambridge, and the Hare, Suffolk and 
Goodman Exhibitions were quite sufficient afterwards for all 
his wants as a student." It is to be remembered that Patrick 


Bronte was a sizar, or servitor, which involved status and 
the payment of very reduced fees both to the College and the 

In the Registers of the Bishop of London is the following 

" Patrick Bronte, A.B., of St. John's College, Cambridge, 
ordained Deacon 10th August, 1806, in the Chapel at Fulham. 

" Patrick Bronte has letters dimissory dated 19th December, 
1807, to be ordained Priest by the Bishop of Salisbury 21st 
December, 1807." 

Whilst at college, Patrick Bronte, in addition to his scholar- 
ship and exhibitions, gained two prizes at least, consisting of 
two quarto copies of Homer and Horace. " Homeri Ilias. 
Graece et Latine. Samuel Clarke, S.T.P. Impensis Jacobi et 
Johannis Knapton, in Ccemeterio D. Pauli, mdccxxix." This 
book bears the College Arms on the cover, and has the following 
inscription : " My prize book for always having kept in the 
first class at St. John's College, Cambridge. P. Bronte, A.B. 
To be retained semper. 

" Horatius Flaccus, Rich. Bentleii. Amstelodami, 1728. 
" Prize obtained by Rev. Patrick Bronte, St. John's College." 

The two volumes were in the possession of the late Dr. 
Dobie, of Keighley, who purchased them from Mrs. Ratcliffe 
(Tabitha Brown), sister of Martha Brown, the servant at the 
old Ha worth Vicarage. Like Robertson of Brighton, Patrick 
Bronte seems to have had a leaning towards a military life, 
and at St. John's College he joined the Volunteer Corps, and 
boasted that he drilled side by side with the grandfather of 
the present Duke of Devonshire and with Lord Palmerston. 
He delighted afterwards in telling how the Cambridge 
Volunteers practised to resist the invasion of England by the 
French. In later days he corresponded with Lord Palmerston, 
but the friendship, if ever it amounted to that, was never 
kept up. Another student at St. John's at that time was 
Henry Kirk White, the young poet. 

After his ordination, he returned to his old home in County 
Down, and his sister Alice was fond of telling that he preached 
one Sunday at Ballyroney church to a crowded congregation 

2 (22OO) 


" with nothing in his hands," that is without using a manuscript, 
which in those days was considered a great feat. There is 
no record that he ever visited his Alma Mater again, but soon 
after leaving Cambridge he secured a curacy at Wethersfield in 
Essex, where his marked Irish brogue betrayed his nationality. 

That Patrick Bronte took his high vocation seriously and 
in the true spirit of devotion there is no doubt. One of his 
poems, written after he left Cambridge, is entitled " An Epistle 
to a Young Clergyman," and is prefaced by the text, " Study 
to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth 
not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth/* 

The seventh verse reads 

" Dare not, like some, to mince the matter 
Nor dazzling tropes and figures scatter, 
Nor coarsely speak, nor basely flatter, 

Nor grovelling go : 

But let plain truths, as Life's pure water, 
Pellucid flow." 

There are sixteen stanzas altogether. Though Patrick 
Bronte wrote many verses, he would scarcely rank as a poet, 
but the lines are interesting because they reveal the spirit of a 
truly Christian man, anxious to dedicate himself to the work 
of the ministry of the Gospel. 

Mr. Bronte's first curacy was at Wethersfield in Essex, a 
south country village, where the soft speech of the Southerner 
was in great contrast to the young Irishman's brogue. 

A hundred and seven years ago, Wethersfield, with its 
copper spired church dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, was a 
small village, with a few cottages here and there, and a number 
of country mansions, where the county families lived. It is 
little more than that to-day, for Wethersfield has changed less 
than most villages during the last century. Even now, it is 
almost as difficult to approach as in Patrick Bronte's day, for 
the nearest station, Braintree, is seven miles away. Cut off 
by the network of railways, it is just one of those old world 
places, which seem never to have awakened from their long 
sleep. The people, kind and hospitable, are employed mainly 
in raising garden seeds. Very rarely wandering far from their 


home, their isolation gives them something of the sterner 
independence of the North, and the countryside is typical of 
the hilly part of the county, so that Patrick Bronte must have 
rejoiced in the beauty of this English village, where he began 
the serious business of life, full of hope and with an Irishman's 
determination to succeed. 

It was a favourable place in which to start his ministerial 
life, for the Vicar, the Rev. Joseph Jowett a Yorkshireman 
was Regius Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge, and was a 
non-resident vicar of Wethersfield, so that much of the work 
of the parish devolved on the young handsome curate. In 
the old church register may be seen Patrick Bronte's first 
signature, which was written on 12th October, 1806, on the 
occasion of a baptism. 

Patrick Bronte stayed in this small agricultural village about 
two years, the last entry in his own handwriting being 1st 
January, 1809, when he evidently officiated at a funeral. 
It was not until 1887 that the information concerning his 
residence at Wethersfield was brought to light by Mr. Augustine 
Birrell. In his Monograph on Charlotte Bronte in the " Great 
Writers' Series," he gathered together some interesting par- 
ticulars from the daughter of Mary Burder, Patrick Bronte's 
sweetheart at Wethersfield. 

This daughter, Mrs. Lowe, wrote an account for Mr. Birrell 
of her mother's love story, which adds much interest to Patrick 
Bronte's residence at Wethersfield, but the early love letters 
are not forthcoming. 

It is, however, quite certain that the love story of the young 
curate and the pretty niece of his landlady would never have 
been published had not Patrick Bronte become the father of 
the famous novelists. It is said that the young curate, on his 
arrival in the village, found lodgings in a house opposite the 
church, where lived Miss Mildred Davy, whose niece, Mary 
Burder, " a pretty lassie of eighteen, with blue eyes and brown 
curls/' sometimes came from her home, known as " The 
Broad " a large, old-fashioned farm-house across the fields. 
On one occasion, having brought a present of game for her 
aunt, she was busy in the kitchen with her sleeves rolled up, 


winding up the roasting-jack, when the new curate, seeing her 
thus occupied exclaimed, as told by her daughter, " Heaven 
bless thee ! Thou hast the sweetest face I ever look'd on." 
In the Cottage Poems, published by Patrick Bronte in 1811, 
are "Verses sent to a Lady on her Birthday/' and from the 
following verse, which gives the lady's age as eighteen, it is 
probable that the poem was addressed to Mary Burder. After 
speaking of ' Your rosy health and looks benign " he 

" Behold, how thievish time has been ! 
Full eighteen summers you have seen, 

And yet they seem a day ! 
Whole years, collected in time's glass, 
In silent lapse, how soon they pass, 

And steal your life away ! " 

It was a case of " love at first sight," and Mary was often 
to be found at her aunt's home, where the course of true 
love ran smoothly for a time. Mary's relatives, however, 
were prejudiced against an Irishman, and both Mary and her 
kinsfolk were disappointed because they could not obtain from 
Patrick Bronte himself any particulars of his " ain folk." The 
consequence was that they treated him with suspicion, and it 
was arranged that one of Mary's uncles living at a distance 
should invite her to stay with him for some time ; and letters 
sent to her by her lover were intercepted. When Mary Burder 
returned to her home, the love-sick curate had fled, after 
being compelled to return her letters. It is said that he left 
his portrait inscribed with the words, " Mary; you have torn 
the heart ; spare the face." Fourteen years afterwards she 
received a letter in the handwriting she once treasured. It 
was from the Rev. Patrick Bronte, asking her to become his 
second wife and the stepmother to his six motherless bairns, 
but she declined, and a year afterwards married the minister 
at the Dissenting Chapel at Wethersfield, the Rev. Peter Sibree. 

On 1st January, 1809, Patrick Bronte shook the dust off 
his feet and left Wethersfield. 

For many years there was a hiatus in the calendar of Patrick 
Bronte's life, so far as it was generally known. The Church 


Register at Wethersfield shows that he ceased to be curate 
there in January, 1809, and the date of his entering upon his 
duties as curate at Dewsbury in December of the same year 
is fixed by an entry of marriage on the llth of the month, in 
Dewsbury Parish Church register, signed by Patrick Bronte. 

There is little to record, but it is now known that he spent 
the interval between January and December of the year 1809, 
in serving as curate at Wellington, near Shrewsbury. Wel- 
lington was far from being so congenial as Wethersfield ; it 
was a small town given to mining, and Patrick Bronte only 
stayed one year. 

In the matriculation register of St. John's College, Cambridge, 
for the year 1802, appears the name of John Nunn, written in 
a bold, round hand, and standing next but one in order to 
Patrick Bronte's rather effeminate signature. Mr. Nunn became 
a curate at Shrewsbury, and, after he left college, he seems 
to have kept up a regular correspondence with Patrick Bronte. 
It is probable that, when he heard of his friend's troubles 
at Wethersfield, he advised him to apply for the vacant curacy 
at Wellington. The vicar was the Rev. John Eyton, whose 
son, Robert William Eyton, was an antiquary and historian. 

It is said that Patrick Bronte quarrelled with his old friend 
John Nunn, on hearing that he was about to be married, for 
the Wellington curate had arrived at very definite conclusions 
with regard to the subject of marriage after his experience 
at Wethersfield. It is surely the irony of fate which 
gave to Patrick Bronte the duty of joining in matrimony 
many of the couples married at Dewsbury Parish Church 
his next curacy for, on examining the register of this old 
church, which dates from the year 1538, it may be seen that 
Mr. Bronte officiated at most of the weddings from 1809 to 181 1. 

It is interesting to know that it was during his curacy at 
Wellington that he first became acquainted with the Rev. 
William Morgan, who was his fellow curate, and afterwards 
his cousin by marriage. 

It is now more than a century since Patrick Bronte went to 
be curate to the Rev. John Buckworth, M.A., at Dewsbury 
Parish Church. Young Bronte was fortunate in his vicars, 


and to them, perhaps, may be traced his anxiety to become 
an accredited author, and even his famous daughters, who wrote 
so much before they succeeded in publishing anything, may 
owe something to their father's literary vicars. The Rev. 
Dr. Jowett, of Wethersfield, published at least one volume of 
sermons, and Mr. Buckworth was known as a capable hymn- 
writer, and the author of a volume of Devotional Discourses 
for the use of families. A copy of this work was included 
among Patrick Bronte's books sold in 1907, and it bears the 
inscription : " To the Rev. P. Bronte, A.M. A Testimonial 
of Sincere Esteem from the Author." 

The neighbourhood of Dewsbury, like many other industrial 
centres, has lost most of the charm it once possessed. It is 
now a busy woollen manufacturing district, but in Patrick 
Bronte's days it was a typical Yorkshire country town. The 
winding Calder, upon whose banks, according to tradition, 
Paulinus stood and planted the Gospel Standard in 627, is 
now a muddy, polluted stream. Even when Charlotte Bronte 
was at school at Dewsbury, it was a picturesque rural spot, 
rich with sylvan beauty, the heights of Crackenedge and 
Westboro' crowned with woods, and little farmsteads dotted 
here and there, whilst below were grassy meadows and little 
cottages, each with its weaving shed situate in the valley 
through which the then clear Calder wended its way. 

Dewsbury was a place to revel in, so far as its scenery went, 
but Patrick Bronte arrived at a troublesome time, just before 
the Luddite riots, and the people of the district were lawless 
and coarse. There was plenty for the curate to do with such 
a population as he found in Dewsbury, for bull-baiting, badger- 
baiting and dog-fighting were the common amusements of many 
of the lower classes, and such sports generally ended in drunken 
brawls and brutal fights. The vicar the Rev. John Buck- 
worth supposed by some to be the original of Dr. Boultby in 
Shirley, though others assume that the Rev William Morgan, 
Patrick Bronte's brother-in-law, was the prototype did not 
fail to denounce this lawlessness from his pulpit, as the testimony 
of his printed sermons proves. The Yorkshire temperament 
and pugnacity found its match in the young Irish curate, and 


several stories are told of his prowess in those days, the most 
commonly remembered having found its way into his daugh- 
ter's novel, Shirley, where she gives a graphic description in 
Chapter XVII of a Sunday School procession on Whit- 
Monday, though she need not have gone further than Haworth 
for a parallel incident, except that she mentions that " the 
fat Dissenter," who gave out the hymn, was left sitting in the 
ditch. The Dewsbury story differs slightly from the one 
associated with the history of Haworth. At Dewsbury, it is 
said that the Sunday School procession, on the anniversary 
day, was on its way to sing on the village green, when a half- 
drunken man attempted to bar the way. The young curate 
rushed forward, seized the man by the collar, and threw him 
into the ditch on the road-side, after which the procession 
continued in peace. On its return, the man, somewhat sobered, 
and resenting the indignity to which he had been subjected, 
waited to " wallop the parson." He, however, thought 
" discretion to be the better part of valour," when he saw the 
tall, athletic curate at the head of the procession, and he wisely 
made no attempt to interfere with its progress. 

Another tale which has lingered in the Calder Valley tells of 
the parish bell-ringers practising on the Sunday morning for 
a forthcoming contest, and how the young curate rushed up 
the belfry stairs with his shillelagh in his hand, and drove 
them all out with a stern rebuke ; but perhaps the best known 
story is of the rescue of a boy from drowning in the river 
Calder. Mr. Bronte jumped into the stream in his clerical 
attire, and after rescuing the boy, took him home and saw 
that he was attended to, before he thought of his own wet 

Mr. W. W. Yates, in his book The Father of the Brontes, tells us 
that Patrick Bronte, when in Dewsbury, resided in the old 
vicarage, close by the church, having his own rooms. The 
house has since been demolished. Descendants of the old 
inhabitants, who knew him, speak of Mr. Bronte as not being 
very sociable, but he did his work well, and was considered 
a good preacher, taking a special interest in the Sunday Schools. 
The frugality of his early life in Ireland followed him into 


Yorkshire, and he is said to have lived mostly on oatmeal 
porridge and potatoes, with a dumpling by way of dessert 
after dinner. If report is to be credited, he wore a blue linen 
frock coat, and carried a shillelagh, like a true son of Erin. 
His vicar had an illness during his curacy, and the young 
Irishman felt constrained to send his sympathy in verse, and 
no fewer than twenty-nine six-line stanzas found their way 
to the vicar. It is not poetry, but it satisfied Patrick Bronte, 
and must have amused the recipient. One verse reads 

" May rosy Health with speed return, 
And all your wonted ardour burn, 
And sickness buried in his urn 

Sleep many years ! 
So, countless friends who loudly mourn, 

Shall dry their tears ! " 

Patrick Bronte's reason for leaving Dewsbury is one which 
showed his Irish independence. It is said that, having been 
caught in a thunderstorm, he requested the vicar to take his 
place at the evening service, when one of the church officials 
remarked, " What ! keep a dog and bark himself." This so 
annoyed Patrick Bronte that he decided to resign his curacy. 
This apparently did not interfere with his friendly relations 
with the Vicar, for the living of Hartshead Church, a short 
distance away, was vacant at this time, and, as Mr. Buck worth 
had the right of presentation, he rewarded his hard-working 
curate, who thus became incumbent of Hartshead in 1811. 

In the Hartshead Church register, the first entry made by 
the new vicar is on 3rd March, 1811, where he signs himself 
" Patrick Bronte, minister," and on the llth of March in the 
same year he signs himself in the Dewsbury church register, 
" P. Bronte, curate," 

He had been a curate for six years, and he now realised his 
ambition in securing a church of his own. That the " Irish 
curate " had made a name for himself is evidenced by the fact 
that members of the Dewsbury church often walked over 
to Hartshead to hear him preach. He had, what was con- 
sidered at that time a rare accomplishment, the gift of being 


able to preach without reference to his manuscript, which 
counted for much among the Yorkshire folk. In January, 
1899, a brass plate was unveiled in Dewsbury Parish Church 
to the memory of Patrick Bronte with the following inscription 




JUNE 7TH, 1861 


WELLINGTON 1809. DEWSBURY 1809-1811 



HAWORTH 1820-1861 


Had he not been the father of the famous novelists, it is 
certain his memory would not have been thus honoured. 

Dewsbury figures in Shirley as Whinbury. It was noted 
for its Sunday Schools, which were established even before 
the movement by Robert Raikes. Twenty -five years after 
Patrick Bronte left Dewsbury, his daughter Charlotte came to 
live in the parish, being then twenty years of age. She had 
accepted the appointment of governess in Miss Wooler's 
school, which had just been transferred from Roe Head, 
Mirfield, to Heald's House, at the top of Dewsbury Moor. 
Whilst here, she attended the Dewsbury Parish Church, where 
her father had formerly been curate. Some of the older 
inhabitants used to speak of her as a shy little person, very 
short and dumpy, but with very expressive eyes and a most 
attentive worshipper in church. It was whilst teaching there 
that she had a bad attack of hypochondria, and the doctor 
told her, as she valued her life, to leave Dewsbury and get home 
to Haworth. In Villette she mentions this serious attack, 
connecting it with Lucy Snowe, and in one of her letters she 
speaks of Dewsbury as " a poisoned place for me." 



THE village of Hartshead-cum-Clif ton St. Peter's Church, Hartshead 
The Nunnely Church in Shirley The Rev. Hammond Roberson 
The Luddite riots The Red House, Gomersal Mary Taylor 
Apperley Bridge The Woodhouse Grove Academy The Rev. 
John Fennell Maria Branwell Patrick Bronte's marriage in 
Guiseley Church Centenary anniversary of his wedding His 
love letters Publication of his Cottage Poems His second volume 
of poems The Rural Minstrel He exchanges livings with the Rev. 
Thomas Atkinson of Thornton, near Bradford. 

HARTSHEAD-CUM-CLIFTON is about four miles from Dewsbury, 
so that Patrick Bronte did not find much difference either in 
the type of people or in the district after he left Dewsbury. 
Hartshead Church was in the same parish, and is dedicated 
to St. Peter. It is known in Shirley as Nunnely Church, 
and is beautifully situated on a hill overlooking the valley of 
the Calder. Near the church gates are the old stocks, which 
were often in use in Patrick Bronte's days. The church, 
though altered and renovated since Mr. Bronte's time, still 
retains its ancient appearance. The square tower, the oldest 
remaining portion of the church, was formerly surmounted 
by an old, weatherbeaten ash tree, which had its roots in the 
roof of the tower. In the vestry are portraits of the Rev. 
Patrick Bronte, the Rev. Thomas Atkinson, who followed 
Mr. Bronte and was the godfather of Charlotte Bronte, and 
his successor, the Rev. Thomas King. 

The registers of the church go as far back as 1612. They 
have lately been of service to the old inhabitants who wished 
to claim their old-age pension. In addition to the signature 
of Patrick Bronte there is to be seen the certificate of baptism 
of Patrick Bronte's eldest child, Maria Bronte, who was born 
in 1813, but not christened until 23rd April, 1814, Shakespeare's 
birthday, and the anniversary of Mr. Bronte's Degree day at 



Cambridge. The christening ceremony was performed, as 
the register shows, by Patrick Bronte's relative, the Rev. 
William Morgan, of Bradford Parish Church. 

Patrick Bronte found lodgings at a farm, known in his day 
as Lousey Thorn, but now called by the more euphonious title 
of Thorn Bush Farm. The tenants of the farm, when he stayed 
there, were Mr. and Mrs. Bedford, who had at one time been 
servants at Kirklees Hall. According to the church register, Mr. 
Bronte entered on his duties at St. Peter's Church, Hartshead, 
on March 3rd, 1811, and not in July, as has been frequently 
stated, for there is an entry in March signed Patrick Bronte, 
minister. The new incumbent had been preceded some ten 
years previously by the noted Rev. Hammond Roberson, M.A., 
a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, who had also been 
one of Patrick Bronte's predecessors as curate of Dewsbury 
Parish Church. Mr. Roberson, in many ways, resembled 
Patrick Bronte, for he was a bold and fearless preacher, with 
a strong personality, a stalwart Tory of the old school, a man 
of indomitable will, and self-sacrificing and generous in his 
nature. After resigning his curacy at Dewsbury, he started a 
boys' school, renting for the purpose Squirrel's Hall on Dews- 
bury Moor. He afterwards transferred the school to Heald's 
Hall, and such was his success that he saved enough to enable 
him to build Liversedge Church, which cost over 7,000, and 
where he became vicar in 1816. Charlotte Bronte has por- 
trayed him in Shirley as Parson Heist one, " the old Cossack," 
as she calls him, but he must have resembled her father very 
much, for those who knew Patrick Bronte in later days recog- 
nised him in the delineation of Mr. Helstone ; no doubt some- 
thing from both clergymen helped to build up the character. 
Charlotte Bronte, in a letter to Mr. Williams, says that she only 
saw the original of Mr. Helstone once when she was a girl of 
ten, at the consecration of a church on September 4th, 1827, 
which Ellen Nussey referred to as St. John's on Dewsbury 

The description given in Shirley of Mr. Helstone the clerical 
Cossack fits Mr. Roberson. 

" He was not diabolical at all. The evil simply was he had 


missed his vocation : he should have been a soldier, and circum- 
stances had made him a priest. For the rest he was a con- 
scientious, hard-headed, hard-handed, brave, stern, implacable, 
faithful little man : a man almost without sympathy, ungentle, 
prejudiced, and rigid : but a man true to principle honourable, 
sagacious, and sincere." 

Mr. Roberson was building his church at Liversedge at the 
time that Patrick Bronte was incumbent of Hartshead, and he 
was a prominent character during the Luddite riots, an account 
of which Charlotte Bronte heard from her father and the people 
in the neighbourhood when she came to live there. Mrs. 
Gaskell gives a very good account of Mr. Roberson, of whom 
she heard much when visiting Miss Wooler and Ellen Nussey. 
The more eccentric the character, the more Mrs. Gaskell 
enjoyed writing about it. 

Heald's Hall, the residence of Hammond Roberson, was the 
largest house in the neighbourhood, and must not be confused 
with Heald's House, where Charlotte Bronte was teacher 
with Miss Wooler. In the Liversedge church is a stained - 
glass window, erected to the memory of Hammond Roberson, 
with an inscription, " To the glory of God and in memory of 
the Rev. Hammond Roberson, M.A. ; founder of this church 
in 1816, and its first incumbent, who died August, 1841, aged 
84 years/' In the adjoining graveyard is a very small grave- 
stone, about half-a-yard high, with just the name, age, and date 
of burial. The vicar advocated one small gravestone to each 
person, and he insisted on all stones being uniform. It is 
said that one parishioner erected a head-stone larger than the 
others, and the vicar had it taken up and thrown into the hollow 
at the bottom of the churchyard. 

Another grave in the Liversedge churchyard which merits 
attention is that of William Cartwright, the original of Robert 
Gerard Moore, of Shirley ; on it is a simple inscription, 
"William Cartwright of Rawfolds, died 15th April, 1839, 
aged 64 years." 

In the year after Mr. Bronte became incumbent of Hartshead, 
the whole of the West Riding of Yorkshire was in constant 
turmoil. Sixty-six persons were tried at York for various 


offences connected with the Luddite rising against the intro- 
duction of machinery. Seventeen were executed, and six were 
transported for seven years. The two big mill-owners in the 
Hartshead district Cartwright of Rawfolds, Liversedge, and 
Horsfall of Marsden were considered by the workpeople to be 
the chief offenders in the district, for both had decided to stock 
their mills with machinery. Parson Roberson took the side of 
the mill-owners, and had no sympathy with the workpeople, 
preaching from the pulpit against the Luddites, and doing 
all he could to make the workers bend to their employers. 
Mr. Bronte also took the same view, and Mary Taylor, writing 
to Mrs. Gaskell in 1857 from New Zealand, acknowledging 
a copy of the first edition of the Life of Charlotte Bronte, says : 
' You give much too favourable an account of the black- 
coated and Tory savages that kept the people down and 
provoked excesses in those days. Old Roberson said he would 
wade to the knees in blood rather than the then state of things 
should be altered, a state including Corn Law, Test Law, and 
a host of other oppressions." 

Charlotte Bronte describes the Luddite riots in Shirley. 
For this purpose she got the loan of a file of copies of the 
Leeds Mercury covered by the period ; her father also was able 
to give her material assistance from the standpoint of an eye- 
witness of some of the stirring events, and her old school- 
mistress, Miss Wooler, used to tell her pupils of her recollec- 
tions of some of the scenes when taking the girls for their 
daily walks around the neighbourhood. 

The rendezvous of the Luddites of the district was not far 
from Patrick Bronte's home in Hartshead. It was by the 
Dumb Steeple a monument without an inscription, hence 
its name. Here the men met at midnight. Near by was the 
inn known as " The Three Nuns/' where they adjourned after 
taking the oath and learning the pass-words, which were said 
to be " go " and " inn." The men were also drilled in the use 
of certain signs which were quite masonic. 

In Ben 0' Bill's, the Luddite, Mr. D. F. E. Sykes, LL.B., a 
native of Huddersfield, quoting from old manuscripts of the 
days of the Luddites, says : " Mr. Cartwright was more of a 


foreigner nor an Englishman. A quiet man with a cutting 
tongue. Had ne'er a civil word for a man, an' down on him 
in a jiffy if he looked at a pot o' beer. Drank nowt himself. 
. . . Was sacking the old hands and stocking Rawfolds with 
machines ; and Parson Roberson was worse nor him." 

The Luddites were more favourable to Mr. Horsfall of 
Marsden, as he was a Yorkshireman, out and out, and, 
according to Mr. Sykes' narrative, a coin was tossed to decide 
which mill was to be attacked heads for Horsfall, tails for 
Cartwright. The coin fell with the head uppermost, but the 
tosser, pretending to take the coin to the light of the fire, 
turned the penny over, so that it was against Mr. Cartwright. 

" ' I'm glad it fell on Cartwright/ I said to my cousin, as we 
doffed our things that night. ' Aw thought tha would be,' 
said George. * It wer' a weight off me when it fell tails/ I 

" ' But it were a head/ said George, with a quiet smile. 

" ' A head ! ' 

" ' Ay, a head. But I knew tha wanted tails, so I turned 
it i' th' palm o' mi hand, when I stooped over th' fire.' ' 

And yet men talk about fate, says the teller of the story. 

The attack on Cartwright's mill at Rawfolds, Liversedge, 
took place on Saturday, llth April, 1812, according to the 
Leeds Mercury. The military were called out to defend the 
mill, and on the following Saturday a court martial was held 
on one of the soldiers who had acted in an unsoldierly manner. 
It is recorded that he refused to fire for fear of hurting his own 
brothers who were attacking the mill, and he was condemned 
so the account says to three hundred lashes for his breach of 
military discipline. 

Mr. Cartwright returned home by way of Bradley Wood, 
near Huddersfield, and was fired at by two men who were 
hiding in the plantation. The shots missed fire and Mr. 
Cartwright the original of Robert Moore escaped uninjured. 

Charlotte Bronte does not follow absolutely the facts in 
this part of her novel, for in Chapter XXXI of Shirley she 
tells the story of Moore being shot. " Miss Keeldar read the 
note : it briefly signified that last night Robert Moore had been 


shot at from behind the wall of Milldean plantation, at the 
foot of the Brow ; that he was wounded severely, but it was 
hoped not fatally : of the assassin or assassins, nothing was 
known they had escaped. . . ." 

Briarmains had its original in the Red House, Gomersal, 
said to date from 1660. It was the old home of Mary Taylor, 
Charlotte Bronte's friend. Evidently some stranger had been 
admitted to the house in circumstances somewhat similar to 
those related of Moore in Charlotte Bronte's novel, for Mary 
Taylor refers to the matter in her letter acknowledging the 
copy of Shirley, and mentions " the handsome foreigner " 
who was nursed in her home when she was a little girl, but she 
points out to the novelist that she has placed the wounded 
man in the servant's bedroom. 

When the writer was privileged to go over the Red House, 
now occupied by Dr. Waring Taylor, in October, 1908, the 
room in which " the handsome foreigner " was lodged was 
shown. The house has fortunately been preserved, and is 
now much the same as it was in Charlotte Bronte's day. The 
beautiful stained-glass windows in the family sitting-room 
which Charlotte Bronte noticed are still there. 

Some pictures which attracted Charlotte Bronte are in the 
old library still ; there is the miniature of old Joshua Taylor 
the Hiram Yorke of Shirley painted at Rome in 1802 ; and 
there are also souvenirs that he brought home from Italy 
and other places on the Continent. The Red House is well 
worthy of notice, and the descendants of the Taylors are very 
proud of the account given in Shirley. Hiram Yorke is a very 
true representation of Joshua Taylor, a very intelligent manu- 
facturer, who could speak French fluently, and yet loved to 
talk in his rough Yorkshire dialect. Rose and Jessy Yorke of 
Shirley were the two daughters, Mary and Martha Taylor. 
One of Mr. Taylor's sons was allowed to read the part of Shirley 
that refers to the Taylor family before it was published, and 
he was well satisfied with the account. 

This Yorkshire family of strong Radicals and Dissenters 
had a meeting-house, known as Taylor's Chapel, near their 
residence. It is now a cottage and a joiner's shop. Only one 


gravestone can be identified, and the inscription is scarcely 
legible. Some little distance from the house is the Taylors' 
private burial-ground in Fir Dene Wood. It is still used, a 
child of the family being buried there a few years ago. 

Although it was only by a trick that Cartwright's mill at 
Rawfolds came to be the one selected for attack, Mr. Timothy 
Horsfall, of Marsden, the other manufacturer in the district 
who had opposed the Luddites and who did all he could to trace 
the ringleaders in the attack on Cartwright's mill, was the one 
to lose his life. On Tuesday, 28th April, 1812, he was shot 
on Crossland Moor, not far from the Warren House Inn, and 
died the next day. For this murder, three men were hanged 
at York in the following January, and the fourth turned 
" King's Evidence." 

In Shirley, Charlotte Bronte gives a graphic description of 
the attack on Hollows mill, but she does not mention the 
Horsfalls of Marsden. Cartwright was evidently considered 
to be the more interesting character. Her description of 
Caroline Helstone trying to go to the help pf Robert Gerard 
Moore reminds the readers of a somewhat similar event in 
North and South, where Mrs. Gaskell describes a Manchester 
mill riot and Margaret Hale defends Thornton, the owner of 
the mill. North and South, however, was written after Shirley, 
though there are parts of Shirley which owe something to 
Mary Barton. Indeed, it was said in Ha worth that Charlotte 
Bronte wished to write a story of the Chartists, but that 
Mr. Butterfield, of Keighley, persuaded her not to do so. 
He was proud of telling the story of his walk with Charlotte 
Bronte from Keighley to Ha worth, when he used the oppor- 
tunity to persuade her not to write on the subject of the Char- 
tists, but rather to deal with the Luddite riots as being a more 
suitable subject. 

The most exciting scene in the novel is the graphic descrip- 
tion of the storming of the mill ; and it is interesting to know 
that Mrs. Gaskell, in her North and South, has a somewhat 
similar scene. 

" ' Shirley Shirley, the gates are down ! That crash was 
like the felling of great trees. Now they are pouring through. 


They will break down the mill-doors as they have broken the 
gate : what can Robert do against so many ? Would to God 
I were a little nearer him could hear him speak could speak 
to him ! With my will my longing to serve him I could 
not be a useless burden in his way. I could be turned to 
some account.' " . . . 

Mr. Cartwright earned the goodwill of the manufacturers in 
the district for his firm stand against the Luddites. In the 
Bronte Museum at Haworth is the actual testimonial, written 
on parchment, which was presented to Mr. William Cartwright, 
of Rawfolds mill, by influential inhabitants of the West Riding 
of Yorkshire on 17th May, 1813. The writing is very faded, 
but a typewritten copy of the inscription has been made. 

It was during such times as these that Patrick Bronte was 
in charge of a church in the district, and it is not to be wondered 
at that he became morose and melancholy. Life was cheap 
in Yorkshire, and the young Irish clergyman needed all his 
courage and discretion to manage the people. The rich and 
poor were poles asunder, and the misery and suffering on the 
one hand was matched by fear and cruelty on the other. 

" Misery generates hate : these sufferers hated the machines 
which they believed took their bread from them : they hated 
the buildings which contained those machines ; they hated 
the manufacturers who owned those buildings," says Charlotte 
Bronte in Shirley. Though the workers were prejudiced 
against the machines, the hand-looms disappeared in time, 
and the factories, with their noisy machinery, flourished, and 
the looms, once a feature of so many artisans' cottages, were 
broken up. Charlotte Bronte was at a disadvantage compared 
with Mrs. Gaskell who wrote of the " hungry forties," because 
she did not actually witness the scenes she describes. 

In the second year of Patrick Bronte's residence at Harts- 
head, and at the time of the Luddite riots, a Wesleyan Academy 
was built at Woodhouse Grove, Apperley Bridge, near Leeds 
and Bradford ; a tablet on the old part of the building is 
inscribed " Wesleyan Academy, opened January 8th, 1812." 
It was intended for the education of the sons of Wesleyan 
ministers, whose length of stay in any one circuit is usually 


not more than three years. Mr. H. Walton Starkey, in his 
Short History of Woodhouse Grove School, says that the first head- 
master and governor was Mr. John Fennell, and his wife was 
responsible for the household arrangements ; their joint 
salary was 100 a year. The school started with eight boys, 
but by the end of the year there were seventy names on the 
books. Mr. and Mrs. Fennell remained about a year, as Mr. 
Fennell decided to take orders in the Church of England, and 
that becoming known, he was required to leave. There were 
also complaints as to Mrs. Fenn ell's management of the 

Subsequently the Rev. Jabez Bunting secured the appoint- 
ment for his brother-in-law, the Rev. Thomas Fletcher, who 
was the grandfather of " Deas Cromarty." 

Mr. Fennell became a curate at the Parish Church, Bradford, 
and later was appointed Vicar of Cross Stones, near Todmorden. 

The first inspector at the Woodhouse Grove School was the 
Rev. Patrick Bronte, who examined the pupils at the end of the 
summer term. 

It is probable that the Rev. William Morgan knew that 
Patrick Bronte had been a successful teacher in County Down. 
His report on the school has never been quoted and research 
has failed to find it. 

The Woodhouse Grove Academy, or school as it is now called, 
is on the north bank of the Aire, just below the bridge ; it is 
delightfully situated in its own grounds, and the governor's 
house adjoins the school. Whether Patrick Bronte had been 
to Woodhouse Grove Academy before he went as an examiner 
we are not told, but before August, 1812, was out, he was 
sending love letters to the Headmaster's niece, Maria Branwell 
daughter of Mr. Fennell's wife's brother. Evidently Mr. 
Bronte's warm-hearted Irish temperament would not allow 
him to remain a woman-hater for long. The engagement 
appears to have taken place in July, and the nine letters 
which have been published point to times of happiness and 
pleasure, referring to country walks to the historic spots 
around Apperley, to Calverley and to Kirkstall Abbey ; the 



latter place inspired Patrick Bronte to write a poem on the 
old abbey. 

Maria Bran well was a refined and cultured woman of thirty ; 
she was making a long visit from her home in Penzance to 
her aunt and uncle at Woodhouse Grove. Her cousin, Jane 
Fennell, was engaged to the Rev. William Morgan, and it 
was only natural that Patrick Bronte, with his capacity for 
falling in love, should be captivated by the quiet, modest 
Cornish lady, who had all the qualifications for making a good 
and capable clergyman's wife, although she was a Wesleyan 
Methodist. As Patrick Bronte had been disappointed before, 
he did not mean to have a repetition. He was now thirty-five, 
and in addition to being Vicar of Hartshead, was known in 
a limited circle as a poet and an author, having already pub- 
lished his Cottage Poems. He could also point to a good 
record at the places where he had served as curate. The only 
objections hitherto raised against him were that he was an 
Irishman and little was known of his relatives. These, 
however, do not appear to have been serious obstacles in 
his wooing of Maria Bran well, who reciprocated his love. 
A long courtship was out of the question, and on the 29th of 
the following December, the marriage was celebrated at 
Guiseley Parish Church, where the marriage certificate may 
be seen. Next to it is the certificate of marriage of the Rev. 
William Morgan and Jane Fennell. 

The two clergymen did not seem anxious to have a third to 
help to tie the knots, for Mr. Morgan officiated at the marriage 
of Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell, and Patrick Bronte 
united in wedlock William Morgan and Jane Fennell, the 
wives acting as bridesmaids to each other, whilst Mr. John 
Fennell gave both brides away. It is recorded that as he had 
the responsibility of giving the brides away, he could not marry 
them ; but he was then only a Wesleyan local preacher, and 
therefore was not qualified to officiate in church. It is remark- 
able that, at the very hour and on the same day, two cousins 
of the two brides, Joseph and Charlotte Branwell, were married 
at Madron, the parish church of Penzance, so that two sisters 
and four cousins were married on the same day. 


In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1813, is an entry recording 
the Yorkshire marriages : " Lately at Guiseley, near Bradford, 
by the Rev. William Morgan, minister of Bierley, Rev. P. 
Bronte, B.A., minister of Hartshead-cum-Clifton, to Maria, 
third daughter of the late T. Bran well, Esq., of Penzance. 
At the same time, by the Rev. P. Bronte, Rev. W. Morgan, 
to the only daughter of Mr. John Fennell, Headmaster of 
the Wesleyan Academy near Bradford." 

Guiseley, in Wharf edale, is about three miles distant from 
Woodhouse Grove. In Slater's History of Guiseley is a list 
of the rectors from 1234 ; one of the rectors, Robert Moore 
whose name appears in Shirley built the rectory, and placed 
a curious Latin inscription over the doorway, which trans- 
lated reads : " Anno domini 1601. The house of the faithful 
pastor, not of the blind leader ; not of the robber ; the house 
of Robert Moore, rector of the church, founder of the house." 

The parish registers, which date from 1556, contain several 
entries referring to the ancestors of the famous American poet, 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The name is still preserved 
in the village, and a pedigree with notes is to be found in 
Margerison's Calverley Registers. 

Of Mrs. Bronte, little is recorded. Mrs. Gaskell's informant 
described her as " extremely small in person ; not pretty, but 
very elegant, and always dressed with a quiet simplicity of 
taste, which accorded well with her general character." This 
description would apply also to her famous daughter, Charlotte, 
in her later years. Mrs. Bronte's quiet personality seems to 
have been quite overshadowed by her husband, and the fact 
that she died eight years after her marriage left little chance 
of obtaining much authentic information ; but all that is 
known proves her to have been worthy of being the mother of 
Emily and Charlotte Bronte. Maria Bran well was the daughter 
of Thomas Branwell of Penzance, who had been a member 
of the Corporation of that town. She had been educated 
with care, and in religious matters she had been trained in the 
tenets of the Methodist faith. She had a private income of 
50 a year, her parents having died a little more than two 
years before her marriage. In order to avoid the trouble and 


expense of a long journey to Cornwall, she decided to send for 
her personal property and be married in Yorkshire. Unfor- 
tunately the boxes were lost at sea, and in a simple and 
charming letter she told Mr. Bronte of the disaster. 

The descendants of the Branwells were proud of their con- 
nection with the Brontes, and one of the last survivors was 
named Thomas, after Charlotte Bronte's maternal grandfather, 
and Bronte in honour of the family connection. Miss Charlotte 
Branwell, the sister of Thomas Bronte Branwell, named her 
house Shirley, and so kept in remembrance her connection 
with the Brontes. Mrs. Bronte's mother's maiden name was 
Carne, and both on the father's and mother's side the Branwell 
family was sufficiently well descended to enable them to mix 
in the best society of which Penzance at that time could boast. 
Miss Elizabeth Branwell, Mrs. Bronte's elder sister, who went 
to live at Haworth in 1822, bears this out, for Miss Ellen 
Nussey says : " She talked a good deal of her younger days ; 
the gaieties of her native town, Penzance, in Cornwall, the soft 
warm climate, etc. The social life of her younger days she 
used to recall with regret ; she gave one the idea that she had 
been a belle among her one-time acquaintances." Mr. and 
Mrs. Bronte commenced housekeeping in a three-storied stone- 
built house in Clough Lane; Hightown, Liversedge, there 
being no fixed parsonage. The house is still standing ; the 
stones are blackened by the smoke of the district and 
the weather, but otherwise it is in good condition. The 
centenary anniversary of this Bronte wedding was celebrated 
the 29th of December, 1912, but, alas ! there were no descend- 
ants to join in the celebration of the wedding of the parents 
of the famous novelists, but some of the love letters which 
Maria Branwell wrote to Patrick Bronte have been published 
in Mr. Shorter 's The Brontes : Life and Letters. They are 
modest, sincere and sensible, and they show that the writer 
had the saving grace of humour ; especially when addressing 
" My dear, saucy Pat." 

Possibly Mrs. Bronte would have objected to her love letters 
being made public. Mrs. Gaskell was allowed to see them, 
but she refrained from publishing more than extracts. 


Charlotte Bronte says she read them with a sense of reverence, 
regretting that she had but a dim recollection of her mother. 

The marriage was fortunate in many respects, and, whatever 
may have been laid to the charge of Mr. Bronte in later years, 
the early years of his married life were happy and prosperous. 
He had a salary of some 320 per annum, which to him must 
have appeared both enough and to spare. He has been blamed 
for giving so much time to authorship during his early married 
life, to the neglect of his wife, but it is quite probable that she 
was ambitious and urged him to spend much of his time in his 
study, for, in one of her published letters, she says : " Let me 
not interrupt your studies, nor intrude on that time which 
ought to be better associated to better purposes." 

The Rev. William Morgan, who lived not far away at Brad- 
ford, was also a writer, and the two young wives may have 
been anxious to have their husbands known for their literary 
output as well as for their preaching, for both clergymen were 
prolific writers, though their literary efforts were of little 
value. Mrs. Bronte' seems to have cherished the desire of 
being an author herself, for she has left just one little essay 
on The Advantages of Poverty in Religious Concerns, which 
was written with a view to publication in some periodical. 
It was reverently treasured by her husband, and it has now 
been published, after having been written nearly a hundred, 
years ago. 

Patrick Bronte must have enjoyed the part of Shirley which 
related to his first incumbency, for he loved to tell stories of 
those stirring times. In spite, however, of the tumult which' sur- 
rounded Hartshead, he found time to prepare a small volume 
of poems, some of which were probably written in Ireland. 

His volume of Cottage Poems is prefaced by a long didactic 
sermon to his readers, which makes rather amusing reading. 
His concluding remarks are written in the third person. 

" The Author must confess, that his labours have already 
rewarded him by the pleasure which he took in them. 

" When released from his clerical avocations, he was occupied 
in writing the Cottage Poems ; from morning till noon, and from 
noon till night, his employment was full of real, indescribable 


pleasure, such as he could wish to taste as long as life lasts. 
His hours glided pleasantly and almost imperceptibly by : 
and when night drew on and he retired to rest, ere he closed 
his eyes in sleep, with sweet calmness and serenity of mind, 
he often reflected that, though the delicate palate of Criticism 
might be disgusted, the business of the day, in the prosecution 
of his humble task, was well pleasing in the sight of God, 
and might, by his blessing, be rendered useful to some poor 
soul, who cared little about critical niceties, who lived unknow- 
ing and unknown in some little cottage, and whom, perchance, 
the Author might neither see nor hear of, till that day, when 
the assembled universe shall stand before the tribunal of the 
Eternal Judge " 

In 1813, whilst still at Hartshead, Mr. Bronte published a 
second volume of poems, The Rural Minstrel, described as a 
miscellany of descriptive poems, by the Rev. P. Bronte, A.B., 
minister of Hartshead-cum-Clifton, near Leeds, Yorkshire. 
One of the poems is entitled Lines addressed to a Lady on her 
Birthday, which in this case was to his future wife, Maria 
Branwell. Probably Mr. Bronte lost money on his publishing 
ventures ; hence his warning to his daughter in later years. 

Mr. and Mrs. Bronte lived at the tall house in Clough Lane, 
Hightown, for a little more than two years ; and their two 
daughters, Maria and Elizabeth, were born there. 

In 1815 he removed to Thornton, some twelve miles away, 
exchanging livings with the Rev. Thomas Atkinson. One 
reason for the change was that his wife, who was delicate, 
wished to be nearer her cousin Jane, who had married the Rev. 
William Morgan, vicar of Christ Church, Bradford. Also 
her uncle, Mr. John Fennell, had joined the Church of England, 
and was a curate at the Bradford Parish Church. As Thornton 
was only some three miles from Bradford, it was possible for 
the relatives to meet frequently. Another reason suggested 
for the change was that the Rev. Thomas Atkinson, vicar of 
the Old Bell Chapel at Thornton and nephew of Hammond 
Roberson, was anxious to live near his fiancee, Miss Walker, 
of Lascelles Hall, which is a curious little hamlet near 
Huddersfield, and is well known to cricketers. 


Mr. Atkinson married Miss Walker, but they did not go to 
the house vacated by the Brontes, preferring to rent a house 
known as Green House, Mirfield. It was to this house that 
Charlotte Bronte was invited when a pupil at Roe Head, 
Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson being her god-parents. When she was 
there during her first term at Roe Head, a visitor lifted her on 
her knee, thinking that Charlotte Bronte, who was very small 
for her age, was little more than a baby ; she at once requested 
to be put down, just as Polly did in Villette. 

Elizabeth, the second daughter, was born on 8th February, 
1815, at Clough Lane, Hightown, but was not baptised until 
the following 26th August at Thornton. The entry in the 
Register of Baptisms at Thornton Church is in very faint 
writing, which caused it to be overlooked for many years . 
Moreover, it was expected that the entry would be at 
Hartshead Church. 

When Patrick Bronte left Hartshead in 1815, with his wife 
and two children the younger only a few months old he 
had made his reputation as a preacher, and was considered a 
scholar, as he had published two books. 



HAPPY days at Thornton Mrs. Gaskell's references to Thornton 
Thornton parsonage The Old Bell Chapel St. James's Church 
Birth of Charlotte, Patrick, Emily and Anne Bronte Memorial 
tablet on the Thornton parsonage Further publications by the 
Rev. Patrick Bronte Nancy and Sarah Garrs. 

REFERRING to his five years' residence at Thornton, Patrick 
Bronte wrote in 1835, " My happiest days were spent there." 
From an old diary, published by Prof. Moore Smith in the 
Bookman, October, 1904, and written by his grandmother, 
who, as Miss Firth, lived near the Brontes at Thornton in her 
early days, it is evident that both Mr. and Mrs. Bronte enjoyed 
themselves in a quiet way, visiting and receiving visits from 
the Firth family, who lived at Kipping, and from Mr. and Mrs. 
Morgan and uncle Fennell. 

There were very few houses in Thornton at that time, so 
that Patrick Bronte would be able to get round to his parish- 
ioners fairly often ; he was always a faithful pastoral visitor. 
Miss Elizabeth Bran well, Mrs. Bronte's sister, spent several 
months at the Thornton parsonage in 1815 and 1816, and as 
she is constantly referred to in the diary, it is probable that 
she was responsible for some of the social intercourse between 
the Brontes and prominent families in the neighbourhood, 
and was able to render help to Mrs. Bronte in the management 
of her young family. 

Thornton, as the birthplace of Patrick Bronte's famous 
children Charlotte, born 21st April, 1816 ; Patrick Bran well, 
26th June, 1817 ; Emily Jane, 30th July, 1818 ; and Anne, 
17th January, 1820 had not received the recognition which 
it deserved, until Mr. William Scruton published a booklet 
on the birthplace of Charlotte Bronte in 1884, and fourteen 
years afterwards an interesting work on Thornton and the 
Brontes. The family, however, only lived in Thornton for 
five years, and there is little personal history to record, but 



as the birthplace of the two famous sisters it deserves to rank 
as the first Bronte shrine. Mrs. Gaskell described the neigh- 
bourhood as " desolate and wild ; great tracts of black land 
enclosed by stone dykes, sweeping up Clayton heights." She 
and her husband drove from Bradford to Haworth by Thornton 
and Denholme. Except in the summer time or early autumn, 
the moors in this part of Yorkshire present a dreary appear- 
ance to a stranger, but to those who can see beauty in lonely 
grandeur the moors at all times are far from being so desolate 
as Mrs. Gaskell described them. 

It is unfortunate that, in this matter, other writers have 
adopted Mrs. Gaskell 's description, and the New York Sun, in 
reviewing Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte, referring to 
this district at the time when Patrick Bronte lived there said : 
" It was a drear, desolate place, and that with the exception of 
the Fiji islanders, the Yorkshire people were, perhaps, the 
wildest and doggedest existing." The West Riding folk were 
naturally very indignant, and to this day they keenly resent 
Mrs. Gaskell's account of themselves and their district. They 
affirm that Yorkshire is much more civilised than Lancashire, 
and they contrast the beauties of the Yorkshire moors and dales 
with the slums not far from Mrs. Gaskell's home in Manchester. 

It could not have been either the place or the situation that 
caused Patrick Bronte to speak of the happiness which he 
enjoyed in Thornton, for the district is much more bleak and 
desolate than Hartshead. Nor was the house an improvement, 
judging by the number of rooms and its position in Market 
Street. Moreover, St. James's Church the Old Bell Chapel, 
as it was called was not so pleasing an edifice as St. Peter's, 
Hartshead. The chief attraction which Thornton had for 
Patrick Bronte was of a social and family nature, and Bradford, 
within walking distance, had its subscription library, of which 
Mr. Bronte was a member. There were also in the neighbour- 
hood of Thornton several influential families, who took an 
interest in the new vicar and his wife. 

The district is far from prepossessing to-day. Thornton 
is now a busy manufacturing part of Bradford, with a popula- 
tion of from 6,000 to 7,000. It can be approached by train 


or tram from Bradford. The huge woollen mills, which 
have supplanted the hand-looms a mode of manufacture 
common for the previous 500 years find work for the greater 
part of the people. Thornton was incorporated with the City 
of Bradford in 1899. 

When Patrick Bronte went to live at Thornton, the people 
were mostly hand-loom weavers. Thornton Hall and Leven- 
thorp Hall, both of which are still standing, though greatly 
altered and now turned into cottages, show that the district 
was not deserted by the wealthier classes. In Domesday Book 
Thornton is spelt Torenton the town of thorns and it is 
said to have got its name from the number of thorn bushes 
to be found in the neighbourhood. In Jane Eyre, Jane lives 
at Thornfield, and afterwards flees to Morton, which is Moor 
Town. Thornton is only six miles distant from Ha worth, 
but it is less interesting, being more bleak and unsheltered. 
Charlotte Bronte, in her introduction to Selections from the 
literary remains of Ellis and Acton Bell, gives a very faithful 
picture of the district, which applies to Thornton as well as 
to Haworth : " The scenery of these hills is not grand it 
is not romantic ; it is scarcely striking. Long, low moors 
with heath, shut in little valleys, where a stream waters, here 
and there, a fringe of stunted copse. Mills and scattered 
cottages chase romance from these valleys ; it is only higher 
up, deep in amongst the ridges of the moors, that Imagination 
can find rest for the sole of her foot ; and even if she finds 
it there, she must be a solitude-loving raven, no gentle dove." 

Though the hills are dreary and desolate, the valleys are not 
to be despised. Pinchbeck valley in summer time is a pleasant 
enough spot. 

The Thornton Parsonage, to which Patrick Bronte and his 
family removed in 1815, was in many respects similar to the 
house at Hightown, near Hartshead. It was built of Yorkshire 
stone, quarried from the immediate neighbourhood, but it 
had not so many bedrooms and was only two storeys high. 
It is still standing in the middle of Market Street, and many 
Bronte pilgrims wend their way to this neighbourhood to see 
the house made famous as being the birthplace of their literary 


heroine. The house has been altered, and in front of the room 
in which the four younger children were born a butcher's shop 
has been built. Fortunately the owner has spared the room 
in which Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne first saw the 
light. It stands on the ground floor to the right of the entrance. 
It was quite usual in those days to have a sort of state-room 
downstairs half parlour and half spare bedroom " where 
the children made their first appearance, and where the heads 
of the household lay down to die if the Great Conqueror gave 
them sufficient warning. " Moreover, all the rooms in the upper 
part of the house were occupied, one as Mr. and Mrs. Bronte's 
bedroom, a small one as a dressing-room, another as Patrick 
BrontS's study, one small room at the back of the house as the 
children's bedroom, and another as the servant's bedroom. 
The room to the left of the entrance, on the ground floor, was 
the family dining-room, and behind this was the kitchen. 

There is still to be seen the old fire-grate in which a fire was 
lit to take off the chill on that April morning in 1816 when 
Charlotte Bronte was born. An attempt was made to sell the 
house by public auction in the spring of 1911, but the owners 
were disappointed by the offers made, and it was withdrawn. 
The auctioneer remarked that he had expected a ship-load of 
Americans competing to pui chase it. The Bronte Society 
was represented, but did not venture to offer such a price as 
would tempt the owners to part with it. 

The Bell Chapel, to which Patrick Bronte was appointed in 
1815, is now in ruins, and only one end of the old edifice is left 
standing in the midst of many blackened tombstones. It is 
close by the main road on which the trams from Bradford 
pass continually. Bronte pilgrims have worn a narrow path 
from the road to the ruins. Some have thought that the Bell 
Chapel at Thornton was the one in Emily Bronte's mind when 
she wrote Wuthering Heights. It was old and dilapidated 
at the time she was writing, and she and her sister, when 
walking over Denholme moors to Bradford, would pass the 
old chapel in which they were baptized. The churchyard in 
which Cathy, Edgar Linton, and Heathcliff were buried 
answers well to the description. 

Photo by 

Percival M. Chadwick 



When Catherine Linton was buried, Emily Bronte says of 
her grave : "It was dug on a green slope in a corner of the 
kirk-yard, where the wall is so low that heath and bilberry 
plants have climbed over it from the moor ; and peat mould 
almost buries it." 

This description fitted the Old Bell Chapel graveyard. The 
chapel itself was built by a freemason over 300 years ago. 
On the west gable were inscriptions on two stones, dated 1587 
and 1612. The interior of the chapel at one time contained 
some ancient monumental tablets of local interest. The 
building itself had the appearance of a Dissenting chapel, 
except for the cupola and bell. When Patrick Bronte was 
appointed to the living at Thornton he made many alterations 
re-roofing the chapel, rebuilding the south side, and adding 
a cupola to the tower. 

Until a few years ago, a stone font might have been seen 
among the debris of the ruins of the chapel. A worthy devotee 
of the Brontes was instrumental in getting it transferred to 
the vestibule of the new church of St. James, which is built on 
the opposite side of the road. Within the church is another 
stone font of still earlier date. The opinion was expressed 
by an old inhabitant of Thornton that this font has been used 
for christening in the open air, but the present vicar thinks it 
is really an old holy-water stoup. 

Until a short time ago there was to be seen at the " Black 
Horse," an old inn, not far from the church, a stone horse- 
mount, for the use of worshippers who attended church in 
the time of the pillion. The Old Bell Chapel was formerly 
the only place of worship connected with the Church of Eng- 
land between Ha worth and Bradford. Both Ha worth Church 
and Thornton Church were built as chapels-of-ease to the 
Bradford Parish Church, another chapel-of-ease being built 
at Low Moor, a few miles from Bradford. 

The new church of St. James was built in 1870, and the 
present vicar, anxious for a new organ which should be worthy 
of the church, decided to appeal to the devotees of the Brontes. 
The project of a Bronte organ was taken up with great enthu- 
siasm in Thornton, and ten working men offered to raise ten 


pounds each a promise which they were not long in fulfilling. 
The organ cost 1,200, and with the exception of one fifty 
pound note, which came from a former parishioner settled in 
America, the bulk of the money was raised in Thornton and 
the surrounding neighbourhood. It was a matter for dis- 
appointment to those who were responsible for the raising of 
the funds that more support was not obtained from the Bronte 
devotees who resided at a distance from Thornton. A small 
brass plate on the organ bears this inscription 


1897 " 

In the vestry is an oak chest, which has been in use since 
1685, and in it are the church registers, now almost unde- 
cipherable. One interesting volume contains the entry of the 
baptisms of the four children of Patrick Bronte, who were born 
at Thornton. 

In 1902 the Council of the Bronte Society affixed an engraved 
brass memorial tablet on the old parsonage. It reads 

" In this house were born the following members of the 
Bronte family. 

EMILY 1818 
ANNE 1820" 

Although, according to Miss Firth's diary, Mrs. Bronte 
appears to have had some social enjoyment and exchanged 
visits with her neighbours, in company with her husband and 
her sister, Miss Elizabeth Branwell, she must have had a very 
busy life with her young family. Her second child was only 
a few months old when she went to Thornton, and before she 
left, five years afterwards, the family had increased to six. 
There was not a room in the house that could well be spared 
for a nursery. Miss Branwell, who was with Mrs. Bronte 
when Charlotte was born, and for some months afterwards, 
needed accommodation, and, with the general servant and 
nursemaid, there was a household of eleven in this little 
parsonage. Mrs. Bronte must have been a very capable 
manager for her husband to be able to say that his happiest 


days were spent at Thornton. It was during his stay here 
that he published a small volume The Cottage in the Wood, 
or the Art of becoming rich and happy and he has also been 
credited with a story which formed another volume The 
Maid of Killarney, or Albion and Flora, a tale, in which are 
interwoven some cursory remarks on religion and politics. 
No author's name is attached to the book. Altogether Patrick 
Bronte could now claim to be the writer of four small volumes ; 
they were, however, such that literature would not have been 
much the poorer if he had never published them, but they 
show evidence of a thoughtful mind, and if too didactic they 
are artless and sincere. In a small house filled with children, 
with a husband busy with writing and preparing sermons, 
Mrs. Bronte's task must have been by no means an easy one. 
It is noticeable that Mr. Bronte did not publish any 
poems after he lived at Thornton ; the muse from this point 
appears to have left him. 

The old servants of the Thornton Vicarage Nancy and 
Sarah Garrs had nothing but kind remembrances of Mr. and 
Mrs. Bronte. Shortly after the family went to reside at 
Thornton, Mrs. Bronte felt it necessary to engage a second 
servant, and Mr. Bronte applied to the Bradford School of 
Industry. It was thus that Nancy Garrs became nurse in 
the Bronte family, and she was with Mrs. Bronte when Charlotte 
Emily Jane, Patrick Branwell, and Anne were born. 

Nancy Garrs married a Patrick Wainwright, and the old 
nurse was proud in after years to tell how Patrick Bronte 
entered the kitchen one day at Ha worth, saying : " Nancy 
is it true, what I have heard, that you are going to marry a 
Pat ? " " It is," replied Nancy, " and if he prove but a tenth 
part as kind a husband to me as you have been to Mrs. Bronte, 
I shall think myself very happy in having made a Pat my 

Nancy Garrs, like others who were associated with the 
Brontes in their early days, regretted that she had not a better 
memory to recall the doings and sayings of the little Brontes, 
but as the old servant would say pathetically : "I never 
thought they would have become so much thought of, or I 


would have been sure to have taken more notice. " Nancy's 
work of washing, dressing and feeding this young family left 
little time for observing the ways of the children, but, when 
they became famous as writers, her pride was very real. She 
continued with the family after Mrs. Bronte's death, and once 
when she was ill with fever in Bradford, Charlotte Bronte 
visited her and, regardless of infection, rushed to the bed and 
kissed her old nurse, bursting into tears to find her so ill. 

Unfortunately, this faithful nurse died in the Bradford 
workhouse on 26th March, 1886, at the age of eighty-two, 
and she is buried in the Undercliff Cemetery. 

Sarah Garrs, sister of Nancy Garrs, became second nurse 
at the Thornton parsonage as the family increased so 
rapidly. She afterwards became Mrs. Newsome, and emi- 
grated to America, where she delighted to tell of her early 
days with the Bronte family. She claimed that her correct 
name was de Garrs. 

These two servants; who accompanied the Bronte family 
to Haworth, considered they had been libelled by Mrs. Gaskell 
in her Life of Charlotte Bronte, where she wrote : " There was 
plenty, and even waste in the house, with young servants, 
and no mistress to look after them." Both sisters appealed 
to Mr. Bronte, when they found that they were publicly 
branded as wasteful, and the old vicar, in 'order to mollify 
their injured feelings, wrote out for them the following 
testimonial, which may be seen in the Bronte Museum. 

" HAWORTH, August 17th, 1857. 

" I beg leave to state to all whom it may concern, that 
Nancy and Sarah Garrs, during the time they were in my 
service, were kind to my children, and honest and not wasteful, 
but sufficiently careful in regard to food, and all other articles 
committed to their care. 

"P. BRONTE, A.B., 
" Incumbent of Haworth, Yorkshire." 




THE Rev. Patrick Bronte offered the incumbency of Haworth by the 
Vicar of Bradford The trustees claim to share in the appointment 
The Rev. Samuel Redhead Disorderly scenes in Haworth Church 
Mrs. Gaskell's account Mr. Bronte's appointment as Vicar of 
Haworth Journey from Thornton to Haworth The Haworth 
parsonage The Vicar's trials and difficulties Haworth village 
The Haworth moors Haworth customs The villagers and the 
publication of the Bronte novels Changes at Haworth Death 
of Mrs. Bronte. 

AFTER five successful years as incumbent of the Old Bell 
Chapel at Thornton; Patrick Bronte was offered the perpetual 
curacy of the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth, 
which, like Thornton, was a Chapel of Ease to the Bradford 
Parish Church. It was distant from Thornton about six 
miles over the moors. This was the fourth Yorkshire church 
with which Patrick Bronte became associated. 

The appointment as incumbent of Haworth was offered by 
the Vicar of Bradford, the Rev. R. H. Heap, who considered 
he had the right of presentation. The living was accepted by 
the Rev. Patrick Bronte, who was very much surprised shortly 
afterwards to receive a courteous letter from the trustees of 
the Haworth church, stating that they had no personal objec- 
tion to him, but, as they had not been consulted about the 
matter, they must decline to accept him as their clergyman. 
They claimed a joint right with the Vicar of Bradford in 
appointing a minister, as it remained with them to provide 
a part of the stipend. 

When this was brought to Mr. Bronte's notice, he withdrew 
his acceptance of the post, as he sympathised with the trustees 
and wrote urging them to hold out against the Vicar of 


4 (2200) 


Bradford on his behalf, as otherwise they were in danger of 
obtaining " an inferior man." This assumption of his own 
superiority to other candidates was put in rather a simple 
way. His letters to the trustees are still in existence. This, 
as may be expected, smoothed his path when he subse- 
quently became the clergyman at Ha worth. Mrs. Gaskell, 
in her Life of Charlotte Bronte, did not get the exact facts of the 
case. She says : " Owing to some negligence, this right (of 
the trustees) has been lost to the freeholders and trustees at 
Haworth." The trustees, however, had not forfeited their 
rights, but still retained certain powers, and on the death of 
the Rev. James Charnock, who was the clergyman at Haworth 
from 1791 to 1819, they determined to enforce their rights. 

After Mr. Bronte's withdrawal in June, 1819, there was a 
struggle between the Vicar of Bradford and the trustees of 
Haworth church, which lasted for nearly a year. During 
this interregnum, a Rev. W. Anderton officiated frequently, 
and in the following November the Rev. Samuel Redhead, 
who had often taken duty for Mr. Charnock during his illness, 
officiated at a funeral at Haworth church. It was this 
Mr. Redhead who was nominated for the living by the Vicar 
of Bradford after Mr. Bronte's withdrawal. He accepted 
the appointment, but was only allowed to attempt to officiate 
for three weeks, for the trustees were determined not to be 
coerced, and they were supported by the parishioners. Then 
ensued the disorderly scenes which gave Haworth an unenviable 
reputation for years. Some of the old inhabitants, whom the 
writer has questioned, were prepared to substantiate in the 
main Mrs. Gaskell's graphic account of the church riots, 
when Mr. Redhead insisted on carrying out his duties in the 
parish church. They take some of the sting somewhat out 
of the account by stating that the chimney-sweep, who clam- 
bered into the pulpit on the third Sunday, was half-witted, 
and not drunk, and referring to the wearing of clogs they 
maintain that the regular worshippers, and in fact the working 
people of the district, were in the habit of wearing boots on 
Sunday, and that the clogs were worn by the roughs, who had 
come from the neighbouring villages, and even from across 


the Lancashire borders, and who were determined to make as 
much noise as possible when leaving the church. 

Mr. Redhead became curate of Calverley, not far from 
Apperley Bridge, in 1823, and died in 1845. His memoir was 
published in 1846. Mr. Bronte was not anxious to refer to 
the riotous scenes of 1820, and when questioned by Mrs. 
Gaskell he merely said, " My predecessor took the living with 
the consent of the Vicar of Bradford, but in opposition to the 
trustees ; in consequence of which he was so opposed 
that, after three weeks' possession, he was compelled to 

There is no doubt that the trustees of Haworth church were 
justified in their contention, as can be proved by documents 
in the possession of the rector of Haworth. The origin of the 
dispute goes much further back than the registers which are 
now in existence. The present rector of Haworth, the Rev. 
T. W. Story, M.A., wrote a series of notes on the old Haworth 
registers in the Parish Magazine ; and later he published 
them in book form. He has searched the oldest registers, 
though he says in some cases they are only copies, and are 
in the eighteenth century characters and phraseology. From 
these documents he shows that Mrs. Gaskell, in her Life of 
Charlotte Bronte, was wrong when she said that Haworth 
church stands on what was most probably the site of an ancient 
(Saxon) field-kirk or oratory, and as she gives no evidence 
in support of her statement, it is most likely based on mere 

Mr. Story, to whom I am indebted for the particulars from 
his Notes on the old Haworth registers, says 

" The earliest reference to Haworth ' Chapel ' in the Arch- 
bishop's Registers at York is 1317. A monition was then 
issued commanding the Rector and Vicar of Bradford and the 
freeholders of Haworth to pay to the Curate the salary due to 
him in the proportions to which they had been liable from 
ancient times. From this we may fairly conclude that a 
Chapel existed at Haworth considerably earlier than 1300. 
The Rector of Bradford was the owner of the ' great tithes,' 
the Vicar was his deputy and owner of the ' small tithes.' A 


similar monition stating definitely the amounts due to the 
* Curate ' from the various sources was issued in 1320. The 
Rector of Bradford was commanded to pay twenty shillings, 
the Vicar of Bradford two marks and a half, and the 
inhabitants of Ha worth one mark." Archbishop Melton's 

When chantries were confiscated in the first year of Edward 
VI, the whole income of the Ha worth curacy appears to have 
been seized. How the curate was supported between that 
time and the second year of Queen Elizabeth does not appear, 
but at the latter date a public subscription was made in the 
parish by which a sum of 36 was raised. With this sum, 
several farms at Stanbury the village adjoining Ha worth 
were purchased. The rents were to be paid by trustees to 
the curate of Haworth, but a clause was inserted in the deed, 
by which a condition was made that, if the trustees did not 
concur in the appointment, they had power to devote the 
income to the poor, until such time as an appointment was 
made in which they did concur. Therefore the appointment 
remained with the Vicar of Bradford, but the trustees held the 
purse, and could thus secure a share in the choice for themselves. 
Mr. Story says the document is a very long one. 

It was the claim based on this ancient deed that caused the 
trouble when Mr. Bronte was first appointed to the " per- 
petual curacy of Haworth " ; but this was not the only time 
when the trustees asserted their rights. After the death of 
the Rev. William Grimshaw in 1763 the then trustees, Robert 
Heaton and John Greenwood, warned the Archbishop of York 
against agreeing to an appointment apart from their con- 
currence, so that Mrs. Gaskell and other writers on the sub- 
ject have been wrong in referring to the rights of the trustees 
as " a foolish claim to antiquity." 

After Mr. Redhead's resignation, the Vicar of Bradford 
nominated other clergymen, but the trustees stood firm and 
refused to consider their appointment. Whilst this struggle 
was proceeding, Patrick Bronte wrote several ingenuous letters 
to the trustees, urging them to support his claim, he was 
evidently anxious to obtain the appointment. As he had 


approved of the rights of the trustees being recognised, they 
concluded that the difficulty would be settled if they asked 
that Mr. Bronte should be appointed to the curacy. As the 
Vicar of Bradford had previously nominated Mr. Bronte, 
he agreed to their suggestion and the appointment was made. 
The letters which Mr. Bronte wrote to the Trustees at this 
time were read by the present Rector of Haworth a few 
years ago. 

Mr. Bronte's appointment dated from 29th February, 1820, 
eight months after the beginning of the trouble between the 
trustees of Haworth church and the Vicar of Bradford. 

Considering the difficulties which had arisen in connection 
with the vacancy at Haworth church, it was necessary that 
the new Vicar should begin his duties as soon as possible, 
and no time was lost by Mr. Bronte. His wife and family, 
however, did not remove to Haworth until the following May 
or June, though more than one writer has pictured the wife 
and family driving in an open cart over the bleak moors 
between Thornton and Haworth in February or the early 
part of March. As a matter of fact, the journey was not in 
the cold weather. There is no doubt that Patrick Bronte* 
would have some rough and cold journeys when walking 
from Haworth to Thornton during the first few months of 
his ministry at Haworth. The old inhabitants used to tell 
of the arrival at Haworth of the eight carts, seven containing 
the furniture, and a covered wagon containing Mrs. Bronte 
and her six little children, the eldest not seven years old and 
the youngest a few months old, Mr. Bronte walking by the 
side of the covered wagon, occasionally lifting one of the children 
from the conveyance in order to enjoy a little exercise, for the 
rate of progress along the rough moorland road would only 
be slow. The cavalcade toiled up Thornton Heights towards 
Denholme, and by way of Flappit Springs and Braemoor, 
reaching the steep Haworth main street late in the afternoon. 
The people were much interested in the procession, which 
wound its way round by the Black Bull, in front of the church 
gates, and up the narrow passage to the Haworth parsonage. 
Having left Thornton they entered their last home, which was 


to become famous in later days because of the work done by 
two of the little girls in that family group. 

The parsonage is still standing in the old churchyard, though 
it has been enlarged since the days of the Brontes, a new wing 
having been added, consisting of a dining-room with bedrooms 

The house stands on high ground, and stretching behind 
are the moors from which most glorious sunsets may often be 
seen, even in November. The accommodation was scarcely 
sufficient for the Bronte family, though it was an improvement 
on the Thornton parsonage. One point in its favour was that 
it had a more retired position the little garden in front was 
a more sheltered place for the children, and in many ways 
better than the street at Thornton, and it was also nearer the 
church. The house is not so desolate and depressing as it is 
usually depicted ; the chief objection is the adjoining grave- 
yard. The high stone wall with the little gate on the side of 
the Church Lane now screens it from the gaze of the passers- 
by, and, if Mrs. Bronte had not been delicate when she arrived, 
the family might have found great pleasure in the new home. 
The Ha worth parsonage was a comparatively new house, 
having been built forty-eight years before Patrick Bronte 
and his family took possession. The previous vicarage had 
been some distance away on the moors, near what was known 
as Penistone quarry ; it is still in existence under the name of 
Sowdens. There it was that the well-known William Grimshaw 
the friend of Wesley lived and died. On the left of the 
flagged passage of the parsonage leading from the front door was 
the combined dining and sitting-room, whilst on the right was 
Patrick Bronte's study. Over the sitting-room was the bed- 
room in which Charlotte Bronte died, and over the study was 
Mr. Bronte's bedroom. A small dressing-room without a 
fireplace, and measuring ten feet, including the window recess, 
by five feet nine inches, was used as the children's nursery 
or study in the early days ; no wonder the six little Brontes 
developed consumption. Behind the two bedrooms were two 
other small rooms for the children and the servants. On the 
ground floor behind the vicar's study was the kitchen, whilst 



the corresponding room behind the family sitting-room was 
a small lumber-room, sometimes used as a peat-house, which 
Charlotte Bronte tells us she afterwards cleared out and 
arranged as a study in 1854 for her husband, the Rev. A. B. 

As the front door opens, it reveals the staircase, with its 
old oak bannisters ; to the left is the corner in which Emily 
Bronte punished her favourite dog, Keeper. The house is 
full of memories, and the old-fashioned window seats remind 
readers of Jane Eyre, and of her partiality for hiding herself 
in the recesses of the windows. 

The parsonage was built about 1774, but the old faded copy 
of the house-deed is extremely difficult to decipher, owing to 
the indistinct writing and abbreviations. This deed contains 
the same conditions with regard to the appointment of minister 
as the church-deed of 1559. Thus the parsonage does not come 
under the ordinary rules which are usually applied to rectories 
and vicarages, which have been conveyed absolutely, and it 
is not affected by the " Dilapidations Act " and other similar 
Acts. It is exceptional if not unique in this respect. 

This, however, was not to the advantage of the tenant in 
Mr. Bronte's days, for he repeatedly drew the attention of the 
trustees to the insanitary condition of the house, but without 
any redress. There were certain rooms which then were 
damp and unhealthy. The old vicarage at Sowdens was 
much better situated, and it would have been healthier if the 
new vicarage had been built near the old one. There is a 
reference in one of the registers of the church to the old building. 
In 1763 is an entry made by a former minister the Rev. 
Isaac Smith the last in his beautiful writing 

" May 15th, 1739, at 6 o'clock in the Evening, the Houses in 
Haworth called the Parsonage were solemnly Dedicated and 
so Named, with Prayers, Aspersions, Acclamations, and 
Crossings by I.S.," etc. 

The difficulties connected with his appointment to Haworth 
tended to make Patrick Bronte reserved and reticent in his 
dealings with the trustees and parishioners, and this is the true 
explanation of his somewhat unsociable habits at Haworth 


compared with Thornton, where he was free and communica- 
tive, always feeling at one with the people, and even with the 
Dissenters, who were rather numerous and aggressive. An 
additional reason for his change of habit could be attributed 
to Mrs. Bronte's illness, which, shortly after leaving Thornton, 
was diagnosed as cancer. The result was that visitors could 
not be offered hospitality, and the young children had to be 
kept quiet for fear of disturbing the invalid mother. Had 
she been well and strong, the chances are that the whole family 
would have been more sociable, and the shyness, from which 
all except the son never escaped, would not have developed 
to such an extent that the sight of a strange face became a 
positive source of pain to the children, and caused them to 
suffer miserably from nervous self -consciousness. Whatever 
may have been said against Patrick Bronte in those days, 
his early life at Ha worth was full of anxiety and trouble. 
The people of the district certainly deserved some of the censure 
which Mrs. Gaskell passed on them. In the church register 
is a notice concerning a meeting which Mr. Bronte called 

64 Whereas a number of ill-behaved and disorderly persons 
have for a long period colleagued together not only to destroy 
the property but also to endanger the lives of the peaceful 
Inhabitants of the Township, in consequence of which Notice 
is hereby given that a Meeting will be held in the Vestry of 
this Church on Tuesday the 1st of January, 1822, at 2 o'clock 
in the Afternoon, in order to adopt such measures as may be 
conducive to Peace and Tranquility." 

Ha worth is now a most peaceable and law-abiding place, 
and it is possible that the association which Patrick Bronte 
formed had something to do in changing the character of the 
district, but it is easy to see why he kept up the practice, 
which he had begun at Hartshead during the Luddite riots, 
of carrying a loaded pistol about with him. It lay on the 
dressing table at night, with his watch. In the morning he 
discharged it, and then re-loaded it, placing it in his pocket 
as he did his watch. He continued this custom to the end 
of his life, and, even on his death-bed, he sent for the local 
watchmaker to regulate the trigger. 


Before the construction of the Worth Valley railway, the 
village was more or less isolated, and the villagers, especially 
the women, seldom travelled beyond the confines of their own 
borders. This isolation fostered a spirit of independence, 
which is still a characteristic of the people. Ha worth is 
divided into two parts by the railway, which is almost parallel 
with the river Worth, thus avoiding any great engineering 
difficulties. The old part of Haworth consists of one long, 
steep street, the middle of which can be reached from the 
station by a rough cinder path, the incline towards the end 
being so great as to cause the casual visitor to pause in order 
to get breath for the rest of the journey. Vehicles from the 
station pass over the railway bridge and then begin to climb 
the hill to the church and West Lane on the summit. In 
order to assist the horses to get a footing, the stones which 
are used for paving the road are set edge-ways, and in des- 
cending the hill it is necessary for conveyances to use very 
powerful brakes. The opposite side of the valley from the 
station is known as The Brow ; it is this part of Haworth 
which has developed in recent times, many substantial and 
well-built houses having been erected for the artisans who 
work at the large mills in this part of the parish. 

The old houses and shops have been built close to the road, 
with no forecourt, and even many of the new houses, as is 
common in industrial districts, are only separated from the 
main road by a narrow footpath. Although land is cheap, 
little space is allowed for gardens, the somewhat bleak climate, 
and the long winter and comparatively short summer, not 
being very favourable to the cultivation of flowers or vegetables. 

As the carts make their way up the hill, the driver may be 
seen firmly holding the bridle and exchanging greetings with 
the villagers at the doors of the houses. The windows of the 
old cottages are low and wide, since the front rooms were 
originally intended for a hand-loom. The ceilings are low, 
as is usually the case in cottages built during the early part 
of the nineteenth century. The West Riding of Yorkshire 
has long been famous for its woollen industry, and in the early 
days the hand-loom played a prominent part. One solitary 


hand-loom remains in Haworth, and this is kept as a memento 
in a cottage on the moors, and was in use until last year, 
when " the owd weaver," Timmy Feather, died ; with him 
departed the hand-loom weaving of the Haworth district. 

The old part of Haworth, with its houses dotted over the 
western slope of the hill, is connected with the moors by West 
Lane. The names over the shop doors are essentially York- 
shire, and are the same as many which appear in the Bronte 

Mr. G. R. Sims having made a pilgrimage to Haworth in 
September, 1903, humorously described his visit in the 
Referee, much to the indignation of the villagers, for he 
describes Haworth as " the city of the dead." When the 
writer inquired about his visit a year or two afterwards, a 
sturdy native, adopting a menacing attitude, replied : " Yes 
he's been here once, and if ever he comes again he'll get 
mobbed ; we don't go to London and then return to Haworth 
and write skittish articles about Cockneys." 

What struck Mr. G. R. Sims as very peculiar is not difficult 
for a Northerner to understand. At the top of the village 
street he saw a confectioner's shop with the announcement 
" Funeral teas." He entered, with the intention of appeasing 
his hunger and adding to his stock of local knowledge. Ad- 
dressing the head of the establishment he remarked : " If you 
please, ma'am, I want a funeral tea." 

" A funeral tea ! " exclaimed the astonished proprietress, 
curiously surveying the stranger ; " but there is no funeral 

Mr. Sims, however, had set his heart on a funeral tea, and 
would not be denied ; he had never before heard of the expres- 
sion, and was determined to find out what it meant. He 
insisted, therefore, upon being served with precisely the kind of 
tea which was supplied to a real funeral party ; and now he 
strongly recommends all Bronte admirers going to Haworth 
to have a funeral tea, assuring them out of the fulness of his 
experience that they will not forget it. 

Patrick Bronte, with his knowledge of the funeral customs 
in Ireland, found no difficulty in complying with the wishes 



of his Ha worth parishioners at any funerals he conducted, 
for he describes very graphically an Irish wake in one of his 
books. Not only did he conduct the funeral service, but he 
frequently attended the meal which followed, departing as 
soon as the tea was finished. 

Funerals in Haworth even in the poorest homes are con- 
ducted with the greatest reverence and decorum, though in 
several respects the old customs, which still survive, would 
possibly give a wrong impression to a stranger. 

The Sunday school processions, followed by a tea, still take 
place at Haworth as they did in the Bronte days. In the 
diary of the Rev. Henry Nussey, kindly lent to me by Mr. 
J. J. Stead of Heckmondwike, is a description of a Yorkshire 
Sunday School Anniversary 

"Friday, Aug. 24th (1832). To-day the Church Sunday 
School Festival was celebrated. The ladies and gentlemen 
connected with the school, the teachers and children, met in 
the school at half -past one. A hymn was sung, and prayers 
were read by the Vicar, after which the prizes in books were 
distributed. All then proceeded to Church, where there 
was singing and an address from Mr. W. Heald, jnr., to 
parents, teachers, and scholars. They then walked round the 
village, and returned to the school, where they sung in the 
school-yard, and after this all the scholars were regaled, the 
girls with buns and tea, and the boys with buns, beer and 
porter. These were afterwards dismissed, and the ladies and 
gentlemen sat down with the female teachers, having had 
beer and porter, etc. At eight o'clock supper was introduced, 
consisting of the Old English cheer, roast beef, plum-pudding 
and good beer, to which from 80 to 100 sat down. The day 
then concluded with music and singing." 

There are even now a few inhabitants of Haworth who 
remember Charlotte Bronte presiding at one of the tea-tables, 
with her Sunday school scholars as her guests. She found the 
ordeal somewhat trying, and escaped as soon as possible. As 
the Yorkshire people say, " She took all in," and the descrip- 
tion of a Sunday school tea-party in Shirley abundantly proves 
how observant she was. Emily did not attend the village 


tea-meetings, nor was she a teacher in the Sunday school, 
and yet she was a great favourite, and everybody loved her. 
She was the best looking of the three, and possibly her very 
reserve was an advantage to her, as she was brought less in 
touch with the inhabitants of Haworth, and consequently 
she had fewer opportunities of offending them, whilst Charlotte, 
as Sunday school teacher, day-school visitor and needle- 
work inspector, was considered to be very strict and particular 
in dealing with the children. 

Good food and plenty has always been the rule in Haworth, 
and in this respect Haworth customs differ from those in 
Cr an ford, for " elegant economy " was not de rigeur in Haworth, 
though the villagers had, and still have, a real genius for saving 
money. Thrift is a virtue that everybody practises, and 
extravagance a weakness which finds no sympathy in that 
moorland village. 

If thrift is in the blood of the natives, scrupulous cleanliness 
is the outside mark of virtue. Though the working people 
wear clogs, and shawls are used by the women as a covering 
for the head in no unpicturesque fashion, the homes are 
spotlessly clean. There is much to be said both for the clogs 
and the shawls in a district which gets an abundant supply 
of rain and wind, and where the by-roads are rough and heavy. 
As in Cranford, pattens are still worn by the women when 
swilling the flags in front of the house or the " yard " at the 
back, or when hanging out the clothes. 

The old inhabitants of Haworth have always resented 
the account which Mrs. Gaskell gave of the village in her 
Life of Charlotte Bronte, and they would like the earlier 
chapters in the book either entirely erased or re- written. 
Visitors come to Haworth to see the Bronte shrines with a firm 
prejudice against the place and the people, and there is no 
doubt that Mrs. Gaskell in some respects failed to appreciate 
much that was worthy both in the place and in the villagers. 

The inscriptions on the graves in the old churchyard and 
cemetery bear evidence to the general healthiness of the 
locality, many octogenarians being buried there. 

Mrs. Gaskell records the leaving of the doors open as a fault, 


but, as the low windows in many cases were not made to open, 
it was to the credit of the people that they breathed the fresh 
air by the open door, and it certainly tended to their general 
good health and longevity. An open door, a good fire, winter 
and summer, which of itself facilitates the ventilation of the 
room most used, plenty of plain, wholesome food, with exercise 
up and down those rugged hills, and the sound sleep which 
followed, made the people a long-lived race. The village is 
built mainly on high ground, and is known for miles around 
as " Bonnie Ha worth." Now the moors are known as a 
health resort, and visitors have difficulty in obtaining accom- 
modation in August and September. As Charlotte Bronte 
says in Shirley, " Our England is a bonny land, and Yorkshire 
is one of her bonniest nooks." 

Many who visit Haworth in the summer are charmed with 
the beauty of the moors, and are surprised to find the village 
very much better than they imagined from what has been 
written of it. The parsonage is far from being the miserable 
dreary place which it has been pictured. At the present time 
the graveyard is hidden by the bushy trees, and the garden 
and lawn are well kept. The old fruit trees and currant bushes 
which Emily tended so lovingly are gone. In the garden are 
the remains of the old stocks which used to be fixed near the 
church, but the " gate of the dead " through which the mem- 
bers of the Bronte family were carried, from the front door 
and along the garden, then through the gate into the church- 
yard, has disappeared. This gate was only used in the BrontS 
days for funerals from the parsonage. Mrs. Bronte was the 
first to be carried through, and Patrick Bronte was the last, 
with an interval of forty years. 

There is still to be seen in the village the remnant of an old 
ducking-stool. It dates back to the time when women were 
occasionally treated with much barbarity. It is said to have 
been used in Haworth for brawling women and dishonest 
bakers. Mr. John B. Smith, the Wesleyan schoolmaster at 
Haworth during the Bronte period, had a picture which repre- 
sented women being ducked in one of the ponds of the neigh- 
bourhood. Mr. Smith was one of those who lived in Haworth 


when the identity of Jane Eyre was discovered, and as secre- 
tary of the Mechanics' Institute he wrote to Charlotte Bronte 
to tell her that, as an acknowledgment of her gift to the 
Institute of a copy of Jane Eyre, the committee had elected 
her a life member. Mr. Smith used to tell of Charlotte Bronte 
being prevailed upon " to take a tray " at the Institute soire'e, 
and how she presided with quiet dignity scarcely speaking 
to anyone but the faithful servant, Martha Brown, whom she 
had taken with her to assist in the serving. Mr. Smith 
attended Charlotte Bronte's funeral, and he was the possessor 
of several Bronte relics, amongst which was an old, well- 
thumbed Latin grammar, which had been used by Charlotte. 
This former Wesleyan schoolmaster was one of the first to 
acclaim Emily Bronte the greatest genius of this remark- 
able family, and his daughter was christened Emily Jane in 
remembrance of the author of Wuthering Heights. 

Mrs. Gaskell mentions the musical talent of the people of the 
Ha worth district. This is quite in keeping with the love of 
music so characteristic of Yorkshire people in general. The 
bracing air, and especially their broad, open vowel sounds, 
distasteful as they may be to very refined ears, offer a medium 
of voice-training which cannot be equalled in any part of the 
country, unless it be among the Welsh hills. Haworth has 
long been famous for its interest in music, especially among 
its industrial workers. Not being, as a class, specially interested 
in literature, they spend the long winter evenings in attaining 
proficiency either in singing or in the mastery of some musical 

Mrs. Bronte's brief life in Haworth only extended over 
eighteen months, for, a few months after her arrival at the 
parsonage with her six little children, she was taken seriously 
ill, and the doctor declared her to be suffering from internal 
cancer. Charlotte had just one brief recollection of her, 
playing in the twilight with her only boy, in whom probably 
she took a greater pride than in her daughters. 

Had the mother been well how different it might have 
been for those clever children, and yet their very sufferings 
seemed necessary to the completion of their lives; what they 


learnt in suffering they gave forth in song. Had they not 
suffered, they might never have written anything worth adding 
to the world's literature. All that is known of Mrs. Bronte is 
that she was good, gentle and patient, and in her last trying 
illness her husband nursed her tenderly, and she has left on 
record that he never gave her an angry word. 

The illness was hopeless from the first, and it is not to be 
wondered at that the house had to be kept very still, and the 
children got into the habit of moving about as quietly as possible. 

Maria, the eldest, had to look after the others and help 
Nancy and Sarah Garrs as best she could. The old servants 
remembered how interested Mrs. Bronte was to the very last 
in her children, though she could only see them at intervals, 
and one at a time, as it upset her. 

The younger servant taught the girls needlework, and 
Charlotte is credited with making a chemise at five years old, 
and when it was shown to the mother she was much pleased 
with her little daughter's neat work. 

Mrs. Bronte died on 21st September, 1821, and the little 
gate at the end of the garden was opened to let the sad funeral 
through. All the Brontes except Anne are buried in Haworth. 

Mrs. Bronte's illness had been sufficient excuse for lack of 
neighbourliness, and after her death the bereaved husband 
had little desire to enter into any society ; his family needed 
all the time he could spare from his clerical duties, and the 
sociable Vicar of Thornton, who had enjoyed the little tea 
parties with his wife at Kipping, became a recluse, and his 
children had to find their pleasures on the moors, or in the 
kitchen with the servants, the father taking some of his meals 
in the little study, and giving lessons to his children there. It 
is not a matter for surprise that Mr. Bronte was sad, but in 
later years he became very popular in the district. 

It was in these early days at Haworth that the children 
really began writing, for the father made a practice of telling 
them stories to illustrate a geography or history lesson, and they 
had to write it out the next morning. Consequently they 
thought it out in bed a habit Charlotte continued all her life 
in connection with her stories. 


JULY, 1824 JUNE, 1825 

THE hamlet of Cowan Bridge The Clergy Daughters' School 
Memorial tablet The Rev. W. Cams- Wilson Mrs. Gaskell's 
account Reasons for sending the Bronte children to the school 
Miss Elizabeth Branwell Death of Maria and Elizabeth Bronte 
Schools associated with the Brontes School life at Cowan Bridge 
The school records The Cove, Silverdale Withdrawal of the 
children from the school Tunstall Church Correspondence in 
the press concerning Cowan Bridge School. 

A VISIT to Cowan Bridge, where part of the Lowood School 
of Jane Eyre is still in existence, reveals a beautiful little 
hamlet near Kirkby Lonsdale. A drive from the hotel in 
Kirkby Lonsdale, where, in the old coaching days the con- 
veyance in which the Bronte sisters travelled made its last 
halt, takes one over the Devil's Bridge, a narrow stone struc- 
ture, which spans the river Lune, and after a quarter of an 
hour's drive Cowan Bridge is reached. 

The descent from the bridge takes the traveller to the little 
hamlet of Cowan Bridge, nestling at the foot of the hill close 
by the river Leek, a small tributary of the Lune. The hamlet 
is divided by a bridge near what was once the garden of 
the Clergy Daughters' School. 

Here was the first school to which the Bronte sisters were 
sent. It is a pleasant spot even to-day ; the trees shelter the 
cottages, and the high hills protect the place from the east 

Through Cowan Bridge the Leeds and Kendal coach used 
to pass, and in the days when the Brontes were there it was 
busier than now, for not only did the stage coaches pass to 
and fro, but the pack-horses were constantly on the road, taking 
the wool from the outlying districts to Leeds and Bradford. 
The little stream, with the huge stones in its bed, flowing 
past the old school, Charlotte Bronte described as her favourite 
spot when at Cowan Bridge. Along its banks she used to 



wander, frequently taking off her shoes and stockings and 
wading in its waters. Here she was free from intrusion, and 
could enjoy her broken day dreams. 

In later years she told Mary Taylor how she enjoyed this 
beautiful spot, sitting on a stone in the middle of the stream. 
Mary told her she should have gone fishing, but she replied 
that she had no inclination. 

When visiting Cowan Bridge on the anniversary of Charlotte 
Bronte's admission to the school it was interesting to find a 
commemorative medallion had been fixed on the gable-end 
of the cottages, which once formed the rooms for the teachers 
of the school. On the medallion are the names of the four 
Bronte sisters, with the dates of their stay at the school. 




WERE EDUCATED IN 1824-1825" 

A large sycamore tree overhangs the end cottage, and on the 
opposite side of the road is a small house, now known as 
Lowood Cottage. It was formerly the Rev. W. Cams- Wilson's 
stable and coach-house ; he was the founder of the Clergy 
Daughters' School, and known in Jane Eyre as the black 
marble clergyman Mr. Brocklehurst. In addition to being 
the manager of the school, he was vicar of two parishes, 
Tunstall and Whittington, which were a few miles apart. 

Formerly the old part of the school consisted of one house, 
at one time the residence of an old Yorkshire family of the name 
of Picard. This building was purchased in 1824 by Mr. Carus- 
Wilson, who adapted it as a residence for the teachers of the 
school. At right angles to this he added a long building for 
a school-room and dormitories for the pupils. Mrs. Gaskell 
made a mistake, which many writers on the Brontes have 
copied, when she said that this part of the school had once 
been a factory for the manufacture of bobbins from the wood 
of the alder trees which were abundant in the neighbourhood. 


It was converted, eight years after it was built, into a bobbin 
factory, when the Clergy Daughters' School was removed to 
Casterton, some two or three miles away on the higher ground. 

Charlotte Bronte gives her own graphic description of 
Cowan Bridge in Jane Eyre, as she remembered it, twenty-two 
years after she left. 

It is a pity that Mrs. Gaskell and other writers have com- 
mented only on Charlotte Bronte's description of Lowood in 
winter, for during her stay from August, 1824, to June, 1825, 
she had the benefit both of the autumn and the spring. The 
garden was always a source of attraction to her 

" The garden was a wide enclosure, surrounded with walls so 
high as to exclude every glimpse of prospect ; a covered 
verandah ran down one side, and a broad walk bordered a 
middle space divided into scores of little beds : these beds 
were assigned as gardens for the pupils to cultivate, and each 
bed had an owner." 

In these days, when it is considered quite a modern move- 
ment to interest children in rural and suburban schools in 
gardening, it is well to remember that nearly ninety years ago 
the pupils at this school for clergymen's daughters were 
encouraged to keep a small plot of garden in good order, so 
that they might be interested in such work, and have their 
powers of observation improved. 

Why and how these children of the Ha worth vicar came to 
be pupils at the Cowan Bridge School is easily explained. 
Mrs. Bronte had been dead for three years. Even before her 
death, if a Thornton authority may be trusted, Maria, 
Charlotte's elder sister, when only seven years of age, had been 
accustomed to walk from Thornton to Bradford with her 
father and, perched on a high stool at the printer's office, 
had frequently helped to correct the proofs of his books. 
This wonderful child was able to converse with her father on 
any leading topic of the day with as much freedom and pleasure 
as a grown person so Mr. Bronte informed Mrs. Gaskell. 
After the mother's death Maria had to act as house-mother, 
assisting in the education of the five younger children, and 
keeping the nursery in order. 


But it is evident that Maria was too young to superintend 
the home ; the children needed some one to take their mother's 
place, and Mr. Bronte certainly did his best to provide a suit- 
able stepmother. He appealed to Miss Elizabeth Bran well, 
his wife's elder sister. Having known Mr. Bronte through her 
visits to Thornton, and having a very sincere interest in her 
sister's children, she left her home in Penzance for ever, and 
came " with her best japanned dressing-box, her inlaid work- 
boxes, her fashionable dresses, and big fancy caps " to cold, 
bleak Haworth, in order to fulfil what was said to be a sacred 
promise to her dead sister to look after her nephew and five 
nieces. Although Miss Branwell had charge of the Bronte 
home for about twenty years, either she had no intention at first 
of remaining at Haworth or she found the task too great, for 
about this time Mr. Bronte proposed to Miss Firth, a lady of 
means, and a good friend of the Brontes when living at 
Thornton. She was also the godmother of the second and 
youngest daughters. But Mr. Bronte was unsuccessful, 
though Miss Firth always took an interest in the Brontes, 
even after she married the Rev. Charles Franks of Hudders- 
field, and in her diary, which is still in existence, she states 
that, when on her honeymoon, she visited Maria, Elizabeth 
and Charlotte Bronte at Cowan Bridge School, and gave each 
of them half-a-crown. Mr. Bronte then approached Mary 
Burder, his old sweetheart of the Wethersfield days, who 
was still unmarried, a pleasant, homely woman of thirty-eight. 

It was in 1823 that Mr. Bronte* wrote to Mary Burder and, 
as Mr. Birrell says, " besought her to be his wife and the mother 
of his six motherless children." The correspondence which 
passed between Mr. Bronte and Mary Burder, after the death 
of Mrs. Bronte has recently been published by Mr. Shorter 
in The Sphere. From these letters it is evident that Mary 
Burder considered that she had not been treated honourably 
by Patrick Bronte when a curate at Wethersfield, and she 
unhesitatingly refused to entertain his proposal in 1823. His 
first letter is dated April 23rd, 1823, and was directed to Mrs. 
Burder, and in it he tells the story of his life since leaving 
Wethersfield, entering into detail with regard to his position 


at Ha worth. The second letter was to Mary Burder herself, 
and was dated July 28th, 1823, and in it he requests permis- 
sion to call upon her, after referring to the death of his wife 
and to his " small but sweet little family," and adding " I 
must say that my ancient love is rekindled." The reply, 
which was long and dated August 8th, 1823, was not only a 
refusal, but one couched in such terms as must have surprised 
Patrick Bronte. She thanks Providence which " withheld 
me from forming in very early life an indissoluble engagement 
with one whom I cannot think was altogether clear of duplicity." 

After an interval of eighteen months, Mr. Bronte again 
requested permission to wait upon her, but in the 
meantime Mary Burder had married the Dissenting minister 
of Wethersfield, and the letter remained unanswered. 

After Mr. Bronte's failure to obtain a wife, he appears to 
have given up all ideas of matrimony and Miss Branwell took 
her place as housekeeper in the home ; she had an income of 
fifty pounds a year, and preferred to pay her own expenses, 
so as not to add to the burden of the household. She had the 
mid- Victorian woman's respect for " the cloth," and it is 
said she agreed better with men than with women, enjoying 
the visits of the neighbouring clergy. 

She was never popular with the servants, and the children 
were not in the habit of regarding her with affection, for she 
was prim, severe, and " a bit of a tyke," as one of the servants 
told me. All her ideas were fixed when she came to Ha worth, 
and it was difficult for her to fit in with this strange household. 
She thought her nieces peculiar to prefer books and animals 
to new dresses and gossip. These girls puzzled her, remem- 
bering her own happy days in Penzance. Her nieces were 
awkward and shy. Elizabeth, her namesake, was gentle like 
the Branwells : Maria was untidy : Charlotte was most 
excitable and hot-tempered : Emily had " the eyes of a half- 
tamed creature," and cared for nobody's opinion, only being 
happy with her animal pets. Miss Branwell found her greatest 
joy in baby Anne, and in the handsome Branwell, who was to 
be the pride of the family. 

Those who once remembered her told the writer that she 


was never to be seen without a shoulder shawl, and several 
of these shawls are still in existence. Shades of purple and 
mauve were her favourite colours. Her caps, if large, were 
always dainty, and her dresses good and becoming a black 
silk being her favourite for afternoon wear. Fine dresses 
were not suitable for the stone floors and rough roads of 
Haworth, but in order to keep her dainty shoes dry and avoid 
the damp floors she was in the habit of wearing pattens, 
much to the annoyance of her nieces, whose sensitive nerves 
were irritated by the constant and peculiar click of the iron 
rings on the stone floors. Though the children except, 
perhaps, Anne and Branwell never came to love her, they 
respected her, and her word was law. 

Miss Branwell deserves praise for her housekeeping and the 
careful training which the Bronte girls received in domestic 
arts especially needlework. Her bedroom became the training- 
ground, where they stitched and mended their clothes, and 
learned how to darn neatly and knit their own stockings, 
whilst in the kitchen they learned to cook, make bread, and 
manage the ironing of the household linen. Miss Branwell's 
bent towards the practical side of life was of great advantage 
in a home where the daughters possessed such highly developed 
imaginative powers. The careful management of the house- 
hold relieved Mr. Bronte from much anxiety, and he appreciated 
Miss Branwell's desire " to maintain her dignity " by paying 
her own personal expenses. The old servants said she took 
most of her meals in her own bedroom, which was really a bed 
sitting-room, and Mr. Bronte decided to have his chief meals 
in his study. The six children were thus left very frequently 
to get their meals in the kitchen with the servants, so that 
the family sitting-room was left neat and clean to receive the 
clergymen and their wives when they called at the vicarage. 

It was at this time that Patrick Bronte tried the experiment 
of testing his children's reasoning powers by setting them to 
answer questions without any previous preparation. It was 
with pardonable pride that he wrote to Mrs. Gaskell an account 
of an examination he gave them, when she was preparing the 
biography of Charlotte. 


When Miss Branwell had been with the family about a year, 
all the children were very ill ; the two older girls Maria and 
Elizabeth had measles, followed by whooping-cough. The 
younger ones caught the infection, but in a milder form. 

On the 30th of January, 1824, a school was opened at Cowan 
Bridge, known as The Clergy Daughters' School. Both Maria 
and Elizabeth Bronte were promised as pupils, but their illness 
prevented them from attending when the school was opened, 
and their aunt, anxious to send them with plenty of good 
underclothing, kept them at needlework, as the faithful 
servant, Nancy Garrs, declared, instead of allowing them to 
walk on the moors, and thus regain their health, as the four 
younger children did. 

Mr. Bronte was much relieved by the opening of the Cowan 
Bridge School, for he found it difficult to supervise the educa- 
tion of his children, and keep pace with his church duties. 
Miss Branwell was also beginning to feel the strain of 
superintending this large household. 

There is not the slightest doubt that Mr. Carus-Wilson, the 
founder, was anxious that the school should prove useful, 
and supply a long-felt need. The prospectus sent out stated 
the terms for education, board and lodging, and, as these were 
very low, several clergymen in different parts of England 
eagerly availed themselves of the opportunity of securing a 
good training for their daughters. 

The Rev. Patrick Bronte seems to have been anxious to 
secure his elder daughter's admission to the school at the 
earliest possible time, and Maria and Elizabeth were sent there 
at the beginning of the second quarter, in July, for in those 
days there were four terms to the school year. The superin- 
tendent of the school hesitated to admit the two Brontes, who 
had not sufficiently recovered from their illness to warrant 
their mixing with the other scholars of the school. Instead 
of being sent to school they needed a long holiday, which the 
aunt and the father ought surely to have known. It is quite 
possible, however, that it was thought a change of air would 
be beneficial, and that they would be better in the sheltered 
valley of Cowan Bridge than in the bleak and breezy Haworth. 


Mr. Bronte not only took his two girls himself by the coach 
which they joined at Keighley, but he slept and had his food 
at the school for the night, and no doubt left quite satisfied 
in his mind with the food and accommodation. 

The reputation of every school associated with the Brontes 
has been branded as with hot irons Cowan Bridge, perhaps, 
faring the worst. Charlotte Bronte spoke of Miss Wooler's 
school at Dewsbury as " a poisoned place for me," and Law 
Hill, where Emily was for two and a half years, as a place of 
slavery " hard work from six in the morning to eleven at 
night." The pensionnat at Brussels suffered considerably 
as being a school where craft and espionage were practised 
by the head-mistress. Similarly the homes in which the 
Bronte sisters were employed as governesses were also be- 
smirched : Stonegappe, where Charlotte was engaged by 
Mrs. Sidgwick, was miserable : Upperwood, Rawdon, where 
Charlotte lived for some time, was a prison ; Anne's stay at 
Blake Hall and the rectory of the Rev. Edmund Robinson 
yielded nothing but thorns. Bran well was dismissed from 
Thorpe Green, and in his case the fault was attributed to his 

Much sympathy has been expended on the Bronte children 
on account of the hard times which they experienced, and yet 
pupils who were at the same schools at the same time had a 
very different tale to tell. That the schools of nearly a cen- 
tury ago differed from those of to-day is certain, but they 
were not wholly bad, though the methods were frequently 
more mechanical, and the treatment of the children less 
sympathetic than is usual to-day. Almost every child in 
those times could remember cases of injustice, and even 
of ill-treatment, especially when judged by the standards of 
a later period. The day of the child had not arrived, nor had 
the country awakened to the fact that the child was the 
nation's greatest asset. 

The Brontes were never adapted for school life ; they were 
shy, awkward, and reserved, and unable or unwilling to join 
in the games. Their minds had been fed on the books in their 
father's library, including what Charlotte called Mad Methodist 


Magazines from Penzance. In this and in other ways, they 
were ill-prepared to benefit by their school life at Cowan 
Bridge. In addition they were delicate, with more than 
average brain power and yet feeble bodies, which left them 
with unstrung nerves and a temperament such that they were 
seldom in a happy frame of mind. Their happiest moments 
were when they were rambling over the moors, away from the 
sound of human voices. There they could be themselves 
playing in the brook, peeping into the hedge-sparrow's nest, 
swinging on the low branches of the trees, or lying on the 
grass gazing on the sky, which they were fond of doing by day, 
and star-gazing at night. It is necessary that the outlook of 
these uncommon children should be considered, before blaming 
their teachers or employers. 

Charlotte Bronte describes the Clergy Daughters' School at 
Cowan Bridge in Jane Eyre, under the name of Lowood. In 
that description there is much that is true, and there is also 
much that is untrue. The two Miss Brocklehursts, who were 
said to be " dressed grandly," and who called at the school to 
see the children at Lowood, are represented as the daughters 
of the superintendent, Mr. Brocklehurst. These ladies could 
not possibly represent the daughters of the Rev. W. Carus- 
Wilson, whose little girls were at that time in the nursery, 
and yet everyone knows that " the black marble clergyman " 
was intended for Mr. Carus-Wilson ; and they take it for 
granted that the grandly dressed ladies were his daughters. 

The harm that Charlotte Bronte did to the school, by her 
version in Jane Eyre, was extremely small, and whatever 
ill-feeling may have been roused had died down by 1857, when 
Mrs. Gaskell published the Life of Charlotte Bronte. Her 
account was unjust, and it served no good purpose to revive 
the trouble, for, while a certain amount of licence is always 
allowed to a novelist, it was a different matter when the 
statements reflecting on the school were given in the " Life," 
which had to deal with facts. 

Mrs. Gaskell was certainly hard on the founder of the 
Institution, Mr. W. Carus-Wilson, and although she knew that 
Charlotte Bronte regretted having written what she did, 


when the place had been identified, Mrs. Gaskell made matters 
worse by calling attention to a worthy institution, which had 
been unfortunate in its management in the early months of 
its existence. Her statements were not always accurate, 
as may be seen, for instance, in the dates she gives for the 
arrival and departure of the Bronte girls ; in fact, in checking 
Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte, one cannot help feeling 
that in some respects she failed to exercise ordinary care in 
her research work. Had she asked to see the admission register 
of the school, she would have saved Mr. Bronte from some 
abuse and seeming want of consideration for his children. 
Though the school was transferred to Casterton, in 1832, 
owing to the inadequacy of the Cowan Bridge premises, the 
old register is still in existence, and it is there stated that 
Maria Bronte, aged ten years, and Elizabeth, aged nine years, 
were admitted to the school on 21st July, 1824. Maria left 
in ill-health on 14th February, 1825, gradually wasting away 
until she died on 6th May, 1825. Elizabeth left on 31st May, 
1825, and died, owing to the same cause, on 15th June, 1825. 

Mrs. Gaskell conveys the impression that both died of 
typhoid fever as the result of the unhealthiness of the school. 
From the dates previously mentioned, it is seen that Maria 
was at home for three months before her death. As a matter 
of fact, neither of the Bronte children had fever. Strange 
to say, Mrs. Gaskell mentions that Maria died a few days after 
Mr. Bronte brought her home by the Leeds coach. Elizabeth 
died nearly six weeks after her sister, though she did not arrive 
at home until nearly a month after Maria's death. It is plain 
to see that Mrs. Gaskell fixed some of her dates by Jane Eyre, 
taking it for granted that the treatment of Helen Burns was 
literally true. 

Referring to the harsh treatment which Maria the Helen 
Burns of Jane Eyre received whilst at school at the hands of 
Miss Scatcherd, who was early identified as a Miss Andrews 
one of the teachers of the school Mrs. Gaskell says 

M I only wonder that she (Charlotte) did not remonstrate 
against her father's decision to send her and Emily back to 
Cowan Bridge, after Maria's and Elizabeth's deaths." 


This not only reflects on the school, but also would indicate, 
if accurate, most callous conduct on the part of Mr. Bronte 
and the aunt, Miss Branwell. It was a fact that a low fever 
had broken out at the school in the Spring, when Maria and 
Elizabeth were first taken seriously ill, and though they did 
not take the fever, they were so ill that they had to return 
home ; but to the honour of Mr. Bronte, not only did he not 
send Charlotte and Emily back to Cowan Bridge School, but 
such was his anxiety at losing one daughter, and receiving 
another almost in a dying state, that he sent, or probably 
went himself, for Charlotte and Emily and brought them home 
the very next day after Elizabeth's return, keeping all his 
children at home for the following six years, teaching them 
scripture and secular subjects generally, whilst Miss Branwell 
was responsible for their progress in needlework and house- 
wifery. It may be suggested that Mr. Bronte should have 
protested against Mrs. Gaskell's reflection on his conduct in 
connection with this Cowan Bridge incident, but it must be 
remembered that, when The Life of Charlotte Bronte was written, 
he was an old man of over eighty years of age, and not likely 
to be much concerned to defend his character. It is a pity 
that in subsequent editions the error has been repeated, for 
many writers on the Brontes have continued to make this 
charge against Mr. Bronte until it has become to be con- 
sidered the absolute truth. The old register shows that 
Charlotte, aged eight, entered the school on 10th August, 1824, 
and left on 1st June, 1825, and Emily, aged six and a quarter, 
became a pupil on 25th November, 1824, and was withdrawn 
on 1st June, 1825, with her sister neither of them returning 
again to Cowan Bridge. 

There is a report in the admission register for each of the 
Bronte children, opposite to their names. This can still be 
seen by the courtesy of the Governor of The Clergy Daughters' 
School at Casterton 

"Maria Bronte, aged 10 (daughter of Patrick Bronte, 
Haworth, near Keighley, Yorks), July 21st, 1824 : Reads toler- 
ably. Writes pretty well. Ciphers a little. Works very 
badly. Knows a little grammar, geography and history. Has 


made some progress in reading French, but knows nothing of 
the language grammatically. Left February 14, 1825, in 
ill-health, and died May 6, 1825." 

It is no wonder that the child worked badly, by which is 
probably meant that her needlework was inferior. As her 
mother died in 1821, she had been a little drudge to her younger 
sisters. She was the only child of the family that could 
remember much of Mrs. Bronte ; it had fallen to her lot to 
keep the younger children quiet in the little tireless box-room 
next to the mother's sick room. " Those who knew her then 
described her as grave, thoughtful, and quiet, to a degree far 
beyond her years. Her childhood was no childhood/' 

The school record of Elizabeth Bronte, of whom we know 
the least, reads 

" Elizabeth Bronte, age 9. (Vaccinated. Scarlet fever. 
Whooping cough.) Reads little. Writes pretty well. Ciphers 
none. Works very badly. Knows nothing else. Left in 
ill-health, May 31, 1825. Died June 15, 1825, in decline." 

There is little to tell of Elizabeth, but the teacher, Miss Evans 
the Miss Temple of Jane Eyre wrote to Mrs. Gaskell saying 

"The second, Elizabeth, is the only one of the family of 
whom I have a vivid recollection, from her meeting with a 
somewhat alarming accident, in consequence of which I had 
her for some days and nights in my bedroom, not only for the 
sake of greater quiet, but that I might watch over her myself. 
Her head was severely cut, but she bore all the consequent 
suffering with exemplary patience, and by it won much upon 
my esteem. Of the two younger ones (if two there were) 
I have very slight recollections, save that one, a darling child, 
under five years of age, was quite the pet nursling of the school." 

This last would be Emily ; Charlotte was considered the 
most talkative of the sisters a " bright, clever little child." 

Charlotte Bronte's report is interesting 

"Entered school August 10, 1824. Writes indifferently. 
Ciphers a little, and works neatly. Knows nothing of grammar, 
geography, history, or accomplishments. Altogether clever 
of her age, but knows nothing systematically. Left school 
June 1, 1825. Governess." 


Emily BrontS's report reads as follows 

"Entered Nov. 25, 1824, age 5|. Reads very prettily, 
and works a little. Left June 1, 1825. Subsequent career, 
governess." The age should have been 6J-. 

She appears to have received good reports in every case from 
her schools. 

For each of the four children Mr. Bronte paid on entrance 
7, and 4 for books and clothing, and in 1825, 7 for three of 
the girls, 3 for French and Drawing for Maria, and 1 14s. 8d. 
for extra clothing, besides 18s. 7-J-d. for " clothes for Miss 
Charlotte," and 13s. for Emily. 

When Maria was sent home ill she travelled under the care 
of Mrs. Hardacre, and in the school account book appear 
these items 

Elizabeth's fare home, guard and coachman . 13 
Mrs. Hardacre's fare . . . . 18 
Horse, gig, pikes and men . . .26 
Mrs. Hardacre's bed at Keighley . ,10 
2 letters 1 4 

It was the custom at the Clergy Daughters' School to ask 
for the prospective career of each girl when she entered the 
school. Much has been said of the touching, but harrowing 
description of the death of Helen Burns (Maria Bronte). 
Mrs. Gaskell says 

" I need hardly say that Helen Burns is as exact a transcript 
of Maria Bronte as Charlotte's wonderful power of reproducing 
character could give." 

That could hardly be true, as Charlotte did not leave school 
until three weeks after Maria's death, but it is very probable 
that the description of the death of Helen Burns is really 
founded on that of Elizabeth, as Charlotte was at home during 
the last fortnight of Elizabeth's illness. Only Anne and 
Branwell were at home when Maria died, and Anne was too 
young to remember it, but Branwell never forgot it ; he 
mentions his sister's death years afterwards, and he wrote a 
poem to her memory, entitled Caroline. 

The letter from Miss Evans to Mrs. Gaskell, just quoted, tells 
of Elizabeth on one occasion being cared for in her bedroom, 


and in Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte relates a similar incident 
concerning Helen Burns, who is supposed to have died at 
school in the arms of Jane Eyre. In later years, Charlotte 
Bronte told her fellow-pupils at Roe Head of the effect which 
the death of her sister Elizabeth had on her. 

Mrs. Gaskell made too much of the Cowan Bridge School, 
and the first part of the biography of Charlotte Bronte goes 
far too much into detail, as if the writer was afraid that she 
would not have sufficient material for the work. It is clear 
that Mr. Bronte intended that Charlotte and Emily would 
return to school, for his account was not closed till Sept. 23, 
when he was allowed an abatement of nearly ] on Maria's 
and Elizabeth's account, and 5 2s. 4d. for clothing. 

It is only fair to the memory of Charlotte Bronte to quote 
what she said to Mrs. Gaskell 

" Miss Bronte more than once said to me, that she should 
not have written what she did of Lowood in Jane Eyre, if she 
had thought the place would have been so immediately identi- 
fied with Cowan Bridge, although there was not a word in her 
account of the institution but what was true at the time when 
she knew it ; she also said that she had not considered it 
necessary, in works of fiction, to state every particular 
with the impartiality that might be required in a court of 
justice, nor to seek out motives, and make allowances for human 
feelings, as she might have done, if dispassionately analys- 
ing the conduct of those who had the superintendence of the 
institution. I believe she herself would have been glad of 
an opportunity to correct the over-strong impression which was 
made upon the public mind by her vivid picture, though even 
she, suffering her whole life long, both in heart and body, 
from the consequences of what happened there, might have 
been apt, to the last, to take her deep belief in facts for the 
facts themselves her conception of truth for the absolute 

If it be granted that Charlotte Bronte considered her own 
case as bad as it was represented in Jane Eyre, it must be 
remembered that the hardship from the cold weather could 
only refer to the winter months. She went to the school 


on 10th August, and generally the autumn in that part of 
Yorkshire is the best time of the year. 

The founder of the school the Rev. W. Carus- Wilson had 
charge of two churches, with two residences, one at Casterton 
Hall, near Tunstall, and one at Silverdale, a few miles away. 
Though not really a wealthy man, he had ample means, and 
was generous to the school, which only started with sixteen 
pupils, though Mrs. Gaskell gives nearly a hundred as the 
number. As a fact, until the time when Charlotte Bronte 
left in June, 1825, only fifty-three girls had been admitted, 
and the fees would, consequently, not by any means cover the 
expenses, so that it was necessary to ask for subscriptions 
towards the cost of maintaining the school. 

At " The Cove " Mr. W. Carus- Wilson's sea-side home at 
Silverdale the children from the Clergy Daughters' School 
sometimes passed their holidays, and whilst pupils at Cowan 
Bridge, Charlotte and Emily Bronte were sent to this beautiful 
old house on the shores of Morecambe Bay. In the house is 
a room, known as " The Bronte room," which is kept just as 
it was when Charlotte Bronte occupied it as a bedroom. One 
of the two windows overlooks a fine lawn. A relative of 
Mr. W. Carus-Wilson informed the writer that Charlotte and 
Emily Bronte were sent there on 31st May, 1825, the day when 
their sister, Elizabeth Bronte, left Cowan Bridge School, owing 
to her serious illness. It was said that the Rev. Patrick 
Bronte was so alarmed when his daughter arrived at the 
Haworth Vicarage, that he set off post haste and brought the 
other two daughters from " The Cove " to Haworth. This 
would account for the statement that Charlotte never saw 
the sea until years later, although the waves, at high tide, 
washed against the walls of the garden at " The Cove," but the 
windows in the Bronte bedroom look in an opposite direction. 
Charlotte saw the sea for the first time at Bridlington, when 
she visited that sea-side resort in company with Ellen Nussey. 

Not more than ten minutes walk from this house is the 
Lindeth Tower now known as the Gibraltar Tower where, 
thirty-one years later, Mrs. Gaskell wrote the " Life " of this 
quiet little girl, who spent just one night in Silverdale. 


Charlotte Bronte retained for nearly twenty years a lively 
recollection of her first journey from Ha worth, when she was 
but eight years old. It would be necessary to rise early to 
catch the Leeds and Kendal coach as it passed through 
Keighley. It is very probable that her father accompanied 
her as far as Keighley, and her two sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, 
would be ready to receive her at the Cowan Bridge School. 

From Keighley the coach would go by Skipton and Eshton 
Hall where Miss Currer lived. She was noted for her great 
collection of books, probably the envy of Charlotte Bronte who, 
when anxious to find a nom de guerre to hide her identity, 
chose Currer as her first name. From Eshton Hall, the coach 
would proceed through Giggleswick to Ingleton, at the foot 
of Ingleborough. To the little traveller, having seen little 
beyond Haworth, some of these places through which the 
coach passed would appear almost like important towns. 

In 1857, when the Life of Charlotte Bronte was issued, there 
were many letters in the press concerning the treatment of 
the little Brontes whilst staying at the Cowan Bridge School. 
That Mr. Cams- Wilson made several mistakes in the early 
days is not to be wondered at, and that he was very strict and 
narrow concerning religious matters was only in keeping with 
the times. Some of those subjects, such as " hell fire," " sin " 
and " future punishments," were the common theological 
questions of the day, and the Brontes only fared as many 
children did in the majority of the Sunday Schools of the land. 

The school still keeps the founder's day on the anniversary 
of the birthday of Mr. Carus-Wilson, 7th July. A white 
marble tablet is placed in the church to his memory, and his 
grave in the churchyard is seldom without flowers. Admirers 
of the Brontes often visit Casterton, expecting to find it the 
original of Lowood, which is four miles away. Charlotte 
Bronte knew that Casterton succeeded Cowan Bridge, and she 
speaks highly of it in Jane Eyre. 

Had the Brontes been strong and well when they went to 
Cowan Bridge they would not have fared so badly. Many 
of the old pupils, even some who were at the school 
with the Brontes, showed their appreciation by becoming 


subscribers to the school. More than once Charlotte Bronte 
accused herself of exaggeration and of scorning those who 
were better than herself. 

Of Tunstall church, which is described in Jane Eyre as 
Brocklebridge, Charlotte Bronte says 

"Sundays were dreary days in that wintry season. We 
had to walk two miles to Brocklebridge Church, where our 
patron officiated. We set out cold, we arrived at church 
colder : during the morning service we became almost paralysed. 
It was too far to return to dinner, and an allowance of cold 
meat and bread, in the same penurious proportion observed 
in our ordinary meals, was served round between the services. 
At the close of the afternoon service we returned by an exposed 
and hilly road, where the bitter winter wind, blowing over a 
range of snowy summits to the north, almost flayed the skin 
from our faces." 

This church at Tunstall was only used by the pupils of Cowan 
Bridge School for the first year of the school's existence. A 
few months after the opening of the school a meeting of the 
trustees of the Leek chapel, a chapel of ease, was held, and it 
was decided to enlarge it to accommodate the pupils. This 
place of worship was within half a mile of the school, and when 
the alterations were completed the pupils were taken there 
on Sundays. It was unfortunate that the Bronte children 
were at Cowan Bridge during the only winter when it was 
necessary for the pupils to attend the Sunday services at the 
Tunstall church. 

The walk to this church was through a beautiful country 
district, and, in fine weather, the journey must have been 
very pleasant. Other pupils who were at school with the 
Brontes said that they do not remember a single case of scholars 
having their feet wet through the walk, as the pupils wore 
clogs, which kept their feet much drier than boots or shoes 
would have done. 

It is difficult to understand how the pupils could be cold 
when they started and colder still when they arrived at church. 
This could hardly be literally true, as the very exercise of 
walking would tend to raise the temperature of the body, 


especially as Miss Temple, the teacher in charge, is represented 
as walking lightly and rapidly, as Charlotte Bronte says, 
"encouraging us, by precept and example, to keep up our 
spirits, and march forward, as she said, ' like stalwart soldiers/ ' 
Charlotte Bronte was a novelist, and had to make her heroine 
suffer, but she also made the greatly respected family of Mr. 
Carus- Wilson suffer, and his descendants resent it to-day. 

According to the old registers, the girls in winter wore thick 
purple dresses and short capes, whilst on cold or wet days they 
had green plaid cloaks and pattens. The hair was cropped, 
and night caps were worn, but pocket handkerchiefs do not 
appear in the list of clothing. On week days brown holland 
pinafores were worn and white ones on Sundays. In summer, 
the girls had green and white straw bonnets trimmed with 
green calico, buff dresses of nankeen, with short sleeves and 
high necks, white cotton stockings and strong shoes. 

White bonnets were worn on Sundays, trimmed with purple, 
and white dresses with low necks and short sleeves, and for 
church white cotton gloves were supplied. 1 

Many pilgrims visit Tunstall church because of its associa- 
tion with the Brontes and the Bronte literature. The little 
chamber over the porch, where the scholars ate their lunch 
between morning and afternoon service, is usually pointed out. 
As the galleries have been demolished, it is not possible for 
visitors to enter the room. 

The letter from one of the teachers at Cowan Bridge School 
probably sums up the question fairly 

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

Some bitter correspondence passed in the Halifax papers 
after the publication of Mrs. GaskelFs Life of Charlotte Bronte, 
in which the Rev. A. B. Nicholls defended his late wife, 
Charlotte Bronte. 


1 Notes on the Clergy Daughters' School by M. Williams. 

6 (2200) 




THE Bronte children return to Haworth Their home life and educa- 
tion Tabitha Aykroyd Early compositions by the Bronts 
Sale of autograph manuscripts Dramatisation of stories. 

THE middle of June found the family at the parsonage re- 
united, though two, Maria and Elizabeth, had passed through 
" the little gate of death " at the end of the garden, and found 
an early grave by the side of their mother in the vault in the 
old church. 

Charlotte was now called upon to take the role of her elder 
sister, and though only nine years of age, some responsibility 
in the home rested upon her little shoulders. Another servant 
had to be engaged, and Mr. Bronte and Miss Branwell deter- 
mined to undertake the education of the children. Anne 
was now five years old, Emily seven, and Branwell eight. 
The four children went each morning to their father's little 
study on the ground floor, where they received lessons in 
scripture, the three R's, a little history, and, strange to say, 
politics the vicar using his old school books. In some of 
the exercise books, remembering his schoolmaster days, Mr. 
Bronte wrote : " Everything that is written in this book must 
be clear and legible." 

Of these six years there is little that is recorded, but it was 
the period when the children formed their ideas, which bore 
fruit in later times. Even at this early stage, they were 
accustomed to keep household records, stating where each 
member of the family was, and what each was doing. In 
the summer months they wandered over the moors their 
one place of recreation. 

Charlotte had not forgotten these uneventful days when she 
wrote Jane Eyre, for in Chapter X she says 

" Hitherto I have recorded in detail the events of my 
insignificant existence : to the first ten years of my life, I have 



given almost as many chapters. But this is not to be a regular 
autobiography : I am only bound to invoke memory where I 
know her responses will possess some degree of interest ; 
therefore I now pass a space of eight years almost in silence : 
a few lines only^are necessary to keep up the links of connection." 

The last paragraph points to the fact that Miss Bran well, 
and not Mrs. Sidgwick, was the original of Mrs. Reed, for 
Charlotte Bronte did not meet Mrs. Sidgwick until 1839, and 
the reference to " responses that possess some degree of 
interest " is most probably the result of Mr. Williams' letter 
sent when The Professor was refused because it was not suffici- 
ently interesting. The great event of this year of 1825 in the 
Bronte household, after the sad death of the older girls, was 
the installation of Tabitha Aykroyd as the chief servant. 
She was a native of Haworth a woman of fifty-three and 
five years older than Mr. Bronte. Miss Branwell, who was 
far from strong, and had to keep to her room upstairs, needed 
a good housekeeper. Thus it became necessary to have a 
capable woman in the kitchen, and " Old Tabby," as she came 
to be called, ruled not only the kitchen but the whole house- 
hold. She had a will of her own, and she afforded the girls 
a new field of observation. She was, undoubtedly, the original 
of " Hannah," the old servant in Jane Eyre, and she also 
appears in Wuthering Heights. The children became greatly 
attached to her. 

Tabitha Aykroyd was a characteristic Yorkshire woman, 
faithful and true, but brusque to a fault, she ruled the household 
well. She had many tales to tell of the bairns, who sometimes 
nearly frightened her out of her wits with their outlandish 
games and strange little plays. She stayed with the Bronte" 
family for over thirty years, with one short break, dying only 
a few weeks before Charlotte Bronte at the age of eighty-four, 
though Mrs. Gaskell in one of her unpublished letters gives 
her age as ninety-four. Much to the regret of the family, 
she did not end her days at the old parsonage, but, on account 
of the anxiety caused by Charlotte Bronte's illness, both Mr. 
Bronte and Mr. Nicholls thought it best to remove her to her 
friend's house in Sun Street, Haworth, at the lower end of the 


village, where she died. She is buried in the churchyard, 
just beyond the wall of the parsonage garden ; the housemaid, 
Martha Brown, succeeded her, and lived at the vicarage until 
the vicar's death. Tabby was the confidante of the girls, 
who were often to be found in her kitchen, helping with the 
baking and ironing, or inducing her to tell them the fairy tales 
of the glens, and the ghost stories connected with the desolate 
houses on the moors between Yorkshire and Lancashire. 

Tabby seemed to have read Richardson's Pamela, which 
foreshadowed Jane Eyre, though Jane depended on her 
intellect more than her beauty in attracting her master. 

Emily Bronte did well to make Nelly Dean the narrator of 
Withering Heights. She had often sat listening to Tabby in 
the parsonage kitchen, for the old servant was a good tale-teller, 
speaking always in the broad Yorkshire dialect, which both 
Charlotte and Emily have used when writing of her in their 

It was well that Cowan Bridge did not prove congenial, for 
their education at home was much more suited to their delicate 
constitutions. The regular daily routine was family prayers, 
breakfast, lessons in the father's study, early dinner, walk 
on the moors, Tabby going with them, and often carrying 
little Anne over the rough places ; then back to tea in the 
spotless kitchen, followed by sewing for the older girls in the 
aunt's room the father or aunt often reading the newspaper 
to them or discussing books or politics. It is not surprising 
that in later days they could write books which startled the 
reading world. Charlotte, the chronicler of the household, 

" We take two, and see three newspapers a week. We take 
the Leeds Intelligencer, Tory, and the Leeds Mercury, Whig, 
edited by Mr. Baines, and his brother, son-in-law, and his two 
sons, Edward and Talbot. We see the John Bull ; it is a 
high Tory, very violent. Mr. Driver lends us it, as likewise 
Blackwood's Magazine, the most able periodical there is. The 
Editor is Mr. Christopher North, an old man seventy-four 
years of age ; the 1st of April is his birthday ; his company 
are Timothy Tickler, Morgan O'Doherty, Macrabin Mordecai, 


Mullion, Warnell, and James Hogg, a man of most extraordinary 
genius, a Scottish shepherd." 

It was at this time that the children began to commit their 
ideas to writing, and many of their little manuscripts, written 
at this time, are extant. Charlotte wrote the most, and Bran- 
well came next, so far as can be judged. Either the younger 
sisters wrote much less than Charlotte, or they destroyed their 
early manuscripts, for there is nothing written by Emily or 
Anne at this time that has been brought to light. 

On 31st May, 1912, in London, six autograph fragments 
of these children's early work were sold in separate lots. The 
bidding was remarkably keen for each item, and the sale 
realised 76. One was a small page of Emily's poetry, beginning, 
" May flowers are opening," and consisting of eight four-lined 
verses, written on a slip of thin paper, in her sloping, printed 
characters, and measuring 3f inches by 2J- inches. It was 
signed E. J. Bronte, and was dated 25th Jan., 1839. This 
manuscript was sold for 14 5s. Another was a short, un- 
published poem by Charlotte Bronte, signed and dated llth 
Dec., 1831, and beginning, " The trumpet has sounded, its 
voice is gone forth." It covered two and a half small pages 
of thin paper, 3 inches by 2f inches, in writing which was 
quite microscopic in size. This poem is not included in any 
list of Charlotte Bronte's works, and it realised 24 10s. There 
was also an undated autograph manuscript of two pages, 
3J inches by 2 inches, consisting of about seventy lines,, 
evidently being a fragment of a story by Charlotte Bronte. 
It told of a traveller going to an inn and staying for the night, 
much in the style of Lock wood going to stay at The Grange 
in Wuthering Heights. This was sold for 6 15s. 

A further autograph manuscript by Charlotte Bronte, 
signed and dated llth Feb., 1830, though the printed catalogue 
referred to the date as 1820, the figure three not being very 
distinct, realised 5 5s. 

A curious feature of the sale was the high price obtained 
for the two manuscripts written by Branwell Bronte, who has 
been discarded, and considered unfit to be associated with 
his sisters, either as an author or a brother. There was, 


however, quite as keen competition for his manuscripts as for 
the others. The first offered for sale was The Rising of the 
Angrians, covering twenty pages, 6 inches by 3 inches, with 
about twenty lines to the page, and signed and dated 7th Jan., 
1836. It was written in printed characters, which very much 
resembled Emily's hand-printing, and was sold for 13. 

The second manuscript by Branwell was entitled The Liar 
Detected. The word " unmasked " had been altered to 
" detected " in the manuscript. It consisted of twelve pages, 
in the form of a very little book 2 inches by 2 inches, with 
about twenty-eight lines to a page. It was signed at the end 
" Captain J. Bud," and, with Bran well's love of conceit, two 
other books by Captain Bud were mentioned one, a work in 
three volumes, priced at 3 3s., and the other in ten volumes 
at 10 10s. One was referred to as A History on Political 

This hand-made book was most interesting, as it showed that 
Branwell was one of the little band of authors in the remote 
parsonage in the early days. The tiny pages were stitched 
together probably by Charlotte and a cover was made 
from the back of an old copy book. On the cover was a pencil 
drawing of an old man, most likely the work of Branwell. 
Some coarse, purple sugar paper, used in those days, was 
pasted to the cover to make it firmer, and the leaves and cover 
were stitched together with grey worsted, commonly used at 
that time for knitting stockings. This small book realised at 
the sale 12 15s. That these two small efforts from Bran well's 
pen should be worth 25 15s., considering that he never 
succeeded in getting anything published during his lifetime, is 
no doubt due to the fame of his sisters, and yet, as these two 
stories show, he had ability which would have been recognised 
earlier, if he had persevered, and refrained from strong drink. 

When it is remembered that the book of poems by Charlotte, 
Emily and Anne Bronte, published in 1846 at their own expense 
(nearly 50) was a complete failure, only two copies being 
sold, it is remarkable that such high prices should be given 
for these small items. The fame of the three sisters has 
increased, step by step, since the publication of Jane Eyre 


Emily has waited long for her due recognition, but now her 
manuscripts have a greater marketable value than those of 
Charlotte; Bran well is more appreciated than formerly, and 
possibly in the future Anne will gain in public recognition, 
though her work is of an entirely different style, and lacks the 
fire of her famous sisters. 

It was in 1826 that Charlotte got possession of her mother's 
copy of The Imitation of Christ, and this she read regularly, 
trying to frame her conduct upon its teaching. The children 
learned to read and write almost as easily as they learned to 
talk, and their books took the place very largely of young 

It was related in Haworth that one of the trustees of the 
church invited the whole group from the parsonage to a birthday 
party, in the days following the school life at Cowan Bridge. 
Much to the surprise of their little friends, the Bronte children 
had no idea of the ordinary games that any village child could 
play, such as " hunt the slipper " and " here we go round the 
gooseberry bush." Their shyness was painful to behold ; 
they were awkward and silent the whole evening, and evidently 
greatly relieved when it was time to return home. If they 
had been more accustomed to associating with other children, 
they could have surprised their friends by acting one of their 
own original plays, requiring much more brain power than the 
repetition of the usual children's games. In their own home 
this was quite a common mode of enjoyment, in which the 
servants sometimes joined. On one occasion, on the 29th May, 
they determined to act Prince Charles and his escape into 
the oak tree. As there was no oak tree in the garden, they 
decided that Emily, dressed up to represent the prince, should 
get through the bedroom window, and hide in the cherry tree. 
This she did not accomplish without breaking off one of the 
branches, which caused them much distress, as the tree was 
highly prized by their father. To prevent the discovery of 
the damage to the tree, one of the servants blacked the broken 
end with soot, but Mr. Bronte' found this out, though he was 
unable to discover the real culprit. 

Much is published nowadays about dramatisation as a 


means of education in schools, but the Bronte children must 
have been pioneers of this method nearly a century ago. 
From early childhood Charlotte Bronte showed a gift for 
acting, and she could write plays with much vigour. In 
Villette she says 

" A keen relish for dramatic expression had revealed itself 
as part of my nature ; to cherish and exercise this new-found 
faculty might gift me with a world of delight, but it would not 
do for a mere looker-on at life : the strength and longing must 
be put by ; and I put them by, and fastened them in with 
the lock of resolution which neither Time nor Temptation 
has since picked." 

How these children found time to get all the writing done 
is marvellous. One of the old servants said that they always 
had a pencil in their pocket, and were accustomed to go into 
corners of the room to put down their thoughts, sometimes 
on odd pieces of cardboard, or on any stray bit of paper. To 
read their little stories almost leads one to conclude that they 
were written as composition exercises for their father, who, 
himself, had always striven to be known as an author, and he, 
doubtless, encouraged them in their literary efforts. 

The amount of writing accomplished by Charlotte between 
1825 and 1830 is amazing ; Mrs. Gaskell estimates it as twenty- 
two volumes, quoting Charlotte, who was only fourteen years 
old at the time, as her authority. This catalogue of books 
completed 3rd August, 1830, includes : Two Romantic Tales 
in one volume : Leisure Hours : The Adventures of Ernest 
Alembert : An interesting Incident in the Lives of some of the 
most Eminent Persons of the Age : Tales of the Islanders, in 
four volumes : Characters of Great Men of the Present Age : 
The Young Men's Magazine, in six numbers : The Poetaster, 
a drama in two volumes : A Book of Rhymes : and 
Miscellaneous Poems. 

The Rev. A. B. Nicholls has proved that Mrs. Gaskell 
greatly underestimated the amount. Altogether about 100 
small manuscripts were written by these children at this time, 
and at intervals they find their way to the London auction 
rooms, and are eagerly bought up by well-known autograph 


dealers. During the month of June, 1913, three tiny 
manuscripts were sold. 

In addition to writing, the Bronte children practised drawing, 
Charlotte and Bran well hoping to become artists. With 
writing, drawing and the acting of their little plays, these 
children were far from unhappy. Mrs. Gaskell, quoting from a 
letter by Miss Evans, which referred to Charlotte as " a bright, 
clever little girl," said that this was the last time she could 
use the word bright with regard to Charlotte, but in this she 
was quite mistaken. The children of the parsonage did not 
pursue the common path in their search for happiness, but this 
does not prove that their young lives were devoid of pleasure. 
Charlotte gives us an account of one play, The Islanders. 

" June the 31st, 1829. 

" The play of +he Islanders was formed in December, 1827, 
in the following manner. One night, about the time when the 
cold sleet and stormy fogs of November are succeeded by 
snow-storms, and high piercing night-winds of confirmed 
winter, we were all sitting round the warm blazing kitchen 
fire, having just concluded a quarrel with Tabby concerning 
the propriety of lighting a candle, from which she came off 
victorious, no candle having been produced. A long pause 
succeeded, which was at last broken by Bran well saying, 
in a lazy manner, 4 1 don't know what to do.' This was 
echoed by Emily and Anne. 

" Tabby. ' Wha ya may go t'bed.' 
" Br unwell. ' I'd rather do anything than that.' 
" Charlotte. ' Why are you so glum to-night, Tabby ? Oh ! 
suppose we had each an island of our own.' 

" Branwell. ' If we had I would choose the Island of Man.' 
" Charlotte. ' And I would choose the Isle of Wight.' 
" Emily. { The Isle of Arran for me.' 
" Anne. ' And mine should be Guernsey.' 
"We then chose who should be chief men in our islands. 
Branwell chose John Bull, Astley Cooper, and Leigh Hunt ; 
Emily, Walter Scott, Mr. Lockhart, Johnny Lockhart ; Anne, 
Michael Sadler, Lord Bentinck, Sir Henry Halford. I chose the 


Duke of Wellington and two sons, Christopher North and Co., 
and Mr. Abernethy. Here our conversation was interrupted 
by the, to us, dismal sound of the clock striking seven, and we 
were summoned off to bed. The next day we added many 
others to our list of men, till we got almost all the chief men of 
the kingdom. After this, for a long time, nothing worth 
noticing occurred. In June, 1828, we erected a school on a 
fictitious island, which was to contain 1,000 children. The 
manner of the building was as follows. The Island was fifty 
miles in circumference, and certainly appeared more like the 
work of enchantment than anything real," etc. 

Charlotte was twelve and Anne eight, yet they all had 
to go to bed at seven o'clock, not to sleep is fairly certain ; 
they would use their imaginative powers to people their 

Shortly after this, Charlotte Bronte gives an account of the 
year 1829, including in her statement the newspapers and 
magazines either purchased or lent to Mr. Bronte, and the plays 
written by his children. 

Patrick Bronte had small opportunity of being an indulgent 
parent ; he had little money to spare for toys, but the old 
interest in warfare and his love for his children prompted him 
to buy a box of soldiers from Leeds, which in those days were 
more costly than to-day. To ordinary children, these would 
have stood for soldiers and nothing more, but to the imagina- 
tive Brontes they represented a world of history, and provided 
thought and employment for months. Charlotte and Bran well 
often took opposite views of history, and it is not surprising 
that one should take Wellington and the other Buonaparte as 
his or her favourite soldier. In those early days Charlotte 
and Branwell were the leaders, whilst Emily and Anne appear 
to have been more childish, as was natural, being the younger 
members of the family. Wellington became Charlotte's 
great hero, and his son's name became her nom de guerre ; 
many of her earlier manuscripts are signed " Lord C. 
Wellesley," and " The Marquis of Douro." 

This make-believe life lasted for six years, and imagination 
contributed much to the joy of their uneventful days. Mrs. 


Atkinson, wife of the Rev. Thomas Atkinson, of Hartshead 
Charlotte's godmother suggested that, as Charlotte was 
now nearly fifteen years of age, she ought to go to school, and 
she offered to pay the fees to Miss Wooler's school at Roe 
Head, Dewsbury, not far from Hartshead. 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S journey from Haworth Roe Head School 
Kirklees Hall Ellen Nussey and Caroline Helstone Mary Taylor 
and Rose Yorke Martha Taylor and Jessy Yorke Miss Wooler 
and Mrs. Pryor Mary Taylor and Ellen Nussey. 

COWAN BRIDGE had been an unfortunate experiment, but now 
that Charlotte was nearly fifteen years of age, and her god- 
parents had offered to pay for her education, it was decided 
that she should again go to school. 

The little author of so many small manuscripts was to 
submit to " a new servitude," but as duty was always Charlotte 
Bronte's watchword she went bravely on a cold day in January, 
by a covered cart, from Haworth to Mirfield Moor, a distance 
of about twenty miles. 

Mr. Bronte knew the district well, and it is very probable 
that he knew Miss Wooler, for her school was not far from his 
former home at Hartshead. But if he did not know the 
"good, kind schoolmistress," she was known to the Rev. 
Thomas Atkinson, who was then Vicar of Hartshead. 

Roe Head is still standing a large, commodious house, 
on the Leeds and Huddersfield Road, about five miles from 
Huddersfield. The building is of Georgian date, and has the 
old-fashioned half-circular bow windows, with the comfortable 
window seats. It had the reputation of being haunted in 
Charlotte Bronte's days, but Miss Wooler very soon dispelled 
that idea. The present owners say no ghost ever haunts it 
now, unless it be the spirit of Charlotte Bronte, which Bronte 
lovers, especially Americans, come to hunt. It was offered 
for sale in 1911, but no reasonable bid was made, and it was 
withdrawn. When visiting it some years ago, the writer was 
asked by the owner why one of the Bronte' worshippers did not 
purchase it, seeing that they were so fond of visiting the former 
homes of Charlotte Bronte, and enjoyed exploring the district, 



which has become to be known as Th$ Shirley Country, because 
of its association with the novel. To visit a literary shrine 
and to live in it are very different. Were it not for the smoky 
surroundings, caused by the neighbouring woollen mills, Roe 
Head would be a pleasant residence still. The house is large 
and roomy, and stands on the slope of Mirfield Moor, com- 
manding a view of the Calder Valley. Near the front entrance 
is the old tree, under which Charlotte Bronte used to stand or 
sit, whilst her schoolmates were at play ; she considered this 
a much pleasanter way of spending the time appointed for 
recreation, interested in the shadows, and the bits of sky 
seen through the branches. There is a carriage drive to the 
house, which is surrounded by extensive grounds. The former 
schoolroom in which Ellen Nussey found Charlotte Bronte 
crying on her first arrival at the school is pointed out to visitors 
who are fortunate in gaining admission, and her favourite 
window seat is to be seen. 

There is ample bedroom accommodation, and when Charlotte 
Bronte entered the school there were but seven to ten pupils, 
so that Miss Wooler and her sister were able to give much 
individual attention to the girls. 

Although not more than twenty miles from the moorland 
village of Haworth, it was much less solitary, and a far more 
picturesque neighbourhood, and the change was a great benefit 
to the future novelist. 

Near to the school is the beautiful park of Kirklees the 
Nunnwood of Shirley and Sir George Armytage's Jacobean 
hall ; in the grounds is the reputed tomb of Robin Hood, sur- 
rounded by a high iron fence. In another part of the park 
is the grave of the man who is supposed to have caused 
Robin Hood's death. In a hollow, on the borders of the 
park, are the remains of the nunnery, and there is still the 
old gate-house containing some reputed relics of Robin Hood. 

It was formerly supposed, on the suggestion of Ellen Nussey, 
that Kirklees was the original of Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre, 
but recent research has proved that Wycoller Dean, near 
Haworth, is the spot where Jane Eyre found Rochester, and 
where she was married to her blind master. It is interesting 


to remember that it was Charlotte Bronte herself who was 
afraid she was going blind about the time she wrote Jane Eyre, 
according to a letter which she wrote to M. Heger. 

The time spent at Roe Head proved very helpful to Charlotte 
Bronte in many ways, for she was always alert, and, in addition 
to the improvement in her general education, the place and 
people served her well when she wrote Shirley. 

Describing Kirklees Park, Charlotte Bronte says : "It 
is like an encampment of forest sons of Anak. The trees 
are huge and old. When you stand at their roots, the 
summits seem in another region ; the trunks remain still and 
firm as pillars, while the boughs sway to every breeze. In 
the deepest calm their leaves are never quite hushed, and in 
high wind a flood rushes a sea thunders above you." 

This beautiful country was as welcome to the future author 
of Shirley, as was her friendship with what proved to be her 
two dearest friends from this neighbourhood Ellen Nussey 
and Mary Taylor. The place was also dear to her from the 
associations with her good and kind schoolmistress, Miss 

Both Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor have left a faithful 
record of Charlotte Bronte's school days at Roe Head. Ellen 
Nussey always affirmed that she was the original of Caroline 
Helstone in Shirley ', but by comparing that character with 
what is known of Charlotte Bronte's life there is much more 
of Charlotte Bronte than of Ellen Nussey in the character. 
Mary Taylor was the Rose Yorke of the novel, and the 
portraiture is very correct. " What a lump of perfection 
you have made me," wrote Mary Taylor to the author of 
Shirley. The merry, laughing Martha Taylor became the 
Jessy Yorke of the story, and Mrs. Pry or was drawn from the 
character of Miss Wooler. 

" Mrs. Pryor, you know, was my governess, and is still my 
friend ; and of all the high and rigid Tories, she is queen ; of 
all the staunch Churchwomen, she is chief." 

Charlotte found a good friend, whilst at Roe Head, in her 
godmother, Mrs. Atkinson, who sometimes took her little 


godchild to her home for week-ends. In after years, Mrs. 
Atkinson, who had supplied her with clothes, as well as paid 
her school fees and given a kindly oversight to her whilst at 
Roe Head, ceased to correspond or have anything to do with 
her, because she did not approve of a clergyman's daughter 
writing novels, especially novels such as Jane Eyre and Shirley ; 
where the clergy of the district were so freely criticised. 
Mrs. GaskelPs description of Charlotte is interesting 
" In 1831, she was a quiet, thoughtful girl, of nearly fifteen 
years of age, very small in figure ' stunted ' was the word 
she applied to herself but, as her limbs and head were in just 
proportion to the slight, fragile body, no word in ever so slight 
a degree suggestive of deformity could properly be applied to 
her ; with soft, thick, brown hair, and peculiar eyes, of which 
I find it difficult to give a description, as they appeared to me 
in her later life. They were large, and well shaped ; their 
colour a reddish brown ; but if the iris was closely examined, 
it appeared to be composed of a great variety of tints. The 
usual expression was of quiet, listening intelligence ; but 
now and then, on some just occasion for vivid interest or whole- 
some indignation, a light would shine out, as if some spiritual 
lamp had been kindled, which glowed behind those expressive 
orbs. I never saw the like in any other human creature. As 
for the rest of her features, they were plain, large, and ill set ; 
but, unless you began to catalogue them, you were hardly 
aware of the fact, for the eyes and power of the countenance 
overbalanced every physical defect ; the crooked mouth and 
the large nose were forgotten, and the whole face arrested the 
attention, and presently attracted all those whom she herself 
would have cared to attract. Her hands and feet were the 
smallest I ever saw ; when one of the former was placed in 
mine, it was like the soft touch of a bird in the middle of my 
palm. The delicate long fingers had a peculiar fineness of 
sensation, which was one reason why all her handiwork, of 
whatever kind writing, sewing, knitting was so clear in its 
minuteness. She was remarkably neat in her whole personal 
attire ; but she was dainty as to the fit of her shoes and gloves." 
The three people who supplied Mrs. Gaskell with particulars 


of Charlotte BrontS's life at this time were her schoolmistress, 
Ellen Nussey, and Mary Taylor. The latter wrote from New 
Zealand, nearly twenty-five years after she was at school at 
Roe Head, and her account throws much light on this period 
of Charlotte Bronte's life. 

" I first saw her coming out of a covered cart, in very old- 
fashioned clothes, and looking very cold and miserable. She 
was coming to school at Miss Wooler's. When she appeared 
in the schoolroom, her dress was changed, but just as old. She 
looked a little old woman, so short-sighted that she always 
appeared to be seeking something, and moving her head from 
side to side to catch a sight of it. She was very shy and 
nervous, and spoke with a strong Irish accent. When a book 
was given her, she dropped her head over it till her nose 
nearly touched it, and when she was told to hold her head up, 
up went the book after it, still close to her nose, so that it was 
not possible to help laughing. . . . We thought her very 
ignorant, for she had never learnt grammar at all, and very 
little geography. 

" She used to draw much better, and more quickly, than any- 
thing we had seen before, and knew much about celebrated 
pictures and painters. Whenever an opportunity offered of 
examining a picture or cut of any kind, she went over it 
piecemeal, with her eyes close to the paper, looking so long 
that we used to ask her * what she saw in it.' She could 
always see plenty, and explained it very well. She made 
poetry and drawing, at least, exceedingly interesting to me ; 
and then I got the habit, which I have yet, of referring 
mentally to her opinion on all matters of that kind, along 
with many more, resolving to describe such and such things 
to her, until I start at the recollection that I never shall." . . 

" The whole family used to * make out ' histories, and 
invent characters and events. I told her sometimes they were 
like growing potatoes in a cellar. She said, sadly, * Yes ! 
I know we are ! ' 

It is interesting to read Charlotte Bronte's description of 
Mary Taylor in Shirley. 


Miss Wooler once said to Mary Taylor that when she first 
saw her, she thought her too pretty to live ; but her portrait 
in later years did not support this. A greater friend than 
Mary Taylor was Ellen Nussey, who gave Mrs. Gaskell all the 
information she could. She, herself, did not publish a descrip- 
tion of Charlotte Bronte until 1871, when in Scribner's Magazine 
she wrote 

" Miss Wooler's system of education required that a good 
deal of her pupils' work should be done in classes, and to effect 
this, new pupils had generally a season of solitary study ; but 
Charlotte's fervent application made this period a very short 
one for her she was quickly up to the needful standard, and 
ready for the daily routine and arrangement of studies, and as 
quickly did she outstrip her companions, rising from the bottom 
of the classes to the top, a position which, when she had once 
gained, she never had to regain. She was first in everything but 
play, yet never was a word heard of envy or jealousy from her 
companions ; everyone felt she had won her laurels by an 
amount of diligence and hard labour of which they were 
incapable. She never exulted in her successes or seemed 
conscious of them ; her mind was so wholly set on attaining 
knowledge that she apparently forgot all else. 

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

7 (2200) 


education which was given in schools, but she far surpassed 
her most advanced school-fellows in knowledge of what was 
passing in the world at large, and in the literature of her 
country. She knew thousands of things unknown to them. 

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

" It was shortly after this illness that Charlotte caused such 
a panic of terror by her thrilling relations of the wanderings 
of a somnambulist. She brought together all the horrors her 
imagination could create, from surging seas, raging breakers, 
towering castle walls, high precipices, invisible chasms and 

" Having wrought these materials to the highest pitch of 
effect, she brought out, in almost cloud-height, her somnam- 
bulist, walking on shaking turrets all told in a voice that 
conveyed more than words alone can express. A shivering 
terror seized the recovered invalid ; a pause ensued ; then a 
subdued cry of pain came from Charlotte herself, with a 
terrified command to others to call for help. She was in 
bitter distress. Something like remorse seemed to linger in 
her mind after this incident ; for weeks there was no prevailing 
on her to resume her tales, and she never again created terrors 
for her listeners. Tales, however, were made again in time, 
till Miss W. discovered there was 'late talking.' That was 
forbidden ; but understanding it was ' late talk ' only which 
was prohibited, we talked and listened to tales again, not 
expecting to hear Miss Wooler say one morning, ' All the 
ladies who talked last night must pay fines. I am sure Miss 
Bronte and Miss Nussey were not of the number.' Miss 
Bronte and Miss Nussey were, however, transgressors like the 
rest, and rather enjoyed the fact of having to pay like them, 
till they saw Miss Wooler's grieved and disappointed look. 
It was then a distress that they had failed where they were 


reckoned uon tho unintentionally. This was the 

here she was mortified and hurt. 



She evidently was longing for some never-to-be-forgotten 
incident. Nothing, however, arose from her little enterprise. 
She had to leave school as calmly and quietly as she had lived 

Although Caroline Helstone, as a character, owes more to 
Charlotte Bronte than to Ellen Nussey, yet the novelist has 
drawn a beautiful portrait of Ellen Nussey in Shirley, which 
those who knew her when young said was true to the life. 

The silver medal for good conduct, won by Charlotte Bronte, 
may now be seen in the Bronte Museum, stamped with the 
word " reward." She also took home three prizes at the end 
of her first year, and judging by a letter written in French, soon 
after she went home in the following year, she had acquired a 
fair knowledge of that language. 

Evidently her father thought she might be useful in teaching 
the younger members of the family, and when she was about 
seventeen she returned once more to Haworth, in order to 
teach a class of three pupils 4ier two sisters and her 

The first sojourn at Roe Head was a very happy time, for 
if she had to work very hard harder than her teacher wished 
she had many little pleasures, not the least being her visits 
to her godmother, and better still, to the homes of Mary Taylor 
and Ellen Nussey. 

A youth, who used to have the honour of driving Charlotte 
Bronte to and from these homes, was asked which home he 
thought she preferred ; he mentioned Ellen Nussey 's, at The 
Rydings, Birstall, where he noticed the evidences of much 
regret when taking leave, though she always seemed sorry 
to leave the Red House at Gomersal, which is pictured in 
Shirley as " Briarmains," whilst The Rydings figures as 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE returns to Haworth Her anxiety for the future 
She continues her studies Tuition in painting Lines to Bewick 
Charlotte Bronte and Wordsworth Her correspondence 
with Ellen Nussey The Rydings, Birstall Ellen Nussey's visit 
to Haworth Branwell Bronte's visit to London His life at 
Haworth Charlotte Bronte's return to Roe Head accompanied 
by Emily Bronte Uncongenial tasks Emily Bronte returns to 
Haworth Anne Bronte takes Emily's place as a pupil at Roe 
Head Anne's illness Transfer of Miss Wooler's school from Roe 
Head to Heald House, Dewsbury Moor Charlotte and Anne 
Bronte's return to Haworth Charlotte Bronte's correspondence 
with Sou they. 

AFTER a year and a half at Roe Head, Charlotte Bronte left 
the school at the close of the Midsummer term. She returned 
to Haworth quite happily, for to be with her sisters always 
afforded her great pleasure. Mrs. Gaskell seems to have 
been struck by her lack of hopefulness, and she judged 
her by her letters at this time. Charlotte was the 
eldest, and, knowing that her father was often in ill-health, 
she dreaded the family being left to struggle with poverty. 
The income of the aunt was not large, and there were no 
relatives who could help them in any way. This seems to 
have made Charlotte over-anxious about the future, and to 
this fear must be attributed her determination to qualify 
herself to earn her own living. She worked very hard at her 
studies, and was never happy except when improving her 
qualifications. In connection with this period she writes 
" An account of one day is an account of all. In the 
morning, from nine o clock till half -past twelve, I instruct 
my sisters, and draw ; then we walk till dinner-time. After 
dinner I sew till tea-time, and after tea I either write, read, or 
do a little fancy work, or draw, as I please. Thus, in one 
delightful though somewhat monotonous course, my life is 
passed. I have been only out twice to tea since I came home. 



We are expecting company this afternoon, and on Tuesday 
next we shall have all the female teachers of the Sunday School 
to tea." 

This letter shows that Charlotte was busy and happy, and, 
to add to her pleasure, her father paid a drawing-master to 
come to the parsonage and give her and Bran well lessons in 
drawing and painting. Bran well was to be a great artist 
some day, and his father intended that he should finish his 
studies by attending at the Royal Academy. Both Charlotte 
and Branwell completed a large number of little drawings, 
mostly copies ; some, however, like their stories, were purely 
imaginative. Both the father and aunt thought that these 
sketches were wonderful, and so did Mr. Wood, the village 
carpenter, who lived a little distance down the steep Main 
street of Haworth. In later years, he never tired of telling 
how the Vicar's children were in the habit of coming to his 
workshop to obtain frames for their drawings ; they were too 
proud to accept them as presents, and they were accustomed 
to give him a drawing in exchange for a frame, which he usually 
made from the odds and ends of his larger picture frames. 
He regarded their work as of little value, but afterwards, when 
the Bronte girls became famous, he regretted that he had not 
kept all these little sketches, some of which were in colour. 
His sons remember seeing quite a large collection of these 
drawings in one of the drawers, but they have all been des- 
troyed or scattered. Mr. Bronte thought so highly of his 
children's ability in art, that he determined to provide for them 
more efficient training, and a Mr. W. Robinson of Leeds, 
was engaged to visit the vicarage for the purpose of giving 
lessons to Charlotte and Branwell at two guineas for each visit. 

It can never be said that Patrick Bronte was niggardly in 
providing for the education of his children, although he had 
little to spare out of his small salary. 

Charlotte Bronte's weak eyesight prevented her becoming 
a successful artist, and Branwell's conceit always stood in 
the way of his doing great things. There are several large 
canvases to be seen in and around Haworth that were 


executed by Branwell : two are in the possession of the village 
carpenter's family. Martha Brown's niece also has an oil 
painting of John Brown, the sexton, and in Dewsbury there 
are several oil-paintings the work of Branwell when he lodged 
in Fountain Street, Bradford. Mrs. Ingram and Mr. Wood, 
the owners of these paintings, spoke most highly of Branwell 
Bronte, and were indignant to find him described as a brainless 
sot, which is absolutely untrue. 

The colour of these family portraits is still good, but they 
reveal little more than aptitude for painting, and some small 
evidence of talent. Branwell, unlike his sisters, disliked 
plodding ; he had not much patience, and, though clever in 
many ways, he considered that he could succeed without 
effort or diligent application. 

Charlotte says that at this time her greatest enjoyments 
were drawing and walking on the moors with her sisters. That 
she did not neglect her writing is proved by her Lines on the 
Celebrated Bewick, dated 27th November, 1832, which have 
never been published in Charlotte Bronte's collection of poems. 
This poem of twenty verses was first published in Mr. Hall's 
little Guide to Haworth. He has kindly allowed it to be 


The cloud of recent death is past away, 
But yet a shadow lingers o'er his tomb 

To tell that the pale standard of decay 

Is reared triumphant o'er life's sullied bloom. 

But now the eye undimmed by tears may gaze 
On the fair lines his gifted pencil drew, 

The tongue unfalt'ring speaks its meed of praise 
When we behold those scenes to nature true 

True to the common Nature that we see 

In England's sunny fields, her hills, and vales, 

On the wild bosom of her storm-dark sea 
Still heaving to the wind that o'er it wails. 

How many winged inhabitants of air, 

How many plume-clad floaters of the deep, 

The mighty artist drew in forms as fair 

As those that now the skies and waters sweep ! 


From the great eagle with his lightning eye, 
His tyrant glance, his talons dyed in blood, 

To the sweet breather-forth of melody, 
The gentle merry minstrel of the wood. 

Each in his attitude of Native grace 
Looks on the gazer life-like, free and bold, 

And if the rocks be his abiding place 

Far off appears the winged marauder's hold. 

But if the little builder rears his nest 

In the still shadow of green tranquil trees, 

And singing sweetly mid the silence blest 
Sits a meet emblem of untroubled peace, 

' A change comes o'er the spirit of our dream,' 
Woods wave around in crested majesty, 

We almost feel the joyous sunshine's beam 
And hear the breath of the sweet south go by. 

Our childhood's days return again in thought, 
We wander in a land of love and light, 

And mingled memories joy and sorrow fraught 
Gush on our hearts with overwhelming might. 

Sweet flowers seem gleaming mid the tangled grass, 
Sparkling with spray-drops from the rushing rill, 

And as these fleeting visions fade and pass 

Perchance some pensive tears our eyes may fill. 

These soon are wiped away ; again we turn 
With fresh delight to the enchanted page, 

Where pictured thoughts that breathe and speak and burn 
Still please alike our youth and riper age. 

There rises some lone rock, all wet with surge 
And dashing billows glimmering in the light 

Of a wan moon, whose silent rays emerge 

From clouds that veil their lustre cold and bright. 

And there 'mongst reeds upon a river's side 
A wild-bird sits, and brooding o'er her nest 

Still guards the priceless gems, her joy and pride, 
Now ripening 'neath her hope-enlivened breast. 


We turn the page ; before the expectant eye 
A Traveller stands lone on some desert heath, 

The glorious sun is passing from the sky 
While fall his farewell rays on all beneath. 

O'er the far hills a purple veil seems flung, 
Dim herald of the coming shades of night ; 

E'en now Diana's lamp aloft is hung 
Drinking full radiance from the fount of light. 

O, when the solemn wind of midnight sighs, 
Where will the lonely traveller lay his head ? 

Beneath the tester of the star-bright skies 
On the wild moor he'll find a dreary bed. 

Now we behold a marble Naiad placed 

Beside a fountain on her sculptured throne, 

Her bending form with simplest beauty graced, 
Her white robes gathered in a snowy zone. 

She from a polished vase pours forth a stream 
Of sparkling water to the waves below, 

Which roll in light and music, while the gleam 
Of sunshine flings through shade a golden glow. 

A hundred fairer scenes these leaves reveal, 

But there are tongues that injure while they praise ; 

I cannot speak the rapture that I feel 
When on the work of such a mind I gaze. 

Then farewell, Bewick, genius' favoured son, 
Death's sleep is on thee, all thy woes are past, 

From earth departed, life and labour done, 
Eternal peace and rest are thine at last. 

(Signed) C. BRONTE." 
November 27th, 1832. 

This poem was written in the November of the year in which 
Charlotte Bronte returned home from Roe Head, when sixteen 
and a half years of age, and it is significant that in the beginning 
of the first chapter of Jane Eyre she speaks of "A drear 


November afternoon, when she was carefully studying the 
beautiful engravings in Bewick's History of British Birds." 

Of Bewick's two books, Volume I, dealing with the history 
of quadrupeds, was published in 1790, and Volume II, which 
dealt with the history of British birds, was issued in 1797. 
Bewick died in 1828, four years before Charlotte Bronte wrote 
her poem. 

Bewick's British Birds was included in Patrick Bronte's 
collection of books, for the late Mr. Law, of Littleboro, pur- 
chased a copy of Bewick's Birds at the Bronte sale in 1886. 
The minute engravings must have attracted Charlotte Bronte 
especially, for she was very fond of copying pictures. 

Bewick was the first engraver on wood in England and, like 
the Brontes, he was passionately fond of wild birds and 
animals. With his great love of nature and his power to 
depict it, he fostered the similar taste in Charlotte Bronte 
and her sisters, who revelled in the moors, the changing skies, 
and the wild birds on the moor. 

In Wuthering Heights Emily tells of Cathy, in her delirium, 
picking out the feathers from the pillow and naming them 
one by one. 

In his History of British Birds, Bewick has drawn some 
exquisite little vignettes of the feathers of different birds, 
with clear, delicate lines as fine as a hair, and the Brontes 
not only knew the name of each bird on the Haworth moors, 
but they could tell the bird from seeing a single feather. Just 
as there is a Bronte Museum at Haworth, with specimens of 
the drawings and writings of the Brontes, so at Newcastle-on- 
Tyne there is a Bewick Museum, containing some original draw- 
ings and paintings by Bewick. Here are to be seen his early 
studies and suggestions ; nothing was too insignificant for 
his pencil. In the Bewick Museum may be seen the little 
picture, with its suggestive moral, of a traveller trying to hoist 
his heavy sack upon his back before starting once more upon 
his tramp, whilst a little demon, with horns and tail the usual 
method in those days of depicting the devil for children is 
mischievously pinning the load securely down. Charlotte 
Bronte refers to this picture in Jane Eyre. 


When Ellen Nussey asked Charlotte Bronte, at the age of 
eighteen, what she should read, she suggested for natural 
history Bewick and Audubon. 

Charlotte Bronte was at this time a great admirer of Words- 
worth, and she may have been prompted to write a eulogy 
on the great engraver by Wordsworth's lines in his Lyrical 

" O now that the genius of Bewick were mine, 
And the skill which he learned on the banks of the Tyne." 

There is one little vignette on page 256 of Bewick's History 
of Birds that Charlotte Bronte refers to in Jane Eyre. " I 
cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quiet churchyard, 
with its inscribed headstone, its gate, its two trees, its low 
horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly-risen crescent, 
attesting the hour of evening." Though she goes into all 
these minute details, she does not mention the peculiar 
inscription on the tombstone, which reads 


This may have comforted Charlotte Bronte as it did Jane 
Eyre, as she sat hiding in the window-seat, reading and 
analysing Bewick. 

Her poem on Bewick, written in 1832, helps to prove that 
the early part of Jane Eyre was autobiographical, and that 
aunt Branwell was the original of " Mrs. Reed," though it is 
not all true to fact. Charlotte Bronte paraphrased as well as 
quoted some of Bewick's writing in her opening chapter of 
Jane Eyre, and her quotation from the poet Thomson is also 
from a page of Bewick. 

It was in those years, after Charlotte Bronte's visit to Roe 
Head, that her voluminous correspondence with Ellen Nussey 
began. The girls had vowed eternal friendship in school girl 
fashion, and had promised to write to each other once a month. 
Charlotte, with the idea of improving herself, suggested that 
they should correspond in French. 


After leaving Roe Head, Charlotte was frequently invited 
to Ellen Nussey's home at the Rydings, Birstall. The building 
is still there, but it has been divided into two houses. When 
I was privileged to go through the building, Charlotte's bed- 
room was pointed out, and in the grounds is the sunk fence in 
which the lightning-struck tree mentioned in Jane Eyre was 
to be seen some few years ago, held together by iron hoops. 
The house originally belonged to Mr. John Green, a wealthy 
Yorkshireman, who owned several ancient halls in Yorkshire. 

A descendant of this Mr. John Green, Mr. J. J. Green of 
Hastings, married a daughter of Emily Wheelwright, who was 
at school with Charlotte and Emily Bronte in Brussels, and 
received music lessons from Emily Bronte. The Rydings 
figures in Jane Eyre as " Thornfield," though the interior 
of Norton Conyers, near Harrogate, contributes something 
to it. 

Ellen Nussey was one of a family of eleven, who were all 
present at her twenty-first birthday party on 22nd April, 
1837. She outlived them all and died on 26th November, 
1897, aged eighty. The day of her funeral was very wet and 
wild, but the Birstall churchyard was crowded, people coming 
from long distances, not only out of respect for Miss Nussey, 
but because she had been the faithful friend of Charlotte 
Bronte. The grave-stone was so crowded that Ellen's name 
lias had to be engraved on the side of the stone. 

In 1871 she wrote for Scribncr's Magazine an account of 
her first visit to Haworth 

" My first visit to Haworth was full of novelty and freshness. 
The scenery for some miles before we reached Haworth was 
wild and uncultivated, with hardly any population ; at last 
we came to what seemed a terrific hill, such a deep declivity 
no one thought of riding down it ; the horse had to be carefully 
led. We no sooner reached the foot of this hill than we had 
to begin to mount again, over a narrow, rough, stone-paved 
road ; the horse's feet seemed to catch at the boulders as if 
climbing. When we reached the top of the village there was 
apparently no outlet, but we were directed to drive into an 
entry which just admitted the gig ; we wound round in this 


entry and then saw the church close at hand, and we entered 
on the short lane which led to the parsonage gateway. Here 
Charlotte was waiting, having caught the sound of the approach- 
ing gig. When greetings and introductions were over, Miss 
Branwell (the aunt of the Brontes) took possession of their 
guest and treated her with the care and solicitude due to a 
weary traveller. Mr. Bronte, also, was stirred out of his usual 
retirement by his own kind consideration, for not only the 
guest but the man-servant and the horse were to be made 
comfortable. He made inquiries about the man, of his 
length of service, etc., with the kind purpose of making a few 
moments of conversation agreeable to him. 

" Even at this time, Mr. Bronte struck me as looking very 
venerable, with his snow-white hair and powdered coat-collar. 
His manner and mode of speech always had the tone of high- 
bred courtesy. He was considered somewhat of an invalid, 
and always lived in the most abstemious and simple manner. 
His white cravat was not then so remarkable as it grew to be 
afterwards. He was in the habit of covering this cravat 
himself. We never saw the operation, but we always had to 
wind for him the white sewing-silk which he used. Charlotte 
said it was her father's one extravagance he cut up yards 
and yards of white lute-striag (silk) in covering his cravat ; 
and, like Dr. Joseph Woolffe (the renowned and learned 
traveller), who, when on a visit and in a long fit of absence, 
4 went into a clean shirt every day for a week, without taking 
one off,' till at length nearly half his head was enveloped in 
cravat. His liability to bronchial attacks, no doubt, attached 
him to this increasing growth of cravat. 

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

" She talked a great deal of her younger days ; the gaieties 
of her native town, Penzance, in Cornwall ; the soft warm 


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

" ' Tabby,' the faithful, trustworthy old servant, was very 
quaint in appearance very active, and, in these days, the 
general servant and factotum. We were all 'childer' and 
4 bairns,* in her estimation. She still kept to her duty of 
walking oat with the ' childer ' if they went any distance fiom 
home, unless Bran well were sent by his father as a protector. 
Poor ' Tabby ' in later days, after she had been attacked with 
paralysis, would most anxiously look out for such duties as 
she was still capable of. The postman was her special point 
of attention. She did not approve of the inspection which 
the younger eyes of her fellow-servant bestowed on his deli- 
veries. She jealously seized them when she could, and carried 
them off with hobbling step and shaking head and hand to the 
safe custody of Charlotte. 

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

" Anne dear, gentle Anne was quite different in appearance 


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

" In fine and suitable weather delightful rambles were made 
over the moors and down into glens and ravines that here and 
there broke the monotony of the moorland. The rugged 
bank and rippling brook were treasures of delight. Emily, 
Anne, and Branwell used to ford the streams, and sometimes 
placed stepping-stones for the other two ; there was always 
a lingering delight in these sports every moss, every flower, 
every tint and form, were noted and enjoyed. Emily espe- 
cially had gleesome delight in these nooks of beauty her 
reserve for the time vanished. One long ramble made in these 
early days was far away over the moors, to a spot familiar 
to Emily and Anne, which they called 4 The Meeting of the 
Waters.' It was a small oasis of emerald green turf, broken 
here and there by small clear springs ; a few large stones 
served as resting-places ; seated here, we were hidden from all 
the world, nothing appearing in view but miles and miles of 
heather, a glorious blue sky, and brightening sun. A fresh 
breeze wafted on us its exhilaiating influence ; we laughed and 
made mirth of each other, and settled we would call ourselves 
the quartette. Emily, half reclining on a slab of stone, played 
like a young child with the tadpoles in the water, making 
them swim about, and then fell to moralising on the strong 
and the weak, the brave and the cowardly, as she chased them 
with her hand. No serious care or sorrow had so far cast its 
gloom on nature's youth and buoyancy, and nature's simplest 
offerings were fountains of pleasure and enjoyment. 

" The interior of the now far-famed parsonage lacked 
drapery of all kinds. Mr. Bronte's horror of fire forbade cur- 
tains to the windows ; they never had these accessories to 
comfort and appearance till long after Charlotte was the only 
inmate of the family sitting-room she then ventured on the 


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

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

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

" Every morning was heard the firing of a pistol from 
Mr. Bronte's room window ; it was the discharging of the 
loading which was made every night. Mr. Bronte's tastes led 
him to delight in the perusal of battle-scenes, and in following 
the artifice of war ; had he entered on military service instead 
of ecclesiastical, he would probably have had a very distin- 
guished career. The self-denials and privations of camp-life 
would have agreed entirely with his nature, for he was remark- 
ably independent of the luxuries and comforts of life. The 
only dread he had was of fire, and this dread was so intense 
it caused him to prohibit all but silk or woollen dresses for his 
daughters ; indeed, for anyone to wear any other kind of fabric 
was almost to forfeit his respect. 

" During Miss Bran well's reign at the parsonage, the love of 
animals had to be kept in due subjection. There was then 


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

A visitor does not always see the true family picture. Whilst 
Ellen Nussey was staying at the parsonage, there were no doubt 
many signs of what may be regarded as a happy home. As it 
was summer time, Miss Bran well came downstairs to her meals, 
and the father left his study to dine with his children and tell 
tales of his younger days, of Haworth, and of the surrounding 
neighbourhood. But this was not the usual routine, and it 
was calculated to create a more favourable impression than the 
family life warranted. Bran well was beginning to be more 
troublesome ; the vanity, which was a prominent feature in 
his character, was really his besetting sin. His letters to 
Coleridge, Wordsworth and the editor of BlackwoocTs Magazine, 
showed an excited brain, and there is no doubt that at times 
his mind was unbalanced, as his letters and some of his poems 

Charlotte Bronte tells of Emily being bitten by a mad dog, 
and how her sister cauterised the wound with a red-hot iron. 
She does not refer to the fact that Branwell, when a boy, was 
bitten by a dog, and in his case the wound was not cauterised. 
It was only years afterwards, when he became so difficult to 
manage, that the bite by the dog was referred to. Whether 
it had anything to do with his lack of control is doubtful ; 

8 (2200) 


all the members of the home combined to spoil him, and in 
cases where the sisters would have been corrected, he was 
allowed to pass unpunished, and his faults were even attributed 
to manliness as opposed to being effeminate. Charlotte 
speaks of his handsome face, and says that nature had been 
kinder to him than to his sisters. That he went to London 
is certain, though Mrs. Gaskell did not get to know this ; but 
he soon got through all the money his father had allowed 
him, giving useless excuses, such as that he had been robbed 
by a fellow-traveller. The old Vicar saw that Bran well was 
not to be trusted in London, and he was brought back ; he 
had none of his sisters' stern application to duty. The 
people of Haworth laughed at him, and treated him as one 
quite lacking in ordinary common sense, though sociable to 
a fault. 

The Black Bull at Haworth, which has been considered 
by some people to some extent responsible for BranwelPs 
downfall, was a very respectable village inn, kept by a suc- 
cession of members of the Sugden family, who would not 
tolerate conduct likely to jeopardise their good name. When 
the landlord was taxed with having sent for Branwell, in order 
to entertain the guests, he replied : " I never sent for him at 
all ; he came himself, hard enough." He admitted, however, 
that sometimes the Vicar or his daughters would call at the 
front door to enquire if Branwell was there, upon which occa- 
sions Branwell would jump through the kitchen window, or 
go through the back door, when the landlord would be able 
to give a satisfactory answer. 

There must have been some good in him, for his friends, and 
even those who were merely acquaintances, had much to say 
in his favour. Francis A. Leyland, January Searle (George 
Searle Phillips), Francis H. Grundy, and many who knew 
him in Haworth pitied rather than blamed him. They con- 
sidered that he was easily led and unbalanced in character. 
No one took him seriously ; people laughed at his conceited 
ways, and admired his ability and cleverness in doing things 
which were beyond them. 

Mrs. Gaskell tells of a picture of his three sisters, which he 



painted. The original has disappeared, though fortunately 
a photograph on glass was taken by a Ha worth photographer. 
Mrs. Gaskell says 

" They all thought there could be no doubt about Bran well's 
talent for drawing. I have seen an oil painting of his, done 
I know not when, but probably about this time. It was a 
group of his sisters, life size, three-quarters length ; not much 
better than sign-painting, as to manipulation ; but the like- 
nesses were, I should think, admirable. I could only judge 
of the fidelity with which the other two were depicted, from 
the striking resemblance which Charlotte, upholding the great 
frame of canvas, and consequently standing right behind it, 
bore to her own representation, though it must have been ten 
years and more since the portraits were taken. The picture 
was divided, almost in the middle, by a great pillar. On the 
side of the column which was lighted by the sun, stood Char- 
lotte, in the womanly diess of that day of gigot sleeves and 
large collars. On the deeply shadowed side was Emily, with 
Anne's gentle face resting on her shoulder. Emily's counte- 
nance struck me as full of power ; Charlotte's of solicitude ; 
Anne's of tenderness. The two younger seemed hardly to have 
attained their full growth, though Emily was taller than 
Charlotte ; they had cropped hair, and a more girlish dress. 
I remember looking on those two sad, earnest, shadowed faces, 
and wondering whether I could trace the mysterious expression 
which is said to foretell an early death. I had some fond 
superstitious hope that the column divided their fates from 
hers, who stood apart in the canvas, as in life she survived. 
I liked to see that the bright side of the pillar was towards her 
that the light in the picture fell on her : I might more truly 
have sought in her presentment nay, ia her living face for 
the sign of death in her prime. They were good likenesses, 
however badly executed. From thence I should guess his 
family argued truly that, if Bran well had but the opportunity, 
and, alas ! had but the moral qualities, he might turn out a 
great painter." 

Mr. Nicholls took the original to Ireland with him, but not 
liking the portrait of his wife and her sister Anne he cut out 


Emily's portrait, which he considered a good likeness, and 
gave it to Martha Brown, who was then his servant in Ireland. 
Sir William Robertson Nicoll, in the British Weekly of 29th 
Oct., 1908, tells of seeing this painting on his first visit to 
Haworth, in the possession of Martha Brown, but he could not 
then afford to buy it. The Browns afterwards were not 
able to say what became of it, nor could they say what Mr. 
Nicholls did with the remainder, but they think he destroyed 
it. The people in Haworth who knew the Brontes said that 
the picture was a very good likeness of the three sisters, and 
Emily's was especially true. About the time when Bran well 
painted the picture, Charlotte described herself as getting very 
fat, which is borne out by the painting. 

When it was decided that Branwell should go to the Royal 
Academy, Charlotte felt that she ought to do something to 
increase the family income. Several appointments were 
offered to her, amongst them one from her old schoolmistress, 
Miss Wooler, which she was glad to accept. It was decided 
that Emily, who had not attended a school since she was at 
Cowan Bridge, should go with Charlotte in order to improve 
her education. 

Charlotte Bronte returned to Roe Head as governess in 
July, 1835, and remained there until May, 1838. 

Writing to Miss Nussey on 6th July, 1835, Charlotte Bronte 
acquaints her with the various plans which have been formed 
at the Haworth Vicarage 

" Emily is going to school, Branwell is going to London, and 
I am going to be a governess. This last determination I 
formed myself, knowing that I should have to take the step 
some time ' and better sune as syne,' to use the Scotch proverb ; 
and knowing well that papa would have enough to do with 
his limited income, should Branwell be placed at the Royal 
Academy, and Emily at Roe Head. 'Where am I going to 
reside ? ' you will ask. Within four miles of you, at a place 
neither of us is unacquainted with, being no other than the 
identical Roe Head mentioned above. Yes ! I am going to 
teach in the very school where I was myself taught." 

Her experience as governess at Roe Head made it quite 


From an oil-painting by Branwell Bronte, circa, 1840 


plain that she had very little aptitude for teaching ; she 
lacked the primary essential love for young children, " horrid 
children," as she called them. 

But neither she nor her sisters were naturally fond of 
children. This opinion is quite borne out by Charlotte 
Bronte's old pupils, who were not much impressed by her 
teaching ability. Those who remembered her thought of her 
as a small, prim, and strict teacher, always neat in appearance, 
and reserved in manner. Her failure to impress her per- 
sonality on her pupils was probably owing to the fact that 
she hated teaching. " Teach, teach, teach," she wrote to 
Ellen Nussey. Had she loved children, she would have been 
delighted to teach them, instead of looking upon teaching 
solely as a means of earning a livelihood, though it is not merely 
an ignorant governess protesting against teaching, but injured 
genius rebelling against uncongenial work. 

Miss Taylor says in one of her letters at this time 

" She seemed to have no interest or pleasure beyond the 
feeling of duty." 

Charlotte Bronte worked hard as a teacher, but it was an 
uncongenial task, and she wore herself out. To add to her 
anxiety, Emily pined for the moors, trying hard to overcome 
her home sickness by extra exertion in school, which Charlotte 
brought to the notice of her father, requesting that he should 
send for Emily. 

Charlotte paid week-end visits to the Red House at Gomersal, 
where the Taylors lived, and also to Helen Nussey 's home at 
Brookroyd, to which place she had removed. It is not men- 
tioned that Emily visited either of these homes, and no one 
at Roe Head appears to have recollected much of her except 
that she was reserved and did not make friends with any 
of them : " She kept herself to herself, and had little to say 
to anybody." 

Without making any impression on Miss Wooler's little happy 
school, Emily Bronte returned home, and so ended her school 
days as a pupil until she was a woman of twenty-four, when 
she went to Brussels. 

After Emily's departure, Charlotte Bronte, though happy 


in the evenings with Miss Wooler, drifted into a state of nervous 
depression, and to add to her troubles, Anne, her younger 
sister who had come to take Emily's place at the school was 
taken ill too ; this was the only school education which Anne 
ever received. During Anne's illness Charlotte Bronte* felt 
her responsibility very keenly, and even upbraided Miss 
Wooler for her supposed indifference to Anne's health. This 
was an example of that occasional ill-temper which clung to 
Charlotte throughout life, and was caused, most probably, 
by her overwrought nerves 

" I have some qualities that make me very miserable, some 
feelings that you can have no participation in that few, very 
few, people in the world can at all understand. I don't pride 
myself on these peculiarities. I strive to conceal and suppress 
them as much as I can ; bat they burst out sometimes, and 
then those who see the explosion despise me, and I hate myself 
for days afterwards." 

These attacks of nervous depression, from which Charlotte 
Bronte suffered when exhausted with anxiety, show how readily 
her mind would store up a grudge, especially if she had been 
thwarted ; this partly accounts for her hot denunciation of 
Cowan Bridge School and the Pensionnat Heger. Writing 
to Ellen Nussey, she says 

" You have been very kiad to me of late, and nave spared 
me all those little sallies of ridicule, which, owing to my miser- 
able and wretched touchiness of character, used formerly to 
make me wince, as if I had been touched with a hot iron ; 
things that nobody else cares for enter into my mind and 
rankle there like venom. I know these feelings are absurd, and 
therefore I try to hide them, but they only sting the deeper for 

It was about Christmas time of 1836 that Miss Wooler 
transferred her school from the fine, open and breezy Roe 
Head, to Heald House, Dewsbury Moor a much less bracing 
situation, which was sure to be less healthy to anyone accus- 
tomed, as the Brontes were, to the moors at Ha worth ; Charlotte 
very much regretted the change, especially for the sake of her 
sister Anne. 


As a consequence of the sharp quarrel, Miss Wooler wrote 
to Mr. Bronte, who, evidently believing in Charlotte's version, 
and no doubt remembering the death of Maria and Elizabeth, 
sent for both Anne and Charlotte the next day. Miss Wooler 
sought to be reconciled to her passionate young governess, and 
they became friends again, the consequence being that Charlotte 
returned to the school after the holidays. She did not, how- 
ever, remain longer than May, 1838, as the doctor advised 
her to return to Ha worth owing to an attack of hypochondria. 
After a quiet rest, her father invited Mary and Martha Taylor 
to spend a few days at the parsonage. He was anxious to 
remove the depression from which Charlotte suffered, and the 
visit of these two friends acted like a charm. 

Charlotte at this time was influenced by a letter from 
Southey, to whom she had sent some of her poems ; she 
took his reply quite seriously. Teaching was just as dis- 
tasteful as writing was congenial to her ; the fact that she 
had to follow the uninteresting life of a governess was cal- 
culated to bring about periods of depression. It is evident 
that this letter to Southey was somewhat flippant, judging 
by his reply. She, however, wrote to thank him for the advice 
he gave her, which led to a second letter from Southey, which 
suggests that he had a better opinion of Charlotte Bronte 
after her second letter to him. 

Referring to Charlotte's first letter, which has never been 
forthcoming, Southey wrote to Caroline Bowles 

" I sent a dose of cooling admonition to the poor girl whose 
flighty letter reached me at Buckland. It seems she is the 
eldest daughter of a clergyman, has been expensively educated, 
and is laudably employed as governess in some private family. 
About the same time that she wrote to me her brother wrote 
to Wordsworth, who was disgusted with the letter, for it 
contained gross flattery and plenty of abuse of other poets, 
including me. I think well of the sister from her second letter, 
and probably she will think kindly of me as long as she lives." 


Mrs. Gaskell has given Charlotte's second letter and also 

1 Correspondence of Robert Southey with Caroline Bowles. 


Southey's two letters in reply. Charlotte says in her second 
letter to Southey : "I trust I shall never more feel ambitious 
to see my name in print ; if the wish should rise I'll look at 
Southey's letter and suppress it." For some time, literary work 
was laid aside, and she tried to give her mind to other duties. 
It was during the Christmas holidays of 1837 that Tabby, the 
old servant, met with an accident and broke her leg. All the 
sisters had to take their share in nursing her and doing her work, 
which interfered with their Christmas festivities. Miss 
Branwell was very anxious that Tabby should be sent to her 
relatives, and she persuaded Mr. Bronte that this would be 
the best plan, but the Bronte girls adopted the " hunger strike " 
until they were allowed to have their own way. Miss Branwell 
and her nieces did not always take the same view, as the 
sexton's family, living close by, knew quite well. 

Charlotte Bronte remained at Haworth about a year after 
leaving Miss Wooler's school at Dewsbury Moor. In The 
Professor she introduces an account of the illness of William 
Crimsworth, the original of whom was the novelist herself 

" I was temporarily a prey to hypochondria. She had 
been my acquaintance, nay, my guest, once before in boyhood ; 
I had entertained her at bed and board for a year ; for that 
space of time I had her to myself in secret ; she lay with me, 
she ate with me, she walked out with me, showing me nooks 
in woods, hollows in hills, where we could sit together, and 
where she could drop her drear veil over me, and so hide sky 
and sun, grass and green tree ; taking me entirely to her 
death-cold bosom and holding me with arms of bone. What 
tales she would tell me at such hours ! What songs she would 
recite in my ears ! How she would discourse to me of her 
own country the grave and again and again promise to 
conduct me there ere long ; and drawing me to the very brink 
of a black, sullen river, show me on the other side shores 
unequal with mound, monument, and tablet, standing up in 
a glimmer more hoary than moonlight. " Necropolis ! ' she 
would whisper, pointing to the pale piles, and add, ' It contains 
a mansioa prepared for you.' " 


Writing to Branwell from Brussels, six years later, Charlotte 

" It is a curious, metaphysical fact that always in the 
evening ... I always recur as fanatically as ever to the old 
ideas, the old faces, and the old scenes in the world below." 




EMILY BRONT appointed governess at Law Hill School Lack ol 
training for her duties Her account of school life Her 
Character The Misses Patchett Law Hill School and neighbour- 
hood Poems composed whilst at the school Material and 
inspiration gained by Emily's association with the school. 

EMILY seems to have soon revived after reaching home from 
Roe Head, and she kept up her studies, partly with her father, 
but working more frequently alone, whilst Charlotte and Anne 
continued at Roe Head School. 

After remaining at home about fifteen months, Emily, now 
aged eighteen, obtained an appointment as a governess, 
probably urged on like Charlotte, and later like Anne, by the 
feeling that she ought to earn something to enable Branwell 
to be sent to the Royal Academy. She was successful in 
obtaining a situation at the school kept by a Miss Elizabeth 
Patchett, at Law Hill, Southowram, some three or four miles 
from Halifax. Her experience for this position was somewhat 
limited. As a teacher she had received no training whatever, 
and it is not surprising, therefore, that she had a hard time 
at the beginning of her career at Law Hill, for she was incapable 
of submitting to regular routine ; she loved to do things in 
her own way, and preferred to choose her own time : " I'll 
walk where my own nature would be leading ; it vexes me 
to choose another guide," she says in one of her poems. 

Charlotte Bronte wrote to Ellen Nussey from Roe Head 
School on 2nd October, 1836 

" My sister Emily is gone into a situation as teacher in a large 
school of near forty pupils, near Halifax. I have had one letter 
from her since her departure ; it gives an appalling account 
of her duties hard labour from six in the morning until near 
eleven at night, with only one half -hour of exercise between. 
This is slavery. I fear she will never stand it.'" 

This is all the actual information which has been handed 
down by the Brontes concerning Emily's stay at Law Hill. 



According to Mrs. Gaskell, Charlotte wrote this letter to Ellen 
Nussey on 6th Oct., 1836. 

In the privately printed volume of Charlotte's letters, which 
were compiled by Mr. Horsfall Turner for Ellen Nussey, the 
letter is also dated 6th Oct., 1836, and in the first Bronte 
Museum exhibition Mr. Horsfall Turner exhibited a letter of 
Charlotte's of that date, but in the Life and Letters, by Mr. 
Shorter, the letter is dated 2nd April, 1837, and is headed 
Dewsbury Moor, but there must be some mistake, for Miss 
Wooler was at Roe Head when Charlotte wrote to Ellen Nussey 
telling her of Emily having gone to a situation at Law Hill. 

Mrs. Gaskell says : " Emily had given up her situation 
in the Halifax District School at the expiration of six months 
of arduous trial." l This would imply that Emily left Law Hill 
in the Spring of 1837. But, in a statement following a letter 
dated March, 1839, referring to Henry Nussey's proposal of 
marriage to Charlotte Bronte, Mrs. Gaskell says : " Emily, 
who suffered and drooped more than her sisters when away 
from home, was the one appointed to remain. Anne was the 
first to meet with a situation." Anne accepted this appoint- 
ment in April, 1839, according to Charlotte Bronte's letter, 
which Mrs. Gaskell quotes. This would show that Emily 
Bronte stayed at Law Hill for two and a half years. 

Again, Anne Bronte, writing in her journal on 30th July, 
1841, says : " Four years ago I was at school . . . Emily 
has been a teacher at Miss Patchett's and left it." As the 
second little journal was written exactly four years later, 
the one for 1841 points to the fact that the four years 
mentioned cover July, 1837, to July, 1841, showing that 
Emily was at Law Hill later than the Spring of 1837. In 
support of this evidence, Mrs. Watkinson of Huddersfield, who 
first went as a pupil to Law Hill in Oct., 1838, has kindly 
allowed me to see letters of hers written at that time from 
Law Hill, and she is absolutely certain that Emily Bronte 
was a teacher during the winter, 1838-39 ; she remembers 

1 The only authority for this statement appears to be a letter from 
Ellen Nussey to Mrs. Gaskell, dated Oct. 22, 1856. (The Brontes : Life 
and Letters, by Clement K. Shorter.) 


her quite well, and the one thing that impressed her most 
about Emily Bronte was her devotion to the house-dog, which 
she once told her little pupils was dearer to her than they were. 

It is unfortunate that all Emily's letters to her sisters have 
been destroyed by Charlotte Bronte. The letter to Ellen 
Nussey complaining of Emily's hardships is but another 
chapter in an old story. All the employers of the Brontes 
were slave-drivers, according to Charlotte, whereas whatever 
fault existed could be attributed largely to the temperament 
of the eccentric and reserved daughters of the moor. They had 
no aptitude for teaching, for the chains of their genius were 
dragging at them all the time. 

Mrs. Gaskell has tried to prove that the employers of the 
Brontes were all unkind and even cruel. Those who knew 
Miss Elizabeth Patchett, of Law Hill School, have spoken 
very highly of her, and she was greatly respected and loved by 
her pupils. This is fully borne out by letters seen by the writer, 
all of which go to prove that she was a kind schoolmistress. 
This girls' school was conducted by two sisters, Miss Elizabeth 
and Miss Maria Patchett. Miss Maria Patchett was married 
before Emily Bronte went to Southowram, and Miss Elizabeth 
married the Rev. John Hope, Vicar of Southowram, shortly 
after Emily Bronte left in 1839. 

From the testimony of several old pupils, Emily Bronte was 
not unpopular at Law Hill, though she could not easily associate 
with others, and her work was hard because she had not the 
faculty of doing it quickly. Unlike Charlotte, she was not 
good at needlework, and like her elder sister Maria, though 
clever in her own unique way, she was untidy, and fond of 
day-dreaming. The school was built away from the farm, 
across the yard ; it was a long narrow building, divided into 
class-rooms, and the pupils slept in the bedrooms overhead, 
and not at the farm. 

Miss Elizabeth Patchett, according to one of her pupils 
still living, was a very beautiful woman, wearing her hair 
in curls. She was fond of teaching, and after her marriage 
to Mr. Hope she lived in the Vicarage, and took a great interest 
in the old home. Her husband died in 1843, and when 


visiting his grave in the old churchyard she never failed to 
call at her old home. Her relatives naturally were not pleased 
that Charlotte Bronte's letter to Miss Nussey should have 
been published by Mrs. Gaskell. Like Cowan Bridge, Law 
Hill School was ever afterwards marked as an institution 
which was conducted with lack of consideration, simply 
because one of the Brontes was unable to carry out the ordinary 
duties assigned to her. The consequence was that the friends 
and relatives of the Patchetts refrained from discussing Emily 
Bronte for many years. They quite ignored the Bronte connec- 
tion with the school, being satisfied that their reputation should 
rest with other pupils and teachers who had passed through it. 

The quaint village of Southowram, near Halifax, stands at 
the top of a very steep and long hill, higher than Haworth, 
and the approach to it to-day is by a steep and irregular road, 
which affords a hard climb to the pedestrian ; but in 
Emily Bronte's time there was no real road, except a rugged 
moorland path, leading up Beacon Hill. From the village a 
magnificent view of hills on every side can be seen, stretching 
as far as Oxenhope Moors on one side and the Kirklees Estate 
on the other, whilst the winding Calder valley lies between, 
with its river and canal. 

Law Hill is a gentleman farmer's house ; it is a square 
three-storied building, with a pleasant view looking in the 
direction of the little church known as St. Anne's-in-the-Grove. 
A still older church, now used as a stable, was known as St. 
Anne's-in-the-Brier. From the windows of Law Hill there 
are fine views over the Calder valley to the heights around. 
On the lawn are large trees, which in summer hide the greater 
part of the front of the house. It was whilst at Law Hill 
that Emily wrote 

" The night is darkening round me, 

The wild winds coldly blow ; 
But a tyrant spell has bound me, < 

And I cannot, cannot go. 

The giant trees are bending 

Their bare boughs weighed with snow, 

And the storm is fast descending, 
And yet I cannot go. 


Clouds beyond clouds above me, 

Wastes beyond wastes below ; 
But nothing dread can move me, 

I will not, cannot go/' 1 

This poem is dated November, 1837, The uncultivated 
land around Law Hill was mostly " waste beyond waste " in 
1837 ; now it is cultivated. When the writer last visited 
Law Hill, it was occupied by two brothers, who lived alone, 
no woman having dwelt in the house for years. The front 
gate being locked and barred, access was gained through a 
wide, open gateway close to the schoolroom, with stone pillars 
on either side of the path admitting to the back door. On 
knocking at the door the angry barking of dogs greets one, 
reminding the visitor of Lockwood's approach to Wuthering 
Heights, for this old house at Southowram has been credited 
with being the original of Wuthering Heights, and it is certain 
that Emily had it in mind when writing her masterpiece, for, 
as on Ha worth moors, many weird tales are associated with this 
district. She seems to have taken Law Hill as the original 
for Wuthering Heights, and placed it on Haworth Moor. 

The schoolroom across the farmyard, in which Emily Bronte 
dragged out her uncongenial duties, has been considerably 
altered, and it is now converted into three small cottages. 
The present owner remembers the last visit paid by Mrs. Hope 
(Miss Patchett), the former schoolmi stress. She was then a 
very old lady, but still beautiful with her grey curls, and, though 
over eighty years of age, " could riip about from room to room 
quite gaily," as he expressed it. From the description of 
Miss Patchett, which has been given by those who knew her, 
it is evident that she was of a decided and practical turn of 
mind, and a person who knew how to carry out her duties 
as a schoolmistress. Her school, in consequence, had an 
excellent reputation. In Emily Bronte's time there was a 
farm attached to it, which practically supplied most of the 
produce that was required by the pupils, teachers and servants. 
It is possible that the original of " Joseph " in Wuthering 
Heights may have been connected with the farm, and it is 

1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, by Clement K. Shorter. 


probable that Emily Bronte quite unconsciously got material 
from this place when writing her famous novel. The road 
leading to these heights is known as Beacon Hill Road, and 
Law Hill can be seen from a long distance. A tramway now 
scales the Beacon Hill, but so steep was it near the top that a 
large slice of land was practically cut off to level it when the 
new road was made. 

The girls at the school were taught all the usual accom- 
plishments, and horse-riding in addition : Miss Patchett is 
said to have been a very skilful horsewoman. There is an 
old stone horsemount in the farmyard, near to the side entrance, 
leading to the front lawn. Emily Bronte pictures the elder 
Catherine in Wuthering Heights as a fearless rider. The white 
painted stoops on the moor between Haworth and Halifax are 
mentioned in Wuthering Heights, as are also the horse steps. 

Emily Bronte would be sure to notice these upright stones 
which are still to be seen, when driving to and from Southowram. 
The fields and meadows around Law Hill were part of the farm, 
and Emily Bronte must have had them in mind when she 
portrayed Joseph looking for Heathcliff in Chapter IX 
of Wuthering Heights. There is mention of the moors, the hay- 
loft, the gate on the full swing, Miss's pony, and the meadow 
all to be found near Law Hill, for the fields near the farm were 
cultivated, and the wastes stretched beyond. The Withens, 
by many claimed as the original of Wuthering Heights, on 
Haworth Moor, does not answer so well to this description, 
and the house seems smaller than Wuthering Heights r,,s 
described by Emily Bronte. The tracts of waste land beyond 
the parsonage at Haworth and at Southowram have both been 
utilised in Wuthering Heights : both are lonely and desolate : 
here and there are the old farms, in which the rough and 
uncouth people lived, seldom associating with each other or 
with other people. When Charlotte said Emily had no 
more practical knowledge of the people among whom she lived 
than a nun has of those who passed her convent gates, she 
forgot that Emily had seen something of the life of the farmer 
and his servants during her two and a half years at Law 


Emily Bronte, like Charlotte when at Roe Head and Dews- 
bury Moor, does not appear to have made much impression 
on her pupils ; she was simply one of the governesses 
nothing more. She had charge of the younger children, and 
they soon forgot the time she spent with them, though there 
is no record that she was ever unkind ; on the contrary she was 
liked by some of her pupils. The girls were all boarders from 
Halifax and other towns in the neighbourhood, and the elevated 
position of the school counted in its favour. It was certainly 
a healthy spot for strong girls, but the Brontes were far from 
strong, and the taint of " consumption " predisposed them to 
illness, whilst other girls would be likely to flourish in such 
a bracing climate, but as Emily appears to have stayed at 
Law Hill from October, 1836, to the Spring of 1839, it seems 
as if the place agreed with her. 

When Emily Bronte walked around Southowram, she would 
often be with the pupils or with Miss Patchett, and not alone 
as she would wish. As the Patchetts were a very old Halifax 
family, it is possible that Emily Bronte would learn much of 
the district from Miss Patchett, who at the time was a handsome 
woman of forty-four, just as Charlotte did from Miss Wooler 
at Roe Head ; for the daily walks with the Head Mistress were 
a much prized recreation, a former pupil told me. 

Unlike Cowan Bridge School, the church was not far away, 
and Emily Bronte was able to take her walks to the church 
and the moors with her pupils without any great inconvenience, 
even in bad weather. There was a choice of walks, one leading 
down the valley to Brighouse, whilst beyond is Hartshead- 
cum-Clifton, and further on is Roe Head and Kirklees. The 
long steep road to Halifax and back was nearly eight miles and 
obviously too severe a strain for the young scholars, but one of 
the pupils, who was at the school when Emily Bronte was there, 
allowed me to see a letter in which she mentions that Miss 
Patchett took some of the girls to Halifax to see the Museum 
occasionally, and the stuffed birds and animals are mentioned 
in the letter as being of great interest ; doubtless Emily Bronte 
enjoyed the Museum. She never refers to her school days in 


her novel, but she mentions her surroundings again and again, 
both in her novel and in her poems. 

In spite of Emily's hard treatment, of which Charlotte 
Bronte complained, she wrote a number of poems during the 
period of 1836-1839 whilst at Law Hill, and the poem on 
" Home," beginning " A little while, a little while," was 
written there, in my opinion 

" A little while, a little while, 

The weary task is put away, 

And I can sing and I can smile, 

Alike, while I have holiday. 

Where wilt thou go, my harassed heart 
What thought, what scene invites thee now ? 

What spot, or near or far apart, 
Has rest for thee, my weary brow? 

Still, as I mused, the naked room, 

The alien firelight died away ; 
And from the midst of cheerless gloom 

I passed to bright, unclouded day. 

The last verse reads 

Even as I stood with raptured eye, 
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear, 

My hour of rest had fleeted by, 
And back came labour, bondage, care." 

" Even as I stood with raptured eye " seems to point 
to the nearness of Emily Bronte's home, which, as the crow 
flies, was only a short distance away. 

It is not possible to agree with Mrs. Humphry Ward, or Miss 
May Sinclair, that the poem was composed at Roe Head, even 
though Charlotte Bronte attributes it to that period. Charlotte 
says Emily was only sixteen when she wrote the poem ; as a 
matter of fact Emily was seventeen on the very day after she 
arrived at Miss Wooler's school. Charlotte never seems to have 
heard much from Emily about Law Hill. Sir William Robertson 
Nicoll and Miss Robinson consider it to have been written when 
Emily Bronte was at Brussels, because Miss Robinson saw 
a copy of Emily Bronte's poems with dates ; but this poem 

9 (2200) 


may have been kept undated, as many others were ; if it 
had been dated Charlotte Bronte would have seen it, and not 
guessed that it was written at Roe Head. It is much more 
likely to have been written at Law Hill, for at Roe Head there 
was little in Miss Wooler's school to lead her to write about 
" labour, bondage, care," nor was there at Brussels, as in each 
case Emily Bronte was a pupil, and study to her was not 
" labour, bondage, care." Her evenings at Roe Head and at 
Brussels were spent in her own way, with her studies, whereas at 
Law Hill she was said to have been at work until nearly eleven 
o'clock at night, possibly mending the pupils' clothing, pre- 
paring lessons for the next day, marking exercises, and caring 
for things belonging to her pupils. Moreover, it would be in 
keeping with Emily's character to compose poems in her 
solitude, but whilst at Roe Head and Brussels she had Charlotte's 
company in the evenings, and both she and Charlotte Bronte 
had gone to Brussels with the determination to acquire a 
good knowledge of French and German, and in consequence 
there was little time for writing poetry in the evenings. There 
is only one poem that can be attributed to Brussels, judging 
by the Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, recently published by 
Mr. Clement Shorter. Emily was in her nineteenth year when 
she went to Law Hill. The " alien firelight " mentioned in the 
poem could scarcely refer to Miss Wooler's kindly hearth, 
and at Brussels a stove was used, whereas at Law Hill the 
firelight might well be considered "alien," as Emily was a 
stranger amongst strangers. If the poem is carefully studied, 
it is evident that it is the lament of a governess, whose " labour, 
bondage, care " have well nigh overwhelmed her, rather than 
the moan of a pupil. Moreover, the poem could scarcely have 
been written at Roe Head, for Emily Bronte's previous poems 
of 1835 are far from being equal to the one commencing " A 
little while, a little while." If Emily stayed at Law Hill for 
two years and a half, as seems very probable, she may have 
composed this poem at any time in the interval between her 
eighteenth birthday and within a few months of her twenty- 
first birthday. Anne probably wrote her poem on " Home " 
when she was about eighteen. This helps to confirm 


the assumption that Emily was about twenty when she 
wrote hers, for the sisters wrote on similar subjects, as on 
" The Gondals " and " The Last Lines." Granted that Emily 
was at the school for two years and a half, during that period 
she wrote no fewer than thirty-nine poems, according to the 
dates given in the recent edition of The Complete Poems of 
Emily Bronte, published by Mr. Clement Snorter. Some 
of these poems evidently refer to her residence at Law Hill. 
In addition to these thirty-nine poems, there are seventeen 
which Charlotte published in 1850, which she called Selections 
from the Literary Remains of Ellis and Acton Bell. These were 
issued with a new edition of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, 
by Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., who took over the publication 
from Messrs. Newby, the original publishers. Charlotte 
Bronte tells us that the poems were written at twilight in the 
schoolroom when Emily was only sixteen. Charlotte Bronte 
makes several mistakes in her preface, which seems to imply 
that she and Emily were not in each other's confidence. 

Referring to Roe Head, Charlotte says of Emily : " She only 
had been three months at school, and it was some years before 
the experiment of sending her from home was again ventured 
on. After the age of twenty, having meantime studied alone 
with diligence and perseverance, she went with me to an 
establishment on the Continent." This was in 1842. 

This preface to the " Selections " does not touch on the 
stay of the two and a half years at Southowram, but Charlotte 
Bronte clearly implies that the moors were the source of 
Emily's inspiration. The district around Roe Head was not 
moorland, nor, of course, was it at Brussels. Southowram 
evidently helped to furnish Emily with material and inspiration 
for her poems and her one great novel. 

Several of Emily Bronte's poems prove the existence of 
the Gondal Chronicles. 

These Gondal Chronicles are first mentioned in a poem 
dated 19th August, 1834, when Emily was only sixteen. This 
poem was written a year before she went to Roe Head 
in July, 1835, and, from Anne's remarks, the Gondals had 
given them interest and amusement for many a long day. 


" O Alexander ! when I return, 
Warm as these hearths thy heart would burn ; 
Light as thine own my step would fall, 
If I might hear thy voice in the hall. 

But thou art now on the desolate sea, , 
Thinking of Gondal and grieving for me ; 
Longing to be in sweet Elbe again, 
Thinking and grieving and longing in vain." 1 

If Emily Bronte left home in October, 1836 the date given 
by Charlotte then the first poem that Emily wrote at Law 
Hill suggests the scenery around Southowram 

" All down the mountain-sides wild forests lending 
The mighty voice to the life-giving wind ; 
Rivers their banks in the jubilee bending, 
Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending, 
Wilder and deeper their waters extending, 
Leaving a desolate desert behind." 1 

The poem, consisting of four stanzas, is dated December 
13, 1836, and suggests the woods on the hill sides, which 
slope down to the winding river Calder in the valley below. 

There is another poem showing that Emily, like Charlotte, 
suffered from insomnia, and, judging by the date, it must 
have been written at Law Hill. 

The last two verses read 

" Sleep brings no friend to me 

To soothe and aid to bear ; 
They all gaze on how scornfully, 
And I despair. 

Sleep brings no wish to fret 

My harassed heart beneath ; 
My only wish is to forget 

In endless sleep of death." l 

November, 1837. 

There are poems which range in date from December, 1836, 
to January, 1839, which covers the time when Emily was at 
Law Hill. The poem "To a wreath of snow " written in 
December, 1837, which tells of " my prison room," could 
scarcely refer to Ha worth. 

It was decided by the family in the Spring of 1839, according 
1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, by Clement K. Shorter. 


to Mrs. Gaskell, that Emily should remain at home, whilst 
Charlotte went as governess to Stonegappe, Anne to Blake 
Hall, and Branwell had a studio in Bradford, where he set 
up as a portrait-painter, and worked with Mr. Thompson. 

It was in the April of 1839 that Emily wrote The Absent 
One, which was probably suggested by Anne's departure 
after her Spring holiday. The first stanza runs 

" From our evening fireside now 

Merry laugh and cheerful tone, 
Smiling eye and cloudless brow, 

Mirth and music all are flown. 
Yet the grass before the door 

Grows as green in April rain, 
And as blithely as of yore 

Larks have poured their daylight strain." l 

These poems have more than a bibliographical interest, 
for they prove that Emily Bronte was not altogether the 
visionary mystic which some writers have assumed. She had 
a kind heart, and her affection for her home and family was 
greater than it is supposed to have been. It has been thought 
that her poems had no biographical reference either to herself 
or her family, but this view is not correct. The poems written 
at Law Hill are distinct from the Haworth poems, and 
whilst they have some affinity with the Gondal Chronicles 
they reveal something of the life of the author of Wuthering 
Heights, and they prove that none but Emily Bronte could 
have written the tragedy of Wuthering Heights as it stands. 
Take, for instance, the poem beginning " Light up thy halls," 
and dated 1st November, 1838, the last lines of which are 
characteristic of Emily 

" Unconquered in my soul the Tyrant rules me still : 
Life bows to my control, but Love I cannot kill ! " 

The poem beginning " The soft unclouded blue of air " 
could only have been written by one who was able to create a 
Heathcliff some eight years afterwards. 

Environment confers nothing ; it can only develop innate 
capacity, which Emily showed both in her poetry and in her 
novel. One other poem written at this time shows her 

1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, by C. K. Shorter. 


ambition and the note of despair, that often went hand in hand 
all through her life. She had no " worldly wisdom," as 
Charlotte said after her death, but her work shows that not 
only did she possess genius, but that she had high ideals, which 
she ever struggled to attain. 

Emily's one wish seems to have been to write her thoughts 
in verse. In August, 1837, when at Law Hill she writes 

"I asked myself, O why has Heaven 
Denied the precious gift to me, 
The glorious gift to many given, 
To speak their thoughts in poetry ? 

Dreams have encircled me, I said, 
From careless childhood's sunny time ; 
Visions by ardent fancy fed 
Since life was in its morning prime. 

But now, when I had hoped to sing, 
My fingers strike a tuneless string ; 
And still the burden of the strain 
I strive no more ; 'tis all in vain." 1 

The complete edition of Emily Bronte's poems has proved 
that some of the mysterious Gondal Chronicles lie buried in 
the poems. Whether Emily wrote any chronicles in prose will 
never be known, but it is clear that " the good many books " 
which Emily said she had in hand in July, 1841, must have 
been destroyed. 

As previously mentioned, the pupils at Law Hill were taught 
horse-riding, and it is not at all unlikely that Emily learnt to 
ride whilst there, so that the poem, To the horse, Black Eagle, 
which I rode at the battle of Zamorna, though imaginative, 
suited Emily's fearless nature. Emily may have known the 
delights of horse-riding, and her love for animals would be 
sure to include horses. Branwell was fond of horse-riding 
when he could get the loan of horse, and a saddle-bag is now 
to be seen in the Bronte Museum, which was used both by him 
and by his father. 

The battle of Zamorna was likely enough an incident in the 
Gondal Chronicles, and the mention of the word Zamorna 
proves that Emily joined in the writing of the imaginary 

1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, by Clement K. Shorter. 


chronicles. In the British Museum is a small volume of 
manuscripts by Charlotte Bronte, purchased in 1892 from a 
Mr. Nys of Brussels. The longest manuscript, consisting of 
twenty-six pages, is The Spell : an Extravaganza by Lord 
Charles Albert Florian Wellesley and signed Charlotte Bronte, 
July 21, 1834. In it she says, " I sign myself your guardian 
in peace, your general in war, your tyrant in rebellion, 
ZAMORNA," which was Charlotte's nom de guerre in 1834. 

The story is dated from the Zamorna Palace (Emily writes 
of the Palace of Instruction) and in a postscript, addressed to 
the Earl of North Angerland a nom de guerre used by Bran- 
well Bronte Charlotte writes : " Signed, your lordship's 
countryman, Zamorna, September 15th, 1834." Further, there 
is a reference to a speech by His Grace, the Duke of Zamorna. 

There is also included in the volume in the British Museum 
a scrap-book written by Charlotte Bronte, dated March 17th, 
1835, and described on the outer cover as "A mingling of 
many things compiled by Lord C. A. F. Wellesley " ; this 
contains an "Address to the Angrians by His Grace, the 
Duke of Zamorna," and it is interesting to know that in May, 
1912, a manuscript of some twenty-four pages was sold in 
London, entitled The Rising of the Angry <ans, by Bran well 
Bronte, dated January, 1836, which shows that Charlotte and 
Branwell were writing on similar subjects, indeed judging 
from these old MSS. the brother and sister became rivals, 
and tilted arguments at each other. In this address to the 
" Angrians," Charlotte begins : " Men of Angria " : " If you 
would only pronounce Arthur Wellesley your chosen leader, 
etc.," and she signs herself " Your tyrant in rebellion." 

As further proof that all the parsonage children were busy 
with these imaginative stories, it is interesting to find Charlotte 
addresses a Lady Helen Percy, and Emily in her recently 
published poems addresses " Percy " several times, whilst 
Branwell wrote in 1835, The Life of Field Marshal the Right 
Honourable Alexander Percy, Earl of Northangerland, in two 
volumes, by John Bud (P. B. Bronte). In 1837 he is credited 
with a story, Percy, by P. B. Bronte, and in The Bronte Family, 
by the late Mr. Leyland, is a long poem on "Percy Hall," which 


Mr. Leyland tells us is signed " North angerland " at the top 
and Alexander Percy, Esq., at the bottom. Emily Bronte 
seems to be the only one of the family that refused to use a 
nom de guerre in the early day. Either she signed her own 
name, or left the poem unsigned, so far as is known. 

Even Anne uses Lady Geralda, Alexandrina Zenotia, 
and Olivia Vernon as pseudonyms. 

Miss May Sinclair in her criticism on Emily Bronte's poems 
in The Three Brontes says : " You can track the great Gondal 
hero down by that one fantastic name Zamorna," which Miss 
Sinclair treats as purely impersonal. Seeing that the name 
is associated with Charlotte Bronte, it lends interest to the 
Gondal Chronicles, showing that these imaginative plays, like 
the Bronte novels, had some reference to the Bronte household, 
as they used each other as characters in the plays. In the 
light of my discovery in the British Museum MS. that Charlotte 
wrote as " The Duke of Zamorna " in 1834-35, and that Bran well 
was known as " Percy," the following stanza from page 229 of 
Mr. Shorter's Complete Poems of Emily Bronte is interesting. 

" What ! shall Zamorna go down to the dead. 
With blood on his hand that he wept to have shed ? 
What ! shall they carve on his tomb with the sword 
The Slayer of Percy, the scourge of the Lord ? 
Bright flashed the fire in the young Duke's eye 
As he spoke in the tones of the trumpet swelling. 
Then he stood still and watched earnestly how these tones 
were on Percy's spirit telling." 1 

Charlotte heads one chapter of one of the early manuscripts 
addressed to Percy : " He comes, the conquering hero comes." 
For many years Bronte enthusiasts have been searching for 
the manuscript of the early part of a story sent to Wordsworth 
in the summer of 1840 (if Mrs. GaskelPs date is correct), but 
as Wordsworth's letter is undated, there is no proof ; and 
Mrs. Gaskell has more than once put letters under the wrong 
date, and even placed an extract from one letter as being 
from a totally different one, though it is possible that the MS. 
was sent in 1840, but if it refers to the MS. now in the British 
Museum, that is dated 1834 and 1835. 

1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, by Clement K. Shorter. 


Comparing The Spell with Charlotte Bronte's letter to 
Wordsworth, we can perceive that it answers to the description, 
for there is the character of "Percy" mentioned repeatedly, 
and also a " Georgina " and " Eliza," which afterwards appear 
in Jane Eyre. The MS. is in very minute hand printing and 
needs a powerful magnifying glass to decipher it. It is evidently 
the MS. which Mr. Shorter says cannot be traced. 

Since Mrs. Gaskell saw the MS. in 1855, it is clear that she 
saw it in Brussels. Referring to it Mrs. Gaskell says : " Some 
fragments of the manuscript yet remain, but it is in too small 
a hand to be read without great fatigue to the eyes ; and one 
cares the less to read it, as she herself condemned it, in the 
preface to the Professor, by saying that in this story she had 
got over such taste as she might once have had for the 
4 ornamental and redundant in composition.' " 

No fewer than eighty poems in the complete edition of 
Emily Bronte's poems contain imaginative names which 
possibly refer to the Gondal Chronicles. Had Emily Bronte 
lived to know of her success, both as a poet and a novelist, 
she might have given to the world her cycle of Gondal 
Chronicles, which were probably never completed. Charlotte 
possibly destroyed some, which she considered not to be of 
sufficient merit to be included in the second collection of poems 
published in 1850, though some are now published. 

Of the selections made by Charlotte of Emily Bronte's 
poems, the best known are The Philosopher, Remembrance, 
Hope, Honour's Martyr, The old Stoic, A little while, a little 
while, The Visionary and Last Lines, which will always bear 
repeating, for they are not to be surpassed in dignity and self- 
reliance. Unfortunately these are not all dated. Charlotte 
and Anne have had some of their poems set to music, but 
most of Emily's are unsuitable for song. The voice of the 
soul is tense and suppressed, so much so that in reading them 
aloud there is a heart-ache. Emily Bronte was intensely 
introspective, and the gift of humour had passed her by. Her 
poems grow upon the reader and they gain by re-reading, for 
the spirit of the mystic broods over all she wrote and they 
provide food rather for the soul than for the intellect. 



ANNE BRONT becomes a governess at Blake Hall, Mirfield Agnes 
Grey and Blake Hall Charlotte Bronte's first offer of marriage 
Her views on marriage The Rev. Henry Nussey a prototype of 
St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre His unfortunate love affairs 
Mr. Nussey's Diary Charlotte Bronte's refusal of the offer 
Christmas time at the Haworth Vicarage Charlotte Bronte becomes 
a governess at Stonegappe Mr. John Benson Sidgwick Gateshead 
Hall in Jane Eyre She complains of her treatment at Stonegappe 
Mrs. Gaskell's Account Charlotte Bronte* visits Swarcliffe, 
Harrogate Norton Conyers and Thornfield Hall Her second offer 
of marriage First visit to the sea Easton and Bridlington 
Ellen Nussey's account of the holiday. 

IN the early part of 1839 the three Bronte sisters were at home, 
and Charlotte and Anne decided that they ought to take steps 
to earn their own living. Anne, the youngest daughter, 
secured an appointment first ; she was now nineteen, and, 
though never so definite in her views as her sisters, she was not 
lacking in courage. The old people at Haworth described her 
as gentle, sweet and good, with very pretty features, and long 
curls of light brown hair. Her first situation was with a 
Mrs. Ingham, at Blake Hall, Mirfield a fine country mansion 
surrounded by a park. The house is still in existence, and is 
occupied by a relative of the people who were the tenants in 
the time of Anne Bronte's governess days. As Agnes Grey 
never became popular, little attention has been directed to 
Anne's account of the family in her novel, but, in a preface to 
a new edition, she tells her critics who have accused her of 
exaggeration that the story is true enough. If that is so, she 
had a very hard time of it. 

Charlotte Bronte was at that time hoping to find a suitable 
appointment in a private family, for her experience as governess 
in Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head and afterwards at Dews- 
bury Moor had proved too much for her highly-strung and 
conscientious nature. 



It was after her serious breakdown at Dewsbury Moor that, 
on the advice of the local doctor, Mr. Bronte invited Mary and 
Martha Taylor to Haworth, and in one of her letters to Ellen 
Nussey Charlotte gives a pretty picture of the happy group 
at the parsonage, during the holiday. Branwell and lively 
little Martha Taylor, who was known as Miss Boisterous, 
seem to have got on well together, and the society of the 
sisters restored Charlotte to health. It was an attack of 
hypochondria which she mentions in The Professor. 

It was just after Charlotte's serious illness that she received 
her first offer of marriage from the Rev. Henry Nussey, when 
she was twenty-three years of age. Her determined rejection 
of the proposal has been considered a proof that she had an 
aversion from marriage. Mrs. Gaskell writes of Charlotte : 
" Her first proposal of marriage was quietly declined, and put 
on one side. Matrimony did not enter into her scheme of life, 
but good, sound, earnest labour did." This, however, is 
quite a mistake, for few women ever gave more thought to 
matrimony than Charlotte Bronte. Marriage, in her view, 
should mean a real union between two souls, such as existed 
between Rochester and Jane Eyre, Heathcliff and Catherine 
in Wuthering Heights, and Paul Emanuel and Lucy Snowe 
in Villette. There was to be a fusing of true passion between 
two spirits, such as few women could ever imagine, much less 
experience. Charlotte Bronte's idea of marriage for herself 
was much beyond that which she entertained for her friend 
Ellen Nussey, simply because she knew that Ellen Nussey 
could be satisfied with far less than she herself could be content 
ever to accept ; hence her letters of advice about marriage 
are tame enough, which probably led Mrs. Gaskell to think 
that she had no eagerness for marriage, but the novels prove 
the opposite. No woman had a greater desire for a true 
marriage and the subject was never far from her thoughts. 
Charlotte Bronte's first offer of marriage was from the brother 
of her friend Ellen Nussey. He was a clergyman, and at the 
time he wrote proposing marriage to Charlotte Bronte he was 
curate at Earnley, near Chichester. To anyone who has 
read Mr. Nussey's diary, it is very certain he was not the man 


to mate with Charlotte Bronte. In his diary Mr. Nussey 
mentions under date, Tuesday 25th (1831) : "Went with my 
sister Ellen to the Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head, Mirfield." 
As Charlotte Bronte became a pupil at Roe Head School 
a few days before Ellen Nussey, it is possible she met Mr. 
Nussey there. He was evidently anxious to write his diary 
that others might see it, for in March, 1828, he enters 

" Whoever after my decease may be led to peruse these 
pages which have been written or may hereafter be written, 
I pray them not to read as critics, but for profit. These are 
private thoughts penned for my own personal profit." 

Ellen Nussey wished to save Charlotte Bronte from the 
drudgery of teaching amongst strangers, and her deep concern 
for her friend, together with her love for her brother, caused 
her to try her hand at match-making. Miss Nussey was not 
afraid to own in later days that she had hoped the proposal 
would meet with success. This would have enabled her 
to be more closely associated with Charlotte Bronte, who was 
not unaware of the advantage of the engagement from this 
standpoint. She even mentioned it to Ellen Nussey in a 
letter after she had refused the proposal. A short time before, 
Charlotte Bronte had written to Ellen Nussey saying : "I 
often plan the pleasant life which we might lead together 
.... My eyes fill with tears when I contrast the bliss of such 
a state, brightened by hopes of the future, with the melan- 
choly state I now live in." Although Charlotte Bronte hated 
teaching, she was answering advertisements with the hope of 
obtaining a situation. This Ellen Nussey knew, and the 
proposal from Mr. Nussey was sent on 28th February three 
months before Charlotte Bronte got the situation at 

There is no record of the cool, calm, matter-of-fact proposal, 
which Charlotte Bronte received from Henry Nussey, though 
there is in his diary,"now in the possession of Mr. J. J. Stead, 
of Heckmondwike, a brief reference to the circumstance, from 
which it is easy to guess that the offer was one of convenience 
rather than of genuine love. 


" I scorn the counterfeit sentiment you offer : yes, St. 
John, and I scorn you when you offer it,*' says Jane Eyre, and 
it is well known that the Rev. Henry Nussey was not really 
in love with Charlotte Bronte. 

The young curate was evidently more intent on finding a 
housekeeper than a wife, and he told Charlotte Bronte frankly 
that he intended to take pupils, and in due time he should need 
a wife to take care of them. In Jane Eyre the author says 

" He asks me to be his wife, and has no more of a husband's 
heart for me than that frowning giant of a rock, down which 
the stream is foaming in yonder gorge. He prizes me as a 
soldier would a good weapon ; and that is all." 

Ellen Nussey was so anxious to know if Charlotte Bronte 
had received the proposal from her brother that she wrote to 
ask her. In reply Charlotte Bronte wisely says that if Ellen 
Nussey had not mentioned the matter she should not have 
done so. 

"March 12, 1839. 

"... I had a kindly leaning towards him, because he is an 
amiable and well-disposed man. Yet I had not, and could 
not have, that intense attachment which would make me 
willing to die for him ; and if ever I marry it must be hi that 
light of adoration that I will regard my husband. Ten to one 
I shall never have the chance again ; but n'importe. Moreover, 
I was aware that he knew so little of me he could hardly be 
conscious to whom he was writing. Why ! it would startle 
him to see me in my natural home character ; he would think 
I was a wild, romantic enthusiast indeed. I could not sit 
all day long making a grave face before my husband. I would 
laugh, and satirise, and say whatever came into my head first. 
And if he were a clever man, and loved me, the whole world, 
weighed in the balance against his smallest wish, would be 
light as air." 

This answer refutes Mrs. Gaskell's description of Charlotte 
Bronte as being a sad, unhappy woman at this time, and it 
is noticeable that Charlotte wishes to marry a clever man ; 
hence her enthusiasm for Mr. Heger in later days. 


The Rev. Henry Nussey was undoubtedly the prototype 
of " St. John Rivers " in Jane Eyre, and the cold, heartless, 
though nevertheless business-like proposal to the little school- 
mistress in the novel is based on this first proposal of marriage 
in 1839. After an interval of seventy-four years, it is almost 
sacrilege to handle Mr. Nussey's diary, in which he has entered 
his unfortunate love affairs, for it is necessary to mention that 
just before proposing to Charlotte Bronte he had proposed 
to the daughter of his former Vicar, Mr. Lutwidge, and, on the 
day of receiving a refusal from this lady, he proposed to 
Charlotte Bronte. In his diary he says 

" Saturday, 16 [February, 1839]. Received a letter from 
Mr. L., senr., with a negative to my wishes. Thy will, O Lord, 
be done." 

" Monday, 18. Wrote again to M. A. L. and to sister Ellen." 

It was probably in answer to this that Ellen Nussey sug- 
gested the approach to Charlotte Bronte, for the next entry 

" Thursday, 28. (Henry Nussey's birthday.) On Tuesday 
last received a decisive reply from M. A. L.'s papa. A loss, 
but I trust a providential one. Believe not her will, but her 
father's. All right. God knows best what is good for us, 
for his Church, and for his own glory. This I humbly desire. 
And His will be done, and not mine in this or in anything else. 
Evermore give me this spirit of my lord and master. Wrote 
to Yorke, friend C. B. [Charlotte Bronte'], John and George 
also " [his brothers]. 

"Saturday, 9th March. . . . Received an unfavourable 
report from C. B. The will of the Lord be done." 

According to Mr. Nussey's diary, Mr. Lutwidge asked him 
to resign his cuiacy on account of " the inadequacy of my 
powers to fulfil its duties." Mr. Nussey was in ill health at 
the time. 

It is probable that Charlotte Bronte knew of the proposal 
to Miss Lutwidge, for in Jane Eyre St. John Rivers has a some- 
what similar experience with Miss Rosamond Oliver before 
proposing to Jane Eyre, and a reply telling of Miss Oliver's 


engagement is received from Miss Oliver's papa ; Jane Eyre 
is as definite in her refusal as was Charlotte Bronte. 

Not only with regard to the offer of marriage is Mr. Nussey 
the prototype of " St. John Rivers," but also in the fact that 
he wished to become a missionary, and was greatly interested 
in missionary work. In his diary there are no fewer than 
fifteen references to missionaries and his desire to help in the 
foreign mission work. It is noticeable the names Elliot and 
Poole appear in this diary and both are used in Jane Eyre. 

Henry Nussey was one of a family of eleven children. One 
of his brothers, Joshua, was a clergyman, being curate of 
St. John's, Westminster. Two of the brothers were doctors 
of repute, being surgeons-in-ordinary to King William IV and 
to Queen Victoria. 

He was born at Birstall in 1812, thus being four years older 
than Charlotte Bronte. He received a good education, 
and was, at an early age, destined for the Church. His diary 
reveals a character in many respects like St. John Rivers : 
" Zealous in his ministerial labours, and blameless in his 
life and habits, he yet did not appear to enjoy that mental 
serenity, that inward content, which should be the reward 
of every sincere Christian and practical philanthropist." 
So closely does this describe him that Charlotte might have 
seen his diary. 

At the age of twenty he entered Magdalene College, Cam- 
bridge, and was recognised as an evangelical. His diary con- 
tains many references to spiritual matters, and shows that he 
was a devout and spiritually -minded man. According to his 
diary he became greatly interested in foreign missions when 
about sixteen 

" I trust I shall be called to the ministry, and should it be 
the Lord's will, I would, for Christ's sake, gladly be called to be 
a missionary, if I could in any degree be an instrument in God's 
hands, of promoting the salvation of mankind." 

He was prevented from carrying out his intention of becoming 
a missionary by an injury to his head, caused by a fall from a 
restive horse. He mentions this in his diary. He was ill 


for a long time and he gave up the idea of going abroad, as it 
might be unfavourable to his ultimate recovery. In one of 
her letters, Charlotte Bronte speaks of the Nusseys as being 
" far from strong, and having no stamina." George Nussey, 
another brother, suffered for some time from mental trouble, 
and, in the privately printed volume of Charlotte Bronte's 
letters in which she mentions the brother's affliction, Miss 
Nussey has scored out the references to her brother in her own 
copy of the book. 

It is very evident that the young curate did not break his 
heart after Charlotte Bronte's refusal, for he shortly after- 
wards became engaged to Miss Emily Prescott, of Eversley, and 
was married at Ever ton, near Lymington, Hampshire, on 22nd 
May, 1845. He had by then been appointed Vicar of Hather- 
sage, in Derbyshire. Ellen Nussey sent Charlotte a portrait 
of her brother Henry in 1843 when she was at Brussels. 

Charlotte Bronte never regretted refusing her friend's brother, 
and when, six months afterwards, she heard that he was 
engaged to be married she wrote a friendly letter, congratu- 
lating him on the event. An obituary column of the Daily 
Mirror of 12th February, 1907, thus recorded : " Nussey On 
2nd February, at Nice, Emily, widow of the late Rev. Henry 
Nussey, formerly Vicar of Hathersage, aged 95." 

Mr. Nussey, like St. John Rivers, started a Sunday School 
at Hathersage, which figures as Morton in Jane Eyre, but the 
Vicar never gained the desire of his heart to go out as a 
missionary to India as was the case with St. John Rivers. 

Christmas always found the Bronte sisters at home, and, 
though they seem never to have made it a very gay season, 
the sisters and brothers enjoyed it in their own quiet way. 
Haworth kept up Christmas in the old-fashioned manner, 
and as the villagers were typical Yorkshire people, renowned 
for their thrift, there were few homes that were not provided 
with an abundance of Christmas fare. 

The Vicarage kitchen was modelled on the Yorkshire plan, 
and, although Miss Branwell would have liked to introduce 
Cornish pasties and clotted cream, Tabby Aykroyd and 
Martha Brown, and in earlier years Nancy and Sarah Garrs, 


provided true Yorkshire fare. Emily Bronte was especially 
clever in cooking and in making delicious Yorkshire bread and 

Christmas also seemed to be the time when the Bronte 
sisters met in conference to discuss ways and means, and at 
the end of 1839 Charlotte, Emily and Bran well were living 
at home, Anne being the only one who was employed at that 
time outside the Vicarage. 

As the daughters of Mr. Bronte" gained experience in teaching, 
they hoped to begin a school of their own on the east coast of 
Yorkshire, and naturally this was a constant topic of conversa- 
tion during the Christmas time. The principal difficulty was 
to obtain sufficient money for such a venture, especially as 
both the Vicar and Miss Branwell were afraid to risk their 
small means on such an enterprise. It is quite certain that 
the father did not wish to lose his three daughters from the 
home, and in consequence he did not encourage the school 
plan ; nor did Miss Branwell care to be left alone to manage 
the brusque Yorkshire servants, though it is evident that 
neither Charlotte nor Emily had a very tender regard for the 
old aunt, whose unsympathetic and dictatorial manners 
they much resented. 

Much as Emily loved the old home and the moors, her little 
diary, written when she was just twenty-three, shows that 
she had her dream of getting away with her sisters, and 
she pictures the two sisters and herself happy in " a flourishing 
seminary " with plenty of money, and her father, aunt and 
brother either being on a visit to them, or just returning from 
a visit. After the Christmas vacation, Anne returned to her 
appointment at Thorpe Green, Little Ouseburn. As Emily 
was more or less essential at the Vicarage, Charlotte was left 
without definite employment, though, as Tabby, the old servant, 
had to leave for a time, Charlotte was happy blackleading 
stoves, ironing the linen and managing to burn it, much to 
Miss BranwelPs vexation, whilst Emily was busy with the 

Charlotte, in her outspoken way, says : " We are such odd 
animals ; we prefer this to having a strange face amongst us." 

10 (2200) 


Not to be daunted, she advertised for a situation as governess, 
and answered advertisements, but for some time her efforts 
met with no success. 

In May, 1839, however, she obtained a temporary situation 
as governess to the children of Mrs. John Benson Sidgwick, 
at Stonegappe, Lothersdale, near Kildwick and Cononley, 
in the West Riding of Yorkshire. 

Mr. Sidgwick was a woollen manufacturer at Skipton, a 
few miles away. Mrs. Gaskell tells us that she did not visit 
Stonegappe, when collecting materials for the Life of Charlotte 
Bronte ; neither did she visit Upper Wood House, Rawdon, 
the only other place where Charlotte Bronte was a private 
governess. We are not given any reason for her omitting 
visits to these places, but it is probable that she did not think 
that either place had influenced Charlotte Bronte very much. 
How mistaken this view was may be gathered from the most 
exciting chapters of Jane Eyre, for it is now known that 
Gateshead Hall, described in the early part of the novel, was 
based upon Stonegappe, and the incidents connected with 
Bertha Mason, the mad wife of Rochester, were suggested by 
a visit with the Sidgwick family to a house at Swarcliffe, near 
Harrogate, which Mrs. Sidgwick's father Mr. Greenwood 
had rented for the summer, during the time when Charlotte 
Bronte was a governess in his family. 

Through the kindness of the owner of Stonegappe, I was 
allowed, some years ago, to go through the various rooms in 
the house, and it is quite evident that Charlotte Bronte had 
the place in her mind when she described Gateshead Hall in 
Jane Eyre. A bedroom was pointed out as being " the red- 
room " in which Jane Eyre was supposed to have had a fit. 
This room was shut off from the other parts of the house, and 
was approached by a long corridor. A child, locked in that 
bedroom, would naturally be terrified, and from the outside 
it was clear that it would have little chance of escape. The 
long, shady drive leading to the house, and the breakfast-room 
on the ground floor, are still as they were in Charlotte Bronte's 
time. It was in the cosy window-seat of this room that Jane 
Eyre was supposed to have read Bewick's British Birds, 


whilst secluded, as she imagined, by the folds of the scarlet 

Stonegappe is a large, roomy house, beautifully situated 
on the slope of the hill overlooking the valley through which 
runs the Lothersdale beck. There is a fine view from the bay 
windows in the front of the house, and the beauty of the 
surrounding district appealed to Charlotte Bronte. Writing 
to her sister Emily on 8th June, 1839, she says 

" I have striven hard to be pleased with my new situation. 
The country, the house, and the grounds are, as I have said, 
divine ; but, alack-a-day ! there is such a thing as seeing all 
beautiful around you pleasant woods, white paths, green 
lawns, and the blue sunshiny sky and not having a free 
moment or a free thought left to enjoy them." 

She complained bitterly of the treatment which she received 
at Stonegappe from Mrs. Sidgwick 

"The childrexi are constantly with me. As for correcting 
them, I quickly found that was out of the question ; they are 
to do as they like. A complaint to the mother only brings 
black looks on myself, and unjust, partial excuses to screen the 
children. I have tried that plan once, and succeeded so nota- 
bly I shall try no more. I said in my last letter that Mrs. Sidg- 
wick did not know me. I now begin to find she does not intend 
to know me ; that she cares nothing about me, except to contrive 
how the greatest possible quantity of labour may be got out 
of me ; and to that end she overwhelms me with oceans of 
needlework ; yards of cambric to hem, muslin night-caps to 
make, and, above all things, dolls to dress." 

Charlotte Bronte seemed to have a good opinion of Mr. 
Sidgwick, though, of course, he had little to do with the 
children. All through her life she thought more highly of 
men than of women, and, with the exception of Ellen Nussey 
and Mary Taylor, her relations with men appear to have been 
more satisfactory than with her own sex. 

Although Mrs. Gaskell did not give the names of the 
employers, they were very quickly traced, and much pain 
was caused to the family by the thinly-veiled references to 


Mrs. Sidgwick. As a matter of fact, there was much to be said 
for those with whom Charlotte Bronte lived as a private 
governess. In spite of all efforts to prove the contrary, it 
cannot be said that she had any real love for children. The 
peevish reference in her letter to " above all things, dolls to 
dress," is too convincing. A woman of twenty-three who 
loved children would find the dressing of dolls an interesting 
occupation. It is quite certain that she was not adapted for 
the life of a governess ; it is doubtful if those committed to 
her care derived much benefit from her instruction and super- 
vision. All Charlotte's Sunday school scholars agree that she 
was very strict, and, with one exception, her pupils' names 
never occur in her letters. 

Mrs. Gaskell tells of Charlotte Bronte's heroism in shielding 
one of the little Sidgwicks, who had thrown a stone at her, and 
struck her on the temple. When Mrs. Sidgwick asked what 
had caused the mark, Charlotte Bronte quietly said, "An 
accident, ma'am." The children in consequence honoured 
her for not telling tales, and became more amenable to discipline. 
The little culprit especially showed his gratitude some time 
afterwards, by putting his hand into Charlotte Bronte's, and 
exclaiming : " I love 'ou, Miss Bronte." The mother was 
evidently surprised, for she exclaimed before all the children : 
" Love the governess, my dear ! " Mrs. Gaskell does not tell 
us that at the end of the letter relating this incident Charlotte 
Bronte says to Emily : " Mrs. Sidgwick expects me to do things 
I cannot do to love her children and be entirely devoted to 
them." So that the incident says more for the pupil than the 

The family at Stonegappe naturally resented Mrs. Gaskell's 
reference to incidents occurring within the family circle during 
Charlotte Bronte's stay with them. 

Mr. John Benson Sidgwick was cousin to Archbishop Benson, 
who paid several visits to Stonegappe in his youth, but not 
during Charlotte Bronte's stay. In the Life of Edward White 
Benson, sometime Archbishop of Canterbury, by Mr. A. C. 
Benson, who once wrote of Charlotte Bronte as " the first of 
women writers of every age," it is recorded 


"Charlotte Bronte acted as governess to my cousins at 
Stonegappe for a few months in 1839. Few traditions of her 
connection with the Sidgwicks survive. She was, according 
to her own account, very unkindly treated, bat it is clear that 
she had no gifts for the management of children, and was also 
in a very morbid condition the whole time. My cousin 
Benson Sidgwick, now Vicar of Ashby Parva, certainly on one 
occasion threw a Bible at Miss Bronte ! and all that another 
cousin can recollect of her is that if she was invited to walk 
to church with them, she thought she was being ordered about 
like a slave ; if she was not invited, she imagined that she was 
excluded from the family circle. Both Mr. and Mrs. John 
Sidgwick were extraordinarily benevolent people, much beloved, 
and would not willingly have given pain to anyone connected 
with them." 1 

It is also on record that Charlotte Bronte, when with the 
Sidgwicks at Swarcliffe, stayed in bed the whole of one day, 
sulking, and thus left Mrs. Sidgwick to look after the children 
as best she could. Clearly Charlotte's genius was not helpful 
to her as a teacher. 

During half the time that Charlotte Bronte was in the employ 
of Mrs. Sidgwick, she was with the family at Swarcliffe, near 
Harrogate. Whilst there she visited Norton Conyers, an old 
mansion, that has been in the Graham family since the 
seventeenth century. 

Though she does not appear to have mentioned Norton 
Conyers in her letters, Ellen Nussey well remembered her 
giving an account of it, and relating the tradition of the mad 
woman associated with the place. A former owner said 
that he was convinced that the interior of Thornfield Hall, 
referred to in Jane Eyre, must have been taken from Norton 
Conyers, as it is true to the minutest detail. 

Continuing her description, the novelist turns to the grounds 
around the Rydings at Birstall, and Thornfield Hall becomes 
a composite picture, for the Rydings is a two-storied building, 
whereas Thornfield Hall is a three-storied mansion, though 
the garden and the sunk fence are common to both houses. 

1 The Life, of Edward White Benson. 


A relative of a former resident of Norton Conyers said that 
when Charlotte Bronte was staying at Swarcliffe, the third 
storey of Norton Conyers was exactly as she described it in 
Jane Eyre, for Sir Bellingham Graham, who then owned the 
mansion, had sold his estate near by at Nunnington, and stored 
the furniture in the low upper rooms at Norton Conyers, 
which gave Charlotte Bronte the impression that the furniture 
had been put there to make room for the more costly in the 
lower rooms. It is possible that the Greenwood family was on 
visiting terms with the Grahams. As one of the ancestral homes 
of Yorkshire it has been open to the public from time to time. 

One of the small rooms in the attic is shown as " the mad 
woman's room," and there is a tradition that it was once 
occupied by an insane woman. This most probably gave rise 
to the story of Bertha Mason, of the West Indies. 

Bertha Mason is probably suggested by Charlotte Bronte's 
first school friend Mellany Hane, who was a Creole. 

In later years, Charlotte Bronte mentioned more than once 
in her letters how unhappy she had been whilst with the 
Sidg wicks, whom she described as " proud as peacocks, and 
wealthy as Jews." Immediately after the regular governess 
returned she went home, disgusted with her experience. 

There is no doubt that she was unhappy during her stay at 
Stonegappe, and the reason is not far to seek. In a letter to 
Ellen Nussey she once said : "I have a constant tendency to 
scorn people who are far better than I am." On the other 
hand, Mrs. Sidg wick a good practical Yorkshire woman- 
could not enter into the feelings of the little genius. They were 
poles asunder in their ideas of life, and the fact that Charlotte 
could say, " I hate and abhor the very thought of governess- 
ship," shows that it was not likely that any employer would 
be congenial to her. It is, however, just as well that teaching 
did not offer a satisfactory sphere of work to her, or one of 
the greatest novelists of the nineteenth century might have 
been lost to the world. 

Before the end of July, 1839, Charlotte Bronte was at home 
again and Ellen Nussey was trying to persuade her to go with 
her to the sea-coast, but Aunt Branwell was bent on a journey 


to Liverpool with the whole family, and delays came, one after 
the other, until Charlotte Bronte lost heart and felt that she 
and Ellen would not get their longed-for holiday. 

At this time, when she was twenty-three years of age, she 
had never seen the sea, and she was keenly desirous of carrying 
out her wish. 

" The idea of seeing the sea, of being near it watching 
its changes by sunrise, sunset, moonlight and noonday in 
calm, perhaps in storm fills and satisfies my mind." 

The same letter, from which the above is quoted, contains 
an account of a second proposal of marriage 

" I have an odd circumstance to relate to you : prepare 

for a hearty laugh ! The other day, Mr. ( ), a vicar, 

came to spend the day with us, bringing with him his own 
curate. The latter gentleman, by name Mr. B., is a young Irish 
clergyman, fresh from Dublin University. It was the first time 
we had any of us seen him, but, however, after the manner of 
his countrymen, he soon made himself at home. His character 
appeared quickly in his conversation ; witty, lively, ardent, 
clever too ; but deficient in the dignity and discretion of an 
Englishman. At home, you know, I talk with ease, and am 
never shy never weighed down and oppressed by that miser- 
able mauvaise honte which torments and constrains me 
elsewhere. So I conversed with the Irishman, and laughed at his 
jests ; and, though I saw faults in his character, excused them 
because of the amusement his originality afforded. I cooled a 
little, indeed, and drew in towards the latter part of the 
evening, because he began to season his conversation with 
something of Hibernian flattery, which I did not quite relish. 
However, they went away, and no more was thought about 
them. A few days after I got a letter, the direction of which 
puzzled me. it being in a hand I was not accustomed to see. 
Evidently it was neither from you nor Mary, my only corre- 
spondents. Having opened and read it, it proved to be a 
declaration of attachment and proposal of matrimony, expressed 
in the ardent language of the sapient young Irishman ! I hope 
you are laughing heartily. This is not like one of my 


adventures, is it ? It more nearly resembles Martha's. I am 
certainly doomed to be an old maid. Never mind. I made up 
my mind to that fate ever since I was twelve years old. 

" Well ! thought I, I have heard of love at first sight, but 
this beats all ! I leave you to guess what my answer would be, 
convinced that you will not do me the injustice of guessing 

This account has always been taken literally, but as a 
matter of fact match-makers had again been at work. Emily 
Bronte, however, might just as well have been the selected 
one, if she had shown the better side of her nature. 

The Vicar referred to in the letter was Mr. Hodgson, who had 
been Mr. Bronte's first curate. He was anxious that his own 
young curate, Mr. David Bryce, should get married, and 
having suggested that the Vicar of Haworth had several 
eligible daughters, he took him off to pay a call at the Haworth 

Mr. Bryce went quite prepared to choose one of the daughters, 
and as Charlotte Bronte was the most approachable, he natur- 
ally got on best with her, and with an Irishman's ready 
enthusiasm proposed as soon as possible. Charlotte Bronte 
does not tell us how long the interval was between the visit 
and the proposal, but it became known in Haworth that the 
chief reason why Charlotte Bronte and the young curate did 
not become engaged was that Mr. Bryce was consumptive, and 
Charlotte Bronte herself was delicate, too. Mr. Bronte was 
consulted, and several letters passed between them, but, 
knowing that his daughters inherited their mother's frail 
constitution, he did not think it wise for his daughter to marry 
a delicate man. His reasoning was quite sound, for, in less 
than six months after proposing to Charlotte Bronte, the Rev. 
David Bryce died at Colne and was buried in the Christ Church 

The second offer of marriage, which Mrs. Gaskell refers to 
as " uncommon in the lot of most women " and as " a testi- 
mony to the unusual power of attraction " in one " so plain 
in feature " is not quite so romantic as Mrs. Gaskell would have 
us believe. 


Ellen Nussey afterwards renewed her attempts to get 
Charlotte Bronte to accompany her to the seaside, but she 
was not, at this time, successful. Mr. Bronte himself was 
willing, but Miss Bran well was reluctant to agree. She was 
always harder with Charlotte Bronte than Mr. Bronte himself. 
It was evidently a question of means, and the result was that 
Miss Nussey was invited to stay at the Ha worth Vicarage, 
which Charlotte urged would be less costly ; but Miss Nussey 
was determined Charlotte should have a holiday, and the 
visit to Easton and Bridlington was arranged. Thirty years 
afterwards Ellen Nussey wrote an interesting account of this 
memorable holiday. 

" Charlotte's first visit to the sea-coast deserves a little 
more notice than her letters give of the circumstances it was 
an event eagerly coveted, but hard to attain. Mr. Bronte 
and Miss Branwell had all manners of doubts and fears and 
cautions to express, and Charlotte was sinking into despair 
there seemed only one chance of securing her the pleasure ; 
her friend must fetch her ; this she did through the aid of a 
dear relative, who sent her to Haworth under safe convoy, and 
in a cairiage that would bring both Charlotte and her luggage 
this step proved to be the very best thing possible, the surprise 
was so good in its effects, there was nothing to combat every- 
body rose into high good humours, Branwell was grandilo- 
quent ; he declared ' it was a brave defeat, that the doubters 
were fairly taken aback.' You have only to will a thing to 
get it, so Charlotte's luggage was speedily prepared, and almost 
before the horse was rested there was a quiet but triumphant 
starting ; the brothers and sisters at home were not less 
happy than Charlotte herself in her now secured pleasure. 
It was the first of real freedom to be enjoyed either by herself 
or her friend, a first experience in railway travelling, which, 
however, only conveyed them through half of the route, the 

stage-coach making the rest of the journey They walked 

to the sea, and as soon as they were near enough for Charlotte 
to see it in its expanse, she was quite overpowered, she could 
not speak till she had shed some tears she signed to her 
friend to leave her and walk on \ this she did for a few steps, 


knowing full well what Charlotte was passing through, and 
the stern efforts she was making to subdue her emotions 
her friend turned to her as soon as she thought she might 
without inflicting pain ; her eyes were red and swollen, she 
was still trembling, but submitted to be led onwards where 
the view was less impressive ; for the remainder of the day 
she was very quiet, subdued, and exhausted. Distant glimpses 
of the German Ocean had been visible as the two friends neared 
the coast on the day of their arrival, but Charlotte being 
without her glasses, could not see them, and when they were 
described to her, she said, ' Don't tell me any more. Let me 
wait.' Whenever the sound of the sea reached her ears in 
the grounds around the house wherein she was a captive 
guest, her spirit longed to run away and be close to it. ... 

" The conventionality of most of the seaside visitors amused 
Charlotte immensely. The evening Parade on the Pier struck 
her as the greatest absurdity. It was an old Pier in those days, 
and of short dimensions, but thither all the visitors seemed to 
assemble in such numbers, it was like a packed ball-room ; 
people had to march round and round in regular file to secure 
any movement whatever." 

This old farm at Easton, near Bridlington, is still in exist- 
ence, but it is in a dilapidated condition. A friend of the 
writer's wished to photograph it some three years ago, but 
was not allowed. "What would the landlord think of it, 
I wonder, if you showed a photograph of this old place as it 
is now ? " said the tenant. It is comforting to know that 
there is a water-colour painting of it by Charlotte Bronte 
herself, and there is also an oil-painting of the farm, by a 
well-known artist. 

Mr. and Mrs. Hudson, who entertained Ellen Nussey and 
Charlotte Bronte, at Easton, were, in after years, very proud 
of the fact that they had Charlotte Bronte as a guest. The 
water-colour painting of the farm is still held sacred by a 
member of the Hudson family, but the letters of thanks and 
the slippers worked for Mr. Hudson by Charlotte Bronte have 

The walks around Easton are most delightful, and Charlotte 


Bronte" very much enjoyed her month's stay with the family, 
which included Mr. and Mrs. Hudson and their niece, Fanny 
Whipp, who was then a child of eight whom Charlotte Bronte 
called "little Hancheon." This holiday stood out as a real 
bit of freedom for Charlotte Bronte, who generally got the best 
out of such visits. Again and again she refers to old Burlington 
or Bridlington, as it is now called 

" Have you forgotten the sea by this time, Ellen ? Is it 
grown dim in your mind ? Or can you still see it, dark, blue, 
and green, and foam- white, and hear it roaring roughly when 
the wind is high, or rushing softly when it is calm ? . . . I am 
as well as need be, and very fat. I think of Easton very often, 
and of worthy Mr. Hudson and his kind-hearted helpmate, 
and of our pleasant walks to Harlequin Wood, and to Boynton, 
our merry evenings, our romps with little Hancheon, etc., etc. 
If we both live, this period of our lives will long be a theme for 
pleasant recollection." 

Fanny Whipp is said to have suggested Paulina in Villette, 
but Paulina has affinity with Charlotte Bronte's own 
childhood, in so far as she was little for her age. 

Such was the favourable impression made on Charlotte 
Bronte by her visit to Easton and Burlington, that she longed 
to make her home there, and in later days she planned to have 
a school in the vicinity, to be managed by her sister and 

" In thinking of all possible and impossible places where 
we could establish a school, I have thought of Burlington, or 
rather of the neighbourhood of Burlington. ... I fancy the 
ground in the East Riding is less fully occupied than in the 

She employed part of her time when at Easton in writing 
and drawing, and on a subsequent visit, ten years afterwards, 
when Anne Bronte had just been buried in Scarborough 
churchyard, Charlotte Bronte went to kind Mrs. Hudson's 
for rest and quiet, before going home to her father at Ha worth. 
It is possible that the chapter in Shirley, headed " The valley 
of the shadow of death," was written there, for the genial 


farmer and his wife remembered that she often took her writing 
material into the garden and wrote for hours. 

She never forgot the kindness of these Easton friends, and 
she sent them several presents. One was a painting of Mrs. 
Hudson, whose maiden name was Sophia Whipp; a Mrs. 
Whipp figures in Shirley as the landlady of Mr. Sweeting of 
Nunnerly. In the painting of the farm Mr. and Mrs. Hudson 
are seated in the garden, and as a flock of birds passed by 
Mr. Hudson remarked, " Be sure you put the crows in, Miss 




BRANWELL BRONTE obtains an appointment as tutor His journey to 
Broughton-in-Furness Account of his life at Broughton Rev. 
Patrick Bronte's mode of life at Haworth Mr. Leyland's Bronte 
Family Branwell Bronte becomes a clerk near Halifax Sowerby 
Bridge and Luddenden Foot His life as a railway clerk Charlotte 
Bronte's unflagging industry The Curates at Haworth. 

BRANWELL secured an appointment on the 1st of January, 
1840, as private tutor at a Mr. Postlethwaite's, at Broughton- 
in-Furness, in Cumberland. He had had a little experience 
as an usher in a school near Halifax some two years previously, 
but he had not remained long at the school. Both the father 
and aunt were disappointed with Branwell's failure to make 
for himself a position in life, and it was even suggested that he 
should qualify for holy orders, for which the office of teacher 
was considered to be a suitable preparation, as was the case 
with his father. 

Like some other misguided parents, Mr. Bronte assumed that, 
when all other openings in life failed, his son might turn his 
attention to the Church ; but Branwell, much to his credit, 
declined to consider the sacred ministry as a possible sphere 
of work, and afterwards, writing sarcastically to his friend 
Mr. Grundy, he stated that the only qualification he had for 
the ministry was a certain amount of hypocrisy. 

At Broughton-in-Furness Branwell had a comfortable 
appointment with a highly respectable family, and those left 
behind at the Vicarage hoped he would do well, though 
Charlotte, who was always the farseeing member of the family, 
appears to have had some doubts. She writes 

" One thing, however, will make the daily routine more 
unvaried than ever. Branwell, who lived to enliven us is to 
leave us in a few days and enter the situation of a private 
tutor in the neighbourhood of Ulverston. How he will like 



to 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." 

Evidently the members of the family were anxious to get 
Bran well away from the associations of the Black Bull, where 
the masonic " Lodge of the Three Graces," of which Bran well 
was secretary, held its meetings. 

On the Christmas day previous to starting for Broughton-in- 
Furness, Branwell acted as organist, and in the minute book 
of the Masonic register at Haworth, Bran well's name appears 
for the last time. Although, no doubt, he made many good 
resolutions, he could not get from Haworth to Ulverston 
without joining with a drunken set of travellers at the Royal 
Hotel, Kendal. If this had been found out, it would most 
likely have cost him his appointment before he had really 
entered upon his duties. 

The late Mr. Francis A. Leyland, of Halifax, in his Bronte 
Family, published in 1886, tries to excuse Branwell, but a 
letter written by Branwell himself reveals a man devoid of 
ordinary virtues, though in the earlier part of the letter there 
is evidence of some intention to reform. It seems a pity that 
this versatile young man of so many gifts could not be kept 
healthily employed away from his former associates. 

This damaging letter was written to Mr. John Brown, the 
sexton, one of whose daughters admitted to me that her 
father " liked his glass/' and was much to blame for " leading 
young Branwell on." Branwell loved a joke, and in order to 
cause amusement, he did not mind becoming " the fool for 
the company." John Brown was fond of telling of Branwell's 
cleverness, and like others in Haworth, he expected that 
Branwell would ultimately bring much credit to the Haworth 
Vicarage after "he had sown his wild oats." No one was 
more sorry, when Branwell died, than the Haworth sexton, 
and it is in some respects unfortunate that this letter to John 
Brown was not destroyed, for Miss Robinson, in her mono- 
graph on Emily Bronte, only quoted from a memorised copy, 
omitting the postscript, "Write directly. Of course, you 
won't show this letter, and for Heaven's sake, blot out all 


lines scored with red ink." The original was said, by the sex- 
ton's family, to have been lost in the early seventies, but one 
of the Browns knew it by heart, and it was this version, which 
got into the possession of Mr. Wood, the local carpenter, that 
Miss Robinson used. But before the original was lost, one of 
Branwell's friends had made an accurate copy, taking care 
to blot out the names of certain people in Haworth, whose 
families are still well known in the village, and it was this 
reproduction that the late Mr. Francis A. Leyland, of Halifax, 
used in his Bronte Family. The letter was written some ten 
weeks after Branwell left Haworth, and was addressed to the 
sexton who was referred to as " Old Knave of Trumps." 

Everyone who knew Branwell, except the members of his 
family, had an opportunity of reading this unfortunate com- 
munication, and John Brown's brother prided himself on being 
able to repeat the whole of it from memory. Branwell's 
friends did not take the letter so seriously as the biographers 
of the Brontes have done, for the simple reason that they 
knew the writer. At home he was allowed great liberty, and 
it was expected that he would escape all contamination ; 
whilst care was exercised in determining the friends of the 
girls, he was allowed in the main to go his own way. He had 
neither the balance of mind nor the strength that his father 
possessed ; nor could he claim that dignity and reserve which 
always proved useful to the Rev. Patrick Bronte. 

Branwell, much to his own disgust, was, like Charlotte, 
small and insignificant in appearance, and the Haworth 
people were fond of saying that he brushed his hair high to 
give him a few extra inches. Although many people thought 
him conceited, he was the most approachable in the family, 
and was always welcome wherever he went. 

The Vicar could often be seen visiting his parishioners, some 
at a great distance across the moors, but father and son were 
rarely seen together. Previous to going to Brought on, 
Branwell was secretary of a temperance society, and it is only 
fair to say that certain efforts were made to keep him from 
After the death of Patrick Bronte's wife in 1820, when Branwell 


was a boy of three, the father seems to have lived somewhat 
the life of a recluse, and, whilst omitting no duty connected 
with his church, he left his children far too much to themselves. 
The girls found companionship with each other, but it was 
difficult to find a place for an only boy in such a home. It 
is not, therefore, a matter for surprise that Branwell never 
acquired sufficient self-control or will power to steer a clear 
course in his brief career. Even to this day, however, he is 
remembered with pride, not unmixed with pity, in his native 
village. Only the other day, an old man in Haworth who 
remembered Branwell, said, " Mrs. Gaskell told a pack o' lies 
about him." His silly letter to his old friend probably was 
more highly coloured than was necessary, and, like Charlotte, 
he wrote with much enthusiasm and a tendency to undue 

He had the gift of imagination like his sisters, and not 
unfrequently he would romance about incidents for the mere 
pleasure of entertaining and " showing off " to his friends. 

A letter not only betrays the character of the writer, but 
sometimes gives some indication of the character of the receiver. 
This epistle could only have been written to friends who 
delighted in hearing what may be described as " spicy " news. 

Like everything else that is associated with the Brontes, 
BranwelPs letter was greatly discussed, though, if Charlotte and 
Emily Bronte" had not become famous novelists, the letter 
would soon have passed into oblivion. 

Branwell has suffered probably more than any member of 
the family owing to contrast with his two brilliant sisters, 
and he has received more blame than he deserved from those 
who have followed Mrs. Gaskell and Harriet Martineau in 
attributing to him " the coarseness of Charlotte Bronte's 
novels." " Because Patrick Branwell Bronte was what he 
was, the Bronte novels were what they were," but that is not 
so ; Branwell was not a " brainless sot," as Mr. Shorter describes 
him ; probably Mr.Nicholls gave Mr. Shorter that impression, 
but, as he did not know him well until after his dismissal from 
Thorpe Green, even he was not able to judge. The Haworth 
people well remember his tramping the moorland district, gun 


in hand ; for, like his father, he loved shooting. A military 
career, with its necessary discipline, might have suited him, 
but his shortness of stature was an insuperable obstacle. 

Mr. Francis A. Leyland's Bronte Family is worthy of recogni- 
tion, because he gave the better side of Bran well's life. But one 
of BranwelPs letters, published in the Yorkshire Observer in 
November, 1911, proves that Bran well had contracted debts 
when in Bradford, which Mr. Leyland denies. Ellen Nussey 
thought he had conveyed a too favourable impression of 
Bran well, and had not shown sufficient appreciation of Charlotte, 
and for that reason she proposed to tell the true story of 
Charlotte Bronte through her letters. None of the biographers 
suited Ellen Nussey, and unfortunately she was not capable 
of writing a Life herself. 

Broughton-in-Furness is a beautiful district on the northern 
shores of Morecambe Bay, and Bran well seems to have been 
impressed by the charm of the place, for some of his crude 
oil-paintings are of the district around Black Comb. Whilst 
there, he came under the influence of the Lake District associa- 
tions. Like Charlotte, he had always been attracted by 
Wordsworth's poems on nature, and he was devoted to Coleridge 
and Christopher North. Before going to Broughton-in- 
Furness, Bran well had written to Wordsworth in 1837, and 
also to Hartley Coleridge, and whilst living in Broughton he 
paid at least one visit to Hartley Coleridge. Mrs. Gaskell saw 
his letter, when she was staying in the Lake District many 
years afterwards, for although Wordsworth was disgusted with 
Bran well's letter and did not answer the " would-be " poet, 
he kept his letter, and when the name of Bronte became 
famous it was given to Mr. Quillinan, Wordsworth's 
son-in-law, who showed it to Mrs. Gaskell. 

At a distance of some four or five miles from Broughton-in- 
Furness is a hill known as Black Comb, which overlooks the 
small seaside village of Silecroft. It is probable that Bran well 
climbed the Black Comb, for he composed a short poem about 
it, as it appeared to him in the distance. 

" Far off, and half revealed, 'mid shade and light, 
Black Comb half smiles, half frowns." 

XI (2300) 


Evidently he knew Wordsworth's fine description of the view 
from the summit of the Black Comb, which is one of great 
beauty on every side. Branwell, like his father, was no poet, 
though he liked to flatter himself that he was, and he wrote 
several vain letters to Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the editor 
of Blackwood's Magazine. 

Mrs. Oliphant says that Blackwoods probably thought the 
letters were from a madman, and so they never replied to them. 
At the same time, they felt sufficiently interested to preserve 
them, and because they were written by a member of the 
Bronte family, and not at all for their intrinsic value, they 
appear in Mrs. Oliphant's book, The House of Blackwood. 

Branwell left Broughton-in-Furness at the end of six months, 
it is said at his father's desire, and his next appointment was 
as a clerk on the Leeds and Manchester railway, first at 
Sowerby Bridge and then at Luddenden Foot. Charlotte 
writes of him, when in one of her gay humours 

"A distant relation of mine, one Patrick Boanerges, [Mrs. 
Gaskell puts 'Patrick Branwell,' showing that she knew it 
referred to the brother] has set off to seek his fortune in the 
wild, wandering, adventurous, romantic, knight-errant-like 
capacity of clerk on the Leeds and Manchester Railroad. 
Leeds and Manchester where are they ? Cities in the wilderness 
like Tadmor, alias Palmyra are they not ? " 

Sowerby Bridge and Luddenden Foot are only a mile apart, 
and, although the appointment which Branwell had obtained 
was uncongenial and unsuitable, the district was one that 
ought to have inspired his mind, and provided material for 
the novels he proposed to write. Mr. Leyland says he did 
write at least one volume. 

The district is still recognised as a holiday resort for picnic 
parties. Hardcastle Crags, near by, is well worth a visit, 
and Hebden Bridge, with its Golden Valley, Sowerby, 
Mytholmroyd and Erringden have pretty surroundings. 
Erringden was a royal deer park in the time of the Plantagenets. 
Hebden Bridge is a pleasant walk from Haworth in summer 
over the moors, and the frugal Yorkshiremen, anxious to visit 


Manchester or other towns on the Lancashire side of the 
Pennine Range, often make this journey to Hebden Bridge, 
thus saving the cost of the roundabout railway route through 
Keighley and Halifax. Charlotte Bronte, in the lonely days 
before her marriage, would sometimes walk, or occasionally 
drive to Sowerby Bridge, where lived the Rev. Sutcliffe Sowden, 
who had the honour of performing the marriage ceremony 
between Charlotte Bronte and Mr. Nicholls. 

The valley of Hebden is beautifully wooded, and Charlotte 
Bronte was very fond of this district and also that of Hepton- 
stall, where there is an old church of St. Thomas of Canterbury. 
One of the smaller glens is known as Crimsworth, which 
furnished the name to the English teacher in The Professor. 

William Crimsworth had for his original Charlotte Bronte 
herself, and this was her first attempt to masquerade as a man. 
Mr. Francis A. Leyland considers that Bran well was the original 
of Crimsworth in the earlier chapters, where Crimsworth is in 
a manufacturer's office. Bran well may have suggested the 
poorly paid clerk, but, when he gets to Brussels, Crimsworth 
is undoubtedly Charlotte herself. 

The rush of water from the surrounding heights beneath 
the Hardcastle Crags, on its way to the river Calder at Hebden 
Bridge, was a sight that appealed to Charlotte and Emily 
Bronte, just as the roar of the sea did at Bridlington, and 
after her marriage she and Mr. Nicholls were fond of walking 
over the moor to see the Hebden Bridge district, and also to 
visit the incumbent of Mytholm at his home at Hanging Royd, 
Hebden Bridge. Mr. Sutcliffe Sowden knew Bran well Bronte 
when he was engaged at Sowerby station and at Luddenden 
Foot, and sometimes he walked over to the wooden shed, 
which did duty for the railway clerk's office. Like many of 
his friends, Mr. Sowden was sorry for the youth, who never 
found his right sphere of work. 

It is pleasant at this time to turn to Mr. Francis A. Ley land's 
description of the unfortunate youth as he knew him at this time. 

" It was on a bright Sunday afternoon in the autumn of 1840, 
at the desire of my brother, the sculptor, that I accompanied 
him to the station at Sowerby Bridge to see Bran well. The 


young railway clerk was of gentleman -like appearance, and 
seemed to be qualified for a much better position than the one 
he had chosen. In stature he was a little below the middle 
height. ... He was slim and agile in figure, yet of well- 
formed outline . His complexion was clear and ruddy, and the 
expression of his face, at the time, lightsome and cheerful. His 
voice had a ringing sweetness, and the utterance and use of his 
English were perfect. Bran well appeared to be in excellent 
spirits, and showed none of those traces of intemperance with 
which some writers have unjustly credited him about this 
period of his life." 1 

Others who lived near to Sowerby Bridge, and who met 
Branwell about this time, testified to his uniformly good con- 
duct and respectable appearance. After being at Sowerby 
Bridge for a few months, he was transferred to Luddenden 
Foot, a new station about a mile away. Mr. Francis H. Grundy, 
who was assistant engineer on the line when Branwell was at 
Luddenden Foot, wrote in his Pictures of the Past, " Had a 
position been chosen for this strange creature, for the express 
purpose of driving him several steps to the bad, this must 
have been it." 

Unfortunately Luddenden Foot was a small village with 
practically no suitable society for Branwell Bronte, and the 
two public houses The Red Lion and The Anchor proved 
an attraction which he could not resist. He had not sufficient 
work fully to employ his time, and with his want of " balance " 
he quickly deteriorated. If he could have met with some good 
friend to take him in hand, he might have been saved. 

Branwell soon began to neglect his duties, and often left 
the young porter to attend to the station whilst he visited 
Halifax. As might be expected, this could not be continued 
but for a short time, and he was dismissed. His books were 
found to be in an unsatisfactory state, and the margins were 
covered with sketches and drawings. When he returned home, 
Charlotte and Anne were away, and Emily was his only friend ; 
she pitied him and refrained from scolding him, though 
conscious of his faults. 

1 The Bronte Family, by Francis A. Leyland. 


Whilst Branwell had been at Sowerby Bridge and Lud- 
denden Foot, Charlotte had been working hard at French. 
Her replies to advertisements for a private governess had not 
at first been successful, and by the kindness of her friends at 
Gomersal the Taylors of Red House she had got the loan 
of a number of French novels which she describes as " another 
bale of books, containing upwards of forty volumes. I 
have read about half," she writes at this time, " They are 
like the rest clever, wicked, sophistical and immoral. The 
best of it is, they give one a thorough idea of France and Paris, 
and are the best substitute for French conversation." It was 
one of the ambitions of Charlotte Bronte's life to see the 
French capital. 

If there was one virtue more than any other which stood out 
in Charlotte Bronte's character, it was her unflagging industry. 
She was never idle, and more than any other member of the 
family she took advantage of every opportunity to improve 
her qualifications. She was attached to the quiet home life, 
but she felt that it was necessary that she should contribute 
to the family exchequer. 

" Verily, it is a delightful thing to live at home, at full liberty 
to do just what one pleases. But I recollect some scrubby old 
fable about grasshoppers and ants, by a scrubby old knave, 
yclept JEsop ; the grasshoppers sang all the summer and 
starved all the winter," she writes to Ellen Nussey. 

It was about this time that Mr. Bronte obtained help in his 
church work ; hitherto he had been single-handed. His 
first curate, the Rev. William Hodgson, seems to have given 
his services without remuneration from the parish of Haworth 
from 1837 to 1838. The second curate, Mr. William Weightman, 
was at Haworth from 1839 to 1842 ; he caused quite a flutter 
amongst the women at the Parsonage, for, with the exception 
of a visit now and again from the neighbouring clergy, few 
men entered the Haworth Vicarage, so that, when " Papa had 
a curate of his own," life at the Parsonage became less mono- 
tonous. Charlotte Bronte, who loved change, was delighted, 
whilst Emily seems somewhat to have resented the intrusion 


of the curates. Miss Bran well found a certain amount of 
pleasure in welcoming one more member of the cloth to the 
hospitality of the parsonage, whilst Anne modest and demure 
felt some diffidence in meeting with one of the opposite sex. 

It might have been better for Branwell Bronte if his father 
had engaged a curate at an earlier period. Mr. Weigh tman 
and Branwell seem to have been very friendly to each other 
and were in the habit of corresponding when either was away 
from Ha worth. 

Charlotte Bronte has plenty to say to Ellen Nussey about 
the gay, young curate, who formed the subject of much corre- 
spondence between the two friends. Afterwards it was 
discovered that he was a flirt, who experienced no difficulty 
in transferring his affections from one girl to another. The 
innocent banter which went on shows that the Bronte girls 
formed a merry party, and Charlotte especially was not the 
melancholy person which Mrs. Gaskell pictures. The curate 
rather enjoyed the badinage of these girls, who loved to tease 
him, and he did not resent Charlotte's drawings of his lady- 
loves, nor did he mind her scoldings when he got a new fiancee. 
Possibly at Ellen Nusey's request, Mrs. Gaskell left out from 
Charlotte Bronte's letters all the references to Mr. Weightman, 
except the account of his visiting one of her Sunday School 
scholars and his sermon about Dissent. 

When Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte was published, 
the old friends of the curate wondered that more was not 
included about this amiable young clergyman, who was known 
to have been popular at the Vicarage, for they could remember 
seeing him walking over the moors with the Vicar's daughters. 
It could not be said that many of the curates enjoyed this 
privilege ; as a rule they were ignored. 

Emily Bronte' got the soubriquet of "Major" at this time, 
because she determinedly guarded Ellen Nussey from Mr. 
Weightman's attentions, and insisted on walking with her, 
rather than let the young curate have the honour of Ellen's 
company. It is possible that she took this course because 
Mr. Weightman had paid some attention to Anne Bronte, 
and Emily wished to safeguard the interests of her sister. 


Charlotte tells us that it was a picture to see the curate making 
" sheep's eyes " at Anne, as she sat in the family pew. It 
was this versatile curate who discovered that the Bronte girls 
had never received a valentine, and in order to give them a little 
innocent pleasure he walked to Bradford to post three precious 
missives. Of course, they soon guessed where they were from, 
and gave Mr. Weightman " a Roland for his Oliver." Some 
of the neighbouring clergy also joined in the fun of sending 
valentines to the Bronte girls, for in the Whitehaven News 
there was a copy of the return valentine sent by Charlotte 
Bronte to one of the clergy of the district in 1840. It had been 
kept as a souvenir of those happy days when Charlotte was 
quite unconsciously gathering the material for her portraits 
of the curates who come on the scene so quickly in Shirley, 
which made Charles Kingsley close the book with the 
determination to read no more. 

Charlotte sent a poem of eleven verses, the first and second 
verses read 

"A Roland for your Oliver 

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

We cannot write or talk like you ; 

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

We thank you for the fun. 


February, 1840. 

Mr. Weightman was known as Celia Amelia at the Parsonage. 
Ellen Nussey, in a foot-note to her volume of Charlotte Bronte's 
Letters, compiled by Mr. J. Horsfall Turner, gives a short 
account of Mr. Weightman. 

"Celia Amelia, Mr. Bronte's curate, a lively, handsome 
young man fresh from Durham University, an excellent 
classical scholar. He gave a very good lecture on the Classics 
at Keighley. The young ladies at the Parsonage must hear his 
lecture, so he went off to a married clergyman to get him to 
write to Mr. Bronte to invite the young ladies to tea, and offer 


his escort to the lecture, and back again to the Parsonage. 
Great fears were entertained that permission would not be 
given it was a walk of four miles each way. The Parsonage 
was not reached till 12 p.m. The two clergymen rushed in 
with their charges, deeply disturbing Miss Branwell, who had 
prepared hot coffee for the home party, which of coarse fell 
short when two more were to be supplied. Poor Miss Branwell 
lost her temper, Charlotte was troubled, and Mr. Weightman, 
who enjoyed teasing the old lady, was very thirsty. The great 
spirits of the walking party had a trying suppression, but 
twinkling fun sustained some of the party. 

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

Evidently Ellen Nussey had enlightened Mrs. Gaskell as to 
the Celia Amelia of the letters, as she puts Mr. Weightman 
where Charlotte Bronte had written Celia Amelia. Mr. Bronte 
managed to live on good terms with the Dissenters in Haworth, 
but just about the time that Mr. Weightman came there was 
a certain amount of opposition to church rates, and a stormy 
meeting was held in the Parish Church room, to which the 
Dissenters were invited. 

This was followed by two sermons preached in the church ; 
one by Mr. Weightman, " a noble, eloquent, High-church 
Apostolical-Succession discourse, in which he banged the 
Dissenters most fearlessly and unflinchingly," and another 
sermon on the same subject, by a Mr. Collins, a neighbouring 
clergyman. Charlotte Bronte's conclusion of the two sermons 
shows her passion for justice. " Mais, if I were a Dissenter, 


I would have taken the first opportunity of kicking or of horse- 
whipping both the gentlemen for their stern, bitter attack on 
my religion and its teachers." 

Mr. Weightman died during the third year of his curacy. 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte were at Brussels at the time, and 
Anne was at Thorpe Green ; only Bran well was at home, 
and he watched by the bedside of his friend, and felt his death 
keenly. The Rev. Patrick Bronte preached the funeral sermon 
in Ha worth Parish Church on Sunday, 2nd October, 1842, when 
the church was crowded, but only Branwell sat in the Parsonage 
pew, as Aunt Branwell was ill at home. 

Charlotte Bronte's letters reveal a rather frivolous young 
man, and it is well to have the Vicar's opinion 

" There are many, who for a short time can please, and even 
astonish but who soon retrograde and fall into disrepute. 
His character wore well ; the surest proof of real worth. He 
had, it is true, some peculiar advantages. Agreeable in person 
and manners, and constitutionally cheerful, his first introduc- 
tion was prepossessing. But what he gained at first, he did 
not lose afterwards." 

Mr. Bronte visited Mr. Weightman twice a day during his 
last illness, and Branwell often went to see his friend. In 
one of his letters to Mr. Francis H. Grundy, he says : "I have 
had a long attendance at the death-bed of the Rev. Mr. 
Weightman, one of my dearest friends." A tablet was erected 
to his memory in the north aisle of Haworth Old Church by 
the parishioners of Haworth, by all of whom he was greatly 

Mr. Bronte's published appreciation of Mr. Weightman, and 
the esteem in which he was held by the whole village, go far 
to correct the opinion given by Charlotte Bronte. She says, 
in a letter to Ellen Nussey, "He is a thorough male flirt," 
and " He ought not to have been a parson, certainly not," 
but this may have been said in sarcasm. 

In Agnes Grey, the curate whom Agnes marries is a Mr. 
Weston, and he is said to have been based on William 
Weightman. A poem written by Anne Bronte' is considered 


to have been an expression of her feelings at the death of the 
young curate, for during her lifetime, Mr. Weightman was the 
only curate with whom she was closely associated. Charlotte 
Bronte gives this poem the first place in the small collection of 
the poems of Anne Bronte or rather Acton Bell. 

Yes, thou art gone ! and never more 

Thy sunny smile shall gladden me ; 
But I may pass the old church door, 
And pace the floor that covers thee. 

May stand upon the cold, damp stone, 

And think that, frozen lies below 
The lightest heart that I have known, 

The kindest I shall ever know. 

Yet, though I cannot see thee more, 

'Tis still a comfort to have seen ; 
And though thy transient life is o'er, 

'Tis sweet to think that thou hast been ; 

To think a soul so near divine, 

Within a form so angel fair, 
United to a heart like thine, 

Has gladdened once our humble sphere." 

In Agnes Grey, which Anne Bronte admitted was to a 
great extent autobiographical, she writes 

" Shielded by my own obscurity and by the lapse of years, 
and a few fictitious names, I do not fear to venture ; and will 
candidly lay before the public what I would not disclose to the 
most intimate friend." 



SCANT notice by Biographers Her Education at home Her character 
Agnes Grey Charlotte's solicitude for Anne Her difficulties as 
governess at Blake Hall She obtains a situation as governess at 
Thorpe Green Branwell Bronte a tutor in the same family- 
Anne leaves Thorpe Green Wildfell Hall Branwell's dismissal. 

OF the three sisters, the youngest, Anne, has received very 
little notice ; there is no biography of her, and she is simply 
the sister of Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Even the ne'er- 
do-well Branwell has had his life story related by Mr. Francis 
Leyland, but no one has ever thought it worth while to chronicle 
the doings of this gentle little sister, and yet she is a character 
well worth studying, and, if her genius cannot rank with that 
of her more famous sisters, she was, as Charlotte Bronte said 
of her, ", genuinely good and truly great." 

Anne Bronte', born on 17th January, 1820, at Thornton, 
was the youngest child of Patrick Bronte, and her mother 
lived only a year and eight months after her birth. In conse- 
quence, the baby was in the charge of servants and the older 
sisters for almost a year. When Aunt Branwell came to tend 
the little flock, it was Anne that she was most attached to, 
and the little one looked upon her as a mother. Anne was more 
like the Branwells than the Brontes, and in this respect she 
differed from her two sisters. With the exception of a short 
period of less than three months, she never attended any, 
school, but was educated entirely by her father, her aunt and 
her sister Charlotte. To have retained her last appointment 
at Thorpe Green for four years was no small testimony to her 
ability as a governess, and to her home training. Her pupils 
loved her, and in after years came to see her, and were wonder- 
fully attached to her. There is no record that either Charlotte 
or Emily kindled such kindly feeling in the hearts of their 

All the people at the Vicarage were very fond of this quaint 
little child. Nancy Garrs used to tell that once, when Anne 



was a baby, Charlotte rushed into her father's study to say 
that there was an angel standing by Anne's cradle, but when 
they returned, it was gone, though Charlotte was sure she had 
seen it. 

Every effort was made to keep this " darling of the home," 
as one of the old servants called her, from going out as gover- 
ness, but at nineteen Anne was determined not to be dependent 
upon others, but to earn her own living. She was not domesti- 
cated like the other sisters, for the simple reason that her 
services in the household were not required. She had a 
pleasant voice, and could both play and sing. Like her sisters, 
she revelled in books, and knew how to choose them. Her 
father taught her English subjects, Latin and Scripture, and 
Charlotte was responsible for her German and French. 

Anne Bronte was determined not to be a burden at home, 
although, like the others, she loved the home life dearly, but 
she had the family love of adventure, and wished to see the 
world that lay beyond the Haworth Hills. 

The Rev. Patrick Bronte has been accused of driving his 
girls from home to be governesses, but it is evident that he 
did not wish his youngest child to leave home according to 
Anne Bronte's account in Agnes Grey. 

" ' What, my little Agnes a governess ! ' cried he, and, in 
spite of his dejection, he laughed at the idea. 

" ' Yes, papa, don't you say anything against it : I should 
like it so much, and I am sure I could manage delightfully.' 

" ' But, my darling, we could not spare you.' 

Charlotte Bronte, writing to Ellen Nussey at this time, 

"April 15, 1839. 

" I could not write to you in the week you requested, as 
about that time we were very busy in preparing for Anne's 
departure. Poor child ! she left us last Monday ; no one went 
with her ; it was her own wish that she might be allowed to go 
alone, as she thought she could manage better and summon 
more courage if thrown entirely upon her own resources. 
We have had one letter from her since she went. She expresses 


herself very well satisfied, and says that Mrs. Ingham is ex- 
tremely kind ; the two eldest children alone are under her 
care, the rest are confined to the nursery, with which and its 
occupants she has nothing to do. ... I hope she'll do. You 
would be astonished what a sensible, clever letter she writes ; 
it is only the talking part that I fear. But I do seriously 
apprehend that Mrs. Ingham will sometimes conclude that she 
has a natural impediment in her speech." 

Anne gives the account of becoming a governess in the first 
chapter of Agnes Grey. 

The Mary of this story is undoubtedly Emily Bronte. Anne 
and Emily were devoted to each other, whilst Charlotte acted 
the part of mother, rather than sister. 

The picture of the youngest member of the family going out 
to earn her own living is given in Anne's characteristic way ; 
she was openly more religious than the other members of the 
family. It is possible that Aunt Branwell had taught her some 
of the Methodist doctrines, which she brought from her 
Methodist home in Penzance. 

In the chapter of Agnes Grey, headed " First Lessons in the 
Art of Instruction," Anne gives a carefully detailed account 
of her trials at Blake Hall, and yet, unlike Charlotte, she sent 
a cheering letter home after her arrival, but later she told her 
sisters of her trials as a governess. Emily sent a message of hope 
to Anne/Jand Charlotte told Ellen Nussey that she could never 
bear the worries of the life of a governess such as Anne was 

Charlotte, ever solicitous for Anne, for whose sake she had 
once and only once quarrelled with Miss Wooler, wrote to 
Ellen Nussey 

" I have one aching feeling at my heart (I must allude to it, 
though I had resolved not to). It is about Anne ; she has so 
much to endure ; far, far more than I ever had. When my 
thoughts turn to her, they always see her as a patient, per- 
secuted stranger. I know what concealed susceptibility is 
in her nature, when her feelings are wounded. I wish I could 
be with her to administer a little balm. She is more lonely 


less gifted with the power of making friends, even than I am. 
' Drop the subject.' " 

Anne's reign as governess at Blake Hall was over in a year. 
In the earlier chapters of Agnes Grey she gives an appalling 
account of the life of a governess in a wealthy family where 
the children were badly trained. 

Though it is well known that Mrs. Gaskell, after the publica- 
tion of her Life of Charlotte Bronte, received many letters con- 
cerning people identified in her book, the account of Anne 
Bronte's hardships at Blake Hall was kept in all the editions. 
To make it look not quite so black against the employers of 
the Brontes Mrs. Gaskell gives, by way of explanation, the 
sisters' want of tact in managing children. There is no doubt 
that Anne Bronte deserved sympathy, but the mistake from 
the first was that, in the days of the Brontes, girls were sup- 
posed to know how to teach without receiving any training 
of any sort. 

After her holidays, Anne returned to Blake Hall and the 
naughty little children. 

" I returned, however, with unabated vigour to my work 
a moie arduous task than anyone can imagine." Then she 
tells of hard, stubborn fights with the children, and of her 
greater troubles with their parents, who could see nothing 
wrong, but found fault continually with the governess. 

At a later period, when Agnes Grey had been reviewed, and 
some had complained of the extravagant colouring of certain 
parts, Anne Bronte replied that those scenes " were carefully 
copied from the life, with a most scrupulous avoidance of all 
exaggeration." With characteristic truthfulness, she tells 
of her dismissal by Mrs. Bloomfield [Mrs. Ingham] who attri- 
buted the backwardness of the pupils to " the want of sufficient 
firmness and diligent persevering care " on the part of the 
governess. The meek way in which Anne Bronte submitted 
" like a self -convicted culprit " and returned to her home 
' * vexed, harassed and disappointed," shows how difficult her 
life as a governess had really been, and yet how determinedly 
this frail girl decided to go out again as a teacher. The 
three sisters seem to have been troubled by their father's 


ill-health, and the thought of being left alone to struggle with 
the world appears to have spurred both Charlotte and Anne 
to seek a situation, with the idea of earning their own living, 
and gaining experience which would, at a later stage, enable 
them to start a school of their own. 
Just about this time Charlotte writes 

" No further steps have been taken about the project [start- 
ing a school of their own] I mentioned to you, nor probably 
will be for the present ; but Emily, and Anne, and I keep it 
in view. It is our pole star, and we look to it in all 
circumstances of despondency." 

In Jane Eyre, Villette, The Professor and Agnes Grey, the 
heroine looks forward to having a little school of her own, and 
in each case this is referred to as a haven of peace. The night- 
mare of poverty never seemed to leave Anne and Charlotte 
in those days, and after remaining at home a little more than 
a year Anne determined to try her luck again as a governess. 
Like Charlotte, she was tired of answering advertisements, and 
decided to advertise for a situation, giving her qualifications. 

Her next appointment was in the home of a clergyman, the 
Rev. Edmund Robinson, of Thorpe Green, Little Ouseburn, 
near York. Here she seems to have had a better time than 
at Blake Hall, and the fact that she stayed there for nearly 
four years proves that her services were appreciated. After 
she had been at Thorpe Green Vicarage for about a year 
and a half, her brother Branwell was engaged as tutor in 
the same family, and, in spite of the fact that he had ultimately 
to leave in disgrace, he kept his appointment for two and a 
half years. He did not live at the Vicarage like Anne, but he 
lodged at a farm a short distance away. 

Anne speaks of him as having " much ill-health and tribula- 
tion " whilst at Thorpe Green, and she does not appear to have 
known of his duplicity until all was over. She had charge 
of the girls in the family, whilst Branwell was tutor to the 
only son. Both Mrs. Robinson and her daughters were quite 
smart society people, and very different from their little 
Puritan governess ; balls, parties, and flirtations occupied 


much of the time of the girls in the home. Both the mother 
and her daughters were quite a worldly set, and one who knew 
them personally said that the account which Mrs. Gaskell 
gave was not so far wrong as many were given to understand, 
and that Branwell was badly treated by those who ought to 
have known better. Both Anne and Charlotte always believed 
Branwell had been deceived and made sport of to such an 
extent that he became quite crazy. Although Anne was 
able to carry out her duties satisfactorily, the Thorpe Green 
Vicarage was never the place for Branwell. His presence 
might be a source of fun for Mrs. Robinson, but it meant 
disaster to him, and certainly unhinged his brain. 

Mrs. Gaskell was blamed for relating such an unpleasant 
story about Mrs. Robinson, and in order to avoid an action 
for libel she had to publish an apology in The Times. So 
certain, however, was she that she had told the truth that she 
refused to interfere with the account in the third edition, but 
she confessed in later years that it was altered by her husband, 
who was much concerned about the matter. 

Mrs. Gaskell believed Charlotte Bronte, for she had seen 
her letter to Ellen Nussey, in which she wrote of Mrs. Robinson 
" as a hopeless being, calculated to bring a curse wherever she 
goes." That letter has since been published and is sufficient 
to explain Mrs. Gaskell's indignation. 

Mrs. Gaskell was mistaken when she blamed Branwell 
Bronte for being the cause of anxiety to his sister Charlotte 
during her second year at Brussels, for Charlotte herself writes 
to say " Anne and Branwell are wondrously valued in their 
situations," and Branwell stayed on at Thorpe Green for a year 
and a half after Charlotte Bronte returned to Haworth, so 
that he had nothing to do with her return home. 

Anne Bronte's second novel, Wildfell Hall, has almost 
escaped notice. That Agnes Grey should have been accepted 
by any firm of publishers and The Professor refused is a mystery, 
for Agnes Grey is quite a colourless story, told in a very school- 
girl fashion, and Anne Bronte brings in her scripture references 
frequently, giving the novel a very didactic tone, and conveying 
the impression that it was written by a much older person. 



Anne meant to write a story with a purpose, and she was not 
afraid to point the moral. n 

Wildfell Hall was a didactic temperance novel, and had it 
not been that Jane Eyre had made the name of Bronte famous, 
it is questionable if the publishers would have accepted it 
so readily. 

13 (aaoo) 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S limited range of accomplishments Her ex- 
perience at Rawdon Advice from her employers The village of 
Rawdon Charlotte Bronte's lack of interest in children The 
project of a BrontS school Letter from Mary Taylor Proposal 
that Charlotte and Emily Bronte should enter a school at Brussels 
The Heger Pensionnat at Brussels. 

IN March, 1841, Charlotte was successful in obtaining an 

" I told you some time since, that I meant to get a situation, 
and when I said so my resolution was quite fixed. I felt that, 
however often I was disappointed, I had no intention of 
relinquishing my efforts. After being severely baffled two or 
three times after a world of trouble, in the way of corre- 
spondence and interviews I have at length succeeded, and 
am fairly established in my new place." 

The appointment to which she refers was with a Mr. and Mrs. 
White, of Upperwood House, Rawdon. Mr. White, a York- 
shire manufacturer was said to be interested in literature, and 
Charlotte Bronte was more comfortable at Rawdon than she 
had been elsewhere. 

Rawdon has received very scant notice from the biographers 
of Charlotte Bronte, and yet it proved to be the turning-point 
in her life. It was owing to her stay at Rawdon that both 
she and Emily decided to continue their education by becoming 
pupils in a school at Brussels. The step was taken owing to 
the kindly interest and wise counsel of Charlotte's employers, 
whilst she was governess in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John 
White, which is less than two miles from Woodhouse Grove 
School, Apperley Bridge, where her father and mother first 
met nearly thirty years before. The year previous to this 
visit to Rawdon had been an " outwardly eventless year." 



Though Charlotte had been happy, her conscience would not 
let her stay quietly at home, adding nothing to the family 
income, but rather taking from it. Emily, who was always con- 
sidered the more domesticated of the sisters, was also at home, 
and Charlotte set herself the uncongenial task of answering the 
advertisements of people in want of a governess for their 
children. Her limited range of accomplishments and quali- 
fications prevented her from obtaining a first-class appoint- 
ment ; she knew little of foreign languages, and less of music, 
but she had a good knowledge of English literature : had some 
taste for drawing : and was an excellent needlewoman 
qualifications which proved very serviceable to her. 

She has sometimes been pictured at this time as a morbid, 
melancholy creature, but a letter written to Ellen Nussey, just 
before she obtained the appointment at Rawdon, proves how 
inaccurate such a description was. When she was happy, she 
had more than the average share of animal spirits 

" ' The wind bloweth where it listeth. Thou hearest the 
id thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither 
goeth.' That, I believe, is Scripture, though in what chapter 
book, or whether it be correctly quoted, I can't possibly say. 
[owever, it behoves me to write a letter to a young woman of 
the name of E., with whom I was once acquainted, * in life's 
lorning march, when my spirit was young.' This young 
foman wished me to write to her some time since, though I 
ive nothing to say I e'en put it off, day by day, till at last, 
fearing that she will * curse me by her gods,' I feel constrained 
to sit down and tack a few lines together, which she may call a 
itter or not, as she pleases. Now, if the young woman expects 
ise in this production, she will find herself miserably dis- 
ippointed. I shall dress her a dish of salmagundi I shall cook 
hash compound a stew toss up an omelette soufflee d la 
franfaise, and send it her with my respects. The wind, 
which is very high up in our hills of Judea, though, I suppose, 
down in the Philistine flats of B. parish it is nothing to speak 
of, has produced the same effects on the contents of my 
knowledge-box that a quaigh of usquebaugh does upon those 
of most other bipeds. I see everything couleur de rose, and 


am strongly inclined to dance a jig, if I knew how. I think 
I must partake of the nature of a pig or an ass both which 
animals are strongly affected by a high wind. From what 
quarter the wind blows I cannot tell, for I never could in my 
life ; but I should very much like to know how the great 
brewing-tub of Bridlington Bay works, and what sort of 
yeasty froth rises just now on the waves. 

" A woman of the name of Mrs. B., it seems, wants a teacher. 
I wish she would have me ; and I have written to Miss W. to 
teU her so." 

The Mrs. B. referred to was a Mrs. Thomas Brooke, of 
Huddersfield. In a letter dated 12th November, 1840, Charlotte 
Bronte tells of exchanging letters with Mrs. B. and how she 
expresses herself as pleased with the candour of her applica- 
tion for the post of governess. Charlotte had taken care to 
tell her that if she wanted " a showy, elegant, fashionable 
personage she was not the man for her." But as Mrs. Brooke 
required a governess capable of teaching music, including 
singing, Charlotte Bronte was not eligible. 

After failing to obtain this appointment at Huddersfield, 
Charlotte Bronte took the initiative, and began" to advertise 
for a post as governess. It would be interesting to find these 
advertisements. Her advent to Rawdon was in consequence 
of her own advertisement, which no doubt would be modest 

At this time she was a woman of nearly twenty-six, and 
though she felt the need of earning money, she was careful not 
to estimate too highly the mere salary offered ; she preferred 
comfort and kindly disposed people to a large salary. She 
appears to have had an opportunity of going to Ireland as 
governess about the time she accepted the post at Rawdon, 
and she offered " the Irish concern " to Mary Taylor, who also 
declined it. Charlotte Bronte always had a longing to see 
her father's native place, which was not gratified until fourteen 
years later. 

It was early in March, 1841, that she went to Rawdon, and 
in one of her letters she praises the house and grounds, but 
does not say anything about the appointment itself ; her 


experience at Rawdon was much pleasanter than the time 
she spent at Stonegappe. 

She says, " The house is not very large, but exceedingly 
comfortable." Her employers proved to be wise friends, and 
their timely advice helped to guide her in what proved to be 
the great turning-point in her life. Had they not encouraged 
her to go abroad and gain a knowledge of foreign languages, 
thus fitting herself to become a competent teacher, it is very 
doubtful if she would have gone to Brussels. It was Mr. and 
Mrs. White's support that carried weight with Mr. Bronte and 
Miss Bran well, for the " heartening on " of Mary Taylor might 
not have been sufficient to induce Patrick Bronte to agree to 
the scheme by which his daughters entered a continental 
school. " Mary's price is above rubies," said Charlotte Bronte 
at this time, and there is no doubt that Mary Taylor did all 
she could to get Mr. Bronte's daughters to Brussels. 

Not only would Charlotte and Emily Bronte have missed 
the chance of seeing foreign places, but we should never have 
had Charlotte's great novel, Villette, nor her first and oft- 
rejected novel The Professor. Nor would Wuthering Heights, 
Jane Eyre and Shirley have been produced, for M. Heger's 
great personality was an inspiration. Previous to the visit to 
Brussels, the writing by the two sisters was quite mediocre, 
and did not show sufficient promise to warrant publication at 
a later stage. Some of Charlotte's unpublished and unfinished 
stories do not by any means give great indication of genius. 
It is to the honour of M. Heger that the great Bronte 
lovelists were the two members of the Bronte family who came 
ider his influence. If Branwell and Anne could have had 
year or two under M. Heger, he might have left his mark upon 
them. If anyone could have given Branwell " balance," it 
ras M. Heger ; Anne would have acquired more confidence, 
id the wider outlook would have broadened her views, and 
given her a larger scope for her novels. Neither Branwell nor 
Anne had any training as teachers, and, as they lacked aptitude, 
the wonder is that they met with any success whatever in 
teaching. Their experience of life was also too limited, and it 
is scarcely a matter for wonder that Branwell went to " The 


Black Bull " for some diversion. When Charlotte and Emily 
visited Brussels, they entered a new and larger world ; their 
active imagination was now turned into other channels, 
unknown to their quiet, uneventful lives at Haworth. 

Rawdon is still a delightful district, being now quite a suburb 
of Leeds. Upperwood House has been demolished, and one 
more Bronte landmark has passed into oblivion. The village 
stands on high ground, and is very healthy. The place suited 
Charlotte Bronte, who was very well during her stay there, 
and was able to do a great amount of work. This is seen by her 
high-spirited letters and her self-assertion ; she not only had 
the courage to ask for a day's holiday in order to visit Birstall, 
but, when a week was offered for her summer's vacation, she 
boldly claimed three, and won the day. Her experience at 
Stonegappe and Roe Head had taught her to " fend for 
herself," as Yorkshire people say. She had an additional 
claim as she had taken charge of the household during the time 
that Mr. and Mrs. White were absent on their holidays. 

Rawdon is chiefly employed in the manufacture of wool, 
but its trade is not so extensive as it once was. It is proud 
of the honour of manufacturing the first batch of wool brought 
by the Rev. Samuel Marsden, a native of Farsley near by, 
from Botany Bay, Australia, in 1809. 

Rawdon to-day is worthy of a visit ; fine villas are dotted 
here and there on the sunny slopes, and from the top of the 
Billing Hill an extensive view of the surrounding country is 
obtained. It is possible on a clear day to see the spires of no 
fewer than twenty-three churches, and on a clear moonlight 
night the view is equally beautiful. In the distance are to be 
seen the Pennines, and, on a very clear day, York Minster, 
thirty miles away, is visible. 

The district abounds in delightful walks to such places as 
Calverley, Apperley Bridge, Guiseley and the more distant 
and beautiful Kirkstall Abbey. All these places were visited 
by Charlotte Bronte's mother and father before their marriage, 
as Maria BranwelPs letters prove, but, judging from Charlotte 
Bronte's letters, she seems to have had little time for expedi- 
tions, being kept busy with the children and with needlework. 


Some five or six years later, William Edward Forster lived 
at Lane Head, Rawdon, and there Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle visited 
him in 1847. Sir Wemyss Reid, in his Life of W. E. Forster, 
tells of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle being thrown out of the dog-cart 
when Forster was driving. Charlotte Bronte appears to have 
met very few people at Rawdon, and, as in the case of most 
governesses in those days, all her time was claimed by her 
employers. Mr. Strickland Halsteads, of Hastings, writing 
to the Westminster Gazette in May, 1901, says 

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

Charlotte Bronte describes her pupils as being " wild and 
unbroken," and with reference to her duties she says : " How 
utterly averse my whole mind and nature are to the employ- 
ment." She clearly had no love for children, and it was the 
lack of this sympathy which made her task so distasteful. In 
a recent publication on the Brontes, Miss May Sinclair strives 
hard to convince her readers that Charlotte Bronte was pas- 
sionately fond of children, and she sarcastically dismisses the 
view of Mr. Augustine Birrell, Mr. Swinburne and Mr. George 
Henry Lewes that Charlotte Bronte had no love for children 
and failed to portray child life in her novels. It is strange that 
Miss Sinclair does not quote Mrs. Gaskell on the subject ; she 
not only had a personal knowledge of Charlotte Bronte, but 
had also discussed children and children's little ways with 
her, and fortanately she has given us her own views on this 
question. She attributes Charlotte Bronte's lack of interest 
in children to the fact that the little Brontes had no real 
childhood, nor had they experienced a mother's love. This 


would seem to show that Miss Bran well, capable housekeeper 
though she may have been, failed to gain the real affection 
of those in her charge, for Mrs. Gaskell herself lost her mother 
when only a year old, and, like the young Brontes, she was 
brought up by one of her mother's sisters, and yet she never 
had to complain of the lack of parental love. The fact was, 
the Brontes were brought up by a maiden lady, whilst the aunt 
in Mrs. Gaskell's case had a daughter of her own, and was a 
most lovable woman. 

What Charlotte Bronte said of her charges children of six 
and eight years of age and of her distaste for teaching, proves 
that she had no affection for children, nor interest in associating 
with them. She hated teaching, and came perilously near 
hating children, unless they were well-mannered, pretty, and 
naturally affectionate like Mrs. Gaskell's own little daughters. 

Charlotte Bronte speaks of her feeling towards children 
whom she likes, and not of children in general, and instead 
of saying she loves their little ways she says, " Their ways are 
all matter of half-admiring, half-puzzled speculation," which 
proves that she had been analysing their feelings, instead of 
spontaneously returning their love as it was given. This is 
shown by a little incident which Mrs. Gaskell relates 

" Once when I told Julia to take and show her the way to 
some room in the house, Miss Bronte shrunk backer ' Do not 
bid her do anything for me,' she said ; ' it has been so sweet 
hitherto to have her rendering her little kindnesses 
spontaneously.' ' 

This is evidence that Charlotte Bronte suspected that the 
child had been told to be kind to her. She had little faith in 
the natural love of a little child ; but no wonder when we 
remember her own childhood. 

Her Sunday School scholars at Haworth were very proud of 
her when she became known as a distinguished author, but 
they all admitted that in her early days, and even later, she 
was very strict, and the children in the day school, who had 
to submit their specimens of needlework to her, when she paid 
her surprise visits to the school, remembered with regret 
how severe she could be if the back-stitching was not perfect. 


" Three threads for each stitch " was Miss Bronte's rule, they 
told me, and the mistress who was responsible for the needle- 
work in the Haworth Church School was very nervous as to 
the results of Miss Bronte's visit. One of these very pupils, 
visiting Haworth a few years ago, and standing at Charlotte 
Bronte's grave, testified to the fear of the children when Miss 
Bronte came to school to examine the sewing and knitting. 
As Mrs. Gaskell says, all this severity was the result of having 
no mother, a strict father, and an aunt who was lacking in 
affection for children. Tabitha Brown once remarked to me 

" You know Miss Branwell was a real, old tyke. She made 
the girls work at their sewing, and what with their father's 
strictness over their lessons, and the hours they devoted to 
needlework, they had little time for themselves until after 
nine o'clock at night, and that was when they got time for 
their writing." Mary Taylor confirms this in one of her letters. 

This severity, however, was helpful to the girls afterwards. 
Emily was the least efficient at needlework ; she had no 
patience for such a task, and she did not " finish off " neatly 
as Charlotte and Anne did. Specimens of needlework done by 
Charlotte and Emily, in the writer's possession, prove this. 

It was at Rawdon that Charlotte Bronte' had to act as 
nurse during the Spring cleaning, and she tells us " She sus- 
pected herself of getting rather fond of the baby." This is 
not the language of a woman of twenty-six, who was passion- 
ately fond of a young child committed to her temporary charge. 

The fact is, she lacked patience in dealing with children, 
and she was deficient in the saving grace of humour, when she 
had charge of children. When she visited Thackeray at his 
home in Young Street, she thought his little girls were very 
forward because they chatted naturally rather than waited 
until they were spoken to, and the girls did not take kindly 
to the little Jane Eyre as they called her. Take the incident 
where Adele is allowed to accompany Rochester and Jane 
Eyre in the conveyance. Would any woman who had ordinary 
interest in v. young girl's welfare have allowed her to take 
part in the conversation between Rochester and Jane Eyre ? 


The motherly feeling for a child was entirely absent, and 
it showed how Charlotte Bronte failed to grasp the true 
relations which should exist between a young girl and her 
elders on such subjects of conversation. Then there was 
Georgette in Villette, to say nothing of Polly. But, says 
one critic, Mr. Swinburne had forgotten Georgette. Not at 
all ! Georgette was not a creation by Charlotte Bronte ; 
she was a character taken from life, and represented Louise 
Heger, the second child of Madame Heger, and Polly was a 
character unlike any other child, unless it be Paul Dombey, 
to whom Charlotte Bronte probably owes something, though 
she need not have gone further than the Haworth parsonage, 
where the children were almost as quaint as Polly. In addi- 
tion, there is the letter from Charlotte Bronte to Miss Wooler, 
about the disappointing trip to Scotland with Mr. and Mrs. 
Taylor and the baby, " that rather despotic member of modern 
households," as Charlotte Bronte says. The whole letter seems 
to show that she thought that too much fuss was being made of 
the baby, although she says, "had any evil consequences 
followed a prolonged stay, I would never have forgiven myself." 
She, however, is careful to say that she considered the ailment 
trivial and temporary, and she left " bonnie Scotland " with 

After Charlotte Bronte had been at Upperwood House for a 
few months, Miss Wooler, her old schoolmistress, offered her the 
goodwill of Heald's House School, which had been in charge of 
Miss Wooler's sister, but had " got into a consumptive state," to 
quote Charlotte Bronte's letter. At this time the three 
Bronte girls had no outlook in life other than that of being 
teachers, unless they married, the probability of which seemed 
very remote, as no offer which Charlotte had was accepted, 
and Emily and Anne seemed destined not to marry. The 
question of the three girls starting a school had been discussed 
for some time : Charlotte was anxious to try the East Riding, 
in the neighbourhood of Bridlington, but no place could be 
definitely fixed upon, and, as they were unknown in that part 
of Yorkshire, they were afraid to venture. Anne, the youngest 
of the sisters, was very delicate, and was then in the employ 


of the Rev. Edmund Robinson as governess. She found 
teaching even more trying than had been the case with Charlotte, 
who, in consequence, was anxious to get a school where the 
three sisters could live together, and where Anne might, as 
far as possible, be relieved of any anxiety. Writing in July, 
1841, to Ellen Nussey, Charlotte says 

" There is a project hatching in this house, which both 
Emily and I anxiously wished to discuss with you. The project 
is yet in its infancy, hardly peeping from its shell ; and whether 
it will ever come out a fine full-fledged chicken, or will turn 
addle, and die before it cheeps, is one of those considerations 
that are but dimly revealed by the oracles of futurity. Now, 
don't be nonplussed by all this metaphorical mystery. I talk 
of a plain and every-day occurrence, though, in Delphic style, 
I wrap up the information in figures of speech concerning eggs, 
chickens, etcsetera, etcseterorum. To come to the point : 
papa and aunt talk, by fits and starts, of our id est, Emily, 
Anne, and myself commencing a school ! I have often, you 
know, said how much I wished such a thing ; but I never could 
conceive where the capital was to come from for making such 
a speculation. I was well aware, indeed, that aunt had money, 
but I always considered that she was the last person who 
would offer a loan for the purpose in question. A loan, how- 
ever, she has offered, or rather intimates that she perhaps will 
offer in case pupils can be secured, an eligible situation obtained, 
&c. This sounds very fair, but still there are matters to be 
considered which throw something of a damp upon the scheme. 
I do not expect that aunt will sink more than 150 in such a 
venture ; and would it be possible to establish a respectable 
(not by any means a showy) school, and to commence house- 
keeping with a capital of only that amount ? Propound the 
question to your sister, if you think she can answer it ; if not, 
don't say a word on the subject." 

Whilst this project was being discussed, Charlotte received 
a letter from Mary Taylor, who was finishing her education 
with her sister Martha, at Brussels. " Mary's letter spoke 
of some of the pictures and cathedrals she had seen pictures 


the most exquisite, cathedrals the most venerable." Ste. 
Gudule's and other churches, and some of the pictures which 
Mary Taylor described can still be seen in Brussels. " I 
hardly knew what swelled in my throat as I read her letter," 
said Charlotte, " such a vehement impatience of restraint 
and steady work ; such a strong wish for wings wings such 
as wealth can furnish ; such an urgent thirst tp see, to know, 
to learn ; something internal seemed to expand bodily for a 
minute. I was tantalised by the consciousness of faculties 
unexercised then all collapsed and I despaired." 

It was well that Miss Wooler did not come to terms with 
Charlotte Bronte, for in that case the 100 which Miss Branwell 
offered to lend would probably have been used to purchase 
the goodwill of Heald's House. Apart from the possibility 
of the venture being unsuccessful, Dewsbury might not have 
been fortunate from a health standpoint, and it was well that 
the suggestion was not carried out. Moreover, Miss Wooler's 
offer extended only to Charlotte ; she would not have Emily 
or Anne for the first half-year, and Charlotte was the only 
one whom Miss Wooler thought capable of making a teacher. 

It was whilst at Rawdon that Charlotte proved herself a 
clever diplomatist, by writing a well thought-out letter to 
her aunt asking for a loan of money to enable her and Emily 
to go to Brussels 

"I would not go to France or to Paris. I would go to 
Brussels, in Belgium. The cost of the journey there, at the 
dearest rate of travelling, would be 5 ; living is there little 
more than half as dear as it is in England, and the facilities for 
education are equal or superior to any other place in Europe. 
In half a year, I could acquire a thorough familiarity with 
French. I could improve greatly in Italian, and even get a 
dash of German ; i.e., providing my health continued as good 
as it is now. Mary is now staying at Brussels, at a first-rate 

establishment there I feel certain, while I am writing, that 

you will see the propriety of what I say. You always like to 
use your money to the best advantage. You are not fond of 
making shabby purchases ; when you do confer a favour, it is 
often done in style ; and, depend upon it, 50 or 100, thus laid 


out would be well employed. Of course, I know no other 
friend in the world to whom I could apply on this subject, 
except yourself. I feel an absolute conviction that, if this 
advantage were allowed us, it would be the making of us for 
life. Papa will, perhaps, think it a wild and ambitious scheme ; 
but who ever rose in the world without ambition ? When 
he left Ireland to go to Cambridge University, he was as ambi- 
tious as I am now. I want us all to get on. I know we have 
talents, and I want them to be turned to account. I look to 
you, aunt, to help us. I think you will not refuse. I know, 
if you consent, it shall not be my fault if you ever repent your 

The masterful way in which Charlotte Bronte managed 
everything is to her credit. Although she only asked for six 
months in Brussels, she made up her mind that she and Emily 
should stay for a year, earning sufficient in the second half 
to pay their expenses, if possible. 

It is clear that the father and aunt both worked under 
Charlotte's direction, and Emily seems to have acquiesced 
in all that Charlotte suggested. The hot haste in which she 
made her preparations showed how she was fretting under the 
restraint. " Brussels is still my promised land, but there is 
still the wilderness of time and space to cross before I reach it." 

When the Brussels plan was all but settled, Mr. Bronte 
heard an unfavourable account of the Belgian schools, and it 
was hastily decided that Charlotte and Emily should go to 
Lille, probably to a French Protestant school highly recom- 
mended by the Rev. Baptist Noel and by other clergymen. 
Mrs. Gaskell was unable to discuss the reasons for a sudden 
change of plan, but Charlotte Bronte was extremely anxious 
to go to Brussels and she ultimately prevailed. 

It appears there was an English lady who had been a 
governess in the family of Louis Philippe, and when his 
daughter Marie Louise married Leopold I, King of the Belgians, 
the lady accompanied her to Brussels in the capacity of reader. 
This lady's grand-daughter was being educated at the Pen- 
sionnat in the Rue d'Isabelle, and so satisfied was the grand- 
mother with the education given that she recommended the 


school to the wife of Mr. Jenkins, the English chaplain in 
Brussels. Mr. Jenkins' brother was a clergyman in the West 
Riding, and through him the recommendation was passed to 
Mr. Bronte, and it was decided that, if the terms suited, 
Charlotte and Emily should proceed to Brussels. M. Heger, 
who had known what it meant to be poor in his younger days, 
was so much struck with the simple and earnest tone of the 
letter that he suggested to his wife that very generous and easy 
terms should be named, and an inclusive amount was fixed. 

When Mrs. Gaskell visited Brussels in 1856, she interviewed 
M. Heger, who told her that it was Charlotte Bronte's letter 
which led his wife and himself to take the two Brontes as 
pupils, for Charlotte made very particular enquiries with regard 
to the possible " extras," and he and Madame Heger were so 
struck by the simple, earnest tone of the letter, that one 
remarked to the other : " These are the daughters* of an 
English pastor, of moderate means, anxious to learn with an 
ulterior view of instructing others, and to whom the risk of 
additional expense is of great consequence. Let us name a 
specific sum, within which all expenses shall be included." 
These terms were accepted, but whether they exactly 
corresponded to the school prospectus is not mentioned. 


|Jaur les \emus Demoiselles , 

Sous la direction 

cR/uo T&o^eflly, 3, a 

Cet etablissement est situe dans Fendroit le plus salubre de la ville. 

Le cours d' instruction, base sur la Religion, comprend essentiellement la Lanyue Francaise, 
I'Histoire, I'Arithmetique, la Geographic, I'fccriture, ainsique tons let ouvrages a I' aiguille 
que doit connaitre une demoiselle bien elevee. 

La sante des e'leves est I'objet d'une surveillance active les parents peuvent se reposeravec 
securite sur les mesures qui ont ete prises a cet e'gard dans I' etablissement 

Leprix de la pension estde 650 francs, la demi-pension est de 350/rawc*, payables 
par quartiers et d'avance II n'y a d'autres frais accessoires, que les etrennes des domes 

II n est fait aucune deduction pour le temps que les e'leves passent chez elles dans le 
courant de I'annee. Le nombre des e'leves etant limite, les parents qui desireraient reprendre 
leurs enfants, sont tenus d'en prevenir la directrice trois mots d'avance. 

Les lepons de musique, de langues etrangeres, etc., etc., sont au compte des parents 

Le costume des pensionnaires est uniforme. 

La directrice s 'engage a repondre a toutes les demandes qui pourraient lui etre adresse'es 
par les parents, relativement aux autres details de son institution 

Lit complet, bassm. aiguiere et draps de lit 
Serviettes de table 
Une malle fermant a clef. 
Un convert d'argent 
Un gobelet. 

Si les Sieves ne sont pas de Bruxelles. on leur fournira un lit garni moyennant 34 francs 
par an 

lapr.moric <U I N'cnl, 




LONDON, the Brontes' " Promised Land " Mr. Bronte" accompanies 
Charlotte and Emily to Brussels Their stay in London The 
Chapter Coffee House References in The Professor and Villette 
to the journey to Brussels. 

LONG before Brussels had been thought of, London had 
loomed large in the imagination of the Brontes ; it was their 
first Promised Land, especially for the only brother. Sir 
Wemyss Reid in his monograph on Charlotte Bronte tells the 
story of Charlotte, when a girl of four, wandering away from 
home to find Bradford, which she thought must be a heaven 
compared with Haworth, and how the nurse found her near 
Bridgehouse, at the lower end of the village, crying because 
she thought Bradford was too far away. The vivid imagina- 
tion of the Bronte children took them to places they had 
heard or read about, far away from home. Chailotte and 
Bran well especially seemed to have cherished a wish, early in 
life, to gaze upon other scenes than their moorland environ- 
ment supplied, and London in imagination was their Mecca 
their El Dorado. 

When Ellen Nussey first visited London in 1834, Charlotte 
Bronte was wildly excited, and not a little inquisitive. In 
replying to a letter she takes her friend to task for not 
appreciating the great capital 

" I was greatly amused at the tone of nonchalance, which 
you assumed, while treating of London and its wonders. Did 
you not feel awed while gazing at St. Paul's and Westminster 
Abbey ? Had you no feeling of intense and ardent interest, 
when in St. James's you saw the palace where so many of 
England's kings have held their courts, and beheld the repre- 
sentations of their persons on the walls ? You should not be 
too much afraid of appearing country-bred ; the magnificence 
of London has drawn exclamations of astonishment from 



travelled men, experienced in the world, its wonders and 
beauties. Have you yet seen anything of the great personages 
whom the sitting of Parliament now detains in London 
the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Earl Grey, Mr. 
Stanley, Mr. O'Connell ? If I were you, I would not be too 
anxious to spend my time in reading whilst in town. Make 
use of your own eyes for the purposes of observation now, and, 
for a time at least, lay aside the spectacles with which authors 
would furnish us." 

In a postscript she adds 

" Will you be kind enough to inform me of the number of 
performers in the King's military band ? " 

This postscript was sent at the suggestion of her brother, 
who was hoping to visit London later ; he was greatly interested 
in Ellen Nussey's letters from the metropolis. Mrs. Gaskell 
did not give the whole of the postscript, which concludes : 
" Branwell very much wishes to know." 

The efforts of the Brontes had long been directed to London 
as the destination of Branwell, who was sent there to study 
painting. Mrs. Gaskell had the impression that Branwell 
Bronte' never visited London, and Ellen Nussey evidently 
had the same impression, but as early as 1835, when Branwell 
was only eighteen, he wrote to the Secretary of the Royal 
Academy for information concerning the best means of obtain- 
ing admission, and at a later period he certainly went to 
London and studied painting. On 5th July, 1835, Charlotte 
Bronte' wrote : " We are all about to divide, break up, separate. 
Emily is going to school, Branwell is going to London, and I 
am going to be a governess." 

Branwell was the first member of the family ^to see the 
" Great Babylon," but it proved too much for him ; he fre- 
quented the public-houses, amongst them the Castle Tavern in 
Holborn, then kept by Tom Spring, a well-known prize fighter. 
He was not twenty years of age, and before he really reached 
the City he had fallen a prey to " sharpers," and very soon the 
money which his father had so generously given him was 
either squandered or obtained from him by fraud. 


The sacrifice which his sisters had made to enable him to go 
to London was not of much use, and it soon became necessary 
to get Branwell back to Haworth ; he had visited most of the 
sights of the City and was much interested in the Elgin Marbles, 
drawings of which he intended to make. 

Ten years later, and shortly before his death, he wrote to 
his friend Leyland 

" I used to think that if I could have, for a week, the free 
range of the British Museum the library included I could 
feel as though I were placed for seven days in Paradise ; but 
now, really, dear Sir, my eyes would rest upon the Elgin 
marbles, the Egyptian saloon, and the most treasured columns, 
like the eyes of a dead cod-fish." l 

Thus BranwelTs visit to London in 1835 turned out a 
miserable failure, and the family evidently did not talk much 
about it. This accounts for Mrs. Gaskell's not having heard of 
the visit, which led her into the further error in writing of 
BranwelPs ability to direct a traveller, who had called at the 
Black Bull, as to the best means of getting from place to place 
in London. Mrs. Gaskell tells us that Branwell confessed he 
had never been to London, which was untrue. Whenever this 
idolised brother of the Brontes was away from home, he was 
met by some temptation which he was incapable of resisting. 

Branwell had described London to his sisters, and now, with 
the loan from their aunt, they found it possible to realise their 

Charlotte Bronte was a woman of twenty-six and Emily 
was twenty-four when they proceeded to Brussels in the 
company of Mary Taylor and her brother, both of whom were 
well acquainted with the journey. Mr. Bronte also determined 
to go with them and see a few of the sights of London on the 
way. He was now a man of sixty-five and apparently had not 
visited London since he was ordained at Fulham in 1806, 
unless he visited it when a curate at Wethersfield. 

The journey was likely to afford Charlotte Bronte the most 
pleasure ; she had gained that for which she had striven, 

1 The Bronte Family, by Francis A. Leyland. 
13 (2200) 


whilst Emily was more attached to her home. Charlotte had 
evidently discussed London with her brother Branwell, as 
we gather from a letter written by Mary Taylor to Mrs. Gaskell, 
which, curiously, was not published in the first or second 
edition of Mrs. GaskelTs Life of Charlotte Bronte, though it 
finds a place in subsequent editions. 

" In passing through London she [Charlotte] seemed to 
think our business was, and ought to be, to see all the pictures 
and statues we could. She knew the artists, and knew where 
other productions of theirs were to be found. I don't remember 
what we saw except St. Paul's. Emily was like her in these 
habits of mind, but certainly never took her opinion, but 
always had one to offer." 

It was some four or five years afterwards that Charlotte, 
in her Professor, put on record her first impressions of London, 
which later on she amplified in Villette. Her wonderful 
memory had retained the details of that first visit, and, although 
the party only remained in London two nights and one day, 
Charlotte managed to see many of the great sights which 
London had to offer ; her enthusiasm knew no bounds when 
she was breaking new ground and gaining fresh knowledge. 

The father took his daughters to The Chapter Coffee House 
in Paternoster Row, with its side entrance in St. Paul's Alley, 
which still retains its old name. The house has been demol- 
ished, and what is now known as The Chapter Wine House 
has been built on the same site. Judging from a drawing of 
the old Chapter Coffee House, the present building, so far as 
the exterior is concerned, is very similar in design, the 
reflecting lights in the narrow alley between Paternoster 
Row and St. Paul's Churchyard still being necessary for the 
rooms on that side. Charlotte evidently had a bedroom 
looking towards St. Paul's Cathedral. The upper rooms of 
the present tavern are used by one of the large drapery 
establishments in St. Paul's Churchyard. 

In the Professor, Charlotte, who is represented by William 
Crimsworth, compares her little room in the Coffee House 
with that of the large room in the hotel at Ostend, but she is 
grateful for her first night in London, for she says 


" How different from the small and dingy, though not 
uncomfortable apartment I had occupied for a night or two at 
a respectable inn in London while waiting for the sailing of the 
packet ! Yet far be it from me to profane the memory of that 
little dingy room ! It, too, is dear to my soul ; for there, as 
I lay in quiet and darkness, I first heard the great bell of St. 
Paul's telling London it was midnight, and well do I recall the 
deep, deliberate tones, so full charged with colossal phlegm 
and force. From the small, narrow window of that room 
I first saw the dome, looming through a London mist. I 
suppose the sensations, stirred by those first sounds, first sights, 
are felt but once ; treasure them, Memory ; seal them in 
urns, and keep them in safe niches ! " 

Seven years later in Villette is a more detailed account, but 
in both cases the novelist represents herself as travelling alone, 
which, in the first visit to Brussels was not so ; yet, in a sense 
she was alone, for none of the party could quite enter into her 
thoughts and feelings. In Villette she mentions both the first 
and second visit, when she was quite alone. Arriving in 
London much later than she expected, she feared to ask for 
a bed at the Chapter Coffee House after ten o'clock at night, 
thinking that it was not respectable for a lady to be out so 
late, especially as it was winter time. Ha worth people even 
to-day go to bed soon after nine o'clock in winter, and few 
women are in the streets at that hour. In Villette she un- 
burdens her heart and shows her glee in her new environment 

" When I awoke, rose, and opened my curtain, I saw the 
risen sun struggling through fog. Above my head, above the 
house-tops, co-elevate almost with the clouds, I saw a solemn, 
orbed mass, dark-blue and dim THE DOME. While I looked, 
my inner self moved, my spirit shook its always-fettered wings 
half loose ; I had a sudden feeling as if I, who never yet truly 
lived, were at last about to taste life. In that morning my 
soul grew as fast as Jonah's gourd." 

Evidently the sitting-room window, as is now the case, 
looked on to Paternoster Row, still held sacred as then to 
booksellers and publishers 

" Finding myself before St. Paul's, I went in ; I mounted to 


the dome : I saw thence London, with its river, and its bridge, 
and its churches ; I saw antique Westminster, and the green 
Temple Gardens, with sun upon them, and a glad, blue sky, 
of early spring above ; and, between them and it, not too 
dense, a cloud of haze. Descending, I went wandering whither 
chance might lead, in a still ecstacy of freedom and enjoyment ; 
and I got I know not how I got into the heart of city life. 
I saw and felt London at last : I got into the Strand ; I went 
up Cornhill ; I mixed with the life passing along ; I dared the 
perils of crossings. To do this, and to do it utterly alone, 
gave me, perhaps an irrational, but a real pleasure." 

The Chapter Coffee House was noted as a rendezvous of 
authors and publishers in the eighteenth century ; and in 
the early half of the nineteenth century it was frequented 
by University men and the clergy. 

Oliver Goldsmith used to dine at the Chapter Coffee House, 
and his favourite place became a seat of honour, and was 
pointed out to visitors. Leather tokens of the Coffee House 
are still in existence. It was closed as a coffee house in 1854. 

It was after leaving Cambridge and possibly when curate 
at Wethersfield that Patrick Bronte occasionally stayed at 
the Chapter Coffee House. It was not quite the place to take 
young women to, for Mrs. Gaskell tells us that all the servants 
except one were men, and that women did not frequent the 
place ; but, from a literary standpoint, no haunt in London 
could have been more appropriate for the debut of two future 
authors than this old coffee house, where Goldsmith and 
Johnson were wont to enjoy the discussions. Here it was that 
poor Chatterton was proud to associate with the literary 
geniuses of London. On 6th May, 1770, only a few months 
before he died, and when he was literally starving, he tried to 
deceive his mother by writing as cheerfully as he could : "I 
am quite familiar at the Chapter Coffee House, and know all 
the geniuses there. A character is now unnecessary ; an 
author carries his genius in his pen." 

When collecting the material for her Life of Charlotte Bronte 
in 1856, Mrs. Gaskell visited the old Coffee House with Mr. 
George Smith, though the house was empty. 


She gives a detailed account of the place 

" It had the appearance of a dwelling-house, two hundred 
years old or so, such as one sometimes sees in ancient country 
towns ; the ceilings of the small rooms were low, and had heavy 
beams running across them ; the walls were wainscoted breast 
high ; the stairs were shallow, broad, and dark, taking up much 
space in the centre of the house." 

In 1858 John Lothrop Motley visited the house after it had 
become a wine shop, but he tells us in the first volume of his 
Letters that the man in charge did not know the name of 
Bronte, and he concludes : " The slender furrow made by 
little Jane Eyre in the ocean of London had long been effaced.'* 
That was written more than fifty years ago, but there are still 
many, including Americans, worshippers of the Brontes, who, 
when visiting this part of London, locate the place where 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte once lodged as testified by the 
descriptions in the Professor and Villette. 

The late Mr. Elliot Stock, once one of the oldest publishers 
and booksellers in Paternoster Row, possessed a set of the first 
edition of the Bionte novels bound in wood made from one of 
the old beams of the Chapter Coffee House. Another admirer 
of the Brontes has a set of the novels bound in wood taken 
from an old beam in the Haworth Parish Church. 

The most interesting association of the Brontes with the 
Chapter Coffee House was when Charlotte and Anne took their 
hurried flight to London in 1848, to prove their separate 
identity to Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., who had received a 
communication from America which threw suspicion on the 
separate individuality of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. At 
the same time Messrs. Newby were advertising a novel by 
Acton Bell as by the author of Jane Eyre. The account 
of Charlotte and Anne walking through a snowstorm from 
Haworth to Keighley, and about eight o'clock on Saturday 
morning arriving at the Chapter Coffee House, not knowing 
where else to go, may be gathered from a graphic description 
by Charlotte in a letter to Mary Taylor. Mrs. Gaskell was 
surely more accurate when she described it as a thunderstorm 
and not a snowstorm, as it occurred in July. 


Mrs. Gaskell was fortunate in finding " the old grey-haired 
elderly man " who waited on the two women in 1848. He 
said he was touched from the first by the quiet simplicity of 
the two ladies, and he tried to make them feel comfortable and 
at home in the long, low, dingy room upstairs. When Mr. 
George Smith, with his mother and sister, called on them, he 
found them clinging together on the most remote window 
seat. Mrs. Smith thought the place was scarcely suitable for 
two country -bred women to stay at, and she and her son begged 
them to accept their offer of hospitality at Westbourne Place, 
Bishop's Road, Paddington, but with characteristic inde- 
pendence they refused, though they accepted an invitation 
to the Grand Opera and went to dinner at Westbourne Place 
the next day. 

This was Anne's only visit to London and the only occasion 
on which she travelled beyond Yorkshire ; she does not make 
any use in her novels of this visit to the Metropolis. The two 
sisters returned home laden with books given them by Mr. 
George Smith, well pleased with the memorable journey, which 
gave them much to talk about when they returned to the old 
parsonage at Ha worth. Their love of painting was shown by 
their visit to the Royal Academy, and to the National Gallery, 
during this flying visit in 1848. 



BRUSSELS in 1842 Charlotte Bronte's account of the journey 
The Heger Pensionnat as described in The Professor and Villette 
The Rue d'Isabelle Ste. Gudule's Church Charlotte Bronte"s con- 
fession Mrs. Gaskell's account Thackeray's Little Travels and 
Roadside Sketches. 

BRUSSELS to-day is very different from what it was in the time 
of Charlotte Bronte. Then the river Senne flowed through 
the city, where now are the Boulevard de la Senne, the Boule- 
vard d'Anspach, and the Boulevard du Hainaut, and almost 
in a straight line connecting the Gare du Nord and the Gare 
du Midi. It is now, through the greater part of its course in 
the city, covered over, but when Charlotte Bronte was in 
Brussels it was quite open, and houses, which have since been 
demolished, were built along its banks. In the Hotel de Ville 
are some beautiful oil-paintings of Old Brussels, with the 
River Senne, as it was in the time of the Brontes, and giving 
it quite a picturesque appearance. 

Charlotte Bronte" gives an account in Villette of her second 
eventful crossing to Belgium, when she was quite alone. Of 
her first voyage from London to Ostend there is no record. 
In the Professor she says of the journey in February, 1842. 

" I gazed. . . Well ! and what did I see ? I will tell you faith- 
fully. Green, reedy swamps ; fields fertile but flat, cultivated 
in patches that made them look like magnified kitchen-gardens ; 
belts of cut trees, formal as pollard willows, skirting the 
horizon ; narrow canals, gliding slow by the roadside ; painted 
Flemish farm-houses ; some very dirty hovels ; a grey, dead 
sky ; wet road, wet fields, wet house-tops ; not a beautiful, 
scarcely a picturesque object met my eye along the whole 
route ; yet to me, all was beautiful, all was more than 
picturesque. It continued fair so long as daylight lasted, 
though the moisture of many preceding damp days had sodden 
the whole country ; as it grew dark, however, the rain recom- 
menced, and it was through streaming and starless darkness 
my eye caught the first gleam of the lights of Brussels." 




Even to-day her description of the country between Ostend 
and Brussels is very true, though there are more buildings 
to be seen on the journey. 

St. Michel is the patron saint of Brussels, and a fine statue 
representing that saint in the Hotel de Ville, at the foot of the 
grand staircase, attracts much attention. The Haworth 
Church was also dedicated to St. Michael, so that for the 
Brontes there was a link which connected Haworth and 

In the Professor, Charlotte Bronte does not even give the 
streets fictitious names ; she writes quite openly of Brussels, 
the Rue d'Isabelle, and the Rue Royale. The only names 
she alters are those of characters ; the narrator figures as 
William Crimsworth, a teacher in Brussels, though with all 
the facts now known of Charlotte Bronte there is not the 
slightest difficulty in recognising her as Crimsworth. 

In the manuscript, which was purchased by the late Mr. 
Pierpont Morgan, the title was originally The Master ; on the 
front page a slip of paper is pasted over with the new title 
The Professor. 

Charlotte Bronte's first description of the pensionnat in 
The Professor is quite accurate to the letter. 

" I was soon at the entrance of the pensionnat, in a moment 
I had pulled the bell ; in another moment the door was opened, 
and within appeared a passage paved alternately with black 
and white marble ; the walls were painted in imitation of 
marble also ; and at the far end opened a glass door, through 
which I saw shrubs and a grass-plot, looking pleasant in the 
sunshine of the mild spring evening for it was now in the 
middle of April. 

" This, then, was my first glimpse of the garden ; but I had 
not time to look long, the portress, after having answered 
in the affirmative my question as to whether her mistress 
was at home, opened the folding doors of a room to the left, 
and having ushered me in, closed them behind me. I found 
myself in a salon with a very well-painted, highly varnished 
floor ; chairs and sofas covered with white draperies, a green 




porcelain stove, walls hung with pictures in gilt frames, a gilt 
pendule and other ornaments on the mantelpiece, a large 
lustre pendent from the centre of the ceiling, mirrors, consoles, 
muslin curtains, and a handsome centre table completed 
the inventory of furniture. All looked extremely clean and 
glittering, but the general effect would have been somewhat 
chilling had not a second large pair of folding-doors, standing 
wide open, and disclosing another and smaller salon, more 
snugly furnished, offered some relief to the eye. This room was 
carpeted, and therein was a piano, a couch, a chiffonnie"re 
above all, it contained a lofty window with a crimson curtain, 
which, being undrawn, afforded another glimpse of the garden, 
through the large, clear panes, round which some leaves of 

ivy, some tendrils of vine were trained It was a long, 

not very broad strip of cultured ground, with an alley bordered 
by enormous old fruit trees down the middle ; there was a 
sort of lawn, a parterre of rose trees, some flower borders, 
and on the far side, a thickly planted copse of lilacs, laburnums, 
and acacias." 

Miss Frances Wheelwright, who died on the 6th March, 1913, 
considered this description quite accurate as she remembered 
it, and she was at school in Brussels with the Bronte sisters. 

With all Charlotte Bronte's powers of imagination, she was 
quite dependent on actual models and original places ; her 
purely imaginative stories, written before she went to Brussels, 
do not ring true, and she herself confessed her inability to 
write except from actual experience. " Details, situations 
which I do not understand and cannot personally inspect, 
I would not for the world meddle with. Besides, not one 
feeling on any subject, public or private, will I ever affect 
that I do not really experience." This confession settles once 
for all the question whether the books written by Charlotte 
Bronte came from her own life-story or were entirely imagina- 
tion ; and though her books are not literally true, they are 
drawn from what came within her own little world of experience. 

The Heger Pensionnat has now been demolished, not a 
brick being left. All the old fruit trees have been uprooted, 


and the garden, which had become classic ground to Bronte 
pilgrims, is gone for ever. Just a few branches of some of the 
trees nearest to the road are to be seen above the debris, as 
if protesting against the burial of the old trees which dated 
back to the time of the ancient Hospice of Terarken. It is 
well that Charlotte Bronte has pictured the old school and its 
garden so faithfully, for as long as her masterpiece Villette 
lives the old garden, with its allee def endue, will be a source 
of interest to all lovers of the Bronte literature. 

This old part of the city, much lower than the Rue Royale 
on the East and the Rue Montagne de la Cour on the South, 
of which the Rue d'Isabelle formed a part, is being completely 
transformed. A new road resting on arches has been con- 
structed at very great cost, almost entirely filling the cup- 
shaped depression of land in this central part of Brussels ; 
at the same time, another somewhat similar road will 
join it almost at right angles, leading from the Rue Royale. 
This scheme will completely destroy that part of Brussels 
with which the Brontes were associated. The approaches 
to the Rue d'Isabelle by the steps in the Rue de la 
Bibliothe*que, the Rue Villa-Hermosa and the Rue Raven- 
stein will shortly disappear, and the site of the Rue d'Isabelle 
itself will only be obtained by consulting old plans and drawings 
of this part of Brussels. The statue of Count Belliard still 
stands as if keeping sentinel over the old Rue d'Isabelle, but 
it is said that it will shortly be taken to another part of the 
town, or find a home in the park opposite. 

The school premises have not been inhabited for years, and 
it is now only possible to walk down the first flight of stone 
steps on which Lucy Snowe paced in front of what was the 
Hegers'old home,and very soon these will have disappeared also. 

The Rue Royale has also undergone great changes since 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte* traversed its wide thoroughfare. 
The Hotel Cluysenaar, doubtless, was the original of the Hotel 
Crcy. " It was an hotel in the foreign sense : a collection 
of dwelling-houses, not an inn a vast, lofty pile, with a 
huge arch in its street door, leading through a vaulted covered 
way, into a square, all built round." It was here, in a small 


flat in 1842, so Miss Wheelwright told me, that her father, Dr. 
Wheelwright, and his family lived, and it was here that Charlotte 
Bronte often found a kindly English welcome. This building, 
too, has been demolished. The name Cluysenaar was in honour 
of a noted Brussels architect, who had much to do with the new 
buildings in Brussels ; the hotel on the same site has been 
re-named several times. From being known as the Hotel 
Cluysenaar, its name was changed to Hotel Mengelle, then 
Hotel Astoria et Mengelle, but now it is the fashionable family 
Hotel Astoria, 105 Rue Roy ale, and is conducted quite as an 
English hotel. 

Soon all the landmarks of the Bronte's' brief sojourn in the 
gay capital will have disappeared. The Park is still left to 
remind us of Lucy Snowe and Paul Emanuel in that wonderful 
description of the fete given in Villette under the title of " Old 
and New Acquaintances." It reads more like a dream than an 
actual experience ; the topography of the route which Lucy 
took is not quite accurate, nor is that of Lucy Snowe's first 
visit to Madame Beck's establishment. The visit to the 
fete was drawn from actual experience, for M. Heger took 
Charlotte Bronte to see it whilst she was in Brussels ; this 
annual festival for many years was held in the Park on the first 
Sunday after the 23rd of September. It is now celebrated 
on 21st, 22nd and 23rd July, when the weather is usually more 
settled than in September. It commemorates the martyrs 
and patriots who lost their lives in defence of their country 
in 1830, when Belgium refused to be forced under the yoke 
of Prince Frederick of the Netherlands. As M. Heger took 
part in the defence of his country and his first wife's brother 
was slain whilst fighting by his side, he would have sad 
memories of the event. 

The space now occupied by the Park was the centre of the 
struggle for freedom in 1830, and the district around abounds 
in reminiscences of the revolution. Between the Rue Fosse* 
aux Chiens and the Rue St. Michel by the Rue Neuve is the 
Place des Martyrs. In the centre stands the monument 
erected to the memory of the Belgian troops who fell in the 
struggle against the Dutch in 1830. An allegorical figure 


representing liberated Belgium is recording the time from 
23rd September to 26th September, the four days of the 
struggle. The Belgian lion rests at the foot of the figure, and 
broken chains indicate the happy era thus begun. Four 
designs in marble represent the gratified country, and the 
names of the 445 patriots, who died in the struggle, are inscribed 
in an underground gallery. The great fete now held in July 
is attended by the civic and military authorities, as well as by 
representatives of the government. A feature of the celebra- 
tion used to be the gathering of the old veterans, who took 
part in the struggle for freedom, but now all are gone. 

The great Church of St. Michel and Ste Gudule, generally 
called Ste Gudule's Cathedral, where Charlotte Bronte made 
an actual confession, good Protestant as she was, is a prominent 
feature of the Belgian capital. It is approached by more steps 
than in the Bronte days, but the interior is much the same. 
Charlotte Bronte tells us that hers was a real confession, and 
for once the Roman Church appealed to her. She says she 
felt so lonely that she did not mind what she did, provided 
it was not wrong. 

Sir Wemyss Reid was the first to show that this incident in 
Villette was founded on fact, for he had talked with Ellen 
Nussey who knew of Charlotte's actual confession ; moreover, 
a letter written by M. Heger in 1863 to Ellen Nussey (which 
will be quoted later) had also been seen by him, and that 
accounts for his assertion that Charlotte Bronte left Brussels, 
disillusioned, after having " tasted strange joy sand drunk deep 
waters, the very bitterness of which seemed to endear them 
to her." 

A letter written to Emily Bronte, and dated 2nd Septem- 
ber, 1843, confirmed this story of the confession. Charlotte 
tells how in the long vacation she was feeling ill, miserable and 
lonely, and one evening after spending the day walking about 
the streets of Brussels, she made a pilgrimage to the cemetery 
where Martha Taylor was buried, and on her return she was 
reluctant to enter the almost deserted pensionnat. As she was 
passing Ste. Gudule's Church, the bell was ringing for Salut, 
and an irresistible impulse seemed to compel her to go in. 


In her letter, Charlotte gives the substance of the episode 
mentioned in Villette, but she says that she " promised faith- 
fully " to go to the priest's house for further counsel, though 
she tells Emily that there the matter ended. " Go, my 
daughter, for the present ; but return to me again." I rose 
and thanked him. I was withdrawing when he signed me to 

" You must not come to this church," said he ; "I see you 
are ill, and this church is too cold ; you must come to my 

house : I live (and he gave me his address). Be there 

to-morrow morning, at ten," says Lucy Snowe in Villette. 

In reply to this appointment, she says " I only bowed ; 
and pulling down my veil, and gathering round me my cloak, I 
glided away. 

" Did I, do you suppose, reader, contemplate venturing 
again within that worthy priest's reach ? As soon should I 
have thought of walking into a Babylonish furnace." 

Harriet Martineau held no brief for the Romanists, but 
she considered Charlotte Bronte overstepped the ordinary 
rules of Christian charity by her bitter attack on the Romanist 
religion. Having gone to Brussels to learn French, she con- 
sidered she treated the Heger family and Roman Catholic 
Brussels very meanly. 

Now that the old Court Quarter of Brussels is being swept 
away, it is important that the history of the pensionnat should 
be preserved, especially for those who will always associate 
it with Charlotte and Emily Bronte. 

Mrs. GaskelTs account of the liistory of this old part of the 
city is not quite accurate ; she probably did not clearly under- 
stand her informants, and she did not get her statements 
checked by some one who knew the history of the place. 

Like many other Bronte pilgrims who have followed in her 
footsteps, she was misled by the imposing gateway leading 
to the old garden of the school, with its ancient Latin 
inscription ; she evidently assumed that this was the old gate 
leading to the former " great mansion," built by the Infanta 
Isabella for the Arbaletriers du Grand Serment, and not 


merely the gate leading to the exercise ground, for the house 
itself had been demolished before the Brontes went to the 
Rue d'Isabelle, and the site had been used to make an entrance 
to the Rue Royale by putting four flights of steps to gain the 
level of the higher part leading into the Rue Royale, past the 
Belliard statue, and directly opposite to one of the entrances 
to the Park. Mrs. Gaskell was also wrong in assuming that 
Madame Heger's school was built in the time of the Spanish 
possession of the Netherlands. If she had examined the school 
closely, she would have noticed a great difference, both in 
architecture and appearance with regard to age, between the 
old stone gateway and the more modern house and school- 
room. The Heger pensionnat had only been built about 
forty years when the Brontes went there, and consequently 
when Mrs. Gaskell visited it fourteen years afterwards it 
was little more than fifty years old, whereas the Infanta 
Isabella built the stone gateway in the first half of the seven- 
teenth century, and near by she erected several small houses 
for the " garde bourgeoise " ; those old houses were demolished 
before the Heger pensionnat was built. 

This elaborate gateway was still standing in the Rue 
d'Isabelle until 1910, though in the Haworth edition of Villette, 
published in 1905, the gateway was said to have been demolished. 

The " Pensionnat de Demoiselles" owed its origin to an aunt 
of Madame Heger, who had been a nun in a French convent, 
which was destroyed in the time of the Revolution. On coming 
to Brussels she opened a school and had for her first pupils 
her five nieces including Mdlle Claire Zoe Parent, who after- 
wards became Madame Heger. This may account for Charlotte 
Bronte's theory that a nun was buried under the slab at the 
foot of the " Methuselah of a pear tree," but, as the founder 
of the school was not buried in the garden, the story originated 
in Charlotte Bronte's imaginative brain. The actual fact 
was that, in the days of the cross-bowmen, the slab, which was 
there until recently, covered the entrance to an underground 
passage leading to another part of the town, probably to 
enable the cross-bowmen to escape if attacked from the 
surrounding heights. 


In the Palais des Beaux Arts in the Rue de la Regence is a 
large oil-painting by Antoon Sallairt of the Flemish School, 
showing the grand fete of the Arbale*triers du Grand Serment, 
and the Infanta Isabella shooting at the popinjay in the 
presence of the numerous members of the Guild on the 15th 
of May, 1615, and bringing down the bird. 

The pensionnat was vacated by the Heger family in 1897, 
and was afterwards used as a boys' school. Going through the 
Heger Pensionnat, with a copy of Villette in hand, it was easy 
to people the rooms with the characters of the novel, so care- 
fully has Charlotte Bronte kept to the correct arrangement 
of the interior, and no guide was necessary to find the Rue 
d'Isabelle, with a copy of The Professor at hand. 

The Park, which happily will remain, was the gift of the 
Empress Maria Theresa. It was through the Central Park 
so called to distinguish it from the Leopold Park that 
Lucy Snowe was piloted from the bureau of the diligence by 
the chivalrous Dr. John, on the night when she, solitary and 
helpless, arrived in Villette. 

As Charlotte did not arrive at the Rue d'Isabelle unex- 
pectedly and a stranger on her second stay at Brussels, her 
account does not ring true, but she evidently thought she was 
doing the best for herself, for she says, " Fate took me in her 
strong hand ; mastered my will, and directed my actions." 

Again, her description of the forest " with sparks of purple 
and ruby and golden fire gemming the foliage " on the night 
of the fete brings to mind Thackeray, who later became Char- 
lotte Bronte's literary hero. He was actually in Brussels in 
August, 1842, when Charlotte Bronte was staying at the 
pensionnat alone, and it may be that these two great novelists, 
who came " to their own " about the same time, may have 
passed each other in the park or in the streets of the capital. 
In Little Travels and Roadside Sketches, published in Punch, 
Thackeray says, "The Park is very pretty, and all the buildings 
round about it have an air of neatness almost of stateliness. 
The houses are tall, the streets spacious, and the roads 
extremely clean. In the Park is a little theatre, a cafe some- 
what ruinous, a little palace for the king of this little kingdom, 


some smart public buildings (with S.P.Q.B. blazoned on them, 
at which pompous inscription one cannot help laughing), 
and other rows of houses, somewhat resembling a little Rue 
de Rivoli ; whether from my own natural greatness and 
magnanimity, or from that handsome share of national conceit 
that every Englishman possesses, my impressions of this 
city are certainly anything but respectful. It has an absurd 
kind of Lilliput look with it." Possibly the Rue d'Isabelle, 
hidden below this central part of the city, escaped his notice, 
for the chimneys were only just visible from the steps leading 
from the Rue Roy ale. It is just possible that Thackeray's 
view prompted Charlotte Bronte to give the title of Villette 
to her novel, for she read Punch and had met Thackeray 
before she wrote her story. To her, however, Brussels was a 
big city compared with the little village of Haworth, though, 
when she came to know London, she would think Brussels 
was small in comparison. 

Almost all the windows that overlooked the garden at the 
pensionnat had each its relation to Villette. There was the 
one from which M. Paul watched Lucy as she sat or walked 
in the allee defendue, dogged by Madame Beck ; from the 
same window were thrown the love letters which fell at Lucy's 
feet. Then there was the old pear tree near the end of the alley. 
At the base of this tree, one miserable night, Lucy buried her 
precious letters, and tried also to bury her love for Dr. John. 
Here she leaned her brow against Methuselah's knotty trunk, 
and uttered to herself those words of renunciation, " Good- 
night, Dr. John ; you are good, you are beautiful, but you are 
not mine. Good-night, and God bless you." Charlotte 
Bronte's recently-published letters in the Times prove that M. 
Heger was the original of Dr. John in some parts of the novel. 
It was in the garden that Lucy and M. Paul saw the ghost of 
the nun descend from the leafy shadows overhead, and, 
flitting past their own stricken faces, dart behind the 
shrubbery into the darkness. By one of the tall trees near 
the class rooms, the ghost gained access to its non-spiritual 
fiance* e, Ginevra Fanshawe. In this garden, Charlotte and 
Emily Bronte walked and talked apart from the other 


pupils, Emily, though much the taller, leaning on Charlotte's 

How few women, if any, could have found in that garden so 
much material for romance. Though, in later years, it was 
not so large as in the days of the Brontes, yet it was full of 
reminiscences. Here was the berceau underneath which 
the girls sewed, whilst a French book was read to them by 
Madame Heger, or one of the teachers, and the allee def endue 
was defendue no longer. 

" That old garden had its charms. On summer mornings 
I used to rise early, to enjoy them alone ; on summer evenings, 
to linger solitary, to keep tryst with the rising moon, or taste 
one kiss of the evening breeze, or fancy rather than feel the 
freshness of dew descending. The turf was verdant, the 
gravelled walks were white ; sunbright nasturtiums clustered 
beautiful about the roots of the doddered orchard giants. 
There was a large berceau, above which spread the shade of 
an acacia ; there was a smaller, more sequestered bower, nestled 
in the vines which ran all along a high and grey wall, and 
gathered their tendrils in a knot of beauty, and hung their 
clusters in loving profusion about the favoured spot where 
jasmine and ivy met and married them." 

At the back of the garden, until within the last few years, 
was an old picturesque building known as the " Galerie," 
probably dating from the days of the Hospice, and hence 
Mrs. GaskelTs opinion that it was part of the school building. 
This old " galerie," with its balcony, was used by the girls on 
summer evenings as a theatre, and here they acted their little 
plays. At other times, Madame Heger took the girls to the old 
building for needlework. It had a large, open fireplace, with 
a plate of iron at the back bearing a coat-of-arms, and dated 
1525. This appealed to the English girls, for it was more 
homely than the Belgian stoves. 

The pensionnat was altered from time to time, but the 
interior remained much the same as when the Brontes were 
pupils there. How well the second division class room has 
been pictured. On the platform at one end, Charlotte Bronte 
stood to give her first lesson to the unruly Belgian girls, and 

14 -(aaoo) 


behind the room was the cupboard under the stairs, into which 
Lucy Snowe cleverly pushed the unruly pupil, locking it 
quickly, and thereby securing order in the class and the respect 
of the other girls. 

What tales those walls in the second division class room 
could have told ; here it was that Charlotte and Emily Bronte 
sat in the furthest corner, oblivious of all around them ; here 
Mdlle Henri received her lessons from Crimsworth ; here Lucy 
Snowe's desk was searched by Paul Emanuel the tell-tale 
odour of his cigar betraying him ; here, in the evenings, Lucy 
taught Paul Emanuel French, and here he taught her 
arithmetic, and perhaps without knowing it love, to be named 
friendship. It was in this room that Paul Emanuel tried to 
induce Lucy Snowe to become a Roman Catholic ; here they 
partook of the supper of biscuits and baked apples, and here 
the violent scene occurred between Paul Emanuel and Madame 
Beck, when she came suddenly upon him and Lucy Snowe. 
It was from the desk on the platform, at the end of the room, 
that M. Heger himself gave those masterful lectures on literature 
to succeeding groups of Belgian and English girls, and it was 
from that position that Paul Emanuel uttered the spiteful 
tirade against the English. On that desk were heaped up the 
bouquets, and from there Lucy Snowe accidentally brushed 
off the professor's spectacles. 

At a later date, the dormitories were used as class rooms, 
when the premises were used only for day pupils the pen- 
sionnat being in another street. The oratory was converted 
into a library, on the walls of which were portraits of dis- 
tinguished residents of Brussels, but no place was assigned to 
Charlotte Bronte. She gave the school a character which 
implied censure rather than praise. 

The large dormitory of the old pensionnat was probably 
converted into a class room, because the story of the ghost in 
Villette got abroad ; it was in one corner of this long room 
that the Brontes slept, in a space curtained off from the other 
eighteen beds, and it was there that Lucy Snowe suffered the 
horrors of hypochondria, so graphically told in Villette, and it 
was on her bed in the farthest corner that she found the costume 


of the spectral nun, lying on the bed. It was here that 
Charlotte Bronte spent the miserable night which Mrs. Gaskell 
describes so sympathetically. The refectoire or dining-hall 
was a long narrow room, where M. and Madame Heger took 
their meals with the boarders, and where the girls prepared 
their evening lessons. Here the evening service was held, 
when Charlotte Bronte, hating the Roman Catholic doctrines, 
escaped to the garden. It was in this large room that Paul 
Emanuel read to the teachers and pupils. Some of the scenes 
in Villette which are literally true, as other pupils in later 
years testified, are described with all the novelist's passion. 
She mentions the church of St. Jean Baptiste, " whose bell 
warned the pupils in the Rue Fossette of the flight of time," 
and whose cupola was plainly to be seen from the windows of 
the pensionnat. This was undoubtedly the church of St. 
Jacques-sur-Caudenberg on the elevated ground above the 
Rue d'Isabelle. On one side adjoining is an hotel, and on the 
other an antique shop, whilst in front is one of the finest 
statues in Brussels an equestrian statue of Godfrey de 
Bouillon, erected in 1848, five years after the Bronte's left 

At the annual fete, a solemn Te Deum is always sung in the 
Church of St. Jacques, though to commemorate royal events 
the Church of Ste. Gudule is used. 

Charlotte Bronte refers to the Te Deum in the Church of St. 
Jacques in Villette, and thus proves her careful observation of 
events which occurred during her stay in Brussels. 

The Church of the Be"guinage is mentioned by Lucy Snowe 
as the place where she was found in a faint by Dr. John. This 
large church, which was said to have been designed by Rubens, 
is in the Basse- Ville, near the Grand Hospice and the Rue de 
Laeken. That Lucy Snowe should have wandered round this 
part from Ste. Gudule is strange, as it took her completely 
away from the Rue Fossette. The description fits the real 
Church of the Be"guinage with its massive front, though it 
certainly has no giant spire. Before Charlotte Bronte''s 
days, there had been a church in the Rue d'Isabelle, which 
belonged to the Beguines, an Order devoted to the sick and 


poor the members being willing to render help to all ranks, 
as they were bound by no vows and were supported by the 
Belgians generally. 

Madame Heger arranged little excursions to the pretty 
villages around Brussels, one of which is the picturesque 
Boisfort, in the cemetery of which M. and Madame Heger are 
buried. One of the favourite excursions taken from Brussels 
is to the Field of Waterloo, and it is strange that Charlotte 
Bronte' never mentions Waterloo in her letters and not often 
in her novels. 



THE Hegers of German origin Birth of M. Heger His marriage 
Death of his first wife His second marriage The Royal Athenee 
of Brussels Mdlle Claire Zoe Parent M. Heger's success as a 
teacher His methods of teaching Celebration of M. and Madame 
Heger's golden wedding References in the Belgian Press M. 
Heger's death. 

ALTHOUGH Belgium may rightly claim to be the home of the 
Hegers for 200 years, originally they came from Vienna and 
for that reason they adopted the German method of writing 
the surname Heger without any accent mark, as is usually 
adopted by English and Belgian writers. The devoirs written 
by the Brontes whilst at Brussels and corrected by M. Heger, 
and letters addressed to members of the Bronte family, are 
signed " C. Heger." 

Romain Constantin Georges Heger was born on July 10th, 
1809, at Brussels and was the son of Joseph Antoine Heger 
and Marie Ther&se Mare. He received a good education 
and would have preferred to be a barrister according to one 
of Charlotte Bronte's letters, but he devoted himself to the 
profession of teaching for which he had special gifts. When a 
young man of twenty-one, he married Mari Josephine Noyer, 
who died very early in their married life on the 26th September, 
1833. In 1830, when the Belgian Revolution broke out, M. 
Heger joined the Belgian forces, taking part in several battles 
against the Dutch, and was proud to have had a share in 
obtaining the Independence of Belgium. His brother-in- 
law was killed in battle. At the conclusion of the war, he 
again took up his work as a teacher, and remained throughout 
his life a professor at the Ath6ne"e Royal of Brussels. Here 
he showed great aptitude in managing large classes of boys, 
especially the lowest form, and subsequently was appointed 
head master of the school. Owing to some differences of 
opinion with regard to the methods to be adopted he resigned 
the head mastership, and became again a class master in the 



Near the Athe'nee Royal was a school for girl boarders and 
day pupils taught by Mdlle Claire Zoe Parent, to whom he was 
married on 3rd September, 1836. It was to this school the 
Heger Pensionnat, in the Rue d'Isabelle that Charlotte 
and Emily Bronte were sent as boarders in 1842. Mdlle Claire 
Zoe Parent was born on 13th July, 1804, so that she was five 
years older than her husband, M. Heger, and was thirty-two 
years of age when she was married. Charlotte Bronte was born 
on 21st April, 1816, and it is a matter of some importance 
that the relative ages of the Hegers and Charlotte Bronte 
should be clearly recognised, as tending to throw light on the 
question of the correspondence and relations between them. 

M. and Madame Heger had six children : Marie Pauline 
Emma, born on the 20th September, 1837; Elise Marie 
Louise Florence, born on the 14th July, 1839 ; Eug&ne Claire 
Zoe Marie, born on the 27th July, 1840 ; Prosper e Edouard 
Augustin, born on the 28th March, 1842 ; Julie Marie 
Victorine, born on the 15th November, 1843 ; and Paul Marie 
Francois Xavier, born on the 14th December, 1846. 

The older of the two sons was trained as an engineer and had 
just entered on his engineering career when he contracted 
typhoid fever and died on 13th January, 1867 at Torquay, 
where he had been sent to recoup his health, and where he is 
buried. The younger son has had a distinguished career as a 
doctor and has been for many years a Professor of Medicine 
at the University of Brussels. Of the daughters, two are still 
living, Mdlle Louise and Mdlle Claire. 

In addition to his duties at the Athenee Royal, M. Heger 
found time to give lessons in literature at the Heger Pensionnat, 
which, however, was entirely managed by his wife. 

His success as a teacher was widely recognised, and it is 
interesting to quote some remarks made by the late Abb6 
Richardson at a lecture given in connection with the Polyglot 
Circle of Brussels at the Hotel Raven stein, overlooking the 
Rue d'Isabelle, on 26th July, 1901. In 1873, as a young man 
in deacon's orders, Mr. Richardson was appointed a teacher 
at the Institut St. Louis, a large college in Brussels. He was 
expected to be able to manage a class of forty or fifty boys, 


On his golden wedding day, September 3, 1886 


although he had received no training in the art of teaching. 
Knowing of M. Heger's excellent reputation as a teacher he 
decided to consult him. M. Heger was then an old man, and 
had retired from public life, but he not only gave advice 
to the young teacher but undertook to give several lessons 
to a class of pupils at the Institut. 

" The method M. Heger revealed to me," said Mr. Richardson, 
" was no easy or royal road to teaching. His first requirement 
was perfect self-sacrifice of self : un devou absolu were his words. 
* If, young man, you do not feel ready to give this devou 
absolu to your pupils, in heaven's name ask your superiors 
to give you other work, for you will never do any good as a 
professor.' For him the foundation, and the essential require- 
ment for success were order and discipline, but order and 
discipline obtained not by fear, but by patience and unfailing 
watchfulness. For him the first point was to establish a perfect 
discipline in a class, even if foi a time, say a month or more, 
little direct classical work was done. Once obtain order 
and an absolute command over a class, and progress was 
assured to a professor without brilliant talents, whereas the 
most brilliant master with an unruly or undisciplined class 
could obtain nothing except perhaps the success of one or 
two exceptional pupils. His next precept was to study the 
pupils, to know each one of them, to neglect none, and above 
all, never to allow an aversion towards any one even to enter 
into the heart of the teacher. He gave me an example of a 
naturally vicious and difficult pupil, whose lasting friendship he 
gained, and whose character he entirely changed, simply by 
visiting him daily during a rather long illness, and devoting 
hours of his valuable time to playing with him and reading to 
him during his convalescence. M. Heger was kind enough to 
come into my schoolroom and to give me a model lesson. 
Never shall I forget that lesson and the magic his genial presence 
and clever and almost dramatic manner had on my boys." 

One of M. Heger's favourite methods of teaching was to 
give a lecture to his pupils on some literary subject or character 
and then ask them to write an essay on some cognate subject. 
When these essays or devoirs were finished and handed to him, 


he made necessary corrections, adding notes of praise or blame 
in the margin, and correcting faulty expressions by re-writing 
between the lines. Where he considered the pupil was at 
fault in matters of principle he pointed these out by a written 
statement at the end of the essay. After examining a number 
of these corrected devoirs, it is not difficult to understand the 
success which M. Heger met with in his teaching experience. 
The essays are marked with much more thoroughness than is 
customary in English schools at the present day. An illustra- 
tion of this is furnished by his correction of Charlotte Bronte's 
essay on a poem " La Chute des Feuilles," which is dated 
30th March, 1843, and was consequently written during her 
second year at Brussels. This is one of four devoirs written by 
Charlotte Bronte still in the possession of Dr. Heger, the others 
being " L'Ingratitude," 16th March, 1842 ; " La Chenelle," 
llth August, 1842, and " La Mort de Moise," dated 27th July, 
1843. In addition Dr. Heger possesses a devoir or letter 
written by Emily Bronte. In the essay on "La Chute des 
Feuilles," Charlotte Bronte was expected to study the poem 
and then record in French the impression which the poem 
made upon her, and explain by what means the poet made this 
impression. She expressed the view in her devoir that 
genius was a gift from God, and that the possessor of the gift 
had nothing to do but use it. This M. Heger recognised as a 
dangerous doctrine, and at the end of the essay he dealt fully 
with the question and pointed out with many beautiful and 
apt illustrations that work by itself would not make a poet, 
but that a study of style would enhance the value of the 
effort made. " Genius without study, without art, without 
the knowledge of what has been done, is force without a lever 

a musician with only a poor instrument upon which to 

play, anxious to convey to others the beautiful music he 
hears himself, he only gives expression to this in an uncultivated 


Emily Bronte's devoir was a letter in French which she was 
supposed to have written to her parents in England. It was 
dated 26th July (1842). Although it did not require very 
serious correction by M. Heger, so far as the French was 


concerned, he criticised it very briefly but very severely because 
it was cold and was void of sentiment. He complained that 
it showed no affection and so was of little value. 

Although M. Heger could exalt the need of patience in 
teaching, as shown in his advice to Father Richardson, like most 
people with special aptitude for his work, he could be choleric 
enough when he had to deal with stupid or indifferent pupils, 
and he naturally preferred to teach students who were keen 
about their studies and were intelligent and capable of following 
out the instruction he gave them. It is thus quite easy to 
understand his appreciation of the diligence, determination 
and rapid progress of the Bronte sisters, and his willingness to 
give them special lessons, which caused some dissatisfaction 
among the other girls in the pensionnat. 

When Charlotte and Emily Bronte entered the Pension- 
nat, in February, 1842, the Hegers had three children, 
and in the following month a son Prospere was born. In 
the November of 1843 a fifth child, Victorine, was born, so that 
Madame Heger was the mother of five young children when 
Charlotte Bronte left Brussels. All who have known 
Madame Heger agree that she was of a quiet and kind dis- 
position, and the various portraits of her, taken from time to 
time, picture her as a motherly person, in many respects the 
right type of woman to have at the head of a boarding school 
for girls. The continued success of the school, even after 
the publication of Villette, and especially the unanimous 
testimony of the many pupils who have been educated at the 
pensionnat are sufficient testimony both to the ability and the 
kindness of heart of Madame Heger. She acted as super- 
intendent or house-mother of the school, and in order that she 
might cause as little interference as possible in the rooms 
that she visited she was in the habit of wearing soft slippers. 
Her duties and her quiet manner of carrying them out probably 
led Charlotte Bronte to think that she was in the habit of 
acting as a spy. She took little part in the actual teaching, 
except the instruction in the catechism with the younger 

Neither Charlotte nor Emily Brontfc had much opportunity 


of knowing the real Madame Heger and consequently they 
failed to appreciate her sterling worth. If they had availed 
themselves of the hospitality of the Hegers' private sitting- 
room, they might have got to know more of the inner life of 
the family. 

On 3rd September, 1886, M. and Madame Heger celebrated 
their golden wedding, and in the Belgian paper Ulndependance 
of 4th September, there was a lengthy appreciation of their 
work in Brussels, and especially referring to M. Heger 's skill in 
training very young children. 


" SAMEDI, 4th September, 1886. 

" M. et Mme Heger ont ce'le'bre' hier leurs noces d'or. 
Cinquante ans de mariage heureux, cinquante ans de famille 
honorable et prospre, cinquante ans de travail utile a soi et 
aux autres, et cinquante ans de bonne humeur. Cela est beau, 
et vaut bien que non seulement les intimes, mais aussi les amis 
d'& cote*, le public et la presse elle-meme adressent leurs 
felicitations aux jubilaires. 

" Plusieurs generations d'e*lves de TAthen^e royal de 
Bruxelles ont connu le pere Heger en septieme. Quoi, vraiment 
en septic" me ! En voila, un titre de gloire ! Parlez-nous d'un 
professeur de rhetorique ou d'universite ; mais la septieme, 
la classe infime, celle des be*bes, la transition de la creche a 
1'ecole ! Eh ! messieurs, ne le prenez pas de si haut. Com- 
mencer Penfance, croyez-vous que ce soit peu de chose ? 
Eveiller les ames, et, a peine icarquillees, leur inspirer la 
curiosite rudimentaire de la science et, mieux que le sentiment 
encore obscur, le gout naif du devoir, c'est 1& au contraire 
parmi les taches professorales une des plus importantes et 
des plus difficiles. Le savoir n'y suffit pas, il y faut le don ; 
aussi le vrai maitre de septieme est-il 1'oiseau rare, et quand 
on le tient on le garde et on lui coupe les ailes pour peu qu'il se 
laisse faire. ... Le pere Heger, s'tait acquis une veritable 


renommee dans cet art qui consiste a de"gourdir les intelligences 
et a ^chauffer les coeurs. Et s'il y excellait c'est qu'il 1'aimait. 
II Paimait tant que, promu par ses succds aux classes de 
quatrieme et de troisieme pour y donner le cours de fransais, 
il n'y passa que peu d'annees ; non pas que son enseignement 
fut moins heureux dans ces spheres superieures ; loin de la, 
il y etait tres apprecie de son jeune auditoire, et les autorites 
scolaires lui rendaient justice. Mais sa chere septi&me 
Pattirait, et il ne tarda pas a y rentrer 

" Sans compromettre la gravite necessaire a rhomme 
d'ecole, sans rien perdre de son autorite, il egayait la gram- 
maire, il faisait vivre la syntaxe. II avait le mouvement, le 
mot et le trait, avec un grain de fantaisie. Ses exemples, 
qui parfois frisaient la bizarrerie, ne s'en gravaient que mieux 
dans la memoir e, et il est telle de ses demonstrations dont la 
forme capricieuse nous est restee plus presente que la rgle 
meme dont elle nous impose encore le respect. 

" Chacun sait que M. et Mme Heger ont fonde* a Bruxelles 
un e*tablissement qui eut longtemps le monopole, ou peu 
s'en faut, de l'e"ducation des jeunes filles de notre bourgeoisie. 
Voila done deux epoux qui ont forme des centaines de 
families, eleve toute une societe". Le pays leur doit beaucoup. 
Et parmi tant de jeunes gens et de jeunes filles d'antan qui leur 
ont passe par les mains, il n'en est pas un, nous en sommes 
persuades, qui ne leur ait garde un souvenir affectueux, pas 
un qui a cette heure jubilaire ne s'associe du fond du cceur a 
leur joie et au bonheur de leurs enfants et petits enfants." 

Both M. and Madame Heger were intensely religious people, 
being attached, like most Belgians, to the Roman Catholic 

Madame Heger died on 9th January, 1890, in her eighty- 
sixth year. Her husband survived her six years, dying 
on the 6th of May, 1896, in the eighty-seventh year of his 

On the 9th of May under the heading " Echos de la Ville," 
there appeared in the Belgian paper Ulndtpendance the 
following account of M. Heger. 


"SAMEDI, 9 Mai, 1896. 
" Schos de la Ville 

" M. Constantin Heger, dont nous avons annonce la mort, 
fut un homme remarquable dans la specialite pedagogique 
qui lui fit un nom. Nos anciens Font connu professeur de 
septieme a 1'Athenee royal de Bruxelles. Comme il avail 
fait preuve de capacite"s exceptionnelles dans cette chaire 
modeste et p&illeuse, il fut promu professeur de quatrieme 
et de troisieme fransaises a la section des humanites, et ceux 
qui passerent alors sous sa railleuse ferule peuvent dire sa 
conscience professionnelle, ses meYites de lettre, et 1'art mer- 
veilleux avec lequel il interessait a ses lecons des adolescents 
indisciplines. Mais le pere Heger, comme on 1'appelait deja, 
homme d'esprit clair et de jugement sur, se fit un jour ce 
raisonnement : * Sans doute, ce que je fais la est tres bien, 
ce n'est meme pas mal du tout ; mais d'autres s'en tireraient 
comme moi. Rendons nous justice : si je suis superieur, 
c'est dans les classes infe'rieures. Done, retournons en 
septieme.' Et il y retourna. 

" Etait-ce de la modestie ? De 1'heroisme plut6t. II en 
faut pour prdferer une tache obscure et primaire, dont on 
s'acquitte mieux que personne, a un panache rehaussant une 
besogne plus releve*e qu'on accomplit aussi bien que tout 
le monde. Mais, homme d'cole jusqu'aux moelles, M. Heger 
se rendait compte des difficult 6s du commencement. Le 
commencement, c'est ce que nous savons le mieux, tous 
Petit- Jean que nous sommes ; mais c'est aussi ce qu'on en- 
seigne le plus malaise*ment. Et M. Heger y excellait. II 
eut le panache tout de meme, puisqu'il fut prefet des eludes 
de rAth&ie*e et officier de 1'Ordre de Leopold ; mais son titre 
le plus glorieux est le talent rare qu'il de"ploya au seuil de 
son e"cole dans cette premiere initiation d'ou dependent pour 
Peleve le gout du travail et les succes de 1'avenir. 

" Ce talent exerc6 par Pexp6rience et un constant souci 
de perfection avait pour principe un don pr^cieux, une sorte 


de magnetisme intellectual a 1'aide duquel le professeur s'intro- 
duisait dans P esprit de Peleve, excitant sa curiosite, la tenant 
incessamment en 6veil, et, pour s'imposer son attention, 
utilisant d'inspiration toutes les ressources d'une nature 
g&ie"reuse et forte, recourant & 1'humeur quand le pr6cepte 
faiblissait, egayant Paridite de la lec.on, secouant la grammaire, 
animant la syntaxe, ne d6daignant aucun artifice pour donner 
quelque relief aux notions qu'il s'agissait de graver dans la 
me"moire, et cela sans perdre un instant de vue le but e*ducatif 
de Tinstruction. Et si Ton songe a la multiplication de 
Peffort du maitre par le nombre des Sieves et la varie"te* de leurs 
aptitudes, on devine ce qu'il lui fallait de charme dans 1'auto- 
rite pour maintenir attentive et amuse'e une classe alors plus 
peuptee que ne sont aujourd'hui les auditoires de nos colleges. 

" C'est assez dire que 1'influence pe*dagogique de Constantin 
Heger fut considerable. 

" Hors de Pe"cole, dans la famille et Parm'tie", rhomme e*tait 
plein de vie et d'oiiginalite*. H y a une 16gende sur son c!6ri- 
calisme. Catholique, il l^tait, et croyant, et profond^ment 
Chretien, mais sans e"troitesse ni intolerance, ayant le respect 
des convictions sincres et des recherches de bonne foi, et 
partisan re*solu de I'mtervention scolaire de 1'Etat. 

" Quel que fut son grand age, sa mort n'en laisse pas moins 
les siens en proie une inconsolable douleur ; mais sa longue 
carrire a ete" noblement remplie, et il en reste des traces 
fe"condes qui perp6tueront sa 

The family grave is in the cemetery of the pretty village 
of Boisfort, a few miles from the centre of Brussels. There, 
a modest gravestone, weather-beaten, except where it is 
protected by a small tree at the head, covers the remains of 
M. and Madame Heger, who are still remembered in many 
parts of Belgium for their long and meritorious educational 
work in the Belgian capital, 


Visiting this grave only a few weeks ago, I found it in the 
picturesque cemetery not far from the entrance. The little 
garden that surrounds the gravestone looked very English ; 
white violets were in bloom, and a laurel tree sheltered the 
upper part of the grave from the sun. 

On the gravestone are the following inscriptions 

"A la me'moire de Mademoiselle Marie Pauline Heger, ne'e 
a Bruxelles le 20 septembre 1837, pieusement de"cede"e le 2 mars 

" Madame Constantin Heger ne'e Claire Zoe' Parent, pieuse- 
ment d6cede~e a Bruxelles le 9 Janvier 1890 a Page de 88 ans 

et six mois. 

* * * * * 

" Monsieur Constantin Georges Romain Heger, veuf de 
Madame Claire Zoe Parent, ancien Prefet des Etudes de 
1'Athe'ne'e Royal de Bruxelles, officier de 1'ordre de Leopold, 
n< a Bruxelles le 10 juillet 1809 et deced< le 6 mai 1896." 

R. I. P. 



LIFE at the Heger Pensionnat as described in The Professor 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte" are offered positions as governess 
pupils Dr. Wheelwright and his family Death of Julia Wheel- 
wright Death of Miss Branwell Her will Christmas at the 
Haworth Vicarage M. Heger's sympathy His opinion of Emily 

IN February, 1842, the Brontes would leave the diligence at 
the Porte de Flandres, the main entrance to Brussels in 
those days, armed with a letter of introduction from a Mr. 
Jenkins, a clergyman who lived near Haworth, and whose 
brother was the English chaplain at the Embassy in Brussels. 
Mr. Bronte took his daughters to call first on the chaplain, 
who afterwards accompanied them to the pensionnat of Madame 
Heger, which was to be their home for the next eight months. 
In The Professor Charlotte Bronte" says, " I felt free to look 
up. For the first time I remarked the sparkling clearness of 
the air, the deep blue of the sky, the gay clean aspect of the 
whitewashed or painted houses ; I saw what a fine street 
was the Rue Royale, and, walking leisurely along its broad 
pavement, I continued to survey its stately hotels, till the 
palisades, the gates, the trees of the park appearing in sight 
offered to my eye a new attraction. I remember, before 
entering the park, I stood a while to contemplate the statue 
of General Belhard, and then I advanced to the top of the great 
staircase just beyond, and I looked down into a narrow back 
street, which I afterwards learnt was called the Rue d'Isabelle. 
I well recollect that my eye rested on the green door of a 
rather large house opposite, where on a brass plate, was 
inscribed, ' Pensionnat de Demoiselles.' " 

Though in after years Madame Heger regretted having 
admitted the Brontes to her school, feeling naturally very 
sore about the caricature in Villette, she was glad to remember 
she gave the girls a very hearty welcome, as they were intro- 
duced by the English chaplain, although he was not a Roman 
Catholic. She had great admiration for the clergy and for the 



English people, and the fact that the father of the two pupils 
was an English clergyman commended them to her. Charlotte 
Bronte's letter had won her esteem, and she claimed to have 
taken an interest in the two pupils from the first ; her one 
attitude towards the shy English girls was that of pity ; she 
knew they were motherless, and in after years one who 
knew Madame Heger well said she never spoke of Charlotte 
but with compassion, always referring to her as "poor 
Charlotte." Madame Heger's mother was named Charlotte. 

After having paid their respects to Madame Heger, they 
had the pleasure of spending a few hours looking round Brussels 
before the father said " Good-bye " after spending a night at 
the residence of Mr. Jenkins, whom Charlotte Bronte* after- 
wards referred to as " that little Welsh pony Jenkins." 

All the arrangements with the Brontes were made with 
Madame Heger. M. Heger did not even put in an appearance, 
and Mr. Bronte never saw the man who was so greatly to 
influence his clever daughters. Hence both he and Miss 
Branwell gave the girls into the hands of Madame Heger 
without any thought of her husband, and it is very questionable 
if Mr. Bronte' ever heard much of him. Paul Emanuel was 
merely a character so far as Mr. Bronte was concerned ; hence 
his anxiety that all should end well between Paul Emanuel 
and Lucy Snowe in Vittette. But Charlotte Bronte, with 
an eye to the original Paul Emanuel, determined that no 
marriage should take place. The conclusion of the last 
chapter in Villette is one of the choicest pieces of word painting 
in the English language ; it was Charlotte Bronte" at her best, 
and even M. Heger, whatever he thought of the story, must 
have been proud of his former pupil, and as " her master of 
literature " must have recognised the beauty of her diction 
and her ability to portray character. 

Charlotte Bronte, finding herself at the Brussels pensionnat, 
though a woman of twenty-six, was most anxious to occupy 
her place as a pupil ; both she and Emily were conscientious 
and exemplary in their conduct. "They wanted learning. 
They came for learning. They would learn." So determined 
were they, that they ignored everything else, and this devotion 


to work and desire for seclusion may account to some extent 
for their lack of entire association with the other pupils. It 
is evident that there was a certain amount of shyness with 
strangers. Mrs. Jenkins said that she gave up asking them 
to her home on Sundays and holidays as she saw that it gave 
them more pain than pleasure, and the two sons of Mrs. 
Jenkins John and Edward who were sent to the pensionnat 
to escort the Brontes when they were invited to their home, 
declare that they were most shy and awkward, and scarcely 
exchanged a word with them during the journey. In the home, 
Mrs. Jenkins said, " Emily hardly ever uttered more than a 
monosyllable, and Charlotte was sometimes excited sufficiently 
to speak eloquently and well on certain subjects but, before 
her tongue was thus loosed, she had a habit of gradually 
wheeling round on her chair, so as almost to conceal her face 
from the person to whom she was speaking." Their taciturnity 
often gave offence to those who did not know that they could 
not help it. Charlotte says, " I, a bondsman, just released 
from the yoke, freed for one week from twenty-one years of 
constraint, must, of necessity, resume the fetters of depen- 
dency." It was twenty-one years since Mrs. Bronte died. 
" Hardly had I tasted the delight of being without a master, 
when duty issued her stern mandate, * Go forth and seek 
another service.' " 

Charlotte Bronte was very happy during her first year's 
residence at Brussels. Emily pined for home, but kept up 
her determination to finish the year at the pensionnat. It 
speaks well for the two sisters that at the end of six months 
they were both offered the position of governess pupil ; 
Charlotte was to teach English, and Emily was to be assistant 
music mistress, for during those few months she had made 
rapid progress in French, German, drawing, and music, as 
Charlotte tells us, and she adds with a degree of satisfaction, 
" Monsieur and Madame Heger begin to recognise the valuable 
parts of her character, under her singularities." 

One of the members of the family of Dr. Wheelwright, who 
was at the school with the Brontes in 1842, testifies that 
Charlotte and Emily kept themselves aloof from the other 

15 (2300) 


pupils, always walking together during play hours. They 
spoke with a marked accent, partly Irish and partly Yorkshire, 
which to the Wheelwrights, who had always lived in London, 
sounded strange and unfamiliar. During this first year 
at school, Charlotte was most polite and kindly disposed 
to any of the girls who spoke to her, and she created a 
favourable impression, though there were difficulties to 
overcome, partly owing to differences in religion. Emily 
appears to have produced a much less satisfactory feeling 
in the minds of the other pupils. Miss Wheelwright said she 
was reserved and made no effort to know her fellow-pupils. 
One consequence was that the Wheelwrights never invited 
Charlotte or Emily Bronte to their home in the Rue 
Roy ale, which was not ten minutes walk from the school, 
during this year. Miss Wheelwright did not like Emily. 
She said that Emily was the direct opposite to Charlotte, 
who was always neat and ladylike in appearance, whilst 
Emily, tall and ungainly, always looked untidy, though 
dressed much like her sister. She would persist in wearing 
large bell sleeves, or, as they were called in those days, leg 
of mutton sleeves, wide at the wrists. When the pupils 
teased her about her appearance, ^she replied with much 
warmth, " I wish to be as God made me." Of the five 
daughters of Dr. Wheelwright, the three youngest were taught 
music by Emily Bronte, and a sad time they had, for she 
would only take them for lessons during their play-hours, so 
that it would not interfere with her own time for private study. 
The elder Miss Wheelwright, when in the playground, could 
hear Emily Bronte giving instruction to her sisters in music, 
and she was very indignant, for, if the teacher did not mind 
missing the playtime, the little Wheelwrights, Frances, Sarah 
Ann and Julia, aged ten, eight and six respectively, had no 
such desire, and more than once they came from their music 
lesson in tears. Miss Wheelwright never really liked Emily 
Bronte [from the first time of meeting her. The Wheel- 
wrights used to say that she never tried to be friendly with 
them or with Maria Miller, another English girl whom the 
Wheelwrights were very fond of. Miss Laetitia Wheelwright 


wore a gold ring set with garnets which Maria Miller gave to 
her in 1843. Afterwards Miss Fanny Wheelwright treasured 
it until her death. One of the souvenirs of the Brussels 
schooldays, treasured by Miss Wheelwright, was the parting 
lines given to her by Charlotte Bronte, written in Dutch and 
French : " Think of me as I always shall of you. Your 
friend, Charlotte." 

All the time that Emily was at school with Charlotte, Miss 
Wheelwright was struck with Charlotte's devotion to her 
sister, though she thought with M. Heger that Emily tyrannised 
over her sister, and Miss Wheelwright confessed to being 
pleased when Emily did not return with Charlotte for a second 
year at the pensionnat. 

It is pleasant to have the opinion of another pupil, who was 
at school with the Brontes. Mdlle L. de Bassompierre, who 
is still living in Brussels, told me that she was sixteen when the 
Brontes went to Brussels, and, as the two English women were 
put in her class, she had an excellent opportunity of observ- 
ing them, especially as they were quite friendly with her, 
although she was a Belgian. Charlotte Bronte has used Mdlle 
de Bassompierre's name in Villette, but the original of Paulina 
de Bassompierre is not taken from the Belgian friend. 

In marked contrast to Miss Wheelwright and her sisters, 
Mdlle de Bassompierre had most praise for Emily Bronte, and 
she said she considered her the more sympathetic of the two, 
and the kinder and more approachable ; indeed she much 
preferred Emily to Charlotte, and so did some of the other 
pupils; she was much better looking, though pale and thin. 

The Belgian girl and Emily became friends and, before 
Emily left, she gave to Mdlle de Bassompierre a drawing in 
pencil of a tree, signed Emily Bronte. This Mdlle de Bassom- 
pierre has treasured for over seventy years, and, like everything 
that Emily did, it bears the stamp of good, careful work, and is 
remarkable for the amount of detail which she has put into the 
simple trunk of a tree with its branches. It is evidently done 
on a page of a drawing book of the usual size, for drawings of 
Charlotte's on similar paper and of the same size are still in 


Mdlle de Bassompierre well remembers hearing M. Heger 
read out the devoirs written by Emily and Charlotte, and 
Emily's were the better. She also had a recollection of Charlotte 
hotly defending Wellington, in a discussion on the French and 
English. Mdlle de Bassompierre became very fond of Emily, 
and considered her superior to Charlotte in every way, and 
certainly more sympathetic. 

Judging by the results of the instruction given to the younger 
sisters, the Wheelwrights did not think that Emily was either 
a good musician or a good teacher, but they were much too 
young to judge, and, whilst they were devoted to Charlotte 
Bronte, they never cherished any love for Emily. Julia 
Wheelwright died of typhoid fever whilst a day pupil at the 
school during the first year of the Bronte residence. After- 
wards Dr. and Mrs. Wheelwright allowed their four daughters 
to spend a month at the pensionnat whilst they had a holiday 
on the Rhine. Miss Laetitia Wheelwright cherished for years 
a letter which she received from Madame Heger after the 
death of Julia Wheelwright, who was buried in the Protestant 
part of the Brussels cemetery. This burial ground has been 
demolished and the remains transferred to a new cemetery 
near by. Mrs. Wheelwright treasured a plan of the cemetery, 
which is still in the possession of her granddaughter (Mrs. J. J. 
Green, of Hastings), on which is marked, with a cross, the 
place where Julia Wheelwright was buried. 

Madame Heger's letter (translated) is as follows 

" My dear Lsetitia, 

" I proposed to call upon your mamma yesterday morning, 
but I have been unwell, and obliged to keep to my room; 
To-day I am better, but unable to go out. I wish none the 
less to have tidings of you. How is your mamma ? I much 
fear that the watching, the fatigue and sorrow have injured 
her health. Happily all the children are so good, such good 
pupils that she will find the care of them some compensation 
for the grievous loss she has sustained. 

"When I see your parents, I shall tell them how much 
I appreciate your papa's obliging letter. I am very grateful 


to him for his thought of us in so sad a time, which will 
leave here, as at your house, long traces. The little angel 
whom we mourn deserves all our regrets. Nevertheless, we 
ought to acknowledge that she is sheltered from the 
misfortunes and sorrows which we still have to endure. 

" Adieu ! My dear Laetitia ! Embrace your little sisters 
for me, and present to your dear parents, whom I esteem 
more each day, my respectful affection. 

" Your devoted 

"Z. Hege 

"Monday, 21s/ September (1842)." 

Miss Frances Wheelwright told me that Charlotte Bronte 
admitted that she was attracted to Miss Wheelwright by the 
look on her face, when she saw her standing on a stool in the 
schoolroom, looking at the Belgian girls who were mis- 
behaving themselves with so much contempt and disdain. 
" It was so English," said Charlotte Bronte ; but Mdlle de 
Bassompierre does not think that Charlotte and Emily showed 
any dislike of the Belgian girls. 

Madame Heger was surprised in later years to find that the 
Bronte sisters complained of their school days with her, for 
they were not without English friends. There were the two 
old school friends from Gomersal Mary and Martha Taylor 
living at a school just outside Brussels, where the Bronte's 
were always welcome. They also visited the Dixons friends 
and relatives of the Taylors and Mrs. Jenkins, the wife of 
the chaplain ; but the isolation in which the Bronte sisters 
dwelt was of their own making. 

Prof. Dimnet, the only Frenchman who has written a book 
on the Brontes, says in Les Sceurs Bronte, " Her (Charlotte 
Bronte) greatest luck was meeting with Monsieur Heger," 
and he compares what M. Heger did for Charlotte Bronte 
with what George Henry Lewes did for George Eliot. Both 
were married men when they met the future famous novelists, 
and, whatever may be said to the contrary, there was as great 
an affinity between Charlotte Bronte and M. Heger as between 


George Eliot and George Henry Lewes, though Charlotte 
Bronte fled when she discovered it, rather than live in the 
same house as M. Heger. In Villette, Paul Emanuel says to 
Lucy Snowe 

" ' It has happened to me to experience impressions ' 

" ' Since you came here ? ' 

" ' Yes ; not many months ago.' 

" * Here ? in this house ? ' 

" * Yes.' 

" Bon ! I am glad of it. I knew it, somehow, before you 
told me. I was conscious of rapport between you and myself. 
You are patient, and I am choleric ; you are quiet and pale, 
and I am tanned and fiery ; you are a strict Protestant, and 
I am a sort of lay Jesuit ; but we are alike there is affinity 
between us. Do you see it, Mademoiselle, when you look in the 
glass ? Do you observe that your forehead is shaped like 
mine that your eyes are cut like mine ? Do you hear that 
you have some of my tones of voice ? Do you know that you 
have many of my looks ? I perceive all this, and believe that 
you were born under my star. Yes, you were born under 
my star ! Tremble ! for where that is the case with mortals, 
the threads of their destinies are difficult to disentangle ; 
knottings and catchings occur sudden breaks leave damage 
in the web. But these ' impressions ' as you say, with 
English caution. I, too, have had my ' impressions'." 

Recently, a former pupil, Mrs. Clarke, in an interview she 
granted to the Daily Mail, states that M. Heger in her day 
could tell the girls' characters from their faces. 

The first year of Charlotte and Emily Bronte's stay in Brussels 
was a very busy one. Charlotte Bronte tells us in one of her 
letters that she had been at the pensionnat three months 
before M. Heger spoke to her ; he merely wrote his criticisms 
on the margin of her devoir and he was puzzled to know 
why her composition was always better than her translation. 

" The fact is, some weeks ago, in a high-flown humour, he 
forbade me to use either dictionary or grammar in translating 
the most difficult English compositions into French. This 
makes the task rather arduous, and compels me every now 


and then to introduce an English word, which nearly plucks 
the eyes out of his head when he sees it. When he is very 
ferocious with me I cry ; that sets all things straight. Emily 
and he don't draw well together at all. Emily works like a 
horse, and she has had great difficulties to contend with 
far greater than I have had." 

M. Heger knew that the two women had come to Brussels to 
prepare themselves for taking charge of a school afterwards, 
and that they were keenly anxious to improve their education 
and especially to become proficient in French and German. 
He was a model teacher, and was proud to have such intellectual 
women as pupils. Miss Wheelwright told me that he made 
no secret of his admiration of the intellectual ability of the 
Bronte's. Knowing how hard they would have to work, he 
never spared either himself or them, and he rendered them 
most willing assistance. 

In The Professor Charlotte Bronte gives in a poem a very 
clear account of her life as a pupil at the Heger Pensionnat. 
It is noticeable that the heroine of the poem is named " Jane " ; 
it was written shortly after leaving Brussels, although not 
published until some ten years afterwards. 

This poem of thirty-three verses tells of Charlotte's life at 
this foreign school, and when she decided to leave Brussels 
M. Heger gave her a kind of diploma, dated and sealed with 
the seal of the Ath6n6e Royal de Bruxelles, certifying that 
she was perfectly capable of teaching the French language, 
having well studied the grammar and composition thereof. 
This certificate is dated 29th December, 1843 ; and on 
2nd January, 1844, she arrived at Haworth, in the depths of 
despair, because she had left her master. In the light of the 
Bronte letters of The Times, this poem is interesting. 
Beginning at the twenty-fourth verse, which tells of Charlotte's 
departure from Brussels, it reads as follows 

" At last our school ranks took their ground, 

The hard-fought field I won ; 
The prize, a laurel-wreath, was bound 
My throbbing forehead on. 


Low at my master's knee I bent, 

The offered crown to meet ; 
Its green leaves through my temples sent 

A thrill as wild as sweet. 

The strong pulse of Ambition struck 

In every vein I owned ; 
At the same instant, bleeding broke 

A secret, inward wound. 

The hour of triumph was to me 

The hour of sorrow sore ; 
A day hence I must cross the sea, 

Ne'er to recross it more. 

An hour hence, in my master's room, 

I with him sat alone, 
And told him what a dreary gloom 

O'er joy had parting thrown. 

He little said ; the time was brief, 

The ship was soon to sail, 
And, while I sobbed in bitter grief, 

My master but looked pale. 

They called in haste ; he bade me go, 

Then snatched me back again ; 
He held me fast and murmured low, 

' Why will they part us, Jane ? 

' Were you not happy in my care ? 

Did I not faithful prove ? 
Will others to my darling bear 
As true, as deep a love ? 

' O God, watch o'er my foster child ! 

O guard her gentle head ! 
When winds are high and tempests wild, 
Protection round her spread ! 

' They call again ; leave then my breast ; 

Quit thy true shelter, Jane ; 
But when deceived, repulsed, opprest, 
Come home to me again ! ' ' 

During the absence of Charlotte and Emily Bronte in 
Brussels, Miss Branwell and her brother-in-law would have 
had a peaceful time at the parsonage but that Branwell was 


still at home without any hope of a situation. Anne was at 
Thorpe Green. It was at this time that Bran well was writing 
miserable letters to his friends ; his aunt, who had long been 
disappointed in her nephew, had her last days clouded 
by the sad conduct of her favourite. On 29th October, 1842, 
Miss Bran well died, after a fortnight's illness. A letter was 
despatched to Charlotte and Emily, and one also to Anne, 
who reached Ha worth just too late. Her father and brother 
met her in the little hall of the parsonage, and in response to 
her anxious enquiry told her that Miss Bran well was dead. 
Both Branwell and Anne grieved much for the loss of the 
aunt, who had made them her special favourites, and to 
whom she had been partial and indulgent. Charlotte and 
Emily got the sad news in Brussels that their aunt was ill on 
2nd November, and, before they could get ready to start for 
home, they received another letter to say that she was dead. 
They sailed on Sunday, 6th November, from Antwerp, travel- 
ling day and night, and reaching Haworth on Tuesday 
ten days after Miss Bran well's death only to find that the 
funeral was over, and Mr. Bronte and Anne were sitting in 
quiet grief for the loss of one who had been of such service in 
their home for nearly twenty years. 

A previous writer has remarked on the haste with which 
Miss Branwell was buried, but allowance had to be made 
for the time it took to get the news to Brussels. 

Branwell, anxious to give expression to his feelings of sorrow, 
wrote to his friend of the Luddenden Foot days, Mr. Francis 
Grundy, saying he was at the time attending the death-bed of 
his aunt, who had been as a mother to him for twenty years ; 
and on the next day, when his aunt died, he wrote, " I am 
incoherent, I fear, but I have been watching two nights, wit- 
nessing such agonising suffering as I would not wish my 
worst enemy to endure; and I have now lost the pride and 
director of all the happy days connected with my childhood." 

There is no doubt that Branwell felt the loss deeply. Miss 
Branwell had made her will nine years previously, when 
Branwell was her pride, and she had made Mr. Bronte" her 
first executor. Her money was to be shared among her 


English people, and the fact that the father of the two pupils 
was an English clergyman commended them to her. Charlotte 
Bronte's letter had won her esteem, and she claimed to have 
taken an interest in the two pupils from the first ; her one 
attitude towards the shy English girls was that of pity ; she 
knew they were motherless, and in after years one who 
knew Madame Heger well said she never spoke of Charlotte 
but with compassion, always referring to her as " poor 
Charlotte." Madame Heger's mother was named Charlotte. 

After having paid their respects to Madame Heger, they 
had the pleasure of spending a few hours looking round Brussels 
before the father said " Good-bye " after spending a night at 
the residence of Mr. Jenkins, whom Charlotte Bronte" after- 
wards referred to as " that little Welsh pony Jenkins." 

All the arrangements with the Brontes were made with 
Madame Heger. M. Heger did not even put in an appearance, 
and Mr. Bronte" never saw the man who was so greatly to 
influence his clever daughters. Hence both he and Miss 
Branwell gave the girls into the hands of Madame Heger 
without any thought of her husband, and it is very questionable 
if Mr. Bronte' ever heard much of him. Paul Emanuel was 
merely a character so far as Mr. Bronte was concerned ; hence 
his anxiety that all should end well between Paul Emanuel 
and Lucy Snowe in Villette. But Charlotte Bronte, with 
an eye to the original Paul Emanuel, determined that no 
marriage should take place. The conclusion of the last 
chapter in Villette is one of the choicest pieces of word painting 
in the English language ; it was Charlotte Bronte" at her best, 
and even M. Heger, whatever he thought of the story, must 
have been proud of his former pupil, and as " her master of 
literature " must have recognised the beauty of her diction 
and her ability to portray character. 

Charlotte Bronte, finding herself at the Brussels pensionnat, 
though a woman of twenty-six, was most anxious to occupy 
her place as a pupil ; both she and Emily were conscientious 
and exemplary in their conduct. "They wanted learning. 
They came for learning. They would learn." So determined 
were they, that they ignored everything else, and this devotion 


to work and desire for seclusion may account to some extent 
for their lack of entire association with the other pupils. It 
is evident that there was a certain amount of shyness with 
strangers. Mrs. Jenkins said that she gave up asking them 
to her home on Sundays and holidays as she saw that it gave 
them more pain than pleasure, and the two sons of Mrs. 
Jenkins John and Edward who were sent to the pensionnat 
to escort the Brontes when they were invited to their home, 
declare that they were most shy and awkward, and scarcely 
exchanged a word with them during the journey. In the home, 
Mrs. Jenkins said, " Emily hardly ever uttered more than a 
monosyllable, and Charlotte was sometimes excited sufficiently 
to speak eloquently and well on certain subjects but, before 
her tongue was thus loosed, she had a habit of gradually 
wheeling round on her chair, so as almost to conceal her face 
from the person to whom she was speaking." Their taciturnity 
often gave offence to those who did not know that they could 
not help it. Charlotte says, " I, a bondsman, just released 
from the yoke, freed for one week from twenty-one years of 
constraint, must, of necessity, resume the fetters of depen- 
dency." It was twenty-one years since Mrs. Bronte died. 
" Hardly had I tasted the delight of being without a master, 
when duty issued her stern mandate, ' Go forth and seek 
another service.' " 

Charlotte Bronte was very happy during her first year's 
residence at Brussels. Emily pined for home, but kept up 
her determination to finish the year at the pensionnat. It 
speaks well for the two sisters that at the end of six months 
they were both offered the position of governess pupil ; 
Charlotte was to teach English, and Emily was to be assistant 
music mistress, for during those few months she had made 
rapid progress in French, German, drawing, and music, as 
Charlotte tells us, and she adds with a degree of satisfaction, 
" Monsieur and Madame Heger begin to recognise the valuable 
parts of her character, under her singularities." 

One of the members of the family of Dr. Wheelwright, who 
was at the school with the Brontes in 1842, testifies that 
Charlotte and Emily kept themselves aloof from the other 

13 (2300) 


peu a faire avec de pareilles eleves ; leur avancement est 
votre oeuvre bien plus que la notre ; nous n'avons pas eu a 
leur apprendre le prix du temps et de 1'instruction, elles avaient 
appris tout cela dans la maison paternelle, et nous n'avons eu, 
pour notre part, que le faible merite de diriger leurs efforts et 
de fournir un aliment convenable a la louable activit6 que vos 
filles ont puisee dans votre exemple et dans vos Ie9ons. 
Puissent les eloges me'rite's que nous donnons & vos enfants 
vous etre de quelque consolation dans le malheur qui vous 
afflige ; c'est la notre espoir en vous e'crivant, et ce sera, 
pour Mesdemoiselles Charlotte et Emily, une douce et belle 
recompense de leurs travaux. 

" En perdant nos deux chores ele" ves nous ne devons pas 
vous cacher que nous e*prouvons a la fois et du chagrin et de 
l'inquie*tude ; nous sommes afflige's parceque cette brusque 
separation vient briser 1'affection presque paternelle que nous 
leur avons voue*e, et notre peine s'augmente a la vue de tant de 
travaux interrompues, de tant de choses bien commencees, et 
qui ne demandent que quelque temps encore pour etre mene'es 
bonne fin. Dans un an, chacune de vos demoiselles eiit 
e"te* entitlement pre*munie contre les eventuality's de 1'avenir ; 
chacune d'elles acqu6rait a la fois et 1'instruction et la science 
d'enseignement ; Mile Emily allait apprendre le piano ; 
recevoir les lemons du meilleur professeur que nous ayons en 
Belgique, et deja elle avait elle-meme de petites e"lves ; elle 
perdait done a la fois un reste d'ignorance, et un reste plus 
gnant encore de timidite* ; Mile Charlotte commenc.ait a 
donner des Ie9ons en fran9ais, et d'acque"rir cette assurance, cet 
aplomb si necessaire dans 1'enseignement ; encore un an tout 
au plus, et 1'ceuvre e*tait acheve"e et bien achev6e. Alors 
nous aurions pu, si cela vous eiit convenu, offrir & mesde- 
moiselles vos filles ou du moins a Tune des deux une position 
qui eiit e*te dans ses gouts, et qui lui eut donn6 cette douce 
inde*pendance si difficile a trouver pour une jeune personne. 
Ce n'est pas, croyez-le bien, monsieur, ce n'est pas ici pour 
nous une question d'inte're't personnel, c'est une question 
d'affection ; vous me pardonnerez si nous vous parlons de 
vos enfants, si nous nous occupons de leur avenir, comme 



1 842 


si elles faisaient partie de notre famille ; leurs qualites per- 
sonnelles, leur bon vouloir, leur zfcle extreme sont les seules 
causes qui nous poussent a nous hasarder de la sorte. Nous 
savons, Monsieur, que vous peserez plus inurement et plus 
sagement que nous la consequence qu'aurait pour 1'avenir une 
interruption complete dans les etudes de vos deux filles ; vous 
deciderez ce qu'il faut faire, et vous nous pardonnerez notre 
franchise, si vous daignez consideYer que le motif qui nous fait 
agir est une affection bien desinte'rressee et qui s'affligerait 
beaucoup de devoir deja se resigner a n'etre plus utile a vos 
chers enfants. 

" Agre"ez, je vous prie, Monsieur, 1'expression respectueuse 
de mes sentiments de haute consideration. 

" C. HEGER." 

When it is remembered that this letter was sent by a man 
who was only seven years older than Charlotte Bronte, and, 
although we is used throughout the letter, there is no direct 
mention of Madame Heger, it is very certain that M. Heger 
had a real interest in the Bronte sisters, and his mention of 
" almost paternal affection " and of "a very disinterested 
affection " shows that his feelings were more than those of an 
ordinary teacher. Several reasons have been given to account 
for Charlotte Bronte's return to Brussels, but no previous 
writer has drawn attention to this letter, which proves that 
Charlotte was the one to whom the appointment was to be 
offered at the end of another year. Although M. Heger, 
in conversation with Mrs. Gaskell, spoke more highly of Emily's 
abilities and talents than of Charlotte's, he, evidently, like 
Miss Wheelwright, preferred that Charlotte should return, 
though it showed his insight and ability to read character 
when he told Mrs. Gaskell that he rated Emily's genius as 
something even higher than Charlotte's. 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE decides to return to Brussels Her journey as 
described by Mrs. Gaskell Reference in Villette Her second year 
at the Pensionnat She decides to return to Haworth Various 
explanations Charlotte Bronte's experience used in her novels 
The testimony of other pupils at the Pensionnat. 

AFTER the death of Miss Branwell, when Anne had returned to 
Thorpe Green, Charlotte determined to go back to Brussels, 
although she had an appointment in England offered to her 
at fifty pounds a year. In Brussels she was only to receive 
sixteen pounds, and from this amount she would have to deduct 
the cost of the journey, and also the charges for the lessons 
in German, which she wished to take. The three to four 
hundred pounds left to each of the sisters gave them for the 
first time in their lives a small income, and possibly this 
influenced Charlotte Bronte in accepting a small salary, as 
there would be no need for her to help her sisters. 

The few friends that Charlotte Bronte had were surprised 
that she should have returned to Brussels, for at the first 
visit she and Emily had meant to stay only six months, but 
owing to their rapid progress they succeeded in being retained 
as governess pupils, and for that reason they lengthened their 
stay, which would have extended to Christmas, if Miss Branwell 
had not died ; by this time they hoped to be sufficiently 
proficient in French and German to teach the subjects in an 
English school of their own. Then, again, Charlotte had 
written to her friends disparaging the Belgians, which would 
seem to be a further reason for not returning to Brussels. 

Miss BranwelTs legacy enabled the sisters to defer for a time 
the attempt to start a school of their own, and it became also 
necessary to attend to the needs of the old vicar. There has 
long been much speculation as to the reasons which induced 
Charlotte in January, 1843, to decide to return to Brussels. 
It is argued that she was extremely anxious to obtain further 
lessons in German, and to gain experience in teaching English. 



It is true that at this period there was not the same pressing 
need to earn money. The lessons in German cost her seven 
pounds ten shillings a year, and she had her clothing to pur- 
chase and other incidental expenses to meet, so that she was 
poorer when she left Brussels than when she arrived there. 
From a monetary standpoint, her visit to Brussels was a 
failure. Some of her friends have thought there must have 
been some powerful influence attracting her to Brussels, but, 
in a letter to Ellen Nussey the following April, she repudiated 
the idea that " the future epoux of Mademoiselle Bronte " was 
on the Continent, and she sarcastically scouted the idea that 
she had any more powerful motive in crossing the sea merely 
to return as teacher than respect for her master and mistress 
M. and Mme Heger and gratitude for their kindness. 

Mrs. Gaskell gives an interesting account of Charlotte 
Bronte's second visit to Brussels. 

In Villette this second journey from London to Brussels is 
described very minutely. That Charlotte Bronte", who 
heartily despised the Roman Catholic Belgians, and " hated 
and abhorred " teaching in any form, should voluntarily cross 
the North Sea in January bad sailor as she was merely 
because she felt grateful to M. and Madame Heger for their kind- 
ness to her, is a solution to a problem which many Bronte 
enthusiasts decline to accept. The kind letter which M. 
Heger sent to the Rev. Patrick Bronte urging him to allow his 
daughters to return to Brussels had doubtless something to 
do with Charlotte Bronte's decision, especially as she was the 
one to whom an appointment in the school was to be offered, 
but seeing that she could have obtained a position as governess 
in England at a salary of fifty pounds a year, and that like 
Emily she could have studied German privately, it was strange 
that she should have deliberately chosen to go to Brussels. 
It is quite evident that she wished to go, though Mrs. Gaskell 
spoke of the two sisters when at Brussels as exiles. 

Of Charlotte's journey to London in January, 1843, Mrs. 
Gaskell has given a good account. Charlotte, arriving late in 
London, took a cab and drove straight to the landing-stage 
at London Bridge, instead of going to the Chapter Coffee House, 


as she intended, for fear that it would be considered unseemly 
for a woman to ask for bed and breakfast at so late an hour. 

In Villette Charlotte gives a most graphic account, and also 
of the voyage when she meets Ginevra Fanshawe on board. 
Arriving at Brussels, Charlotte admits she was received most 
kindly, and in one of her letters to a friend she speaks of 
Madame Heger as " a most kind lady." 

Emily was greatly missed and, after the excitement of the 
arrival, Charlotte seems to have experienced loneliness, though 
she had the Taylors, the Dixons, and the Wheelwrights as 
kind friends, whom she was invited to meet, but as she was 
now a teacher, rather than a pupil, she found time to worry, 
and become depressed. The absence of Emily made all the 
difference. Until the summer vacation, Charlotte managed 
to keep up, but, during that lonely time, she succumbed to 
melancholy. There was a reason for this other than Emily's 

Writing to Emily a month before her return from Brussels 
she says, " Low spirits have afflicted me lately, but I hope all 
will be well, when I get home above all, if I find papa and you 
and Bran well and Anne well. I am not ill in body ; it is only 
the mind that is a trifle shaken for want of comfort." This 
letter proves that the father had nothing to do with Charlotte 
Bronte's return. Whatever prompted her to return was 
something connected with herself, and Mr. Bronte had no more 
to do with it than any other member of the family. Mr. 
Shorter affirms, on the authority of Mr. Nicholls and Ellen 
Nussey, that Charlotte Bronte returned from Brussels because 
her father had given way to drink, and they give, as a reason 
for her second stay at Brussels, her desire for further instruction 
in German, or as one writer put it " self -development." Miss 
May Sinclair in The Three Brontes writes, "With her aunt 
dead, and her brother Branwell drowning his grief for his 
relative in drink, and her father going blind, and beginning 
in his misery to drink a little too, Charlotte felt that her 
home did require her. Equally she felt that either Emily or 
she had got to turn out and make a living, and since it could 
not be Emily, it must be she." This is not at all true to fact. 


After Miss Branwell's death, Branwell Bronte was at home, 
sober and sensible, and during the whole of 1843 whilst 
Charlotte Bronte was at Brussels he was at Thorpe Green, 
where Charlotte tells us he was " wondrously valued" 
Branwell kept his appointment for two and a half years, from 
January, 1843, until July, 1845, going to Scarborough with 
the Robinsons in the summer holidays. Again, if it was a 
question of earning a living, why did Charlotte Bronte refuse 
the position in England at fifty pounds a year and go to Brussels 
where she actually lost money ? Further, although Mrs. 
Gaskell says that Charlotte Bronte' gave to M. and Madame 
Heger as excuse for leaving " her father's increasing blindness," 
yet in her letter to Emily on 1st December, 1843, she writes, 
"Tell me whether papa really wants me very much to come 
home, and whether you do likewise. I have an idea that I 
should be of no use there a sort of aged person upon the 
parish." The letter concludes, " Safety, happiness and 
prosperity to you, papa and Tabby." There is thus no refer- 
ence whatever to her father's blindness. This letter was only 
written eighteen days before she writes, on 19th December, 
to say that she has taken her determination, and means to be 
home on the second day in the New Year. She could not 
have felt that she would have been a sort of aged person on 
the parish if she was convinced that her father needed her. 
There is nothing in Charlotte Bronte's letters of 1844 to in- 
dicate great anxiety about her father's eyesight, but there is no 
enthusiasm for anything. " I begin to perceive that I have 
too little life in me nowadays, to be fit company for any except 
very quiet people. Is it age, or what else that changes me so ? " 

Although she said in her last letter from Brussels that she 
was not ill in body, she never seemed to be well during the 
first year after leaving Brussels. There were constant com- 
plaints of depression and ill-health. If she had felt that she 
was doing her duty by remaining at Haworth, there would 
have been no reason for her dissatisfaction. 

" I suffered much before I left Brussels. I think, however 
long I live, I shall not forget what the parting with M. Heger 
cost me ; it grieved me so much to grieve him, who had been 


so true, kind and disinterested a friend." It is noticeable 
that Madame Heger is not mentioned. 

Madame Heger had a very busy life with her school and 
her home, and Charlotte Bronte says in the first letter after her 
return to Brussels in January, 1843, that Madame Heger 
received her very kindly, and told her to use their sitting-room 
as her own, but that she declined, as she did not wish to 
presume on their kindness. Evidently Madame Heger had 
no feelings of jealousy at the beginning of the year, but it 
may have developed later ; and when in October, 1843, 
Charlotte Bronte gave her resignation to her, she agreed to 
accept it, but M. Heger stormed and would not let her go, 
and she consented to remain, ultimately leaving at the begin- 
ning of the following year. It is certain that at this time she 
was suffering from acute melancholia. She thanked Mary 
Taylor for the advice she gave to leave Brussels, and some tjme 
afterwards she sent her ten pounds for the service she had 

Assuming that Madame Heger was not anxious for Charlotte 
Bronte to remain, why was she so very miserable at leaving 
M. Heger, and why did she continue to be so depressed and 
ill when at home, after having left Brussels ? She had gained 
what she sought a good knowledge of French and German, 
and she was free to lead her own life at Ha worth. Mrs. 
Gaskell was absolutely wrong in attributing " her (Charlotte's) 
now habitual sleeplessness at night " to " Branwell's 
mysterious and distressing conduct," for, as previously men- 
tioned, Branwell was giving no cause for anxiety for a year 
and a half after Charlotte returned ; and the sleepless nights 
and bitter tears must be traced to some other source. Mrs. 
Gaskell tells us that these tears, and the close application to 
minute drawing and writing in her younger days, " were 
telling on her poor eyes." At this time Charlotte Bronte 
wrote several letters to M. Heger, from which Mrs. Gaskell 
quoted extracts. 

In one dated 24th July, 1844, she says 

" Now my sight is too weak to write. Were I to write 


much I should become blind. This weakness of sight is a 
terrible hindrance to me. Otherwise, do you know what I 
should do, sir ? I should write a book, and I should dedicate 
it to my literature master to the only master I ever had 
to you, Sir. I have often told you in French how much I 
respect you how much I am indebted to your goodness, to 
your advice ; I should like to say it once in English. But 
that cannot be it is not to be thought of. The career of 
letters is closed to me only that of teaching is open. It 
does not offer the same attractions ; never mind, I shall 
enter it, and if I do not go far it will not be from want of 
industry . . . ' 

There are several letters to other friends at this period, but 
there is not a word about her approaching blindness, which 
is certainly very strange. If there was any danger to Charlotte 
Bronte's eyesight, it was caused by " the tears and sleepless 
nights," the result of fretting her heart out for letters from 
M. Heger. 

A letter written in March says, " Papa and Emily are well," 
and a letter from Bran well also states that he and Anne " are 
pretty well," so that nobody in the home circle was causing 
Charlotte's misery. Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor her 
only correspondents in England were trying to cheer her 
during this time of depression, The only other person to 
whom she was writing was M. Heger, and her letters to him 
showed a craving for pity and sympathy. Mrs. Gaskell 
seems to have tried to shield Charlotte Bronte, whilst not 
hesitating to blame Bran well, but, as he was not the cause 
of the trouble, it is not possible to arrive at any other con- 
clusion than that Charlotte Bronte left Brussels, when she 
realised she had unconsciously found her affinity, and yet she 
could not break off all connection with the Hegers. Although 
much has been said about Madame Heger being the cause of 
Charlotte Bronte's leaving Brussels, yet in letters to M. Heger 
Madame Heger is referred to in the kindest terms. 

Judging by the extracts given by Mrs. Gaskell, the somewhat 
childish letters which Charlotte Bronte sent to M. Heger 


hardly correspond with what one would expect a woman of 
nearly thirty to write to a married man a few yeais older than 
herself, especially if she considered his wife was jealous of her, 
or if the wife had given her cause to think so. From the letters 
which Mrs. Gaskell probably saw, connected with Charlotte 
Bronte's experience in Brussels, it is tantalising to get only 
two short extracts. It is evident she knew more than she- 
was willing to write, and was merciful to her friend, and 
tactfully avoided offending the Hegers. Since the above 
was written, four letters (two of which contain the extracts 
mentioned) were published in The Times on 29th July, 

During this period, Mrs. Gaskell used the Branwell Bronte 
story for all and much more than it was worth. Though 
there is evidence that Mrs. Gaskell had seen the four letters 
now published, it is clear that Charlotte Bronte did not give 
the real reason for deciding to return to Haworth, and, although 
she gave Ellen Nussey to understand that she despised Madame 
Heger, she conveys quite a different impression in her letter 
to M. Heger. Moreover, there is not a line or a word to support 
the strange theory that the curate, Mr. Smith, was addicted 
to the drink habit and had influenced the Rev. Patrick Bronte 
to such an extent that it was necessary for Charlotte Bronte 
to return home. When Mr. Smith left Haworth, he imme- 
diately got an appointment at Keighley, which is only four 
miles away, and in constant communication with Haworth. 

Ellen Nussey wondered why the Rev. Patrick Bronte 
should have been so anxious that Charlotte should write 
to her, after her visit to Haworth in January, 1844, 
and immediately after Charlotte's return from Brussels, 
to explain that the curate, Mr. Smith, meant nothing by 
his flirtation with her (Ellen Nussey). Charlotte Bronte says 
she cannot understand her father being so particular, as he 
was usually sarcastic about such matters, but he constantly 
insisted that she must write to her friend. This rather suggests 
that he had discovered the reason for Charlotte Bronte's 
return to Haworth, and he probably blamed her for believing 
that the Hegers' kindness meant anything more than sympathy 


for her, and the old vicar wished to save Ellen Nussey from 
making the same mistake with regard to Mr. Smith. 

It is certainly remarkable that Charlotte Bronte should go 
to Brussels, and lose her heart to the master of the house, 
and that Bran well Bronte should go to Thorpe Green at the 
same time and get madly in love with the wife of his employer, 
thus leading to his summary dismissal, with a threat from the 
master to shoot him if he came near the place again ; and, 
though Charlotte was not actually dismissed, it is a fact that 
Madame Heger gave her to understand that she would not 
need her after the close of 1843. It is evident that both 
Charlotte and Branwell were much alike in temperament, and 
they suffered in health in much the same way. Emily 
and Anne had more stability of character, and knew how to 
keep their own counsel. Both Charlotte and Branwell 
were excitable, and at times showed a great want of 

Although Branwell never wrote a novel which could explain 
his passion for Mrs. Robinson, everyone knew the whole story, 
though Mrs. Gaskell made too much of it. Brussels was the 
turning-point in Charlotte's career, and, had it not been for her 
residence with the Hegers, there is no reason to suppose we 
should have heard anything of the Bronte novels. Whilst at 
Brussels, Charlotte Bronte found sufficient material for all the 
heroes of her stories, and during the long sleepless nights, 
which Mrs. Gaskell mentions, she was wrestling with that 
experience which had caused her to leave Brussels. The 
tears she shed at parting, and her weeping during those long 
nights after Brussels had some meaning. Mrs. Gaskell tells 
us, " Both M. and Madame Heger agreed that it would be for 
the best, when they learnt only that part of the case which 
she could reveal to them namely, Mr. Bronte's increasing 
blindness. But as the inevitable moment of separation from 
people and places, among which she had spent so many happy 
hours, drew near, her spirits gave way ; she had the natural 
presentiment that she saw them all for the last time, and she 
received but a dead kind of comfort from being reminded by 
her friends that Brussels and Ha worth were not so far apart ; 


Rebellious now to blank inertion, 
My unused strength demands a task ; 

Travel, and toil, and full exertion 
Are the last, only boon I ask. 

The very wildness of my sorrow 

Tells me I yet have innate force ; 
My track of life has been too narrow, 

Effort shall trace a broader course. 

He, when he left me, went a-roving 

To sunny climes beyond the sea , 
And I, the weight of woe removing, 

Am free and fetterless as he. 

New scenes, new language, skies less clouded, 
May once more wake the wish to live ; 

Strange foreign towns, astir and crowded, 
New pictures to the mind may give. 

New forms and faces, passing ever, 

May hide the one I still retain, 
Denned and fixed, and fading never, 

Stamped deep on vision, heart and brain." 

In a poem written in 1844 and recently published in The 
Globe appears an earlier version of the above. 
One verse reads 

" Devoid of charm how could I dream 
My unasked love would e'er return ; 
What fate, what influence lit the flame 
I still feel inly, deeply burn ? " 

And the last verse gives the true reason why Charlotte Bronte 
left Brussels 

" HaVe I not fled that I may conquer ? 
Crost the dark sea in firmest faith ; 
That I at last might plant my anchor 
Where love cannot prevail to death ? " 

Frances in The Professor 'is loved by her teacher, William 
Crimsworth, as Charlotte Bronte took the place of the teacher. 
Years afterwards, in conversation with an English lady, 


Who can for ever crush the heart, 

Restrain its throbbing, curb its life ? 
Dissemble truth with ceaseless art, 

With outward calm mask inward strife ? 

For me the universe is dumb, 

Stone-deaf, and blank, and wholly blind ; 
Life I must bound, existence sum 

In the strait limits of one mind ; 

And when it falls, and when I die, 
What follows ? Vacant nothingness ? 

The blank of lost identity ? 

Erasure both of pain and bliss ? 

And when thy opening eyes shall see 

Mementos on the chamber wall, 
Of one who has forgotten thee, 

Shed not one tear of acrid gall. 

The tear which, welling from the heart, 
Burns where its drop corrosive falls, 

And makes each nerve in torture start, 
At feelings it too well recalls : 

These I have drunk, and they for ever 
Have poisoned life and love for me ; 

A draught from Sodom's lake could never 
More fiery, salt, and bitter be. 

Oh ! Love was all a thin illusion ; 

Joy but the desert's flying stream ; 
And glancing back on long delusion, 

My memory grasps a hollow dream. 

Vain as the passing gale, my crying ; 

Though lightning struck, I must live on ; 
I know at heart there is no dying 

Of love, and ruined hope, alone. 

Still strong and young, and warm with vigour. 

Though scathed, I long shall greenly grow ; 
And many a storm of wildest rigour 

Shall yet break o'er my shivered bough. 


Rebellious now to blank inertion, 
My unused strength demands a task ; 

Travel, and toil, and full exertion 
Are the last, only boon I ask. 

The very wildness of my sorrow 

Tells me I yet have innate force ; 
My track of life has been too narrow, 

Effort shall trace a broader course. 

He, when he left me, went a-roving 

To sunny climes beyond the sea , 
And I, the weight of woe removing, 

Am free and fetterless as he. 

New scenes, new language, skies less clouded, 
May once more wake the wish to live ; 

Strange foreign towns, astir and crowded, 
New pictures to the mind may give. 

New forms and faces, passing ever, 

May hide the one I still retain, 
Denned and fixed, and fading never, 

Stamped deep on vision, heart and brain." 

In a poem written in 1844 and recently published in The 
Globe appears an earlier version of the above. 
One verse reads 

" Devoid of charm how could I dream 
My unasked love would e'er return ; 
What fate, what influence lit the flame 
I still feel inly, deeply burn ? " 

And the last verse gives the true reason why Charlotte Bronte 
left Brussels 

" Have I not fled that I may conquer ? 
Crost the dark sea in firmest faith ; 
That I at last might plant my anchor 
Where love cannot prevail to death ? " 

Frances in The Professor 'is loved by her teacher, William 
Crimsworth, as Charlotte Bronte took the place of the teacher. 
Years afterwards, in conversation with an English lady, 


M. Heger stated that he liked his little English pupil (Charlotte 
Bronte") but she had a warmer feeling for him. 

Mrs. Gaskell was evidently puzzled, and if she had dis- 
covered that Bran well's conduct, and Mr. Bronte's increasing 
blindness had nothing whatever to do with Charlotte's sudden 
return from Brussels, she would have been more mystified. 
Evidently Ellen Nussey could not help her to solve the mystery, 
and knowing that Mary Taylor corresponded frequently with 
Charlotte Bronte" Mrs. Gaskell wrote to her in New Zealand. 
The reply did not help to solve the question. If she had only 
compared the dates of Ellen Nussey 's letters, she would 
have seen how impossible it was to blame Branwell. It is 
probable that no character in literature has been made to suffer 
more for supposed misdeeds than Branwell Bronte". Whatever 
was wrong in the Bronte household or the Bronte novels has 
generally been attributed to him, but he was more sinned 
against than sinning. Charlotte was not free from blame, 
for she could have kept his name out of her letters to Mr. 
Williams, and to Ellen Nussey. Emily would have scorned to 
write of him in such an unsisterly way, and, if she did tell 
Charlotte he was " a hopeless being," it was Charlotte who 
wrote of him as such. Moreover, the interpretation that Emily 
put upon the word " hopeless " possibly meant that he himself 
had no hope. 

This leaving Brussels for her home proved the greatest 
trial of her life, and there is abundant evidence in her works 
of the moral force which she had to command in order to carry 
out her intention. In The Professor, which it is well to remem- 
ber was written under some restraint, and before Jane Eyre, 
the account given by William Crimsworth of his leaving a 
school kept by Mdlle Zoraide Reuter is portrayed in language 
which does not easily or suitably fit in with the story ; and 
yet Charlotte Bronte" seems compelled to write it, as the 
remembrance of leaving Brussels was evidently still rankling 
in her mind. William Crimsworth was undoubtedly Charlotte 
Bronte" writing under a man's name, which puzzled Mr. 
Williams when he was reading the MS., so Mr. Watts-Dun ton 
tells us. The Professor is so different from Jane Eyre, that 


the only solution seems to be that the first draft of it was 
written before she discovered her feelings towards M. Heger. 
This is clearly seen when " her " is changed to " his." 

" Her present demeanour towards me was deficient neither 
in dignity nor propriety ; but I knew her former feeling was 
unchanged. Decorum now repressed, and Policy masked it, 
but Opportunity would be too strong for either of these 
Temptation would shiver their restraints. 

" I was no pope I could not boast infallibility ; in short, 
if I stayed, the probability was that, in three months' time, 
a practical modern French novel would be in full process of 
concoction under the roof of the unsuspecting Pelet. Now, 
modern French novels are not to my taste, either practically or 
theoretically. Limited as had yet been my experience of life, 
I had once had the opportunity of contemplating, near at hand, 
an example of the results produced by a course of interesting 
and romantic domestic treachery. No golden tale of fiction 
was about this example ; I saw it bare and real ; and it was 
very loathsome. I saw a mind degraded by the practice of 
mean subterfuge, by the habit of perfidious deception, and a 
body depraved by the infectious influence of the vice-polluted 
soul. I had suffered much from the forced and prolonged 
view of this spectacle ; those sufferings I did not now regret, 
for their simple recollection acted as a most wholesome antidote 
to temptation. They had inscribed on my reason the con- 
viction that unlawful pleasure, trenching on another's rights, 
is delusive and envenomed pleasure its hollowness disappoints 
at the time, its poison cruelly tortures afterwards, its effects 
deprave for ever. 

" From all this resulted the conclusion that I must leave 
Pelet's, and that instantly ; ' but,' said Prudence, * you know 
not where to go, nor how to live.' ". . . . 

" My hopes to win and possess, my resolutions to work and 
rise, rose in array against me ; and here I was about to plunge 
into the gulf of absolute destitution ; ' and all this,' suggested 
em inward voice, ' because you fear an evil which may never 
happen ! ' * It will happen ; you know it will,' answered that 
stubborn monitor, conscience. * Do what you feel is right ; 


obey me, and even in the sloughs of want I will plant for you 
firm footing.' ' 

This is another version of Jane Eyre leaving Thornfield, 
but it has been added to The Professor, and it is not in keeping. 

The reference to a course of "interesting, romantic treachery," 
which Charlotte Bronte says she saw " near at hand," has been 
attributed by previous writers to a Branwell Bronte's escapade 
at Thorpe Green. Even Francis Leyland, who wrote such a 
warm defence of this ill-fated brother of the Brontes, came 
to the same conclusion. Trying to excuse Charlotte Bronte 
he says, " It is probable that Charlotte would not have wished 
this passage to be applied literally to her brother, but un- 
fortunately this and similar unguarded declarations have 
largely biassed almost all who have written on the lives and 
literature of the Bronte sisters." The reference, however, 
is not to Branwell, for when Charlotte left Brussels Branwell 
was doing well at Thorpe Green, but to a sad case of domestic 
treachery in Haworth, which Mrs Gaskell gives in the first 
and second editions of her Life of Charlotte Bronte, and which 
was deleted in the third edition because it gave great pain to 
the members of the family concerned. The account tells of a 
Yorkshire manufacturer betraying his young sister-in-law, 
during his wife's illness, and of the sad suffering of the poor 
girl. Mrs. Gaskell stated that " The family was accursed ; 
they failed in business or they failed in health." 

Between the time when Charlotte Bronte gave in her resig- 
nation in October, 1843, to Madame Heger, and her leaving 
Brussels at the end of the year, Madame Heger's fifth child 
was born, on 5th November, 1843. In giving the account of 
leaving Brussels in Jane Eyre, the heroine says, " May you 
never appeal to heaven in prayer so hopeless and so agonised 
as in that hour left my lips, for never may you, like me, dread 
to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love." Char- 
lotte's grief and weak health affected her reasoning powers 
at this time, and M. Heger's pity was misconstrued. 

Having discussed Madame Heger's methods with some of 
her former pupils, I heard nothing but praise concerning her ; 
all testified to her goodness of heart, and think of her with 


reverence. Now that they are sufficiently old to look with 
matronly eyes on her cautious ways, they understand and 
appreciate her careful scrutiny, for as one of her old pupils 
an Englishwoman and a Protestant, like Charlotte Bronte* 
said to me, " In a large school like Madame Heger's, one bad 
girl might work a great deal of mischief ; however good their 
credentials, they might undermine the characters of the 
others. More than once before the Bronte's went to this 
school, Madame Heger had been deceived by girls, and her one 
anxiety was for the excellent reputation of her school." 

Another former pupil, a Belgian, who had been at school 
in the time of the Brontes, said, " Never was a kinder or more 
motherly woman than Madame Heger. All her old pupils 
loved her and, if she did correct us, it was always done kindly ; 
she was never a spy, nor did she wish to pry into our affairs." 

If two Belgian women of twenty-six and twenty-four years 
of age had come over to an English boarding school in the 
early Forties, they would probably have been treated with a 
certain amount of suspicion, and might not have fared any 
better than the Brontes did in Brussels. At Haworth, even 
twenty-five years ago, new residents from another county 
were stigmatised as foreigners. The Brontes were so much 
older than the other pupils, and consequently were more 
difficult to deal with ; at their age they ought not to have 
been pupils in any school. If Madame Heger took all means 
possible to find out what she could about her two English 
boarders, it was not necessarily to satisfy her own curiosity, 
but to assure herself that they were not likely to be a source 
of trouble in her management of the school ; she was only 
following out what she had been accustomed to in her own 
school life. She was an experienced and successful school- 
mistress, and she had sufficient knowledge of human nature to 
know that all girls are not above suspicion. She had had too 
many girls in her school to be willing to trust the Brontes 
implicitly before she had some definite grounds to build upon, 
and it was her boast that girls found it difficult to deceive her. 
To some extent, she had a preference for English girls, for she 
chose an English nurse for her children, and she admitted to 


On her golden wedding day, September 3, 1886 


Charlotte Bronte that Belgian girls could not be treated with 
the same amount of confidence as was reposed in pupils in an 
English boarding school. 

In the portrait of Madame Heger which I am allowed to 
publish, taken on the day of her golden wedding, there is no 
indication of the craftiness which Charlotte Bronte ascribed 
to her. Her children loved her passionately, and to this day 
they reverence her memory as something very precious, and 
feel extremely hurt that their mother should have been por- 
trayed in a novel with their native city as a setting. Belgians 
generally resent Charlotte Bronte's criticism, not only of the 
Heger family, but of the Belgian people. " Base ingratitude," 
" cruel " and " wicked " are some of the words which are 
hurled at the writer of Villette, even to-day. Mademoiselle 
Louise Heger, the third daughter of the family, who figures 
in Villette as Georgette, was a general favourite with the pupils 
at the pensionnat, and was nursed by Lucy Snowe, of whom 
she had pleasant thoughts, but she was only four and a half 
when Charlotte left Brussels. Another sister, still living, 
is Mademoiselle Claire the third daughter ; she was a child of 
three and a half when Charlotte left. 

Mdlle Claire appears in Villette as Fifini Beck. " It was 
an honest, gleeful little soul," and a favourite with Lucy 
Snowe. Mademoiselle Marie, the eldest daughter, who died 
2nd March, 1886, aged forty-nine, was immortalised by Char- 
lotte Bronte' as Desiree ; she was six years old when Charlotte 
left Brussels. " This was a vicious child. Quelle peste que 
eette De*sire*e ! Quel poison que cet enfant-la ! " were the 
expressions used to describe her, both in the kitchen and the 
schoolroom. One can only be sorry that Charlotte wrote 
this. She certainly did not love all children. 

It is difficult to say whether Madame Heger was influenced 
by the publication of Villette ; she gave up the school some 
years afterwards to her daughters, and merely acted as the 
house-mother, treating the girls with much consideration. 
One of her old pupils told the writer that while at the school 
she wrote some poetry, which she proudly showed to Madame 
Heger, thinking she would be pleased, but when she read it, 


she was very grieved, because she despised what was in any 
way sentimental, having no love for poetry. Almost with 
tears in her eyes, and putting her hands on the girl's shoulders, 
she said, " Don't dear ! don't write poetry ; that is not a 
girl's work, and will not add to her usefulness as a woman." 

It would probably not be an advantage to the Brontes 
in the eyes of the practical Madame Heger if she discovered 
that they were interested in poetry and actually wrote poems. 
Emily wrote a poem whilst in Brussels, judging by the date 
given. This former pupil also remarked that there was some 
reason for the allee def endue ; it was a part of the grounds 
forbidden to the pupils because there was a boys' playground 
just beyond the clump of trees at the end of the alley, and 
naturally Madame Heger could not allow communications to 
pass between the girls of her school and the boys of the Athenee 
Royal. Referring to Madame Heger as a spy, this pupil 
said she was never that, she wore soft slippers, and sometimes 
would examine the girls' drawers and boxes, but where was 
the harm among a lot of school girls ? 

It is always said in excuse for Charlotte Bronte, that she 
particularly wished Villette to be published under a nom de 
guerre, probably a new one, for it was well known in the literary 
world before Villette was issued that Currer Bell and Charlotte 
Bronte were one and the same ; but Mr. George Smith, the 
publisher of all Charlotte Bronte's novels, had an eye to business, 
and he explained to her that the tale would have a much 
greater sale if it were issued as by the author of Jane Eyre, 
which had made such a name for the writer. Charlotte Bronte 
yielded, though reluctantly, but she only gave way on one 
condition, that on the title page should be printed, " The 
right of translation is reserved " ; she thought that if the novel 
was not translated into French the Hegers would not get it, 
thereby proving that she had written something which she 
did not wish them to know. She knew little of the world, 
however, to think that such a shallow precaution would 
prevent the novel crossing the North Sea, to the scene of its 
originals. If Madame Heger was not very proficient in English, 
her husband was a fairly good English scholar, some of the 


ability in this being due to Charlotte Bronte herself. Madame 
Heger also employed an English nurse, and English girls 
were received at the school. The children of Madame Heger 
also became good English scholars, and in later days Villette 
came into their hands. It was not long before the persons, 
on whom the characters in Villette were based, were recognised. 
Quite recently a former Belgian pupil, who was at the 
pensionnat with the Brontes, showed me a copy of Villette 
which she had purchased in 1853. She did not know at the 
time that it referred to her old school, but she was both amused 
and indignant when she discovered that it had been written 
by a former class-mate and pupil of the school. Having 
heard both Emily's and Charlotte's devoirs read out in class, 
she said she was hardly surprised to know they had written 
books, but very surprised at the tone of Villette. It has been 
said that on the publication of Villette Madame Heger refused 
to admit further English pupils, but that is not true. The 
number of English pupils, however, did diminish for a time, 
and few English parents were willing to send their daughters 
to the school, though there were only six English girls there 
besides the Brontes in 1843. 

Some years later, one girl whilst at the pensionnat, unknown 
to the teachers, obtained a copy of Villette to read, and became 
so terrified about the ghost story of the nun (for unfortunately 
she did not finish the novel) that she ran away from school, 
and could not be persuaded to return. Whatever precautions 
were taken, it was inevitable that the secret could not long be 
maintained, and both Madame Heger's reputation and her 
school suffered to some extent in consequence. 

The late Abbe" Richardson, with whom I had an interview 
in July, 1910, and again on 27th July, 1913, kindly per- 
mitted me to quote from an unpublished lecture which he 
delivered on " The Brontes in Brussels " on 26th February, 
1901, in the old Ravenstein Hall overlooking the Rue d'Isabelle. 
Mr. Richardson, though an Englishman and a great admirer 
of Charlotte Bronte, felt it necessary to defend the Hegers. 

"And now let us turn to M. Heger. We may at once 
dismiss the idea that the objectionable M. Pelet (in The 


Professor) was in any way inspired or suggested by the person 
of her beloved Professor, about whom she always wrote and 
spoke with affectionate respect. But with regard to the 
character of M. Paul Emanuel in Villette, the case is quite 
different. Anyone who reads attentively this remarkable 
novel cannot fail to have a sort of intuitive certainty that this 
carefully drawn character, without of course being a portrait, 
was nevertheless inspired by some person well known to the 
author ; by a person who had made a very strong and very 
profound impression on the author, and even by a person 
who had excited in the author a deep and very real love. The 
word is not too strong. Whoever the prototype of Paul 
Emanuel was, Charlotte Bronte had loved him with all the 
passionate energy of her warm, if suppressed affections. 
Supposing this prototype to have been, as I have little doubt 
it was, M. Heger, there is nothing in the least discreditable to 
Charlotte Bronte's memory. We are none of us masters of 
our heart's sympathies, and no one who has studied our 
authoress, who was purity itself, can imagine that her enthu- 
siastic and even passionate attachment to her master in litera- 
ture was tainted or disfigured by the shadow of any attempt 
or desire to draw to herself affections which were pledged 
elsewhere. It comes simply to this : her love and affection 
had been excited by intercourse with a singularly beautiful 
and sympathetic nature, and she thought her genius had the 
right to idealize these qualities, and to create from them a 
hero, who gained the heart of an ideal heroine singularly 
like herself. I do not think we can deny her this right, although 
we may think that in this particular case she did not use 
sufficient tact in exercising it. However this may be, it is 
impossible for anyone who knew M. Heger not to recognise 
many traits of his amiable character in the person, ' Us 
faits et gistes ' of M. Paul Emanuel. Both Swinburne and 
Wemyss Reid declare that Charlotte Bronte's sojourn at 
Brussels was the turning-point in her career, and that her 
affection for M. Heger was, as it were, a match which set fire 
to the mine represented by the hidden and latent talents of 
this half educated country girl of genius." 


That Charlotte Bronte thoroughly enjoyed her lessons with 
M. Heger is easy to understand, because she could enter into 
the spirit of his enthusiasm and she did not mind hard work, 
though all his pupils were not of the same opinion. I once 
asked a former English pupil her opinion of M. Heger, and she 
gave it quite spontaneously. " I did not like him ; he was an 
irritable, stern man, very unjust, and not at all the man to have 
the care of girls ; he was very proud of any clever pupils, who 
could understand and enter into his views and appreciations 
of an author ; he was an excellent lecturer, but very angry if 
his pupils could not follow him." " Once," said my informant, 
" when I failed to grasp the meaning of a passage from Racine, 
he became very angry and I turned on him and said, ' If I 
were reading a passage in English from Shakespeare, and 
you failed to grasp the beauty of it, I should not turn on you 
and get into a temper.' Feeling the justice of this he said no 

In discussing Charlotte Bronte's opinion of Belgian girls with 
this former pupil she attributed it to the fact that M. Heger 
was so hard on the ordinary Belgian girl. He was more suited 
to boys, she thought, than girls, and to clever pupils rather 
than to those of average ability. In his defence, she was 
willing to admit that M. Heger was a man of genius, and often 
most kind to his pupils. She remembered seeing him standing 
before a class of girls who were terribly afraid of him 
shaking with rage because he could not make them compre- 
hend his meaning, or enter into his enthusiastic appreciation 
of the book under discussion. Finally, he burst into tears, 
and left the room abruptly, much to the surprise, but also to 
the relief of his pupils. 

" Never was a better little man, in some points, than M. 
Paul ; never in others a more waspish little despot," said 
Charlotte Bronte, and her first impression of him as given in 
Villette compares very well with that of his other pupils. 

The late Abbe" Richardson, whilst agreeing to a certain extent 
with Charlotte Bronte's picture of M. Heger in Villette, did not 
think that Madame Heger had much resemblance to Madame 
Beck in Villette and Mademoiselle Reuter in The Professor. 



" Madame Heger, the directress of the boarding-school known 
to the Brontes, was utterly unlike either Mademoiselle Reuter 
[in The Professor] or Madame Beck. If we except some super- 
ficial resemblances of personal prettiness and neatness, noise- 
lessness of movement, and unvarying placidity of temper, 
this lady was utterly unlike in every particular the crafty 
and unprincipled woman described by Charlotte Bronte, nor 
is it possible to imagine that our authoress ever intended any 
such resemblance. . . My intimate conviction is that in 
Mdlle. Reuter and Madame Beck, Charlotte Bronte had not 
the slightest intention of representing Madame Heger's 
character, but it is quite possible that the slight superficial 
personal traits of resemblance to this good lady which she 
has reproduced in her very objectionable characters were 
put in de propos delibere. Charlotte, with all her genius, was 
not above a certain spitefulness. She never forgot any real, 
or supposed injury, and both in Shirley and in Jane Eyre she 
gives several coups de pattes, as the French say, some very 
well deserved, to persons who had offended her or her sister.'* 

M. Heger was very much offended if any one asked him 
about Villette ; he characterised it as bien vilain for Miss 
Bronte to have written of her Brussels friends in that way, 
though he was quite prepared to acknowledge the genius of 
the novel. 

In trying to show his appreciation of Charlotte Bronte's 
genius, he said to an English friend, who sympathised with 
the Hegers because of the account in Villette, " Mais, c'est le 
meilleur vin qui fait le vinaigre le plus acide." 

" M. Heger was very fond of summing up his opinions in a 
choice phrase, often of his own making," said one who knew 
him well. 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S life and Jane Eyre Her picture of M. Heger 
as portrayed in Villette Mary Taylor's advice Charlotte Bronte's 
regard for M. Heger View of love in Shirley and Jane Eyre 
Charlotte Bronte's conception of love Her " irresistible impulse " 
to return to Brussels and its punishment Her novels as human 
documents Miss Winkworth and Paul Emanuel The Rev. A. B. 
Nicholls Publication of Charlotte Bronte's letters to M. Heger 
in The Times Reason for the long delay M. Heger's loyalty to 
Charlotte Bronte. 

WRITING to Ellen Nussey soon after leaving Brussels for the 
second time, Charlotte says, " Something in me, which used 
to be enthusiasm, is tamed down and broken. I have fewer 
illusions ; what I wish for now is active exertion a stake in 
life. Ha worth seems such a lonely, quiet spot, buried away 
from the world." Evidently the year at home was neither 
happy nor peaceful, and yet Anne and Branwell were doing 
well at Thorpe Green, and Emily was content at home. The 
father, also, who was sixty-seven years of age, was in good 
health. It has been said that her father's increasing blindness 
caused Charlotte to give up her work at Brussels. Mary 
Taylor says, " When I last saw Charlotte (a year after her 
return from Brussels) she told me she had quite decided to 
stay at home. She owned she did not like it. Her health 

was weak I told her very warmly, that she ought not 

to stay at home ; that to spend the next five years at home 
in solitude and weak health would ruin her ; that she would 
never recover it. Such a dark shadow came over her face 
when I said, ' Think of what you'll be five years hence ! ' that 
I stopped and said, c Don't cry, Charlotte ! ' She did not cry, 
but went on walking up and down the room, and said in a 
little while, ' But I intend to stay, Polly.' " 

Again Charlotte Bronte writes : " There was a time when 
Haworth was a very pleasant place to me ; it is not so now. 
I feel as if we were all buried here. I long to travel ; to work ; 
to live a life of action." 



All this proves that the lack of " happiness and peace " 
after her return from Brussels was in herself, and not in her 
home. If her reason for leaving Brussels had been anxiety 
for her father, she would have found happiness and peace in 
attending to his wants, and the company of Emily ought to 
have prevented her from complaining of solitude. Moreover, 
if she found that she was doing what her conscience approved, 
she would surely have had a measure of contentment, and not 
have experienced " total withdrawal of happiness and peace of 

Mrs. Gaskell seems to have been, on more than one occasion, 
on the verge of tracking Charlotte Bronte's love story, but, 
whatever conclusions were formed personally, she left the 
matter for speculation by her readers, seeing that Jane Eyre was 
first published as an autobiography, edited by Currer Bell. A 
close acquaintance with Charlotte Bronte's life shows that the 
story was largely her own experience, though fictitious names 
are introduced. The sequence of events runs parallel with 
Charlotte Bronte's life, and the more that life is examined 
the closer it agrees with the life portrayed in Jane Eyre : the 
death of her mother, which left her in charge of her aunt, whom 
she did not love : the decision to send her to school at Lowood : 
her appointment as teacher, though at another school : her 
visit to Brussels, which, for obvious reasons is " Thornfield," 
where Jane Eyre was a governess, though instead of having a 
class she had charge of one pupil : her friendship with " the 
master," the title by which M. Heger became known to her : 
the dangerous position which this friendship soon assumed : 
Charlotte Bronte's departure from Brussels, because of her 
aunt's death, just as Jane Eyre left Thornfield : her return 
to the impatient master : his kindly welcome and her delight 
in returning : the danger period when she finds a reason for 
her joy on returning to Thornfield : the flight from Thorn- 
field, which is the most dramatic part of the story, and which 
Charlotte Bronte told Mrs. Gaskell was the part that appeal* 
to her most when writing the novel. " When she came t< 

* Thornfield ' she could not stop on she went writing 

incessantly for three weeks ; by which time she had carried 


her heroine away from c Thornfield ' and was herself in a fever 
which compelled her to pause." After Thornfield comes Morton 
and Charlotte Bronte's visit to Hathersage and her return to her 
blind father at Ha worth. It is on the strength of the passionate 
love story in Jane Eyre and Villette that Charlotte Bronte's 
fame stands. 

Miss Sinclair does not believe that Charlotte Bronte's life 
is revealed in her novels, and she remarks that, if Jane Eyre 
and Lucy Snowe are to stand for Charlotte Bronte, then Mrs. 
Humphry Ward may be said to be the prototype of her 
heroine, " Eleanor," and by that mischievous arrangement no 
novelist is safe ; but in opposition to this view, it must be 
remembered that Charlotte Bronte' and Mrs. Humphry Ward 
are two very different novelists, standing on two different 
planes. No one has ever assumed that Mrs. Humphry Ward's 
characters are in any way a reflection of her own life. Charlotte 
Bronte wrote of what she had experienced, whilst Mrs. 
Humphry Ward draws mainly upon her imagination and 
observation. If Charlotte Bronte's heroines are creations, 
they follow closely real personages. 

Mrs. Gaskell was so much baffled by Charlotte Bronte's 
stories, that she once asked her if she ever took opium, as 
depicted in Villette; Mrs. Gaskell evidently wondered if this 
would give the clue. 

It has been argued that the incident of Jane Eyre hearing 
Rochester's voice was copied from Moll Flanders, but there is 
no evidence that Charlotte Bronte had read Defoe's novel. 

It has been repeatedly said that Charlotte Bronte never 
expressed anything more than friendship for M. Heger : if 
that had been so, she would never have given the soul-stirring 
love scenes in her novels. When Harriet Martineau, at 
Charlotte Bronte's request, candidly criticised Villette, she 
was so much hurt that she quietly severed the friendship, 
which once seemed to her well worth keeping. Harriet 
Martineau's review in the Daily News of 3rd February, 1853, 
is long and intensely critical, and its aim seems to be that 
of literary adviser. Seeing that Charlotte Bronte" had published 
three novels, and that Miss Martineau had only published 


Deerbrook and had submitted another novel to Messrs. Smith 
Eider, which they refused, the role she adopted was, to say 
the least, anything but kind, especially as she professed to be 
a friend of Currer Bell. 

Miss Martineau begins by saying, " Everything written by 
Currer Bell is remarkable, she can touch nothing without 
leaving on it the stamp of originality." 

Thus with regard to the characters she writes 

" All the female characters, in all their thoughts and lives, 
are full of one thing, or are regarded by the reader in the light 
of that one thought love. It begins with the child of six 
years old, at the opening a charming picture and it closes 
with it at the last page : and, so dominant is this idea so 
incessant is the writer's tendency to describe the need of being 
loved, that the heroine, who tells her own story, leaves the 
reader at last under the uncomfortable impression of her 
either having entertained a double love, or allowed one to 
supersede another without notification of the transition. 
It is not thus in real life. There are substantial, heartful 
interests for women of all ages, and under ordinary circum- 
stances, quite apart from love ; there is an absence of intro- 
spection, an unconsciousness, a repose in women's lives unless 
under peculiarly unfortunate circumstances of which we 
find no admission in this book : and to the absence of it may be 
attributed some of the criticism which the book will meet with 
from readers who are no prudes, but whose reason and taste 
will reject the assumption that events and characters are to be 
regarded through the medium of one passion only." 

In the reply, Charlotte Bronte says : " 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 comprehend rectitude, 
nobleness, fidelity, truth and disinterestedness." If we 
take this standard in connection with the love of a woman for 
another woman's husband, it sounds far too bold, but it must 
be remembered that Charlotte Bronte found her heart's secret 
when it was too late, and, though she fled, she had her battle 


to fight, for her conception of love was not merely the love of a 
woman for a man, but of the knitting of one soul to another. 
In answer to Shirley's question about love, Caroline, who is 
more Charlotte Bronte than matter-of-fact Ellen Nussey, 
replies, " Love, a crime ! No, Shirley : love is a divine 
virtue . . . obtrusiveness is a crime ; forwardness is a crime ; 
and both disgust : but love ! no purest angel need blush to 
love ! And when I see either man or woman couple shame with 
love, I know their minds are coarse, their associations 

All her novels are human documents, and they contain the 
very life-blood of the writer, and that is why they have made 
the name of Bronte immortal. Harriet Martineau, writing 
in the Daily News on 6th April, 1856, after Charlotte Bronte's 
death, said : " Charlotte Bronte had every inducement that 
could have availed with one less high-minded to publish two or 
three novels a year. Fame waited upon all she did, and she 
might have enriched herself by very slight exertion, but her 
steady conviction was, that the publication of a book is a 
solemn act of conscience, in the case of a novel as much as 
any other book. She was not fond of speaking of herself 
and her conscience, but she now and then uttered to her very 
few friends things which may, alas ! be told now, without fear 
of hurting her sensitive nature ; things which ought to be 
told in her honour. Among these sayings was one which 
explains the long interval between her works. She said that 
she thought every delineation of life ought to be the product 
of personal experience and observation ; experience naturally 
occurring, and observation of a normal and not of a forced 
or special kind. ' I have not accumulated since I published 
Shirley? she said, ' what makes it needful for me to speak 
again, and till I do, may God give me Grace to be dumb.' ' 

With regard to Charlotte Bronte's statement that she had 
not accumulated since Shirley, it may be asked, " What about 
Shirley's successor, Villette ? " It must be remembered that 
she had written a novel, The Professor, dealing with the Brus- 
sels life of Emily and herself, before she wrote Jane Eyre, and, 
after she had made her name as a writer, she had hoped that 


Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. would publish it. It was at a 
later period that she wrote Villette a much greater novel than 
The Professor, and dealing more fully with her own life in 
Belgium. Some of her experience, however, had been gained 
before she wrote Shirley, and there is certain evidence that 
suggests that Charlotte visited Brussels a third time. If the 
Professor had been accepted in Charlotte Bronte's lifetime, 
Villette might never have been written, and thus a great novel 
would have been lost to the world, for her three novels deal 
with all the places in which she lived, and, as The Professor was 
rejected, there was thus room for a distinctly Brussels story. 

Mr. Shorter, and more recently Miss May Sinclair, have 
laboured hard to dismiss the idea that Charlotte Bronte"s 
love scenes are founded on actual experience, but Mr. Shorter 
stumbles twice in quoting the words written to Ellen Nussey 
in 1846, which have been brought forward more than once to 
prove that something happened in Charlotte Bronte's last year 
at Brussels that caused her to write : " I returned to Brussels 
after aunt's death against my conscience, prompted by what 
then seemed an irresistible impulse. I was punished for my 
selfish folly by a total withdrawal for more than two years 
of happiness and peace of mind." In the Haworth Edition of 
The Life of Charlotte Bronte, Mr. Shorter, in a foot-note on page 
319, quotes this passage, but he substitutes the words total 
hindrance for total withdrawal ; and in The Brontes : Life and 
Letters, page 255, Vol. I, he again quotes the passage, but leaves 
out the word total. His reason for quoting in the last instance 
is to explain that Miss Nussey and Mr. Nicholls interpreted 
the passage to mean that Charlotte Bronte had left "her 
father to over-conviviality," and " her brother took some 
further steps towards the precipice over which he was destined 
to fall." That Branwell had nothing to do with Charlotte's 
return I have, I hope, proved. 

With regard to her novels being human documents, Charlotte 
Bronte settles the matter herself in a letter she wrote to Mr. 
W. S. Williams in 1848, in which she discussed the characters 
in her novels : " Details, situations which I do not understand 
and cannot personally inspect, I would not for the world 


meddle with, lest I should make even a more ridiculous mess 
of the matter than Mrs. Trollope did in her Factory Boy. 
Besides, not one feeling on any subject, public or private, will I 
ever affect that I do not really experience" 

Charlotte Bronte returned to Brussels in 1843 against her 
conscience and against the wishes of her family and friends. 
She lost rather than gained money by her decision, and both 
she and Emily had borrowed money from Aunt Branwell to 
enable them to study French and German in order to be 
capable of starting a private school in England. Charlotte was 
determined, impulsive, and to a certain extent wilful, but she 
turned to good account her experience in Brussels ; she went 
to Brussels to be trained for the profession of teaching, but she 
was unconsciously trained for her role as novelist. All her 
heroes are akin ; all have something of the foreigner about them 
and have travelled and known more of the world than the 
ordinary men mostly curates that Charlotte Bronte met. 
She had only one model, and that was M. Heger. She told 
her life story in her novels, and she was too genuine to hide the 
tragic love passion that, unsought, entered into her life. Such 
was her temperament that she could not help herself ; she 
reverenced literary people who had great intellectual ability and 
large-heartedness, and these qualities she found in M. Heger. 

In the chapter in Shirley entitled " The first blue-stocking," 
where Miss Keeldar refuses to marry for money, her uncle 
assures her that she has a preference for " any literary scrub or 
shabby, whining artist," and she replies : " For the scrubby, 
shabby, whining I have no taste ; for literature and arts I 


The four letters from Charlotte Bronte' to M. Heger, published 
in The Times on 29th July, 1913, though announced as 
" the lost letters of Charlotte Bronte," have, in fact, never 
been lost. They were seen by Mrs. Gaskell in 1856, and M. 
Heger remarked that she had made a very discreet use of them, 
and he suggested that she should ask Mr. Nicholls or Mr. 
Bronte for the letters he had sent to Charlotte Bronte', which 


he was sure she had retained on account of the advice which 
they contained. I have known where The Times' letters were 
for many years, and have corresponded with the family as to 
the advisability of publishing them. 

Mrs. Gaskell seems never to have had an opportunity of 
seeing the letters which M. Heger sent to Charlotte Bronte, 
but, as previously stated, she knew more of Charlotte's heart 
secret regarding M. Heger than she disclosed. If Mr. Nicholls 
obtained possession of the letters from M. Heger, it is very 
certain he would not wish to have them published ; indeed, 
his policy throughout had been to ignore the Heger corre- 
spondence, and hence his wish to give a reason for Charlotte 
Bronte's return from Brussels in 1844, which has been proved 
to be untrue. 

The old Vicar was not in his daughter's confidence, and he 
would not be likely to know anything of her correspondence ; 
it is quite possible that she destroyed the letters herself. In 
Chapter XXIII of Vittettc, Lucy Snowe teUs of five letters 
" traced by the same firm pen, sealed with the same clear seal, 
full of the same vital comfort. Vital comfort it seemed to 
me then : I read them in after years ; they were kind letters 
enough pleasing letters, because composed by one well- 
pleased ; in the two last there were three or four closing 
lines half-gay, half-tender, ' by feeling touched, but not sub- 
dued.' Time, dear reader, mellowed them to a beverage of 
this mild quality ; but when I first tasted their elixir, fresh 
from the fount so honoured, it seemed juice of a divine vintage : 
a draught which Hebe might fill, and the very gods approve. 

" Does the reader, remembering what was said some pages 
back, care to ask how I answered these letters : whether 
under the dry, stinting check of Reason, or according to the 
full, liberal impulse of Feeling ? 

"To speak truth, I compromised matters; I served two 
masters ; I bowed down in the house of Rimmon, and lifted 
the heart at another shrine. I wrote to these letters two 
answers one for my own relief, the other for Graham's 
perusal." M. Heger was the original for certain phases of 
Graham's or Dr. John's life. 


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In Chapter XXIV, headed " M. de Bassompierre," Charlotte 
Bronte lays bare her thoughts at the time Lucy Snowe was 
hungering for letters. She tells of studying hard at German 
and reading " the driest and thickest books in the library " 
in order to appease her anxiety for letters. She says " the 
result was as if I had gnawed a file to satisfy hunger, or drank 
brine to quench thirst." 

" My hour of torment was the post hour. Unfortunately, 
I knew it too well, and tried as vainly as assiduously to cheat 
myself of that knowledge : dreading the rack of expectation, 
and the sick collapse of disappointment which daily preceded 

and followed upon that well-recognised ring The letter 

the well-beloved letter would not come ; and it was all 
of sweetness in life I had to look for." 

Later in the chapter Lucy Snowe receives a letter from 
" La Terrasse," which, for the time being is Brussels, and, 
instead of coming from Dr. John, as she hoped, it was from 
his mother. The disappointment is very graphically described, 
and even in reading the chapter it is difficult to understand 
why the writer should betray such agony at not receiving a 
letter from Dr. John. After moralizing on her long starvation 
from the want of letters she concludes, "In all the land of 
Israel there was but one Saul certainly but one David to 
soothe or comprehend him." 

M. Heger's name was Romain Constantin Georges Heger. 
In Villette it is Paul Carl David Emanuel. 

It is easy to see in the light of The Times letters that 
Charlotte Bronte was suffering mentally, and she likens 
herself to Saul and M. Heger to David, who was the only one 
with power to soothe her. 

Charlotte Bronte lived her life over again in her books. She 
wrote Villette for the professor and told her innermost thoughts, 
but she says in Villette, "I disclaim with the utmost scorn every 
sneaking suspicion of what are called ' warmer feelings ' ; 
women do not entertain these * warmer feelings ' where, 
from the commencement, through the whole progress of an 
acquaintance, they have never once been cheated of the 
conviction that to do so would be to commit a mortal absurdity." 


The name that she gives to her passion is " a closely clinging 
and deeply honouring attachment an attachment that wanted 
to attach to itself and take to its own lot all that was painful 
in the destiny of its object." 

Regarding the letters that were sent she writes, " The doors 
of my heart would shake, bolt and bar would yield. Reason 
would leap in vigorous and revengeful, snatch the full sheets, 
read, sneer, erase, tear up, re-write, fold, seal, direct, and send 
a terse, curt missive of a page." This accounts for the differ- 
ence between the letters and her books. All her life she had 
been in love with an ideal, and to a greater extent, perhaps, 
Emily had had a similar experience ; their early manuscripts 
prove this. 

For the time being, M. Heger was Charlotte's ideal, and, 
although she calls her feelings by the name " friendship," 
she was in love with M. Heger, and she knew it, but she never 
had any wish to draw his affection from his wife and children. 
She had returned to Brussels a second time because she could 
not help herself ; she lived for her master and she could not 
bear her life without him, and if possible she would have 
returned a third year. 

Mr. Shorter thinks those letters with their heart-throbs are 
very similar to Charlotte's letters to Mr. Williams. On the 
one hand she was dying for letters from M. Heger, whilst she 
closed her correspondence with Mr. Williams voluntarily. 

It is well to remember that Charlotte Bronte was twenty- 
eight, and M. Heger was thirty-five, when this correspondence 
was going on, so that it could not be the ordinary schoolgirl 
worship pictured by several writers. It was the passionate 
attachment of a woman for a man a few years older than 
herself. Well might Madame Heger object to this intellectual 
woman of nearly thirty writing to her husband, who was 
five years younger than herself, since she was at this time 
forty years of age. It is affirmed that the writing in pencil 
on one of Charlotte's letters, now in the British Museum, 
proves that M. Heger had no interest in Charlotte, but the 
writing is not that of M. Heger. 

Judging from Villette (which, as more and more of Charlotte's 


life is revealed, proves to be autobiographical) it seems safe to 
assume that M. Heger had told Charlotte something of his love 
for his first wife, whose name was Marie Josephine Noyer ; 
she died on 26th September, 1833, after three years of happy 
married life. 

The death of his young wife in 1833 was a terrible blow, and 
almost overwhelmed him, and such was the depth of his 
despair that it was feared he would lose his reason or his life. 
In speaking to Lucy Snowe, Paul Emanuel says : " Don't 
suppose that I wish you to have a passion for me, Mademoiselle ; 
Dieu vous en garde ! What do you start for ? Because I said 
passion ? Well, I say it again. There is such a word, and 
there is such a thing though not within these walls, thank 
Heaven ! You are no child that one should not speak of what 
exists ; but I only uttered the word the thing, I assure you, 
is alien to my whole life and views. It died in the past^ in 
the present it lies buried its grave is deep dug, well heaped, 
and many winters old : in the future there will be a resur- 
rection, as I believe to my soul's consolation ; but all will then 
be changed form and feeling : the mortal will have put on 
immortality it will rise, not for earth, but heaven." 

This speech could hardly have been invented by Charlotte ; 
it reads too closely to a real conversation ; and it is to this 
romance that Wuthering Heights owes much. In the chapter 
on Malevola, Lucy Snowe hears of Paul Emanuel's goodness 
and charity to his lost love's relatives, and Pere Silas says of 
his former pupil, Paul Emanuel, " He was and is the lover, 
true, constant and eternal, of that saint in heaven Marie 
Justine" the first Madame Heger's name was Marie Josephine, 
and towards the end of the chapter, Madame Beck tells Lucy 
Snowe that Paul Emanuel " harbours a romantic idea about 
some pale-faced Marie Justine personnage assez niaise a ce 
que je pense " (such was Madame's irreverent remark) " who 
has been an angel in heaven, or elsewhere, this score of years, 
and to whom he means to go, free from all earthly ties, pure 
comme un lis, a ce qu'il dit." 

Again, " They, Pere Silas and Modeste Maria Beck, opened 
up the adytum of his (Paul Emanuel's) heart showed me one 


grand love, the child of this southern nature's youth, born 
so strong and perfect, that it had laughed at Death himself, 
despised his mean rape of matter, clung to immortal spirit, 
and, in victory and faith, had watched beside a tomb twenty 

In the third chapter of Wuthering Heights, Cathy wails, 
" Let me in let me in ! 

" It's twenty years, mourned the voice : twenty years. 

I've been a waif for twenty years." 

In Villette, Lucy Snowe says : " How often has this man, 
this M. Emanuel, seemed to me to lack magnanimity in trifles, 
yet how great he is in great things ! 

" I own I did not reckon amongst the proofs of his greatness 
either the act of confession, or the saint- worship." 

" How long is it since that lady died ? " I inquired, looking 
at Justine Marie. 

" Twenty years. She was somewhat older than M. Emanuel ; 
he was then very young, for he is not much beyond forty." 

" Does he yet weep her ? " 

"His heart will weep her always : the essence of Emanuel' s 
nature is constancy." 

This story of the early love of Paul Emanuel had some 
connection with facts in M. Heger's life and it was the know- 
ledge of his constancy to a lost love, that inspired both 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte to write so passionately of him. 

It was this early romance of Paul Emanuel, that was the 
germ of the passionate love story in Wuthering Heights, Jane 
Eyre, and Villette ; but in the writing of the story neither 
Emily nor Charlotte had been able to keep herself from 
representing the heroine, or from expressing her fierce 
passionate nature. 

It is unfortunate that only part of the correspondence 
between M. Heger and Charlotte Bronte has been kept, for 
it is quite certain there were other letters preceding the one 
dated 24th July, 1844, in which Charlotte begins, " I am well 
aware it is not my turn to write to you, but as Mrs. Wheel- 
wright is going to Brussels it appears to me I ought 

not to neglect so favourable an opportunity of writing to you." 

1 ,' i '; - 

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Presented to Mrs. Wheelwright 1842 


Evidently letters had passed to and fro between M. Heger and 
Charlotte, during the six months that she had been in England, 
for she mentions having written " a letter that was less than 
reasonable, because sorrow was at my heart " ; and again she 
writes, " Meanwhile I may well send you a little letter from 
time to time you have authorised me to do so." 

That Charlotte was perfectly open in her correspondence 
with M. Heger is easily proved, for she does not hesitate to 
let the Wheelwrights know that she is corresponding with him, 
and her reason for sending the letter by Mrs. Wheelwright 
was probably to save the postage of one and sixpence, and to 
ensure its safe delivery, for she seems to have been suspicious 
that the letters were not received by M. Heger. 

Dr. Heger told me that Charlotte Bronte's letters to his 
father had been too frequent, and they betrayed a growing 
attachment which his parents thought it kind and wise to 
check. She was told that her letters gave evidence of too much 
excitement and exaltation, and she was advised to tone down 
her letters and write merely of her health and occupation, 
only giving particulars of her own health and that of her home 

It is a mistake to say that this rebuff caused Charlotte 
Bronte to give up writing to M. Heger ; that is not so ; she 
mentions more than once the six months' interval, and it is 
certain she tried to keep to the instructions imposed upon 
her by M. and Madame Heger. Her last letter to M. Heger, 
dated 18th November, which Dr. Heger (the son of M. Heger) 
thinks belongs to 1844, certainly belonged to 1845, for in that 
letter she says, " I have never heard French spoken but once 
since I left Brussels and then it sounded like music in my ears 
every word was most precious to me because it reminded 
me of you." This is a reference to Charlotte Bronte's journey 
from Hathersage to Ha worth in July, 1845, when she tells of 
accosting a stranger in the railway carriage, and asking him 
in French if he were not a Frenchman, and on hearing him 
speak, she further asked if he had not lived in Germany. On 
his replying in the affirmative, she said she knew it by his 
way of pronouncing the words. M. Heger was of German 


descent, and that may account for Charlotte saying, " Every 
word was most precious to me because it reminded me of you, 
I love French for your sake with all my heart and soul." 

In the first letter published by The Times there is a reference 
to a situation offered to Charlotte Bronte in a large school in 
Manchester at a salary of one hundred pounds. This is the 
first that has been heard of it, and it is very remarkable that 
Ellen Nussey is not told of it, seeing that she was asked to 
help to get pupils for Charlotte. Evidently old Mr. Bronte 
objected to Charlotte leaving home again, for Anne mentions 
Charlotte's wish to go to Paris, and she queries it. In The 
Professor there is a reference to William Crimsworth obtaining 
a situation at 3,000 francs a year, after leaving M. Pelet, 
which may have some reference to the Manchester offer, but 
Mrs. Gaskell did not seem to know of it, or she would have 
surely mentioned it. 

The letters betray Charlotte's anxiety to know if M. Heger 
has received her letters, and she sends the second letter 
(published in The Times) by Mr. Joe Taylor and his 
sister Mary ; she evidently charged them to deliver it safely 
to M. Heger, and to ask for an answer to bring back to 

This second letter is short, and eager, and poor Charlotte 
waits feverishly for the answer. 

" I am not going to write a long letter ; in the first place, I 
have not the time it must leave at once ; and then, I am afraid 
of worrying you. I would only ask of you if you have heard 
from me at the beginning of May and again in the month of 
August ? For six months I have been awaiting a letter from 
Monsieur six months waiting is very long, you know ! How- 
ever, I do not complain, and I shall be richly rewarded for a 
little sorrow if you will now write a letter and give it to this 
gentleman or to his sister who will hand it to me without 
fail. . . . 

" Farewell, Monsieur ; I am depending on soon having your 
news. The idea delights me, for the remembrance of your ! 
kindnesses will never fade from my memory, and as long as j 


that remembrance endures the respect with which it has 
inspired me will endure likewise." 

Mr. Taylor returns and brings no news. " Patience," says 
Charlotte in her desperation, and she awaits Mary Taylor's 
return. " I have nothing for you," she says, " neither letter 
nor message." 

It is impossible not to sympathize with this eager, passionate 
little woman, in her hero worship, but no one can blame 
Madame Heger for checking the correspondence ; it could 
only lead to disappointment in the end. Certain it is that 
Charlotte called it by the name of friendship, but the name 
was not strong enough. For an independent woman like 
Charlotte Bronte to write at least three letters to M. Heger, 
then to send a letter by hand, and still to get no answer, and 
then to write again " Forgive me then, Monsieur, if I adopt 
the course of writing to you again. How can I endure life 
if I make no effort to ease its sufferings ? . . All I know is, 
that I cannot, that I will not, resign myself to lose wholly the 
friendship of my master. I would rather suffer the greatest 
physical pain than always have my heart lacerated by smarting 
regrets. If my master withdraws his friendship from me 
entirely, I shall be altogether without hope : if he gives me 
a little just a little I shall be satisfied happy ; I shall 
have reason for living on, for working. . . Nor do I, either, 
need much affection from those I love. I should not know 
what to do with a friendship entire and complete I am not 
used to it. " And when she speaks of the " little interest " 
the professor had in her of yore, she says : "I hold on to it as 
I would hold on to life," and her piteous appeal is that of the 
desperate lover begging for a word of hope, rather than that 
of an unmarried woman of nearly thirty to a man of thirty-five, 
who had a family of five children. 

The fourth and last letter printed by The Times is dated 
15th November, and for the reason just stated, it must have 
been written in 1845. 

Then, again, she mentions having suffered great anxiety 
for a year or two, which plainly covered the period since she 

l8 (2200) 


left Brussels on 29th December, 1843. This fourth letter 
points to the fact that Charlotte had received a letter after her 
piteous appeal, on finding that Joe and Mary Taylor had 
nothing for her. The third letter is dated 8th January, 1845, 
and yet Charlotte says on 18th November that her last letter 
was dated 18th May, and it implies that a letter had been 
sent from M. Heger between January and May, for she says : 
;< Your last letter was stay and prop to me nourishment to 
me for half a year. Now I need another, and you will give it 
me.". ... "To forbid me to write to you, to refuse to 
answer me would be to tear from me my only joy on earth, to 
deprive me of my last privilege a privilege I shall never 
consent willingly to surrender. Believe me, mon maUre, in 
writing to me it is a good deed that you will do. So long as I 
believe you are pleased with me, so long as I have hope of 
receiving news from you, I can be at rest and not too sad. But 
when a prolonged and gloomy silence seems to threaten me 
with the estrangement of my master when day by day I 
await a letter, and when day by day disappointment comes to 
fling me back into overwhelming sorrow, and the sweet delight 
of seeing your handwriting and reading your counsel escapes 
me as a vision that is vain, then fever claims me I lose appetite 
and sleep I pine away." In conclusion, she asks, " May I 
write to you again next May ? " proving that she was trying 
to keep her promise of only writing once in six months. 

These four letters only give a glimpse of the eager, passionate 
correspondence sent by Charlotte Bronte to her master. 

On the authority of the Heger family, the last letter was 
addressed by Charlotte Bronte to the Athe*ne*e Royal of 
Brussels, but it was not at the request of M. Heger, but because 
Charlotte herself was eager to obtain an answer from him, 
and she evidently was suspecting Madame Heger as the cause 
of the delay in getting answers, for it is noticeable that in this 
last letter Madame Heger is not mentioned at all, although 
the governesses and the children are referred to by name. 
This is inexcusable, and as far as is known no further letters 
were sent. 

M. Heger did not write his own letters, but dictated them^ 


and his wife wrote them ; whilst later still, since his daughter 
Louise was his amanuensis, M. Heger merely signed the letters 
after altering certain phrases, and then a fair copy was made ; 
but Charlotte Bronte in her last letter writes of the sweet 
delight of seeing his (M. Heger's) handwriting, and as he cor- 
rected her devoirs in his own characteristic caligraphy it is 
certain she would be able to recognise it as distinct from 
Madame Heger's, which was larger and firmer. 

In Villette M. Paul Emanuel says, " I could not write that 
down. ... I hate mechanical labour ; I hate to stoop and 
sit still. I could dictate it, though, with pleasure to an 
amanuensis who suited me." 

The two years in Brussels, and the two succeeding years were 
the ones which counted most in the writing of Charlotte's 
novels, for in those four years she fought her hardest battle, 
as her novels testify. 

There are some who blame M. Heger for keeping the letters 
of Charlotte Bronte, thinking they ought to have been destroyed, 
so that they could never have been published, but it is well 
to know M. Heger himself strongly objected to the letters 
ever being published. He kept them for the same reason 
that he kept Emily's and Charlotte's devoirs, " because he 
had known the little geniuses," but he never had any intention 
of publishing Charlotte's letters, as a letter to Ellen Nussey 

Ellen Nussey was not satisfied with Mrs. Gaskell's Life of 
Charlotte Bronte ; she thought it too sad, and she evidently 
wished to adopt the role of biographer herself, and, if she could 
have secured the help of M. Heger, a new phase of Charlotte's 
life would be revealed, for Ellen Nussey did not understand the 
Brussels period ; had she done so she would never have asked 
M. Heger to publish Charlotte's letters. 

A letter from M. Heger, written just fifty years ago, 
redounds to his credit and his loyalty to Charlotte Bronte, 
and it explains why Dr. Heger and his sisters have delayed 
so long in allowing the letters to be published. Had it not been 
that a dishonourable attachment had been hinted at by 
pertain writers, they would never have allowed the letters to be 


made public, knowing all these fifty years what their father's 
wishes were. Here is the letter from M. Heger to Ellen Nussey, 
published for the first time by kind permission of Dr. Heger 
and his sisters. 

"BRUXELLES, 16 Octobve, 1863. 

" Mademoiselle, 

" Deux mots expliqueront et me feront pardonner le retard 
que j'ai mis a vous repondre : votre lettre ne rn'a pas trouve 
a Spa ; je n'en ai pris connaissance qu'a mon retour des 

" Vous daignez me consulter sur trois points : 1= la publica- 
tion de pres de 500 lettres de Charlotte Bronte, votre amie 
2 la traduction en frangais de cette correspondance 3i ma 
participation eventuelle a cette traduction. 

" M'expliquer sincerement sur ces trois points est a mes 
yeux un devoir. Je crois comme vous, Mademoiselle, que 
votre amie sera plus fidelement peinte par elle-meme que par 
autrui ; je crois que ses lettres, ou 1'on voit le mouvement 
intime de sa pensee, ou Ton sent les battements de ce pauvre 
cceur malade, peuvent offrir encore un vif interet, meme 
apres la biographic developpee de Madame Gaskell. Je suis 
convaincu de cela, et cependant il s'eleve du fond de ma 
conscience certaines objections que je soumets humblement a 
la v6tre. 

" La question que je vais traiter est delicate ; j'hesite a 
Tabor der, mais cette hesitation, que j'avoue, je la regarde 
comme une faiblesse et je passe outre ; quelquechose me dit, 
Mademoiselle, que ma sinc6rite ne saurait vous blesser : elle 
n'est, en realite", qu'un hommage rendu a votre loyaute* et a 
votre cceur. 

" Je me suis done pose cette question : pourrais-je, sans 
Passentiment de mon ami, publier ses lettres intimes, c'est a 
dire les confidences qu'il m'a faites ? Ne m'a-t-il pas laisse 
voir, de lui-meme, plus qu'il ne voulait montrer a autrui ? 
ce qu'on m'aurait dit a voix basse pourrais-je le redire a haute 
voix apres le depart de 1'imprudent ami qui s'est confi6 a ma 
discretion ? ces impressions fugitives, ces appreciations 
irr6fl6chies, jet^es, a cceur ouvert dans une causerie intime, 


puis-je les livrer en pature a la curiosite" maligne des 
lecteurs ? 

" Je n'ai pas, Mademoiselle, la prevention de re"soudre pour 
vous cette question : je vous crois trop de delicatesse pour 
supposer qu'en pareille mati&re votre raison et votre cceur 
aient besoin d'aide Mais appelons-en a notre experience 
personelle : il doit vous etre arrive" comme a moi, comme a 
tout le monde, de retrouver apres plusieurs anne"es, le brouillon 
de quelqu'une des lettres que nous avons e"crites, et certes 
je crois pouvoir affirmer que ni vous ni moi nous ne les eussions 
livre"es a la publicite sans modification aucune : tant I'exp6r- 
ience, la maturite" que le temps donne a 1'esprit, avaient, en 
bien des points, modifie' nos sentiments et nos idees. 

" Votre pieuse affection veut, par la publication de la 
correspondance de Charlotte, aj outer a la gloire, a la consid6ra- 
tion de votre amie ; je le comprends ; mais permettez-moi de 
vous mettre en garde centre vous m6me : en triant sa 
correspondance, supposez toujours votre amie presente 
c6t6 de vous, et consultez-la. 

Voila, Mademoiselle, sans reticence, ce que je pense de la 
publication des lettres originales en anglais. 

" Quant a la traduction en fran9ais, quel que soit le merite 
du traducteur, il me parait que de toutes les ceuvres litte"raires 
les lettres sont celles qui perdent le plus a etre traduites : dans 
la correspondance intime 1'a propos, la liberte" de 1'allure, la 
grace et jusqu'aux charmantes negligences d'une forme toute 
spontane"e, donnent du prix, de l'agre"ment, aux moindres 
choses ; dans la traduction tout cela disparait. 

" Je ne sache pas qu'on ait songe" a traduire les lettres de 
Madame de S6vigne" pas plus qu'on n'a tente" de peindre 
le vol ou de noter le chant de Toiseau. 

" Certaines lettres resistent a la traduction, je le sais, parce 
qu'elles traitent de politique, de voyages, de critique litte"raire, 
etc. Elles ont un fonds solide d'une valeur r^elle, en quelque 
sorte ind^pendante de la forme. Petit-etre les lettres de votre 
amie sont-elles dans ce cas ; je 1'ignore, vous seule pouvez en 

" Aprds avoir exprim^ mon opinion sur la traduction et 


confesse implicitement ainsi mon impuissance a faire ce que 
vous paraissez d6sirer de moi, je crois inutile d'aj outer qu'il me 
serait impossible dans tous les cas, faute de loisir, de cooper er 
a la publication dont vous avez pieusement rassemble" les 
mate'riaux. Veuillez peser avec une indulgente bienveillance 
les motifs de mon abstention et agreer, Mademoiselle, 1'hom- 
mage de mes meilleurs sentiments. 

" (Sign<) C. HEGER." 

It is interesting to note that when the rough draft of this 
letter, which had been dictated by M. Heger to his daughter 
Louise, was examined, it was seen that the word malade in the 
phrase " de ce pauvre cceur malade " had been altered twice 
into bless e, and then finally M. Heger had determined 
to leave it as it now stands. Evidently he considered the 
word blesse was more appropriate as applied to his former pupil's 
poor wounded heart than malade, which word, however, was 
perhaps more suited to a letter to be sent to Charlotte Bronte's 
old friend Ellen Nussey. 

The letter explains itself ; Ellen Nussey did not receive 
one penny from Mrs. Gaskell for the loan of her 500 Bronte 
letters, and she wished to get M. Heger to help her to write 
a new biography of Charlotte Bronte, but his letter proves that 
he was too honourable to publish this private correspondence. 

If M. Heger's correspondence could have been kept and 
published, it would have shown that his letters contained 
nothing that was dishonourable, or he would not have advised 
Mrs. Gaskell to ask to see them. 

Readers of Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte will 
remember that she quotes one long letter from Charlotte 
Bronte to M. Heger and also a shorter passage. When the 
four letters were published in The Times it was seen that the 
impression of the correspondence between Charlotte Bronte* 
and M. Heger intended by Mrs. Gaskell was quite erroneous. 
As Mr. Spielmann, who conducted the correspondence between 
the Hegers and the Principal Librarian of the British Museum, 
pointed out. " Passages of quite minor interest have been 
printed in that work ; but readers will be amazed to find 


that not only have they been corrected and furbished up as to 
spelling and punctuation, and unimportant words omitted, 
but that they have inevitably no doubt, at that time, for the 
biographer's peculiar purpose been garbled in a manner 
rare in a frankly and candidly-conceived narrative." 

What appears to be one letter in Mrs. Gaskell's Life of 
Charlotte Bronte is seen to consist of more or less unimportant 
extracts carefully selected from the first two letters recently 
published, and the second quotation is taken from an earlier 
portion of the first of the four letters. Not only are there 
important omissions, but the second letter especially consists 
of a mere patchwork, which appears to preclude any explana- 
tion on the ground of carelessness. Mrs^Gaskell must have 
seen these letters, for in addition to the French quotations 
there are statements which prove her knowledge of them. 
Moreover, the manuscripts now in the British Museum must 
have been seen by her, when in the keeping of the Hegers, 
for Mr. Nicholls does not appear to have had them, but whoever 
compiled the letters in Mrs. Gaskell's biography of Charlotte 
Bronte must have been actuated by a desire to conceal the real 
drift of the correspondence. The letters which were dated 
24th July, 1844, and 24th October, 1844, appear in Mrs. 
Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte as having been sent to M. 
Heger subsequent to March, 1845, and after Charlotte Bronte's 
visit to Hathersage, which would be impossible. 

Her passionate longing to hear from M. Heger, and especially 
to see him, cannot be dismissed especially when the relative 
ages are considered as typical of a pupil's relations with her 
former teacher. The feeling which she betrays is too intense 
to be explained in that way, and only M. Heger 's recognition 
of his duty to his wife and family, and the necessity of checking 
Charlotte Bronte''s ardour, brought the correspondence to a 




FAILURE of the East Riding scheme for a school The Bronte sisters 
determine to open a school at the Vicarage The prospectus 
Causes of the failure of the project They turn to litera- 
ture as a means of livelihood The Vicarage family Charlotte 
Bronte's invitation to Hathersage Emily and Anne visit York 
The Gondal Chronicles Hathersage and Jane Eyre Marriage of 
the Rev. Henry Nussey Hathersage Village Charlotte Bronte's 
return to Haworth. 

IN one of Charlotte Bronte's recently published letters in The 
Times, 29th July, 1913, she mentions that, in the summer of 
1844, she had been offered a situation as first governess in a 
large school in Manchester, with a salary of 100 per annum, 
but that she could not accept it, as it would have necessitated 
leaving her father. This is the first time that anything has 
been known of such an offer, and curiosity is aroused as to the 
school in Manchester in which Charlotte had the chance of 
becoming a governess. The Manchester High School for Girls 
was not started until 1874 ; evidently the school referred to 
must have been a boarding school in the neighbourhood of 
Manchester, but it is somewhat strange that, in later years, 
when Charlotte visited the Gaskells at Manchester, she does 
not seem to have mentioned the offer, nor does the father 
seem to have remembered it, when giving Mrs. Gaskell 
particulars of his daughter's career. 

Emily was at home at this time, and there were two servants, 
so that it is curious that the father would not allow Charlotte 
to go to Manchester, seeing there was the tempting offer 
of 100 per annum, for some months later, according to Anne 
Bronte's diary, Charlotte was trying to get to Paris as a 
governess. In the light of the recently published letters, 
Charlotte's health and despondency seem to be the real reason 
why her father would not let her go ; probably he did not wish 
his daughter to go away alone again, after the miserable state 
in which she returned from Brussels. 



Miss Bran well's death in 1842 made it impossible for the 
three sisters to leave their father and start a school in the 
East Riding of Yorkshire, as they had hoped to do, and the 
only way in which they could collectively use their hard-earned 
knowledge was by starting a school at Ha worth. After much 
consideration and planning, a school circular was drawn up 
and widely circulated in 1844 






.. *. d. 

BOARD AND EDUCATION, including Writing, Arithmetic, His- 
tory, Grammar, Geography, and Needle Work, perj. 35 

French, . . 

German,.. J- .. .. each per Quarter, I I Q 


Masic, . ) 

. . . . each per Quarter, . . 110 

Drawing, . . ) 

Use of Piano Forte, per Quarter, , .. 050 

Washing, per Quarter 15 

Each Young Lady to te provided \vitb One Pair ol Sheets, Pillow Cases, Four Towela, 
a Dessert and Ta>poon. 

Quarter's Notice, or a Quarter's Board, is required previous to the 
Removal of a Pupil. 


These single-sheet prospectuses were sent to friends and 
anyone likely to have any influence with parents of girls. Ellen 
Nussey rendered what help she could, and Charlotte Bronte 
not only distributed the prospectuses, but also visited people 
and canvassed for pupils. Not a single one was obtained by 
these united efforts. This failure could not be attributed to 
any feeling against the Bronte sisters ; they were respected 
far and wide as the parson's daughters, but as teachers their 
reputation was not good. If Charlotte Bronte had much to 
complain of in Mrs. Sidgwick of Stonegappe, it is very certain 
that Mrs. Sidgwick had something to say about Charlotte 
Bronte, and Lothersdale was only a few miles from Haworth. 
At Roe Head and Dewsbury Moor, Charlotte was known as a 
strict disciplinarian, and her shyness with strangers did not 
help her with the parents. In addition, the Brontes had always 
" kept themselves very close," as the villagers in Haworth 
expressed it, and to this day they are remembered at Haworth 
as a mysterious family. The father was peculiar in his habits, 
an instance of which Tabitha Brown related to me. She had 
taken the tea things from Mr. Bronte's study, and knowing 
that he put salt as well as sugar in his tea she tasted what 
remained in his tea cup, and making a very long face exclaimed 
that it was more like physic. When her sister, Martha Brown, 
mentioned the matter to Mr. Bronte", he said it was physic. 
He always believed in plenty of salt, as it kept away worms, 
which were apt to breed in the body. Then there was his 
peculiar habit of continuing to wear a high " stock " round 
his neck made up of yards and yards of white silk, which 
gave him an uncanny appearance. The peculiarities of 
the Bronte household were the talk of the whole country 

Then there was the eccentric Bran well ; although the villagers 
admired him in a way, they considered him to be " a bit queer." 
In their younger days their little plays, acted in the absence 
of their father, in which the servants were sometimes asked 
to join, were considered to be wild and meaningless. If the 
Brontes failed to appreciate the simple rustic folk of the place, 
they in return were looked upon as a queer Irish family, 


and it was the air of mystery which surrounded the Bronte 
home that scared the people from sending their daughters as 
pupils. The reams of note-paper, bought from John Greenwood, 
the local stationer, and covered with the Bronte children's 
small hand-printing, meant very little to the simple-minded 
people in the district, and it was only when their books 
were known to be actually published that some of their 
neighbours gave them credit for being clever and industrious. 
To this day the Bronte home is spoken of in the Haworth dis- 
trict as a mystery, and consequently strange tales are told 
of the inmates. 

If the school project had succeeded, it was the intention of 
the sisters to get the parsonage enlarged by adding a school- 
room and extra bedrooms, making the house as large as it is 
at the present time. Charlotte, in her letter to M. Heger, 
gives the impression that the house was large, and that with a 
few alterations it would be possible to house five or six boarders. 
She blamed Haworth for the failure of her scheme, but it was 
the peculiar circumstances associated with the home, rather 
than the locality, which prevented the idea of a school ever 
becoming an established fact. 

Haworth has been described by people who have visited 
the village as a most desolate place " surely the last place 
that God made," as one writer pictures it, whereas it is a 
typical North Country village clean, bracing and healthy. 
This Yorkshire moorland village looks its best when the 
purple heather is in bloom, but at no time is it so desolate as 
it has been described. The people were not by any means so 
illiterate as Mrs. Gaskell described them, when she stated 
that there was nobody for the Brontes to associate with. 
Charlotte Bronte may have conveyed that impression to Mrs. 
Gaskell, who would have found, had she lived there for any 
length of time, that the people were as simple and lovable as 
in Cranford. The parsonage servants were born and bred 
in the neighbourhood, and they proved to be faithful and 
true, if somewhat brusque and blunt. It was the failure of 
their school plan that drove the Bronte girls to attempt to 
publish their poems, for they always had the fear of poverty 


before them. Their father's health was never robust, and 
in the event of his death the prospect was by no means alluring. 

Although Ellen Nussey was so true a friend to Charlotte 
Bronte', it was Mary Taylor, with her superior education and 
greater intellectual ability, to whom she related her doubts 
and fears, and confided her literary secrets. Ellen Nussey 
was only told of the authorship of Jane Eyre when Shirley 
was actually published, and the information could no longer 
be withheld. Charlotte's letter to Ellen Nussey disowning 
any novels ascribed to her was written to throw dust in the 
eyes of her friend, and it was written to deceive. Mrs. Gaskell 
excuses Charlotte by saying she had promised her sisters never 
to divulge the secret. 

Mary Taylor relates a pitiful story of Charlotte Bronte's 
fears of poverty when at Brussels 

" The first part of her time at Brussels was not uninteresting. 
She spoke of new people and characters, and foreign ways 
of the pupils and teachers. She knew the hopes and prospect 
of the teachers, and mentioned one who was very anxious to 
marry, ' she was getting so old.' She used to get her father 
or brother (I forget which) to be the bearer of letters to different 
single men, who she thought might be persuaded to do her the 
favour, saying that her only resource was to become a sister of 
charity if her present employment failed, and that she hated 
the idea. Charlotte naturally looked with curiosity to people 
of her own condition. This woman almost frightened her. 
4 She declares there is nothing she can turn to, and laughs at the 
idea of delicacy and she is only ten years older than I am ! ' 
I did not see the connection till she said, ' Well, Polly, I should 
hate being a sister of charity ; I suppose that would shock some 
people, but I should.' I thought she would have as much 
feeling as a nurse as most people, and more than some. She 
said she did not know how people could bear the constant 
pressure of misery, and never to change except to a new form 
of it. It would be impossible to keep one's natural feelings. 
I promised her a better destiny than to go begging anyone to 
marry her, or to lose her natural feelings as a sister of charity. 
She said, ' My youth is leaving me ; I can never do better 


than I have done, and I have done nothing yet.' At such 
times she seemed to think that most human beings were 
destined by the pressure of worldly interests to lose one faculty 
and feeling after another 'till they went dead altogether. 
I hope I shall be put in my grave as soon as I'm dead ; I don't 
want to walk about so.' Here we always differed. I thought 
the degradation of nature she feared was a consequence of 
poverty, and that she should give her attention to earning 
money. Sometimes she admitted this, but could find no 
means of earning money. At others she seemed afraid of 
letting her thoughts dwell on the subject, saying it brought 
on the worst palsy of all. Indeed, in her position, nothing 
less than entire constant absorption in petty money matters 
could have scraped together a provision. 

" Of course, artists and authors stood high with Charlotte, 
and the best thing after their works would have been their 
company. She used very inconsistently to rail at money and 
money-getting, and then wish she was able to visit all the large 
towns in Europe, see all the sights, and know all the celebrities. 
This was her notion of literary fame a passport to the society 
of clever people. . . . When she had become acquainted with the 
people and ways at Brussels her life became monotonous, and 
she fell into the same hopeless state as at Miss Wooler's, though 
in a less degree. I wrote to her, urging her to go home or 
elsewhere ; she had got what she wanted (French), and there 
was at least novelty in a new place, if no improvement. That 
if she sank into deeper gloom she would soon not have energy 
to go, and she was too far from home for her friends to hear 
of her condition and order her home as they had done from 
Miss Wooler's. She wrote that I had done her a great service, 
that she would certainly follow my advice, and was much 
obliged to me. I have often wondered at this letter. Though 
she patiently tolerated advice she could always put it aside, 
and do as she thought fit. More than once afterwards she 
mentioned the ' service ' I had done her. She sent me 10 
to New Zealand, on hearing some exaggerated accounts of my 
circumstances, and told me she hoped it would come in season- 
ably ; it was a debt she owed me ' for the service I had done 


her.' I should think 10 was a quarter of her income. The 
* service ' was mentioned as an apology, but kindness was the 
real motive." 

Later Charlotte Bronte writes : " I speculate much on the 
existence of unmarried and never-to-be-married woman now- 
adays." The Bronte sisters had more independence than to 
think of marriage as a way out of the difficulty. Anne might, 
if fate had been kind, have married a curate, as was the case 
with " Agnes Grey," but Charlotte and Emily were quite 
reconciled to their idea that they would never marry. Charlotte 
says : "I have made up my mind since I was a girl of twelve 
that I should never marry," but fate was too much for her, 
and in marriage she ventured her all, and died for it. 

After the disappointment associated with the failure to 
establish a school, the three sisters determined to turn to 
literature, as a means of earning money. Emily and Anne 
had been writing the mysterious Gondal Chronicles for more 
than three years, and Charlotte had been busy with other 
work of a literary character. Anne confessed that she had 
been busy with Agnes Grey or, as she guardedly calls it, Some 
Passages in the Life of an Individual. There is no distinct 
record to tell us what Charlotte was writing at this time, but 
her poems on Gilbert, Apostacy, Frances, referring to her life 
at Brussels, must have been written in 1844-1845. Very 
probably she wrote her first version of Jane Eyre under some 
other title, when alone in Brussels, for in a letter to George 
Henry Lewes she tells how Jane Eyre was objected to at first 
on the same ground as The Professor was refused as being 
deficient in " startling incident " and " thrilling excitement," 
and that could not be so with the Jane Eyre that was accepted 
in 1847. 

Mr. Bronte was iU and very despondent about his increasing 
blindness, and yet he arranged for all his daughters to have 
a short holiday during the Midsummer of 1845. Anne gave 
up teaching, and left Thorpe Green of her own accord on 
17th June, and at the same time Branwell came home for a 
week's holiday and then returned to Thorpe Green alone. 
He stayed at the Robinsons for a month after Anne left. It 


has been stated that he and Anne left together, which is not 
correct. No serious trouble appears to have occurred whilst 
Anne was at Thorpe Green, and she left for no reason whatever 
connected with Branwell's conduct ; she had been teaching 
continuously for six years, and had saved a large portion of 
her salary ; her health was poor and it was decided that she 
should stay at home. The fact that Bran well returned to the 
Robinsons after Anne had left proves that nothing serious 
could be urged against him at the time. It was rumoured 
in the district that the new governess, who took Anne's place 
at Thorpe Green, was the cause of his dismissal ; possibly, if 
Anne had not left, Branwell's conduct might not have fur- 
nished grounds for complaint, for his sister had a good influence 
over him. The only reference Anne makes concerning him at 
this time is that he has been ill, and has had much tribulation. 
Although he naturally occupies much space in Mrs. GaskelTs 
Life of Charlotte Bronte, so far as his residence at the Robinsons 
goes, two and a half years' satisfactory employment has to be 
set against the one month he remained after Anne left. If 
he could retain his appointment and evidently give satisfaction 
for so long a period, he was not the drunken wretch that Mrs. 
Gaskell and others have tried to prove he was. He may have 
received more attention from Mrs. Robinson than was due 
to him as a tutor to her son, but Anne's presence would probably 
have saved him from a fall. He suffered from an unfortunate 
want of balance, and a strong emotional temperament, which 
Charlotte Bronte confesses was like her own, and in any case 
he was more sinned against than sinning, if Charlotte Bronte 
was correct. " Of their mother I have hardly patience to 
speak. A worse woman, I believe, hardly exists ; the more 
I hear of her the more deeply she revolts me," wrote Charlotte 
of Mrs. Robinson. 

Anne had been at Thorpe Green more than four years, and 
weary years they were, though she struggled on. In her first 
little memorandum she tells how unhappy she would have 
been had she known that she would have to stay there for 
four years. The Robinson girls were genuinely fond of her, 
and used to visit her at Haworth after she had left their home. 


It was in June, 1845, that Charlotte received an invitation to 
visit Ellen Nussey at Hathersage, which she felt compelled to 
refuse. However, when Anne returned home, Charlotte could 
be spared, and she joyfully prepared for the journey into Derby- 
shire. Whilst she was away, Emily and Anne had a little 
excursion to York, remaining there only one night, then passing 
on to Keighley for a second night, and on the third day jour- 
neying to Bradford for a few hours and then walking home 
from Keighley to Haworth. They made this short trip a 
sort of rehearsal of their play about the Gondals, and Emily 
thought it worth putting on record in her memorandum, 
where she says : " During our excursion we were Ronald 
Macalgin, Henry Angora, Juliet Angusteena, Rosabella 
Esmaldan, Ella and Julian Egremont, Catharine Navarre and 
Cordelia Fitzaphnold, escaping from the palaces of instruction 
to join the Royalists, who are hard driven at present by the 
victorious Republicans." Emily at this time was a woman of 
twenty-seven ; Anne was two years younger, and she wrote 
a similar memorandum. These simple documents, which 
Mr. Nicholls found nearly fifty years after they were written, 
resemble the childish compositions of schoolgirls. The assump- 
tion of the different characters in their plays was in keeping 
with their vivid imagination. In the midst of their anxiety 
about their father, and the prospect of being unable to earn 
their own living, they still retained their lively imagination, 
which saved them from despair. This power of transporting 
themselves to other worlds reminds one of Coleridge, who once 
apologised to a staid citizen in the street, whom he had knocked 
against, by explaining that for the nonce he had been Leander 
swimming the Hellespont. He was really preparing himself 
for the Ancient Mariner, and much else the world would not 
willingly let perish, though the man thought he meant to rob 
him, as Coleridge's hand was almost in the man's pocket. 

Charlotte Bronte committed a grievous wrong when she 
destroyed the Gondal Chronicles and the fairy tales composed 
by her sisters. They would have helped us to obtain a more 
accurate view of some members of the Bronte family, and at 
the present time would have been worth their weight in gold. 


In the document by Emily, previously referred to, she quickly 
steps from the imaginative to the practical, by saying she 
must " hurry off to her turning and ironing." The " turning " 
refers to the turning of the mangle, as the clothes after being 
folded had to be mangled before they were ironed. Emily 
Bronte, by many considered the greatest woman writer of the 
nineteenth century, was in the habit of thinking out her poems 
and plays whilst carrying out her ordinary domestic duties. 
No wonder she has been called " the sphinx of literature," 
for, whilst a mystic and a dreamer, she was also a practical 
and capable housekeeper. 

This cult of the imagination was kept up by the Brontes all 
through their brief life, and not dropped as in most cases when 
childhood was over. The quiet and solitude of the moors 
fostered it, and the books they read French and German 
as well as English nourished it. It expressed itself in their 
works, not so much by the facts which they assimilated, as by 
the spirit of the stories. 

This strong, imaginative power had its dangers for them ; 
it tended to make them over-sensitive and morbid, and to give 
way to rhapsodies. It was to a great extent responsible for 
Branwell's fall, and for Charlotte's trying experience when at 
Brussels, and yet what a mighty lever this vivid imagination 
proved. Without it, their great novels would have been 
impossible. It was this intense imagination which clothed the 
characters in their novels with such power and force, and made 
them differ so much from other novels, and it was the means 
of opening out for these timid and solitary girls a greater life, 
which helped them to believe in the life beyond. 

For more than forty years, Hathersage failed to obtain the 
honour of being associated with the Bronte literature, for the 
simple reason that Ellen Nussey would not allow Mrs. Gaskell 
to give the names of places and persons mentioned in Charlotte 
Bronte's letters. This was unfortunate in some respects, 
but Mrs. Gaskell was compelled to humour Ellen Nussey, and 
be content with initials instead of full names, as she would have 
preferred. Hathersage is now known to be the " Morton " 
(*.., Moor Town) of Jane Eyre, and is concerned with those 

19 (3200) 


chapters in the novel which range from XXVII to XXXVI, 
that is, from Jane Eyre's leaving Rochester at Thornfield to 
their meeting again at Ferndean Manor. Readers of Mrs. 
GaskelPs Life were curious to know the place indicated by the 
letter H, and it was not until about 1888 that a Mr. Hall 

suggested, in the Sheffield Independent, that H might refer 

to Hathersage. Shortly afterwards the Palatine Note Book 
copied the reference. 

There were several points which helped to fix Hathersage 
as the Morton of Jane Eyre : the needle factory, and the actual 
dwelling known as Moorseats, which Charlotte Bronte 
mentions in Jane Eyre : her description of the village and 
surrounding country fitted very closely with Hathersage and 
the neighbourhood, as anyone would recognise who has visited 
that charming part of Derbyshire, which includes Castleton 
and the village of Hope. 

. The Moor House of Jane Eyre was suggested by Moorseats, 
a house near Hathersage Vicarage, which Charlotte Bronte 
and Ellen Nussey probably visited. The pebbly bridle path 
still remains. There is also a reference in Jane Eyre to a ball 

in the neighbouring town of S at which the officers of the 

garrison " put all their young knife-grinders and scissors- 
merchants to shame." The allusion points so plainly to 
Sheffield that the name might well have been given in full. 

Just as Mrs. GaskelPs description of Monkshaven in Sylvia's 
Lovers led Mr. Keene, the artist, to conclude that his Whitby 
scenes would be suitable as guides to Du Maurier, who was 
preparing illustrations to the novel although Mr. Keene 
did not know at the time that Monkshaven and Whitby were 
the same so Charlotte Bronte's description of " Morton 
village " led Mr. Hall to conclude that the Morton of the 
story must be the village of Hathersage, although he had 
no definite proof that she had ever been there. 

It was not until Mr. Shorter published Charlotte Bronte and 
her Circle, in 1896, that it was found that the statement in 
the Sheffield Independent was correct, for, in Mr. Snorter's 
volume, the names and places mentioned in Charlotte Bronte's 
letters were printed in full for the first time. 


Charlotte Bronte received an invitation to Hathersage in 
June, 1845, from Ellen Nussey, but it was not until after Anne 
Bronte returned home from Thorpe Green that she felt free 
to accept the invitation, which at first she had been compelled 
to decline, owing to the expense of the journey, and the fact 
that her father needed her, for about this time Charlotte says 
in her letter to M. Heger : " My father allows me now to read 
to him, and write for him ; he shows me, too, more confidence 
than he has ever shown before, and this is a great consolation." 
Jane Eyre, it will be remembered, was short of money after 
she left Thornfield, just as Charlotte Bronte appears to have 
been at this time, for, on her decision to leave Brussels, she had 
to borrow money from Emily. Mrs. Gaskell quotes the letter 
from Ellen Nussey to Charlotte Bronte as referring to Birstall 
and not to Hathersage, and she remarks that Charlotte Bronte 
refused an invitation to the only house to which she was ever 
invited, so that it seems evident that Mrs. Gaskell did not 
know that it was to Hathersage that Charlotte Bronte went 
at this time. Ellen Nussey blocked out the names of places 
and persons, which detracts from the interest of the letters. 

Ellen Nussey was at Hathersage to prepare a home for her 
brother, Henry Nussey, who had been appointed Vicar of 
Hathersage, and had married immediately after his appoint- 
ment. His sister stayed at the Vicarage whilst he was on his 
honeymoon; she even had to select some of the furniture, 
and engage the servants, and have everything in readiness for 
the return of the bride and bridegroom. So anxious was she 
to persuade Charlotte Bronte to be with her at this time that 
she got her brother to write to Charlotte whilst he was on his 
honeymoon, " for which you deserve smothering," wrote 
Charlotte to Ellen Nussey in reply. 

When Charlotte Bronte had obtained permission from her 
father, she prepared for the short holiday, informing Ellen 
Nussey that during her stay she wished to visit Chatsworth 
and The Peak. There is no evidence that her wish in this 
respect was realised, for, if she had visited the Hall at Chats- 
worth and The Peak, she would probably have found some 
place for them in her story. Travelling from Keighley, 


she left the train at Sheffield and continued her journey to 
Hathersage by coach a distance of about ten miles. 

In Jane Eyre Whitcross is mentioned with its white posts. 

When Jane Eyre heard Rochester's voice calling, she tells 
us she left Moor House at three o'clock and reached Whitcross 
soon after four o'clock. A native of that part of Derbyshire 
writes : " Whitcross, therefore, must be the cross roads by the 
Fox House, up above Longshawe and Grindleford Bridge." 

It was at the end of June or the beginning of July that 
Charlotte Bronte" went to Hathersage, and the visit was fixed 
well in her mind, for two years later she published Jane 
Eyre's description of her doings in the village of Morton, which 
may well be true to fact, for at that time she was quite undecided 
as to her destiny ; she wanted to visit Paris, and to revisit 
Brussels, and yet something kept her back, and chained her 
to the old house, from which in two years she was to startle 
the literary world with her great novel. 

The church and parsonage are on the steep hill, which must 
be climbed from the village. 

In comparing the account of Jane Eyre's visit to Morton, 
so accurate is the descriptive part, that Charlotte Bronte 
would seem to have taken notes on the spot. The actual road 
by which she went can be traced, as the place has changed 
very little. 

In the field referred to in the novel there is a brook with some 
stepping-stones, which Charlotte Bronte" and Ellen Nussey 
must have used. One of these stones is dated, and it is curious 
that Charlotte Bronte did not mention it. The way by the 
stepping-stones is the nearest by which to reach Moorseats, the 
original of Moor House. There is also a mound or ancient 
Roman Camp near the entrance to the church from the field 
path. To get to Moorseats by the field a small wood must 
be traversed. 

The steps at Moorseats, leading to the kitchen door, are well 
worn, and green with mould ; it was on these steps that Jane 
Eyre fainted and was found by St. John Rivers. A low window 
allows a view of the interior. The kitchen is larger than the 


corresponding room at the Haworth parsonage, and the same 
may be said of the other rooms of the house. Behind is a 
thickly- wooded copse. 

It is unfortunate that Charlotte Bronte s letters to her 
sisters at home have not been preserved, as it is probable that 
they supplied descriptive accounts of the places which she 

Although there is plenty of moorland around Hathersage, 
the scenery is quite different from that in the neighbourhood 
of Haworth. This part of Derbyshire is more thickly wooded 
than the Haworth moors, which are almost devoid of trees, 
and the white limestone roads are a marked contrast to the 
roads of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Hathersage is a 
typical Derbyshire village, with its clean stone houses dotted 
here and there, a few shops, the village inn and post office, 
and the church on the hillside, with its tall spire. Needles, 
metal buttons and shackle pins are no longer manufactured 
at Hathersage as in Charlotte Bronte's days. It is still a 
small village, built on the steep slope of a hill and surrounded 
by mountainous tracts, whose barren summits and dark 
declivities agreeably contrast with the verdure of the smiling 
vale they envelop. Great masses of rock, of all shapes and 
sizes, lie scattered about the moorland, some grey with 
clinging moss and lichen, others furrowed and weather-beaten. 
The view of Hathersage from the main road is very fine, 
standing out on the hill slope with the church above the green 
knoll in front, and the vicarage sheltered by the trees. Moor- 
seats is on the opposite hill, and further up the valley is the 
house called North Lees, the ancestral home of the Eyres, 
which has been thought to be the original of Moor House, 
but it is too large, and neither in appearance nor interior 
arrangement does it accord with Charlotte Brontes description. 
The people at the parsonage were on visiting terms with the 
family at Moorseats, according to Ellen Nussey's account, 
and Charlotte Bronte got her impressions of the place from 
visiting with Ellen Nussey. 

Charlotte Bronte visited Hathersage only once, though in 
Charlotte Bronte and her Circle she is said to have been at 


Hathersage on two occasions, but the H in another of Charlotte 
Bronte s letters refers to Hunsworth and not to Hathersage. 
Her one visit, however, to Hathersage was sufficient to give 
it a place in her great novel. She gives us just her own impres- 
sions ; there is no indication that she read any history of the 
place, but in the three weeks visit she made good use of her 
opportunities, and with her love of landscape she revelled in 
the scenery. 

The calling at Moor House, on her way from Thornfield, is 
quite in keeping with her flight from Brussels, for the family 
at Moor House compares favourably with the people at the 
Haworth parsonage. Hannah, the North Country servant, is 
undoubtedly " Old Tabby," who speaks broad Yorkshire 
with the Haworth dialect. There is nothing in her speech 
to remind us of the softer tones of Derbyshire. Diana and 
Mary, who are found reading German books in the kitchen, 
are easily identified as Emily and Anne Bronte, and it is 
St. John Rivers, who has been on his pastoral visits when he 
finds Jane Eyre on the steps of his house. St. John as a 
character owes something to Patrick Bronte, Henry Nussey 
and Mr. Weightman. 

The church is situated at the upper end of the village. 
Like the church at Haworth and Ste. Gudule's, in Brussels, it 
is dedicated to St. Michael. There is also a high, octagonal 
spire. The church has been renovated since Charlotte Bronte 
and Ellen Nussey worshipped in it, and several stained-glass 
windows have been added by some of the old Hathersage 

The Rev. Henry Nussey does not seem to have kept the 
fabric of the church in very good condition, for his successor 
spent nearly 2,000 in renovating it, so that when Charlotte 
Bronte was there it must have been in a somewhat dilapidated 

The most conspicuous monument in the church is the tomb 
of Robert Eyre. On the top of the tomb is a full-length brass 
plate in which is depicted the figure of a knight in armour, and 
by his side is his wife clothed in the costume of the reign of 
Edward IV. 


There are several other monuments in the Hathersage 
church to the memory of the Eyre family, but there is little 
known of this once powerful family in the Peak District in 

Joanna Eyre, of the Eyre monument, in the Hathersage 
church, has for long been credited with being the origin of the 
title of Charlotte Bronte's great novel, Jane Eyre. Whether 
this is so or no is uncertain, but there is no doubt that Charlotte 
Bronte* would be greatly attracted by the Eyre tomb, with its 
long brass plate, effigies and inscription, but Hathersage only 
occupies nine chapters of the novel, and Jane, the heroine, 
dominates the whole book. 

It is probable that the name " Jane " in Jane Eyre was 
suggested by the Christian name of her favourite sister, 
Emily Jane Bronte " Mine bonnie love," as Charlotte calls 
her. The name " Jane " was also a commonplace name, 
which Charlotte thought would be most suitable for the 
character of her heroine, who was to be plain, and by no means 
beautiful. Harriet Martineau tells us that Charlotte Bronte 
once remarked to her sisters that they were wrong even 
morally wrong in making their heroines beautiful as a matter 
of course. They replied that it was impossible to make a 
heroine interesting on any other terms, to which she said : 
" I will prove to you that you are wrong : I will show you a 
heroine as plain and small as myself, who shall be as interesting 
as any of yours." " Hence : Jane Eyre," said Harriet 
Martineau, in relating the incident. 

In The Professor, which was written before Jane Eyre, the 
long poem which Frances repeated in Chapter XXIII has 
" Jane " for the heroine, and it is quite evident in reading 
the poem that Charlotte Bronte was the original of " Jane," 
just as she is in Jane Eyre. 

Most writers contend that the title of the novel originated 
in Charlotte Bronte's visit to Hathersage. Here she saw the 
old tombstone, with its inscription, Joanna Eyre, and forthwith 
she gave her novel, which was written two years afterwards, 
the title of Jane Eyre. This is the generally accepted explana- 
tion. But the word Eyre is a legal term, dating from the 


time of Henry II, and simply means "itinerant." Judges 
on circuit are still described as " His Majesty's Justices in 
Eyre." Whether Charlotte Bronte knew this is not certain. 

The novel is largely autobiographical, as is now well known, 
and is based on facts in Charlotte Bronte's life, from going to 
school at Cowan Bridge, Lowood, to her return from Hather- 
sage (Morton) to Wycoller Hall near Haworth (Ferndean 
Manor) in 1848. Shortly after she returned from Hathersage, 
her father became blind, but after an operation his sight was 
restored. The novelist was with her father during the operation 
for cataract at Manchester, and during the period when he 
began to distinguish colours and recover his eyesight, which 
she utilised in her description of Rochester's recovery of his 
sight. This may also have been suggested by the fact that 
M. Heger, who contributed something to the character of 
Rochester, suffered in early manhood from defective eyesight, 
but he regained his normal sight in later days. This fact 
explains why Charlotte tells M. Heger of her weak eyesight 
in her letters to him. In her correspondence with M. Heger 
there is an evident craving for sympathy. 

Jane Eyre is an account of the itinerary or wandering of the 
plain little heroine, who is none other than Charlotte Bronte 
herself, and, therefore, it is possible that Joanna Eyre may 
not be responsible for the title of Charlotte Bronte's novel. 

The Hathersage parsonage, where Charlotte Bronte stayed, 
has been enlarged since 1845. Its situation is just as the 
novelist described it : " Near the churchyard, and in the 
middle of a garden stood a well-built though small house, 
which I had no doubt was the parsonage." In many respects 
it resembles the Haworth parsonage, though the garden is 
longer, and the churchyard is not so near the house. It is 
approached by a narrow lane, as is the case with the Haworth 
vicarage, so that Charlotte Bronte would not feel that she was 
in totally different surroundings. In her time, there were 
four rather small rooms on the ground floor, and four on the 
first floor, and a narrow passage ran through the house from 
front to rear 

In the churchyard, visitors are shown the burial place of 


John Nailor, Robin Hood's giant henchman, better known as 
" Little John." 

In Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte mentions Robin Hood's 
grave, which she saw when a pupil at Roe Head, near Hudders- 
field, and she would be interested that his faithful henchman 
was reputed to be buried at Hathersage. 

The novelist probably wandered to the surrounding villages 
during her stay at Hathersage. The beautiful district, which 
includes the Vale of Hope, Castleton, Hassop, Tissington, and 
Ashbourne, is now much more frequented than it was in 
Charlotte Bronte's days, partly owing to the opening of the 
Dore and Chinley railway, whereas formerly it was reached 
from one direction by driving or walking from Sheffield. 

Charlotte Bronte left Hathersage on 23rd July, 1845. On 
her journey home from Sheffield to Leeds, she travelled with 
a gentleman, whose features and bearing betrayed him to be 
a Frenchman. Putting aside her natural shyness, she inquired 
in French if he were not a Frenchman, and on his replying in 
the affirmative, she further asked if he had not spent some 
time in Germany, as she detected the thick, guttural pro- 
nunciation. She evidently enjoyed the journey, pleasantly 
beguiled by conversation in the language in which she had 
become proficient. It is now known by the light of her recently 
published letters in The Times, sent to M. Heger in 1844-45, 
that the real reason for her conversation with the Frenchman 
was that he reminded her of M. Heger : " Every word was 
most precious to me, because it reminded me of you. I love 
French for your sake with all my heart and soul," she writes. 

It was on the return from this visit to Derbyshire in July, 
1845, that she found Bran well at home, after his dismissal 
from Thorpe Green ; when she ascertained the true reason, 
she was extremely angry with her brother. Possibly she 
would not have said so much against him to Ellen Nussey, 
but that she had to give a reason for not inviting her friend 
to Ha worth during the autumn, as she had wished. 

It was in the November after Charlotte returned from 
Hathersage that she sent what appears to be her last letter to 
M. Heger, which is dated November, 1845. 




SIMILARITY of Emily and Anne BrontS's literary taste Emily Bronte 
the moving spirit in literary work Charlotte Bronte's introduction 
to Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey Emily Bronte's surpassing 
genius Collection of the BrontS poems for publication Assumed 
names of authors Attempts to find a publisher Cost of publication 
Publishing venture a financial failure Reviews of the volume of 
poems Complete Poems of Emily Bronte. 

ALTHOUGH Charlotte Bronte has always been credited with 
taking the initiative in the three sisters becoming authors, it 
is much more probable that Emily was the moving spirit. 
Whilst Anne was away from home, Emily had great sympathy 
with her, and spoke of her as " exiled and harassed," and this 
was even before Anne's hard four years at Thorpe Green. 
When she returned in June, 1845, no reason was given why she 
should stay at home permanently, but it was evidently Emily 
who determined to try to direct their talents into other channels 
than teaching, in order to avoid their separation from the old 

Emily and Anne, though differing in ability, were very 
similar in their tastes and habits : both were devoted to animals, 
and each had her own pets. Their poetry was by no means 
similar, and yet they both directed their thoughts into the 
same channels the Gondal Chronicles, their respective poems 
on "The Old Home," and their "Last Lines." Emily was 
evidently a source of great strength to Anne, for when Mr. 
Clement Shorter published the Complete Poems of Emily Bronte 
he included with them four of Anne's, which it is suggested 
were in Emily's handwriting, though it was ascertained that 
they had been published sixty years before by Charlotte 
BrontS herself as Anne's work. 

For years these two devoted sisters had been sharing each 
other's confidence with regard to their literary work, and it 
was probably Emily who saw a means of earning money by 
their pens, before Charlotte mentioned it. The two little 



memoranda, written at intervals of four years, 1841 and 1845, 
were to be opened on Emily's birthday. It was Emily who 
started the mysterious Gondal Chronicles, in which she and 
Anne collaborated. It seems likely that one sister took 
the side of the Royalists, whilst the other favoured the Republi- 
cans. It is a pity that Charlotte, carrying out what she said 
were her sister's wishes, destroyed those strange chronicles. 
Charlotte had stated, years before, that their best plays were 
written secretly, and it was not until forty years afterwards, 
when Mr. Nicholls was looking over the Bronte relics, subse- 
quent to Mr. Shorter's visit in 1895, that four little journals 
were brought to light, being discovered folded up in the smallest 
possible space in a tiny pin box. These four short memoranda 
were much more important than the discoverers recognised, 
and, although Mr. Nicholls referred to them as " sad reading," 
they were extremely interesting, for they contain the only 
information available concerning the Gondal Chronicles, which 
have been a mystery for so many years, and which Emily 
tells us had engaged the attention of the two sisters for three 
and a half years. 

Mr. Shorter, in his Life and Letters of the Brontes, says, 
" There is wonderfully little difference in the tone or spirit of 
the journals." It is scarcely possible, however, to agree with 
this view, as there appears to be a marked difference even in 
the view which the Bronte sisters take of the Gondals. 

In her 1845 memorandum, Anne says, " Emily is writing the 
Emperor Julius' Life, and also some poetry," but she did not 
know what the subject was, and then she goes on to say : 

" I have begun the third volume of Passages in the Life 
of an Individual. Emily and I have a lot of work to do. When 
shall we sensibly diminish it ? I want to get a habit of early 
rising. Shall I succeed ? We have not yet finished our 
Gondal Chronicles that we begun three and a half years ago. 
When will they be done ? The Gondals are at present in a 
sad state. The Republicans are uppermost, but the Royalists 
are not quite overcome. The young sovereigns with their 
brothers and sisters are still at the Palace of Instruction. 
The Unique Society about half a year ago were wrecked on a 


desert island, as they were returning from Gaul. They are 
still there, but we have not played at them much yet. The 
Gondals in general are not in a first-rate playing condition. 
Will they improve ? " l 

This habit of making a statement and then questioning it 
is Anne's peculiar style. Emily tells us that she is writing a 
work on the First War, and that Anne is writing some articles 
on this and a book by Henry Sophona. 

" The Gondals still flourish bright as ever. We intend 
sticking firm by the rascals as long as they delight us, which 
I am glad to say that they do at present." The sisters evi- 
dently regard the Gondals in different lights. Whilst to 
Emily they remain bright as ever, to Anne they are con- 
sidered to be in a sad state. Again, Emily mentions that 
she wishes " Everybody should be as comfortable and undes- 
ponding as herself, and then we should have a very tolerable 
world of it." Whilst poor Anne says, " I, for my part, cannot 
well be flatter or older in mind than I am now." Anne 
mentions that Charlotte wishes to go to Paris as governess. 
Emily's view of the whole situation is the more hopeful, for 
she says : " I am quite content for myself .... having learnt 
to make the most of the present, and long for the future with 
the fidgetiness that I cannot do all I wish." 1 

It was Emily who dreamed dreams, and saw visions of her- 
self and Anne coming before the world as authors, though it is 
very certain they meant to stick to their anonymity. She 
concludes her little document as follows : "I have plenty of 
work on hands, and writing, and am altogether full of business." 
This was written on 30th July, just after Charlotte Bronte 
returned from Hathersage, and before she had discovered 
that Emily and Anne had written a number of poems which 
she considered were worthy of being published. 

Both Emily and Anne mention that Branwell was ill, and 
had gone to Liverpool. There is a little reference to Tabby 
in Emily's journal, which has puzzled many. " Tabby has 
just been teasing me to turn as formerly to ' Pilloputate.' ' 
This, according to the Yorkshire verdict, refers to the peeling 

1 Charlotte Bronte and her Circle, by Clement K. Shorter. 


of the potatoes. Yorkshire people speak of " pilling potates," 
and they refer to potato peelings as " potati pillings." Emily 
had evidently taken upon herself to peel the potatoes for the 
household when Charlotte and Anne were away, but on their 
return, she relinquished some of her domestic duties, including 
the preparation of the potatoes. In later days, Charlotte 
Bronte told Mrs. Gaskell that she found that Tabby did not 
take the eyes out of the potatoes when she peeled them, and 
therefore Charlotte was accustomed to go to the kitchen and 
finish the peeling of the potatoes without letting Tabby know. 
Emily was not only the genius of the family, but she was also 
thoroughly domesticated. 

If Charlotte had gone to Paris as she had wished, her two 
sisters would have worked on at home at their writing, for 
Emily states that they had enough money for their present 
needs, with the prospect of accumulation. Earlier in the 
document she says that they tried to start a school and had 
failed, but that at this time " None of them had any great 
longing for it." 

The only private money that they had was the small dividends 
obtained from the legacy left by their aunt, and " the prospect 
of accumulated funds " could only have referred to money 
earned by writing. Anne had decided to stay at home per- 
manently, and she and Emily both leave it on record that they 
had more than enough to do, and were very busy writing. 

Five years later, probably owing to the confusion of the 
names of the three Bronte sisters as three separate authors, 
Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. asked Charlotte to explain exactly 
how they started their literary work. Emily and Anne had 
been dead two years when Charlotte wrote by way of preface 
to the second edition of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey 

" One day in the autumn of 1845, I accidentally lighted on 
a MS. volume of verse in my sister Emily's handwriting. Of 
course, I was not surprised, knowing that she could and did 
write verse : I looked it over, and something more than surprise 
seized me a deep conviction that these were not common 
effusions, nor at all like the poetry women generally write. 


I thought them condensed and terse, vigorous and genuine. 
To my ear they had also a peculiar music, wild, melancholy, 
and elevating. My sister Emily was not a person of demon- 
strative character, nor one, on the recesses of whose mind and 
feelings, even those nearest and dearest to her could, with 
impunity, intrude unlicensed ; it took hours to reconcile her 
to the discovery I had made, and days to persuade her that 
such poems merited publication. . . . Meantime, my younger 
sister quietly produced some of her own compositions, intimat- 
ing that since Emily's had given me pleasure, I might like to 
look at hers. I could not but be a partial judge, yet I thought 
that these verses too had a sweet sincere pathos of their own. 
We had very early cherished the dream of one day becoming 
authors. . . . We agreed to arrange a small selection of our 
poems, and, if possible, to get them printed." 

This explanation proves that Emily did not mean Charlotte 
to know of the MS. volume of verse, and it hints at the fact 
that Emily and Anne were working with the intention of 
publishing. Possibly if Charlotte had gone to Paris, as they 
seem to have expected, they hoped to have a surprise in store 
for her by presenting her with a published book of their poems. 
The result, however, was that Charlotte, as the oldest, took 
charge of all correspondence relating to publishing. It is 
probable that Emily might have been more successful, but as 
Charlotte says in the preface previously mentioned : " She 
(Emily) had no worldly wisdom ; her powers were unadapted 
to the practical business of life ; she would fail to defend her 
most manifest rights, to consult her most legitimate advan- 
tage " ; and yet M. Heger considered her much cleverer than 

Mrs. Gaskell tells us 

" He seems to have rated Emily's genius as something even 
higher than Charlotte's " ; and her estimation of their relative 
powers was the same. Emily had a head for logic, and a capa- 
bility of argument, unusual in a man, and rare indeed in a 
woman, according to M. Heger. Impairing the force of this 
gift was her stubborn tenacity of will, which rendered her 


obtuse to all reasoning where her own wishes, or her own sense 
of right, was concerned. " She should have been a man 
a great navigator," said M. Heger in speaking of her. " Her 
powerful reason would have deduced new spheres of discovery 
from the knowledge of the old ; and her strong, imperious 
will would never have been daunted by opposition or difficulty ; 
never have given way but with life. And yet, moreover, 
her faculty of imagination was such that, if she had written 
a history, her view of scenes and characters would have been 
so vivid, and so powerfully expressed, and supported by such 
a show of argument, that it would have dominated over the 
reader, whatever might have been his previous opinions, or 
his cooler perceptions of its truth." Dr. Paul Heger, the son 
of M. Heger, tells me that his father could not read English 
sufficiently well to understand Withering Heights, and as it 
was not translated into French until 1892, under the title of 
UAmant, he could hardly have digested it in 1855, but it is 
certainly remarkable that in the few months Emily was 
at Brussels he should have grasped her character so 

Also old Mr. Bronte told Mrs. Gaskell that he considered 
Emily the cleverest of the sisters, and in this the sexton's 
family agreed. Critics have failed to give Emily her due, 
but now, nearly seventy years later, the whole literary world 
is prepared to put Emily before Charlotte, both as a poet and 
as a novelist. The old servants at the parsonage, as well as 
several who knew the Brontes, had nothing but good to say 
of Emily Bronte, and Emily Jane was the name given to more 
than one child in Haworth in honour of the author of Wuthering 

Seniority in age counted for much in the early Victorian 
days ; Charlotte had more enthusiasm than Emily, was more 
impulsive, and when she was roused she was anxious to act 
at once. Evidently against the will of Emily, she persuaded 
her to join with Anne and herself in compiling a book of their 
own poems. The information gained from the minute journals, 
only discovered half-a-century later, shows how determined 
Emily and Anne were that Charlotte should not know what 


they were doing. If in later days Charlotte had found these 
precious little documents, the probability is she would have 
destroyed them with the other manuscripts, for which it is 
hard to forgive her. 

Charlotte tells us that the issuing of their little book of 
poems was a difficult task, which seems to imply that they had 
some trouble in deciding what to include and what to reject, 
in addition to the difficulty of finding a publisher. 

Charlotte undertook the post of editor, and she arranged 
twenty- three poems of her own, twenty-two of Emily's and 
twenty-one of Anne's. How significant these numbers are 
when the respective ages of the sisters are considered ! Then 
came the question of assigning the author's name, and so to 
facilitate matters they decided to adopt names that were 
neither decidedly masculine nor feminine. In Yorkshire it 
is still a common custom to use a surname for the first name, 
and the Bionte sisters, in order to be impartial, retained their 
own initials. Charlotte adopted the name " Currer," Emily 
became " Ellis " and Anne was " Acton " all taking the 
surname of " Bell." It has not been difficult to trace the origin 
of Charlotte's assumed name, for not far from Haworth lived 
Miss Frances Mary Richardson Currer, of Eshton Hall, near 
Skipton, who finds a place in the Dictionary of National 

The three groups of poems are all very different in spirit, 
and they range over a number of years from their early youth 
to the time of publication. In the opinion of the Bronte 
sisters, it was the correct thing to publish poetry first, for had 
not Charlotte already written to Southey, Coleridge and 
Wordsworth, and had not the sisters also read most of the 
English poets ? 

After many failures, a firm of booksellers in Paternoster 
Row, Messrs. Aylott and Jones, agreed to publish the book for 
thirty guineas, which the sisters, poor as they were, consented 
to advance. When the book was printed, they had to pay 
another 2, and later still another 10, to defray the cost of 
advertising the book in magazines which they selected. Added 
to this was a further expense of 5, due to an error in the 


estimate. From this was deducted 11s. 9d., so that altogether 
they advanced nearly 48. This was a large sum of money for 
the Bronte sisters to find, but they sacrificed it hopefully. They 
had the satisfaction of seeing the poems actually printed, and 
their pseudonyms on the title page. 

The result is an old story ; only two copies were sold, but 
one of the purchasers, a Mr. F. Enoch a song-writer was 
so struck by the genius which the poems displayed that he 
wrote through the publishers asking for the signatures of the 
three poets. This request was graciously granted, but the 
real names were not disclosed. The original slip of paper 
is now in the Bronte Museum at Haworth. 

In the biographical notice of her sisters, Charlotte writes 

" The book was printed ; it is scarcely known, and all of 
it that merits to be known are the poems of Ellis Bell. The 
fixed conviction I held, and hold, of the worth of these poems, 
has not, indeed, received the confirmation of much favourable 
criticism, but I must retain it notwithstanding." Charlotte 
knew good poetry when she saw it, and she was right in giving 
the highest praise to Emily, as everyone recognises now. 

Charlotte, ever the ambitious member of the family, sent 
copies of the book of poems to Wordsworth, De Quincey, 
Tennyson and Lockhart, and, if the letters of acknowledgment 
are not forthcoming, the account of this gift finds a place in 
each of the biographies of the recipients 


" SIR, My relatives, Ellis and Acton Bell, and myself, heed- 
less of the warning of various respectable publishers, have 
committed the rash act of printing a volume of poems. 

" The consequences predicted have, of course, overtaken us : 
our book is found to be a drug ; no man needs it or heeds it. 
In the space of a year our publisher has disposed but of two 
copies, and by what painful efforts he succeeded in getting rid 
of these two, himself only knows. 

" Before transferring the edition to the trunkmakers, we 
have decided on distributing as presents a few copies of what 

250 (2200) 


we cannot sell ; and we beg to offer you one in acknowledgment 
of the pleasure and profit we have often and long derived from 
your works. 

" I am, sir, yours very respectfully, 


The three sisters were naturally eager to see the reviews 
of their book. They had asked their publishers to forward 
copies of the principal literary magazines of the day, including 
Colburn's New Monthly Magazine, Bentley's, Hood's, Jerrold's, 
BlackwootTs, and Eraser's Magazine, as well as the Edinburgh 
Review, T ait's Edinburgh Magazine, Chambers' Edinburgh 
Journal, The Dublin University Magazine, The Daily News, 
The Globe, The Examiner, and the Britannia newspaper. The 
only magazines that reviewed the poems apparently were 
The Dublin University Magazine,The Critic, and The Athenaeum. 
The review in The Critic pleased Charlotte very much. The 
following extract will explain the reason : " They, in whose 
hearts are chords strung by nature to sympathise with the 
beautiful and the true, will recognise in these compositions the 
presence of more genius than it was supposed this utilitarian 
age had devoted to the loftier exercises of the intellect." 
The Athenaeum reviewer singled out Ellis Bell's poems as the 
best : " Ellis possesses a fine, quaint spirit and an evident 
power of wing that may reach heights not here attempted " ; 
and again : " The poems of Ellis convey an impression of 
originality beyond what his contributions to these volumes 

The book of poems had been published about the end of 
May, 1846. Having found a publisher in the previous February, 
the three sisters were encouraged, and each set to work to 
write a novel. To feel that they were now embarked on the 
sea of literature inspired and sustained them. 

Mrs. Gaskell pictures them as having forgotten their sense 
of authorship owing to their anxiety concerning their brother 
Branwell, which is scarcely correct, as they worked incessantly 
at literature, feeling that it afforded them some relief from their 

1 De Quincey Memorials, by Alexander H. Japp. 


domestic troubles. Charlotte refused all invitations to Ellen 
Nussey at Brookroyd, Birstall, and from the end of July, 1845, 
when she left Ellen Nussey in Hathersage to the end of January, 
1846, the two friends did not meet. This was not altogether 
Bran well's fault, though, without positively saying so, Charlotte 
gave Ellen Nussey the impression that he was the obstacle. 

Referring to this busy time, truthful Anne Bronte wrote : 
" We have done nothing to speak of, though we have combined 
to be busy." 

The three sisters kept the secret of their literary efforts 
even from their father, and worked conscientiously from August 
until the following February. Although this book of poems 
proved such a dismal financial failure, not being wanted, as 
Charlotte tells us, it is now of great value. One of the original 
first editions, with the Aylott and Jones imprint, was priced 
at 34 in a recently issued catalogue. 

Charlotte Bronte proved to be right ; Emily Bronte's poems 
rank highest. The poems by Emily Bronte, which Charlotte 
selected, have been issued in a separate volume in 1906 and 
1908. A complete set of all Emily Bronte's poems which 
could be gathered together were edited in 1910 by Mr. 
Clement Shorter and Sir William Robertson Nicoll. 

The hymns sung in Guiseley Church on Sunday, 29th 
December, 1912, in memory of the marriage at that church 
of Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell on 29th December, 
1812, contained three by Anne Bronte, and one (not exactly 
a hymn) consisting of five verses from the poem, " Winter 
Stories," by Charlotte Bronte. Unfortunately, two of the 
hymns by Anne Bronte were wrongly attributed to Emily 

" A Prayer," beginning 

" My God ! O, let me call Thee mine ! 
Weak, wretched sinner though I be." 

And " Confidence " 

" Oppressed with sin and woe, 
A burdened heart I bear." 

The mistake probably arose owing to an error in the Com- 
plete Poems of Emily Bronte, published by Messrs. Hodder 


and Stoughton in 1910. Here are to be found the two hymns by 
Anne Bronte, under the head of " Unpublished Poems," 
by Emily Bronte. Two other poems in the same collection 
are also inaccurately attributed to Emily Bronte " Des- 
pondency " and " In Memory of the Happy Day in February." 
All these poems had been published as far back as 1850 by 
Charlotte Bronte in her selection of poems by her sister Anne, 
and they may be found in the Haworth Edition of The Professor, 
issued by Smith, Elder & Co., as well as in previous editions of 
The Professor, published by the same firm. 

Charlotte and Anne Bronte's poems have not been re-issued 
separately in England, though Anne has several included in 
well-known hymn books, and in 1882 Charlotte's were pub- 
lished in New York by Messrs. White and Stokes. Only 
Emily's poems are destined to live, as Charlotte predicted, 
the complete edition recently issued being highly valued by 
all Emily Bronte's devotees. 

Anne Bronte's ability has not so far been fully recognised. 
Whilst Charlotte quickly made her mark, and Emily has now 
attained the place which was rightly hers sixty-six years ago, 
Anne has been neglected. She certainly is inferior to her more 
gifted sisters, and has suffered by comparison. The inclusion 
of some of her poems in several collections of hymns, and the 
selection of three of her hymns for the commemoration service 
of her parents' wedding at Guiseley Church, would have 
cheered this pious member of the Bronte family. 

Answering a correspondent who wished to know the meaning 
of I Cor. xv, 22 : " For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ 
shall all be made alive," the Rev. Professor Smith, D.D., of 
the Theological College, Londonderry, in The British Weekly 
for 14th Nov., 1912, says : " You should read Anne Bronte's 
little poem, 'A Word to the "Elect,"' and her ' Wildf ell 
Hall,' Chapter XX." 

Two verses read 

And, oh ! there lives within my heart 
A hope, long nursed by me ; 

And should its cheering ray depart, 
How dark my soul would be ! 


"That as in Adam all have died, 

In Christ shall all men live ; 
And ever round His throne abide, 
Eternal praise to give." 

There is little that is didactic about Emily's poems, but 
there is power and force like a gale of wind ; there is an 
aloneness, which is not loneliness but liberty 

" Leave the heart that now I bear, 
And give me liberty." 

It was in the October of 1845, whilst the poems were being 
revised and selected, that Emily Bronte wrote The Philosopher, 
one of her best-known poems. It has the same refrain which 
Emily re-echoes over and over again a wish for death. In 
The Philosopher, she writes 

" Oh, let me die, that power and will 

Their cruel strife may close ; 
And conquering good and conquering ill 
Be lost in one repose ! " 

Much has been written to prove that Emily was not more 
partial to her brother in his disgrace and weakness than the 
other sisters, but the stanzas written by her after his death 
prove only too well what Emily felt 

STANZAS TO (Branwell). 

" Well, some may hate, and some may scorn, 
And some may quite forget thy name ; 
But my sad heart must ever mourn 
Thy ruined hopes, thy blighted fame ! 
'Twas thus I thought, an hour ago, 
Even weeping o'er that wretch's woe ; 
One word turned back my gushing tears, 
And lit my altered eye with sneers. 
Then, ' Bless the friendly dust,' I said, 
' That hides thy unlamented head ! 
Vain as thou wert, and weak as vain, 
The slave of Falsehood, Pride, and Pain 
My heart has nought akin to thine ; 
Thy soul is powerless over mine.' 
But these were thoughts that vanished too ; 
Unwise, unholy, and untrue : 
Do I despise the timid deer, 
Because his limbs are fleet with fear ? 


Or, would I mock the wolf's death-howl, 

Because his form is gaunt and foul ? 

Or, hear with joy the leveret's cry, 

Because it cannot bravely die ? 

No ! Then above his memory 

Let Pity's heart as tender be ; 

Say, ' Earth, lie lightly on that breast, 

And, kind Heaven, grant that spirit rest ! ' ' 

The Gondal Chronicles will probably never be satisfactorily 
traced, but from Emily Bronte's complete poems it is possible 
to select some which will tell of the mysterious Gondals ; and, 
if further proof is needed that Wuthering Heights was Emily's 
work, it can be found foreshadowed in several of her recently 
published poems. 




SECRECY observed in writing the novels The village postman nearly 
discovers the secret Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey and The 
Professor Publishers' repeated refusal of The Professor Why 
The Professor was refused Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey 
accepted Origin of many of Charlotte Bronte's characters in her 
novels Contrast between The Professor and Jane Eyre. 

NOT a word was written to anyone concerning the work which 
kept the three sisters busy during the winter of 1845-46. 
The old father, now almost blind, was in the habit of retiring 
at an early hour each evening ; the servants, too, old and 
faithful Tabby, and Martha Brown the sexton's daughter 
were accustomed to go to bed soon after nine o'clock. After 
that hour the sisters were alone, and it was then that they 
paced the little sitting-room, and compared notes, deciding 
what they might attempt to publish and what they should 

Whilst they were going about their domestic duties, their 
novels were simmering, and they kept odd bits of paper on 
which to chronicle their thoughts. Emily's favourite spot 
for writing was in the little front garden, sitting on a small 
stool in the shade of the currant bushes, or out on the moors, 
far away from any habitation, and in company with the birds 
and the few sheep that wandered about the moor. Both her 
poems and her one great novel are redolent of the breezy 

Both the father and the servants had a shrewd suspicion, 
as they admitted in after years, that something was brewing. 
The difficulty must have been to keep Branwell out of the 
little sitting-room, and, although Charlotte tells us that he 
never knew what his sisters had published, he did know that 
they were writing with a view to publication, if they could get 
their work accepted. She admits that, when she failed to get 



a reply from the publishers concerning her manuscript, she 
consulted Branwell, who told her that it was because she had 
not prepaid the return postage. Moreover, the landlord of 
the Black Bull, who was a man to be trusted, said that Branwell 
was eager to gather any local traditions in order to pass them 
on to Charlotte for her book, so that he must have been in the 
secret. It is difficult to realise how the sisters managed to 
keep the information from him, when their efforts had met with 
success. Not only were they in league against admitting 
him to a knowledge of their success, but even the servants 
helped. It was old Tabby's special duty to secure the letters 
addressed to Currer Bell, Esq., care of the Rev. P. Bronte. 
At a later date, on account of a mistake which almost revealed 
the secret, the envelopes bore the inscription, Miss Bronte, 
by Charlotte's request to the publishers. The village postman, 
who lived close by the church steps and within a stone's throw 
of the vicarage, was greatly troubled to know who Currer 
Bell, Esq., was, for the natives of Haworth were extremely 
inquisitive, which partly accounts for the fact that the Bronte 
sisters were not altogether popular, since " they kept themselves 
too much to themselves," as one who knew them said. There 
was too much mystery associated with the parsonage, which 
led to exaggerated stories concerning the family. Some of 
these stories misled Mrs. Gaskell and prejudiced her against 
the father and the son. 

Old James Feather, the grandfather of the present post- 
master, and the carrier of the precious manuscripts which were 
tied up in thick, coarse paper, was determined to find out who 
Currer Bell was, and, accosting Mr. Bronte one day, he said : 
" You have a gentleman staying at the parsonage, called 
Mr. Currer Bell." "You are mistaken," said the Vicar, 
" there is nobody in the whole of my parish of that name." 
The postman kept his counsel and continued to deliver the 
letters addressed to Currer Bell, Esq. Probably the postman's 
inquisitiveness led Charlotte afterwards to have her letters 
addressed to her in her own name. 

The poems had been despatched in manuscript, and the 
hopes of the sisters were high, for now they felt they were on 


the right road to success. They fixed the price of the little 
book of poems at five shillings, and then altered it to four 
shillings. Charlotte tells how each sister decided to write a 
novel after they had compiled their poems. 

The plan of the book of poems had been to publish three 
sets of poems in one book, and, although it was quite unusual, 
the three sisters decided to compile a book of fiction consisting 
of three distinct stories. They, however, wrote to Messrs. 
Aylott and Jones stating that the stories could either be 
published together in one volume, or separately. The possi- 
bility of the three books in one volume not being accepted 
together did not at first strike them, seeing that the poems 
had not been separated. Both Charlotte and Emily Bronte 
adopted a castaway as their hero or heroine. 

Mary Taylor, in a letter to Mrs. Gaskell, says 

" Cowper's poem, The Castaway, was known to them all, 
and they all at times appreciated, or almost appropriated it. 
Charlotte told me once that Branwell had done so ; and 
though his depression was the result of his faults, it was in 
no other respect different from hers." 

Mrs. Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte gives the 
impression of a very depressed, despondent group of women in 
Haworth parsonage in the year 1846, but with all their 
domestic trials, Bran well's dissipation, and the old father's 
growing blindness, they kept up their courage wonderfully. 
They had made up their minds to succeed as writers, for there 
was no other way in which they could earn a livelihood. To 
quote Charlotte in 1850 

" Ill-success failed to crush us ; the mere effort to succeed 
had given a wonderful zest to existence ; it must be pursued. 
We each set to work on a prose tale : Ellis Bell produced 
Wuthering Heights ; Acton Bell, Agnes Grey ; and Currer Bell 
also wrote a narrative in one volume. These MSS. were 
perseveringly obtruded upon various publishers for the space 
of a year and a half ; usually, their fate was an ignominious 
and abrupt dismissal." 

Around Agnes Grey no mystery hangs ; it is a simple story 


of " Some Passages in the Life of an Individual " which she 
quaintly mentions in her little journal of July, 1845, and it 
gives an unvarnished account of the hard time that Anne had 
when a governess with Mrs. Ingham at Blake Hall, Mirfield, 
and at the Rev. Edmund Robinson's, Thorpe Green, Little 
Ouseburn, near York. In a letter to Mr. W. S. Williams, 
Charlotte says : " Agnes Grey is true and unexaggerated 
enough." In consequence, no discussion has ever been aroused 
except that Mrs. Gaskell tells us that she once asked if Anne 
had had the trying experience of killing the nest of birds, 
which her pupil at Blake Hall had meant to kill by inches, 
and Charlotte replied that only those who have been governesses 
have any idea of what it means. 

The Professor was the novel that Charlotte Bronte first 
sent round to the publishers in company with Agnes Grey and 
Wuthering Heights, and then afterwards it travelled round 
alone. Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights, strange to say, 
were accepted by the same publisher, though they were totally 
different in character, and it is hardly possible to conceive 
of the same publisher having an equal liking for each. No 
research has ever been successful in tracing a letter to any 
publisher written by Emily, and in one of Charlotte's letters, 
referring to the two books, she only mentions one sister as 
having had any communication with the publishers, 
which seems to imply that Anne took charge of Emily's 

In a letter to G. H. Lewes, Charlotte Bronte, referring to her 
first novel, The Professor, says 

" I determined to take Nature and Truth as my sole guides, 
and to follow in their very footprints ; I restrained imagination, 
eschewed romance, repressed excitement ; over-bright colour- 
ing, too, I avoided, and sought to produce something which 
should be soft, grave, and true." 

She also mentions that six publishers refused it, and all 
agreed that it was deficient in " startling incident " and 
" thrilling excitement," and that it would never be acceptable 
to the circulating libraries. 


Mrs. Gaskell wished to see this nine- times refused novel, 
when she was collecting the material for the biography, and 
Mr. Nicholls said that she was anxious to edit it, and that 
his refusal caused her to be prejudiced against him. There 
is no doubt that Mrs. Gaskell was anxious to see the manuscript 
of The Professor in order to find the reason for its repeated 
refusal. Moreover, she was puzzled at Charlotte Bronte's 
experience in Brussels, and she probably hoped to find from 
the novel some key to her life during her first year at the Heger 

Though Charlotte Bronte probably felt that Madame Heger 
had judged her harshly, she could not restrain the feeling of 
gratitude towards M. Heger, and in The Professor she did 
exactly what Anne had done when writing " Some Passages 
in the Life of an Individual," the individual being herself. 
So Charlotte followed the same plan, using the pseudonym of 
William Crimsworth. Mr. Watts-Dunton says in his intro- 
duction to The Professor and the Bronte Poems in The World's 
Classics, that the fact that the hero of the story was a man, 
and that the story read quite in the manner of an autobio- 
graphical document, although the manuscript was in a woman's 
handwriting, puzzled Mr. Williams, the reader for Smith, 
Elder & Co. ; he could not make out whether Currer Bell was 
a man or a woman. 

William Crimsworth, like Jane Eyre and Heathclifi, was 
an outcast, and it pleased Charlotte Bronte to look upon herself 
in the same category, when she wrote her first Brussels novel. 
The opening chapter is disappointing, although, according to 
one of her letters, she had re- written it. William Crimsworth, 
the counting-house clerk in a Yorkshire manufactory, was not 
the type of character Charlotte Bronte could well understand. 
None of her relatives had any experience of Yorkshire factory 
life, though she may have known something of the Haworth 
operatives ; her only direct knowledge of the woollen mills 
was gained from the Taylors of Gomersal, who were 

They would probably talk of the doings of their employees 
when Charlotte Bronte stayed with them, and the character 


may have been suggested by Mr. Taylor and his sons, for Yorke- 
Hunsden is said to have been founded on Mary Taylor's 
father, who was somewhat of a " queer tyke." Whilst he 
was a typical Yorkshireman, he had acquired a certain amount 
of " polish " by his travels on the continent. He could speak 
broad Yorkshire, or Parisian French equally well ; and it 
was his knowledge of Brussels, Paris, Rome and other Euro- 
pean capitals, that made Charlotte Bronte anxious to see those 
places. Had she never known the Taylors, it is possible that 
she would never have visited Brussels. Since Mary and 
Martha Taylor went to school at Brussels, Charlotte Bronte 
was extremely anxious to go too. In her novel, she adopts 
with much skill the character of an English professor in the 
Belgian school. Scenes are represented which actually 
occurred in the course of her own life in the Pensionnat, but 
from the first the reader has an aversion for Mdlle Zoraide 
Reuter, and in the story in which Charlotte Bronte is restrained, 
stiff, and in some places awkward, she never hesitates to draw 
the Belgian schoolmistress with a poisoned pen. 

Some parts of the story are as good as, if not better than, 
anything Charlotte Bronte wrote. Frances Evans-Henri, 
the little lace-mender, is a beautifully drawn character, and it, 
no doubt, owes much to Emily Bronte, who was the quiet, 
clever, industrious pupil at the pensionnat, when Charlotte 
was also there. 

Charlotte and Emily Bronte had meant to have a school, 
and just as Anne's story of Agnes Grey drifts into school- 
keeping, which had been the dream of the sisters so long, so 
William Crimsworth and the little lace-mender drift into a 
school ; Lucy Snowe also concludes with a little private school, 
and even the second Cathy in Withering Heights adopts the 
role of teacher and instructs Hareton Earnshaw. 

Charlotte Bronte might well say that something like des- 
pair seized her when she found that Agnes Grey and Wuthering 
Heights were accepted, whilst her own ambitious novel^could 
not find a home anywhere. Miss Sinclair says that the critics 
forget that The Professor was the first novel written by 
Charlotte Bronte after her hurried flight from Brussels, and if 


she had been " sorely wounded " in her affections she would 
surely have shown it in her first novel. It must be remembered 
that Charlotte Bronte was not only " sorely wounded," but 
she was ill for the two years after leaving Brussels, and her 
writing was mostly sentimental poetry. The poem entitled 
" Frances " tells her heart secret. It was not until she had 
had a holiday at Hathersage that she regained her health. 

It is foolish to say that The Professor was written with a 
special motive, for as Charlotte Bronte had decided to write 
a novel, her thoughts naturally turned to Brussels, and as 
Madame Heger could not be left out, the suppression of the 
correspondence between her husband and his former pupil 
made it well nigh impossible for Charlotte to write of her 
kindlyt That Madame Heger was treated still worse in 
Villette is another story, which will be discussed later. 

The Professor has always been considered Charlotte Bronte's 
first novel, because it was first submitted to the publishers, 
but she was very emphatic in her preface to state that " a first 
attempt it was not." The original title was The Master, which 
could only refer to her " master in literature," M. Heger, but 
M. Pelet is a very poor character compared with Paul Emanuel. 

Though there is much depicted in The Professor of the actual 
intercourse between M. Heger and Charlotte Bronte, and 
undoubtedly of M. Heger and Emily Bronte, yet it is difficult 
to think of the untamed Emily Bronte, according to Mrs. 
GaskelPs account, as the quiet Frances of The Professor, and 
there is more of Charlotte Bronte in William Crimsworth than 
in any other character. 

- The principal male characters to be found in Charlotte 
Bronte's great novels were those drawn from M. Heger M. 
Pelet, Rochester, Robert Moore, Louis Moore and Paul 
Emanuel ; whilst the women were either drawn from her 
own life as Jane Eyre, Caroline Helstone and Lucy Snowe, or 
from that of Emily as Shirley Keeldar and Frances. Why 
Jane Eyre should have been such a contrast to the mildness 
of The Professor, which reads like a French devoir, is given in 
Charlotte Bronte*'s own explanation 

"A first attempt it certainly was not, as the pen which 


wrote it had been previously worn a good deal in a practice of 
some years. I had not indeed published anything before I 
commenced The Professor, but in many a crude effort, destroyed 
almost as soon as composed, I had got over any such taste 
as I might once have had for ornamented and redundant 
compositions, and come to prefer what was plain and homely. 
At the same time I had adopted a set of principles on the 
subject of incident, &c., such as would be generally approved 
in theory, but the result of which, when carried out into practice, 
often procures for an author more surprise than pleasure. 

k< I said to myself that my hero should work his way through 
life as I had seen real living men work theirs that he should 
never get a shilling he had not earned that no sudden turns 
should lift him in a moment to wealth and high station ; that 
whatever small competency he might gain should be won by 
the sweat of his brow ; that, before he could find so much as 
an arbour to sit down in, he should master at least half the 
ascent of * the Hill of Difficulty ' ; that he should not even 
marry a beautiful girl or a lady of rank. As Adam's son, he 
should share Adam's doom, and drain throughout life a mixed 
and moderate cup of enjoyment." 

The novel was planned on stated lines, and it i not to be 
wondered at that it is so unlike the great masterpieces, Jane 
Eyre and Villette, which were written at white heat. The 
Professor and Shirley were made, whilst Jane Eyre and Villette 
were born. The novelist's determination to keep within certain 
rules in the writing of The Professor shows her desire to make 
a story, and to avoid revealing her heart's secret. 

The absorbing work of preparing the book found occupation 
for Charlotte at a time when, to use her own words, " she 
needed a stake in life," and the publishing venture directed 
her thoughts away from M. Heger who had haunted her night 
and day for nearly two years. 

The Professor has always been taken as the forerunner of 
Villette, but in direct opposition to Villette Charlotte tried to 
write from without rather than within, just as later she tried 
the same plan in Shirley. 


William Crimsworth is Charlotte Bronte masquerading as 
M. Heger, and Frances Evans-Henri, the little lace-mender, 
is Emily Jane Bronte, who was a pupil, and also a teacher of 

During the first year at Brussels, Emily attracted more 
attention from M. and Madame Heger than Charlotte, and she 
showed more aptitude for a literary career than her sister. 
If " Frances Evans Henri " is studied she answers to Emily 

Evidently Madame Heger concluded that Emily meant to 
earn her living by literature, and that Charlotte was keen to 
become a teacher. In Chapter XVIII of The Professor, 
Charlotte gives Mdlle Renter's views on literature as a career 
for a woman. " It appears to me that ambition, literary 
ambition especially, is not a feeling to be cherished in the 
mind of a woman." When we remember that The Pro- 
fessor was written just after Charlotte's disappointment in 
not receiving an answer from her letters to M. Heger, and that 
she had the impression that Madame Heger was responsible, 
it is easy to see that she could not write kindly of Madame 
Heger ; and yet in The Professor she had the curb on the rein, 
and was very careful how she wrote of M. Pelet, who does 
not fit M. Heger as Charlotte knew him, but she evidently 
tried to picture his life before she went to Brussels, and before 
he married the schoolmistress, except that she reverses the 
situation and makes M. Pelet the head of the school and 
Mdlle Zoraide Reuter one of his teachers. 

Charlotte has tried to hide her own identity all the way 
through the novel, but she fails, when she writes : " God knows 
I am not by nature vindictive," and again, " Not that I nursed 
vengeance no ; but the sense of insult and treachery lived 
in me like a kindling, though as yet smothered coal " which 
explains her feeling at the time. It is this trying to write 
from without, and throw the actual scenes back, that proved 
Charlotte's undoing in The Professor ; it is not real enough, and 
she never excelled except in writing autobiographicaUy. It 
is Emily she tries to describe, and it is her experience during 
the Brussels period that Charlotte tries to give. 


It is clearly of Emily she is thinking when she writes of the 
conversation between Hunsden and Frances 

" If Abdiel the Faithful himself " (she was thinking of Milton) 
" were suddenly stripped of the faculty of association, I think 
he would soon rush forth from ' the ever-during gates,' leave 
heaven, and seek what he had lost in hell. Yes, in the very 
hell from which he turned ' with retorted scorn.' 

" Frances' tone in saying this was as marked as her language, 
and it was when the word ' hell ' twanged off from her lips, with 
a somewhat startling emphasis, that Hunsden deigned to bestow 
one slight glance of admiration. He liked something strong, 
whether in man or woman. ... He had never before heard 
a lady say ' hell ' with that uncompromising sort of accent. 
. . . The display of eccentric vigour never gave her pleasure, 
and it only sounded in her voice or flashed in her countenance 
when extraordinary circumstances and those generally pain- 
ful forced it out of the depths, where it burned latent. To 
me, once or twice, she had, in intimate conversation, uttered 
venturous thoughts in nervous language ; but when the hour 
of such manifestation was past, I could not recall it ; it came 
of itself and of itself departed." 

This fits the Emily Bronte of Wuthering Heights, for whom 
Charlotte found it out of her power to apologise for the using 
of " those expletives with which profane and violent persons 
are wont to garnish their discourse." 

After the repeated rejection of The Professor Charlotte 
Bronte set to work on Jane Eyre, and in the summer of 1847 
it was accepted, being published before either Wuthering 
Heights or Agnes Grey. On that remarkable novel her fame 
was assured. Recently, a first edition of Jane Eyre was sold 
for 27. It is probable that there are more anecdotes associated 
with the first reading of this novel than gather around any 
other, which testifies to its absorbing interest and to the force 
with which it carries its readers onward. 



AUTHORSHIP of the novel Various claims examined Charlotte 
Bronte's testimony Late recognition of Emily Bronte's genius 
Swinburne's opinion of the novel M. Heger's influence on Emily 
Bronte Poem by Emily Bronte Charlotte's discovery of some 
of Emily's poems Emily's position at home Her workshop and 

AMONG all the novels of the nineteenth century, none has 
awakened greater curiosity than Wuthering Heights. Even 
to-day, sixty-six years after it was written, the authorship is 
questioned. Four different members of the Bronte family 
Charlotte, Emily, Branwell and Anne have each been credited 
with the writing of it, and supposed proofs have been 
accumulated, the effect of which would be to deny the author- 
ship to Emily Bronte, who undoubtedly wrote the novel 
as it now stands under the nom de guerre of Ellis Bell. 

Not only has the authorship been a source of mystery, as 
well as the pseudonym of the writer, but the places mentioned 
in the story have never yet been traced to any satisfactory 
originals, and the supporters of different theories have been 
divided into opposite camps, but, when it is remembered that 
the souls that create permanent literature know no geographical 
boundaries, it is not to be wondered at. Parson Grimshaw's 
house, Sowdens, on the moors, not far from the Haworth 
Vicarage with the initials H. E., 1659, carved on, which may 
or may not stand for the original " Hareton Earnshaw, 1500," 
though " the crumbling griffins and shameless little boys " 
are not there : Law Hill, Southowram : the Withens, a small 
lonely farmstead on the Haworth Moors, some three or four 
miles from the village, have all been claimed as the original 
of Wuthering Heights, which is, however, a composite picture, 
owing something to the three places mentioned. The name 
Heathcliff is significant, for he partakes of " the heath with its 
blooming bells and balmy fragrance, which grows faithfully 
close to the giant's foot " to quote Charlotte Bronte, and of 


21 (2300) 


the cliff or crag, which " stands colossal, dark, and frowning, 
half statue, half rock." 

Emily meditated on actual people, just as Charlotte did for 
her characters, and it is because Emily used the same original, 
though under totally different aspects, for her great novel, as 
Charlotte did for her three stories, each being a variation of 
the same person, that confusion has arisen regarding the author- 
ship of Wuthering Heights. Also Emily used Charlotte's 
passionate dreams and deliriums of the period when she was 
breaking her heart for news from M. Heger, which material 
Charlotte afterwards used in Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette. 

" Joseph," the Yorkshire servant, is a masterpiece, dour 
and dogged, and of a type fast passing away ; he was what 
Charlotte called " a ranting Methodist." Emily eclipsed that 
in her description. " He was, and is yet most likely, the 
wearisomest, self-righteous pharisee that ever ransacked 
a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the curses 
on his neighbours." Joseph owed something to Old Tabby, 
who ruled the parsonage, but was jealous of the honour of the 
Brontes. The Yorkshire dialect which Joseph uses in the 
first edition is correct, and Charlotte did not improve matters 
by altering it in a later edition, though perhaps she made it 
more intelligible to all but Yorkshire folk. Nelly Dean is far 
too accomplished a story-teller to be a Yorkshire servant at 
the latter end of the eighteenth century, but it was a clever 
device for Emily Bronte to put the story in the mouth of 
one of the servants, though she herself is the real story-teller, 
for she was the actual nurse to the original of Cathy ; parts 
of the narrative as told by Nelly cannot be excelled for original 
power in any prose of the nineteenth century. The novel 
stands alone ; it cannot be put into any category, for it is 
without kith or kindred ; it belongs to no school, and is 
supremely indifferent to time, but it is the soul-fact that 
matters in this great novel, as also in Charlotte's stories. 

The authorship was first falsely claimed for Branwell Bronte, 
and, in connection with this, it is interesting to note that Mr. 
Francis A. Leyland and Mr . Francis H. Grundy, who both knew 


Branwell Bronte, thought they could trace his pen in some 
of the phrases, and, indeed, they stated that Branwell had 
read parts of the story to them. This may have been quite 
possible, for it is very probable that parts of an earlier version 
were to be found in the parsonage, and he may have taken 
them and read them to his friends. He may, unwittingly, 
have contributed something to the story by his wild tales 
of the lonely homesteads on the moors around Haworth. 
Anyone who has read any of his poetry, or unpublished 
prose, needs little persuasion to convince himself, beyond 
a shadow of doubt, that Branwell could not possibly have 
written Wuthering Heights. Of late years Charlotte Bronte 
has been claimed as the author, solely because some of the 
scenes and characters have something in common with Jane 
Eyre, but it is ample tribute to the genius of Emily Bronte 
that it has taken more than sixty years before anyone has 
noted the marked resemblance between some of the scenes 
in both novels to suggest a common authorship, though 
Sydney Dobell mentioned a certain similarity as far back as 
1848. When Charlotte Bronte denied the authorship, he accepted 
her statement, but wished to discuss the novel with her later. 

Miss Rigby, in the Quarterly Review, had also noted the like- 
ness between Jane and Rochester on the one hand, and Cathy 
and Heathcliff on the other, and they certainly are akin. 

The force and passion of Wuthering Heights are so immeasur- 
ably above what is to be found in Charlotte Bronte's novels 
that it cannot be said for a moment to come from the same 
pen. Whilst Charlotte's novels breathe the spirit of revolt, 
Emily's novel passionately makes for freedom and liberty. 
The great poetic and passionate scenes are elemental and 
easily seen by those who understand, but place and time 
are of no moment. 

Instead of claiming that Charlotte Bronte wrote Wuthering 
Heights, it would probably be nearer the truth to say that 
Emily assisted Charlotte to write Jane Eyre, for, after Emily's 
death, Charlotte refers to the terrible time she went through 
when writing Villette, because she had no one with whom she 
could discuss the manuscript as was the case with Jane Eyre and 


two-thirds of Shirley. It is certain her father and Anne 
could not help, so it must have been Emily. 

Seeing that Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey were both 
accepted at the same time, and that The Professor was rejected 
over and over again, Charlotte must have copied the spirit of 
Emily's novel, when writing Jane Eyre, for Agnes Grey was 
evidently not good enough for a model. Emily Bronte wrote 
without any thought of the critic ; Charlotte wrote The Professor 
with the critic at her elbow. 

To Sydney Dobell belongs the honour of first directing 
attention to the real genius of the work of Emily Bronte, 
but, as Wuthering Heights was published three months after 
Jane Eyre (although it had been accepted three months before), 
Mr. Dobell made the mistake of thinking that Wuthering 
Heights was an earlier attempt at writing a novel by the author 
of Jane Eyre, and that, as Jane Eyre had been so readily 
accepted, Wuthering Heights was offered under the shadow 
of the great success. Charlotte Bronte denied this, whilst 
warmly thanking Mr. Dobell for his just and well-merited 
critique. Emily Bronte, the author of the novel, never heard 
one word of commendation, for she was dead before the world 
recognised her great ability either as a poet or a novelist. 

For a good reason known to Charlotte, Emily Bronte never, 
by word or pen, acknowledged the authorship ; it was sent 
out as the work of Ellis Bell, and only as such was she 
determined that it should be known. Emily never approved 
of the sisters disclosing their real names. 

When Mr. Williams, of Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., suggested 
that Emily Bronte should accept an invitation to London, 
Charlotte hastened to tell him that it would be quite useless 
to ask her, as she was absolutely certain that Emily would not 
be interviewed, and when he called Charlotte's attention 
to the reviews notably that of the Athenaeum which showed 
how puzzled the reviewers were concerning the three Brontes, 
wondering if they were three brothers or three sisters, or one 
person writing under three different names, Charlotte only 
laughed, and remarked that they preferred to be known as 
authors, whether men or women was immaterial. 


However, Mr. Williams seems to have got the impression 
that either there was no such person as the one who wrote 
under the nom de guerre of Ellis Bell, or else that Charlotte 
had some share in the authorship, for she had written to say 
that she ought not to have admitted, at the time when she 
and Anne paid their hurried visit to London in July, 1848, 
that there were three sisters. She explained that she inad- 
vertently mentioned it, and she requested that Mr. Williams 
should never write of Emily Bronte, but only of Ellis Bell, 
and that he was not under any circumstances to use the word 
sisters in his correspondence with her, but to speak of one 
sister only. It is also strange that no correspondence has 
ever been revealed between Emily Bronte and any publisher. 
Charlotte appears to have acted as editor and correspondent 
for the three novels, and, after Wuthering Heights and Agnes 
Grey were accepted, Anne attended to the publisher's 

Then, again, Charlotte wrote to Mr. Williams saying that she 
had no real claim to be known as the author of Wuthering 
Heights and Agnes Grey, though she should not be ashamed 
to be known as such, but that, if she did claim the novels as 
hers, she would deprive the true authors of their just meed. 1 
The question arises, what share had Charlotte in the novel ? 
Did Emily use certain material written by Charlotte first and 
rewrite it in her own way, or did Charlotte act as editor and 
revise the manuscript before it was sent out ? There is no 
doubt that Charlotte had some share in it, but not in the 
writing of it as it now stands. 

With regard to the claim made on behalf of Anne Bronte, 
that was advanced by the publishers in America, when her 
Tenant of Wild fell Hall was advertised as being by Acton Bell, 
the author of Wuthering Heights, the English publishers, 
Messrs. Newby, were to blame for giving the impression that 
the writer of Jane Eyre was also the author of Wildfell Hall. 
One reviewer turned the tables on Charlotte and criticised 
Jane Eyre as being by the author of Wuthering Heights. The 
three sisters worked together and evidently helped one another ; 

1 The Brontes : Life and Letters, by Clement K. Shorter. 


Emily was the greatest genius, but Charlotte knew more of 
the world, and she was the most prolific writer, judging by the 
number of manuscripts left by her. 

All this mystery has been increased by the fact that no MS. 
of Wuthering Heights has ever been found, either in the hand- 
writing of Emily or her sisters, and the theory is often advanced 
that Charlotte destroyed it after Emily's death. In addition, 
no statement has been left by Emily Bronte to testify to the 
fact that she and she only wrote Wuthering Heights. Charlotte 
Bronte was certainly indignant that she should be credited 
with the authorship, and when the third edition of Jane Eyre 
was issued she added a modestly -worded disclaimer. 

" I avail myself of the opportunity which a third edition of 
Jane Eyre affords me, of again addressing a word to the Public, 
to explain that my claim to the title of novelist rests on this 
one work alone. If, therefore, the authorship of other works of 
fiction has been attributed to me, an honour is awarded where it 
is not merited ; and consequently, denied where it is justly due. 

" This explanation will serve to rectify mistakes which 
may already have been made, and to prevent future errors.'* 

But this did not satisfy some of the critics. Therefore, 
in 1850, Mr. George Smith asked Charlotte Bronte to write a 
statement, settling the question of the authorship of the 
Bronte novels once for all. 

Charlotte Bronte's denial of the authorship of Wuthering 
Heights must stand for all time as the literal truth concerning 
the question. Of course, there is her statement that she had 
no real claim to it, and what she means by that is easily seen, 
for the two novels, though having something in common, are 
so different in style and wording, that it would be difficult to 
prove that the same pen could have written both. Charlotte, 
proud of her French and of her knowledge of books, could 
scarcely have avoided betraying her inclination when writing 
the novel. 

Emily evidently had her own ideas of writing a prose story 
of an outcast, in her own way. This would not be difficult, 
for she had already composed several poems about a nameless 


outcast of the moors, and it is noticeable that she had an ideal 
lover, judging by her earlier poems. 

When writing her devoirs at Brussels, she would change not 
only the style of the composition read to her, but also the 
subject, and characteristically she decided to write a novel 
quite removed from her sisters, both in style, subject and time, 
for she ante-dates her story to the latter part of the eighteenth 
century ; but she keeps to the family model of an outcast, and 
places him on the Yorkshire Moors, which was her little world 
in which she could revel to her heart's content. Compared 
with Charlotte's boast, that she would make her plain little 
heroine, Jane Eyre, as attractive as her sister's more beautiful 
heroines, the hero Heathcliff is a suburb masterpiece. Could 
there be any hero so debased as the wretched little gutter child 
that old Earnshaw unrolled from his cloak " as black as if he 
came from the devil " ? Yet all through the story he holds 
the reader spell-bound without any physical attractions, but 
with a passionate love that excels that of any other hero in 
fiction. Emily Bronte's fame as the greatest novelist of 
the nineteenth century rests on this one great character alone. 

Both Charlotte and Branwell Bronte seem to have some sort 
of connection with the plot, but not with the actual writing 
of the story. In the first chapter, Lockwood is summing up 
Heathcliff's character. " He'll love and hate equally under 
cover, and esteem it a species of impertinence to be loved or 
hated again. No, I'm running on too fast ; I bestow my 
own attributes over liberally on him." This is undoubtedly 
Emily Bronte's own estimate of herself ; she dwelt apart 
and was reserved and silent. Then Lockwood, who is the 
narrator, goes on to say, " While enjoying a month of fine 
weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown into the company of a 
most fascinating creature : a real goddess in my eyes, as long 
as she took no notice of me. I ' never told my love ' vocally ; 
still, if looks have language, the merest idiot might have 
guessed I was over head and ears ; she understood me at last, 
and looked a return the sweetest of all imaginable looks. 
And what did I do ? I confess it with shame shrunk icily 
into myself, like a snail ; at every glance retired colder and 


farther ; till finally the poor innocent was led to doubt her own 
senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her supposed 
mistakes, persuaded her mamma to decamp. By this curious 
turn of disposition I have gained the reputation of deliberate 
heartlessness ; how undeserved, I alone can appreciate." 

In a long letter, written on 20th November, 1840, Charlotte 
Bronte gives some very sage advice to Ellen Nussey on love 
and marriage, and she surely refers to Lock wood in Wuthering 
Heights and to Branwell Bronte in real life when she says, 
" Did I not once tell you of an instance of a relative of mine 
who cared for a young lady, until he began to suspect that she 
cared more for him, and then instantly conceived a sort of 
contempt for her ? You know to whom I allude Never as 
you value your ears mention the circamstance." l 

Both Branwell and Charlotte Bronte had had experiences of 
haunted rooms, or thought they had ; Branwell once slept 
in a haunted room at Haworth and was much frightened, 
and Charlotte was prone to see ghosts at Roe Head and Brussels. 
Then Branwell's mad passion for his employer's wife could not 
but influence Emily's version of Heathcliff's regard for 
Catherine, when she was the wife of another ; but the purity 
of the passion depicted by Emily is far above Branwell's 
infatuation for Mrs. Robinson ; and, though Sir Wemyss Reid 
found in Branwell Bronte's letters certain phrases used by 
Heathcliff, it does not prove that he had written a line of the 

Just as Emily Bronte's poems are greatly superior to 
Charlotte's and Anne's, so her novel shows much greater 
genius than anything written by her sisters. 

Emily's one novel is full of strength and power, and yet 
there is not the faintest suggestion of impropriety ; it is, as 
Swinburne says, " pure mind and passion," which only a great 
genius could depict. (The love between Cathy and Heathcliff 
is of the essence of purity, and represents soul speaking to soul. 
It is the, scenes that are remembered apart from the actual 
wording. Charlotte speaks of the relation between Heathcliff 
and Cathy as inhuman, but her Rochester imitates it, though 

1 The Brontes : Life and Letters, by Clement K. Shorter. 


he never soars to the heights that Heathcliff reaches. Cathy 
and Jane have much in common, the difference mainly repre- 
senting that which separates the two writers. Emily was a 
child of the moors original, crude, fierce but true to her 
natural gifts. The very childishness of parts of the novel 
proves its essence of purity, and its naturalness. Charlotte's 
novel was the creation of a mind that had been tamed ; that 
had tried to conform to the rules of society. Roe Head, 
Stonegappe, Rawdon, and most of all Brussels had influenced 
Charlotte, and she never shook herself quite free. She told 
Mrs. Gaskell that her most vivid scenes were thought out night 
after night, and that in the morning she awoke with it all clear 
in her mind. She also told Mrs. Gaskell that on sleepless 
nights she wrote down her thoughts. It was not so with 
Emily ; (from the moment Nelly Dean, the old servant, takes 
up the story, it seems to be told almost in one breath. It has 
been said that Emily was not influenced by those she met, 
but in Brussels she found in M. Heger a character that suggested 
Heathcliff, or rather that fitted in with her imaginary lover, 
mentioned over and over again 'in the poems, written when 
she was little more than a child. Emily knew that M. Heger 
had suffered and borne his grief alone. 

Emily Bronte's recognition as a great genius has been long 
delayed, but her fame is established, and her life as it is revealed, 
bit by bit, shows a brave, good woman, domesticated, affection- 
ate, loyal and true, in spite of a certain harshness and a mascu- 
line demeanour. Mrs. Gaskell never really grasped Emily's 
character, and her remarks on Wuthering Heights showed that 
she did not quite approve of it. Yet the plot of the story 
appealed to her so forcibly that she modelled her Sylvia's 
Lovers on it. Cathy, the winsome, mischievous, heroine, and 
Sylvia have much in common. Heathcliff and Kinraid each 
love the heroine of the story who is courted by a richer 
lover, Edgar Linton in the one, and Philip Hepburn in the 
other and afterwards they go away and are not heard of 
again for some time. In each case the discarded lover returns 
after the marriage of the heroine, and there is a painful scene. 
Though the return of Kinraid is the most dramatic part of 


Sylvia's Lovers, it does not approach by a long way the passion 
of HeathclifPs return to Cathy. 

Wuthering Heights must stand alone as a great tragedy, 
worthy of the author of King Lear himself. 

Swinburne, Emily Bronte's greatest critic, has said, " Those 
who have come to like Wuthering Heights will probably never 
like anything else much better ; the novel is what it is because 
the author is what she is." Until Swinburne gave his 
magnificent critique on this extraordinary novel, the world had 
almost passed it by, for Sydney DobelFs splendid appreciation 
in 1850 had almost been forgotten, and his eulogium is marred 
by his suspicion that Charlotte had written the story. His 
reasoning is the work of a genius, and so far as the introduction 
of the story goes he may be right, for a fragment of an unpub- 
lished story by Charlotte Bronte has a somewhat similar 
beginning. Added to this is the account of Charlotte's dreams 
and deliriums, and of Shirley Keeldar's dreams and visions. 

The four letters written by Charlotte Bronte to M. Heger, 
which have recently been published in The Times (July, 1913), 
throw a light on Wuthering Heights. 

When Charlotte Bronte left Brussels on the last day of 
1843 in distress, she arrived at Ha worth ill and dejected ; 
there was the brave Emily and the father to receive her, but 
it is certain she would not confide in her father. 

As these two sisters walked on the moors, it cannot be 
doubted that Charlotte the impulsive, eager, passionate, 
Charlotte poured out her reasons for leaving Brussels to Emily, 
who with her sympathetic feeling heard the story of her 
sister's grief, and her whole soul revolted that she should have 
suffered so cruelly. The Times letters refer to Charlotte's 
conversation with Emily about M. Heger. It must be remem- 
bered that Emily Bronte* knew M. Heger, which helped her to 
realise the position much better. M. Heger was unstinting 
in his praise of Emily when Mrs. Gaskell interviewed him, 
and Emily would not have been a woman if she had not 
recognised that M. Heger admired her great powers. Was 
it the case of Shirley Keeldar unconsciously attracting the 
love of Robert Gerard Moore, to the grief and sorrow of Caroline 


Helstone as revealed at the close of Chapter XXIII in Shirley ? 
Who knows ? Certain it is that, as Shirley Keeldar was superior 
to Caroline Helstone in personal and intellectual qualities, 
so was Emily Bronte superior to Charlotte. Had Emily 
experienced a brief gleam of love either in Brussels or else- 
where ? And was that her Heaven that she dreamt of, a 
case of soul recognising soul as a kindred spirit ? 
" I dreamt once that I was there. ... I was only going to 
say that heaven did not seem to be my home ; and I broke my 
heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels 
were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the 
heath on the top of Wuthering Heights ; where I awoke sobbing 
for joy . That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other." 
Mrs. Humphry Ward interpreted this to mean that Emily 
preferred the moors to Heaven, but that is not so. Emily 
Bronte's Heaven was where, like Cathy, she found her affinity. 

" O could it thus for ever be, 

That I might so adore ; 
I'd ask for all eternity, 
To make a paradise for me, 
My love and nothing more/' 

She wrote these lines in 1843 whilst Charlotte was in Brussels. 
In the last chapter of Wuthering Heights when Heathcliff is 
dying, and he welcomes death as he hopes to meet Cathy, he 
says, " I tell you I have nearly attained my heaven ; and that 
of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me." 

Emily Bronte's heaven was to be with the spirit of the ideal 
she loved. In the memorable conversation between Cathy 
and Nelly Dean, when Cathy tells her that she intends to marry 
Edgar Linton, Emily Bronte gives the highest conception of 
passionate love ever written ; Wagner and Shelley have a 
similar idea of the passion, but they do not show the masterful 
force that is Emily Bronte's. 

In speaking of Heathcliff, Cathy says : "If all else perished, 
and he remained, I should still continue to be ; and if all 
else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would 
turn to a mighty stranger : I should not seem a part of it," and 
in her immortal " Last Lines " she writes 


" Though earth and man were gone, 
And suns and universes ceased to be, 
And Thou were left alone, 

Every existence would exist in Thee." 

These two quotations prove that the same mind had inspired 
the mighty words, and show that the lover Heathcliff is put 
in the place of God. 

In the French translation of Wuthering Heights the title is 
L'Amant, and certainly it gives a better description of the 
novel, for it is more about a lover than a building or a 
district. In Shirley, Charlotte Bronte puts into the mouth 
of the little cripple, " I'll write a book that I may dedicate it 
to you," and Shirley replies, " You will write it, that you may 
give your soul its natural release," and that is just what Emily 
has done. 

Devotees of Emily Bronte have searched far and wide for the 
man who inspired her to create a Heathcliff. Look around 
on her limited male acquaintances and who was there that could 
for a moment appreciate and understand her as it is known 
M. Heger did ? He placed her not only above Charlotte, 
but above all women : " She ought to have been a man, a great 
navigator." Mrs. Gaskell never explained why M. Heger 
was so eager to praise Emily, and why he gave such scant 
praise to Charlotte. In Shirley the two Moores, Robert and 
Louis, are presented as being so alike as to be taken the one 
for the other, and Caroline is surprised that Shirley has kept 
the secret of having known Robert's brother. Was this the 
explanation of Emily's secret that she found her ideal in 
Brussels, but could not stay there, and was glad to get back to 
her moorland home ? Unfortunately there is but one letter 
from Emily after her stay in Brussels besides her novel and 
poems. Those written in Brussels in 1843 when she was with 
her father are all sad enough, and the question arises if Emily 
suffered in 1843 as Charlotte did in 1844. 

Who but M. Heger could have stood as the original of Heath- 
cliffe ? A strong, powerful tyrant, with the pure and fierce 
love of a very god, albeit he had the mind of a little child. 

Witness his passionate tears when his pupils could not 


understand the beauty of his rendering of choice literature, 
and his beautifully expressed letter of condolence to Mr. Bronte 
when Miss Bran well died. On the other hand, one of his 
pupils told me he was a terror to the dull pupils, or to those 
he did not like. 

Charlotte in one of her letters says that Mary Taylor has 
no one like M. Heger to be kind to her and lend her books ; 
and her letter to Ellen Nussey on leaving Brussels points 
in the Same direction. " I shall not forget what the parting 
with M. Heger cost me, it grieved me so much to grieve him, 
who has been so true, kind and disinterested a friend." Yet 
another time she says, " He is a professor of rhetoric, a man of 
power as to mind, but very choleric and irritable in tempera- 
ment ; a little black being, with a face that varies in expression. 
Sometimes he borrows the lineaments of an insane tom-cat, 
sometimes those of a delirious hyena." Certainly extremes 
meet in such a character, as they did in Heathcliff . 

Now turn to Emily's Wuthering Heights where she speaks of 
Heathcliff as " a dark-skinned gipsy," and again as " the little 
black-haired swarthy thing as dark almost as if it came from 
the devil," and then read of his agony by Cathy's grave. Both 
Charlotte and Emily tried to get the germ of a character by 
tracing it from its childhood. Charlotte only met Mr. George 
Smith when he was twenty-three, yet she tries to write of 
him as Graham Bretton when a schoolboy. More than once 
in Villette she describes Paul Emanuel as being of Spanish 
descent, but in a few words Emily conveys the impression 
of Ms ancestors. Charlotte, in her explanation of the 
authorship of Wuthering Heights, says, " It was said that this 
was an earlier and ruder attempt of the same pen which 
had produced Jane Eyre. Unjust and grievous error ! We 
laughed at it at first, but I deeply lament it now." The 
laughing point was that the critics had seen the similarity in 
certain scenes, but they did not discover that the two sisters 
had the same models for the chief characters of the stories, 
though Cathy and Jane are as different as Emily and Charlotte 
Bronte : one is " a wild slip of a girl," who loves to wander 
over the moors ; the other " the staid little governess." 


Long before Emily Bronte went to Brussels she had cherished 
an idea of a noble being with a soul that could take flights 
like her own, and reach to a Heaven of pure passion, and in an 
unpublished MS. by Charlotte, written in 1834, she also 
had her idea of an imaginary hero, which|fits M. Heger in 
many ways. 

M. Heger was the first man to approach Emily Bronte's 
ideal, and he saw in her a spirit that could mate with his own. 
She, like Cathy, recognised a kindred spirit in him. Frances 
in The Professor, and Shirley Keeldar in Shirley, where she is 
pupil to Louis Moore, are based upon Emily Bronte's life at 
Brussels. Whether she realised M. Heger's influence before 
she left Brussels in October, 1842, or not is not plain, but her 
high moral rectitude kept her from returning to Brussels; and 
with characteristic self-effacement she let Charlotte go alone, 
who in a letter written years afterwards called it " selfish folly." 
Anne could have taken Emily's place at home, if Emily had 
chosen to return with Charlotte, for Anne was far from happy 
at Thorpe Green, and the father could have spared Emily 
and probably would have preferred her to accompany Charlotte. 
It is very probable that Charlotte Bronte never found out 
Emily's secret, until she discovered the poems which Emily 
guarded so carefully, but, as Charlotte Bronte says in her 
preface to Wuthering Heights, " The writer who possesses the 
creative gift owns something of which he is not always master." 
Wuthering Heights is what it is, not only because the 
author is what she is, but because of what the author knew 
and experienced during her life. 

If Emily Bronte must write a novel, then, like her sister, she 
must write from the heart, using the experience of which she 
was conscious. When Lockwood first met Heathcliff he says, 
" Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style 
of living. He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and 
manners a gentleman : that is, as much a gentleman as many 
a country squire : rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking 
amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome 
figure ; and rather morose. Possibly, some people might suspect 
him of a degree of underbred pride; I have a sympathetic 


chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort : I know, 
by instinct that his reserve springs from an aversion to showy 
displays of feeling to manifestations of mutual kindliness." 

That is just what Emily Bronte could and would say on 
meeting M. Heger, for former pupils testify to M. Heger 's 
negligence in dress, and Charlotte tells us he did not speak to 
them for three months after they became his pupils, only 
writing his remarks of their devoirs on the margin of their 
exercise books. Emily Bronte was only nine months in 
Brussels, and six weeks of this period was vacation, when 
M. Heger was away from the pensionnat, so that he did not 
have much to do with the two sisters during the remaining 
four months. M. Heger advised M. PAbbe Richardson, 
when beginning his career as a teacher, to spend the first 
fortnight studying the temperament, idiosyncrasies, ability 
and habits of his pupils, but a fortnight did not suffice for M. 
Heger to study the Brontes ; it took him three months, and 
then he must have proceeded warily. When Mrs. Gaskell 
interviewed him he had gauged Emily's character with surpris- 
ing accuracy, but it has taken the world more than half a 
century to come to the just conclusion that M. Heger formed 
in these few months. 

Charlotte Bronte's longing for love as expressed in her novels 
was quite as real to Emily, and possibly felt with more 
intensity. The poem, The Old Stoic, was written in 1845. 

On 17th May, 1842, Emily Bronte wrote a poem at Brussels, 
which helps to prove that she had had a vision of perfect 
love in Brussels, and this poem shows that none but Emily 
could have written Wuthering Heights, though the sex of the 
actors is changed. It was well known in Brussels that M. Heger 
had lost his young wife nine years before the Brontes went, 
and it was known that the loss had nearly overwhelmed 
him, and it was probably the knowledge of this love story that 
prompted Emily to write this poem 

" In the same place, when nature wore 

The same celestial glow, 
I'm sure I've seen these forms before 
But many springs ago ; 


But only he had locks of light, 

And she had raven hair ; 
While now his curls are dark as night, 

And hers as morning fair. 

Besides, I've dreamt of tears whose traces 

Will never more depart, 
Of agony that fast effaces 

The verdure of the heart. 

I dreamt one sunny day like this, 
In this peerless month of May, 

I saw her give th' unanswered kiss 
As his spirit passed away. 

Those young eyes that so sweetly shine 
Then looked their last adieu, 

And pale death changed that cheek divine 
To his unchanging hue. 

And earth was cast above the breast, 
That once beat warm and true, 

Where her heart found a living rest 
That moved responsively. 

Then she, upon the covered grave, 
The grass-grown grave, did lie, 

A tomb not girt by English wave, 
Nor arched by English sky. 

The sod was sparkling bright with dew, 

But brighter still with tears, 
That welled from mortal grief I know, 

Which never heals with years. 

And if he came not for her woe, 

He would not now return ; 
He would not leave his sleep below, 

When she had ceased to mourn. 

O Innocence, that cannot live 
With heart-wrung anguish long, 

Dear childhood's innocence forgive, 
For I have done thee wrong ! 


The bright rosebuds, those hawthorn shrouds 

Within their perfumed bower, 
Have never closed beneath a cloud, 

Nor bent beneath a shower. 
Had darkness once obscured their sun 

Or kind dew turned to rain, 
No storm-cleared sky that ever shone 

Could win such bliss again." l 

Again in May, 1843, whilst Charlotte is away, Emily Bronte 
writes a serenade, one verse of which reads 

" And neither Hell nor Heaven, 

Though both conspire at last, 
Can take the bliss that has been given, 
Can rob us of the past." x 

These are the thoughts expressed in Withering Heights. 
On 28th July, 1843 two days before Emily Bronte's twenty- 
fifth birthday, she writes 

" I know our souls are all divine, 

I know that when we die 
What seems the vilest, even like thine 
A part of God himself shall shine 
In perfect purity. 

Let others seek its beams divine 

In cell and cloister drear ; 
But I have found a fairer shrine 

And happier worship here. 
By dismal rites they win their bliss, 

By penance, fasts and fears ; 
I have one rite a gentle kiss ; 

One penance tender tears," l 

and in the following year, 2nd March, 1844, three months 
after Charlotte Bronte's return from Brussels, she writes 

" This summer wind with thee and me 

Roams in the dawn of day ; 
But thou must be, when it shall be, 

Ere evening far away. 

The farewell's echo from thy soul 

Should not depart before 
Hills rise and distant rivers roll 

Between us ever more. 
1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, edited by Clement Shorter. 

22 (2200) 


I know that I have done thee wrong, 
Have wronged both thee and Heaven ; 

And I may mourn my lifetime long 
And may not be forgiven. 

Repentant tears will vainly fall 

To cover deeds untrue, 
For by no grief can I recall 

The dreary word adieu ! 

Yet those a future place shall win, 

Because thy soul is clear ; 
And I who had the heart to sin 

Will find a heart to bear. 

Till far beyond earth's frenzied strife, 

That makes destruction joy, 
Thy perished faith shall spring to life, 

And my remorse shall die." 1 

Emily Bronte has been treated as a visionary and a mystic, 
with nothing definite and tangible about her, but, although 
" she dwelt apart," she had a more intense and real affection 
for the things that matter than most people. 

" What my soul bore my soul alone 
Within itself may tell." 

The moorland was her home, and it was on those desolate 
heights that she fought out her thoughts and conquered only 
by death. 

" There stands Sidonia's deity ! 
In all her glory, all her pride ! 
And truly like a god she seems. 
Some lad of wild enthusiast's dream. 
And this is she for whom he died ! 
For whom his spirit unforgiven 
Wanders unsheltered, shut from heaven, 
An outcast from eternity." l 

Who but the creator of Heathcliff could have written those 
lines ? 

On the authority of members of the Heger family, Charlotte 
Bronte told pitiful tales of her brother and of her home life 
to the Hegers, and it is not too much to surmise that M. Heger. 

1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, edited by Clement K. Shorter, 


related some of his own early troubles in such a way as to 
make an impression on the future novelists, for Charlotte 
taught English to M. Chappel, whose wife was sister to M. 
Heger's first wife. 

Little did M. Heger recognise what his influence was with the 
odd geniuses; what he told them became scenes for their 
novels, their souls knew no geographical boundaries ; what they 
had idealised and dreamt of in Haworth, they applied to the 
religious, passionate " Master of literature," who, with all 
his fierce passion, became Charlotte's " Christian hero " and 
Emily's ideal lover. 

When M. Heger died, it was recorded that after the death 
of his first wife it was feared he would not survive ; he had to 
find relief in work, which implies that his sorrow was so 
great that he had to continually find something to assuage his 

M. Heger evidently told Charlotte Bronte some facts con- 
nected with his early life and the death of his first wife, and 
Charlotte in turn related these to Emily, who with sympathetic 
heart and keen intellect put them into her great novel. 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte never knew anyone in Yorkshire 
who loved as Heathcliff loved Cathy, but if they knew, as they 
probably did, of M. Heger's overwhelming grief, it would fit 
in with their conception of pure and undefiled love of one soul 
for another. In Vittette, Charlotte Bronte tells of Paul 
EmanuePs Justine Marie, whose spirit haunted him, and the 
incident fits in with Cathy's spirit haunting Heathcliff. 

Poetry, and the art which professes to regulate and limit its 
powers, cannot subsist together. Emily Bronte had the true 
lyric note, and the unseen had a greater fascination for her 
than the mere sayings and doings of men. As a mystic she 
valued the things that matter, and like all mystics she believed 
that someway and somehow true love was returned. ) She was 
right in agreeing with an unknown poet who sang 

" The knowledge gained at every turning, 

On that high road by Science trod, 
Serves but to increase our yearning 
For light and liberty and God. 


Yet murmur not though knowledge only 
The vastness of our ignorance prove, 

For there's no soul so dark and lonely 
But it can both be loved and love." 

Shelley appealed to her, and the love between Heathcliff and 
Cathy soars to the same heights that Shelley attains in 
Epipsychidion verses addressed to Emilia V. (or Emily as 
he calls her later) in a convent. 

"How beyond refuge I am thine. Ah me ! 
I am not thine : I am a part of ihee" 

Compare this with Cathy's vehement : " I am HeathclifE." 
" He's more myself than I am." 

And again, Shelley foreshadows the absolute unity of spirit 
between Heathcliff and Cathy in his verses to Emilia. 

" We shall become the same, we shall be one 
Spirit within two frames. Oh ! wherefore two ? 
One passion in twin-hearts, which grows and grew, 
Till, like two meteors of expanding flame, 
Those spheres instinct with it become the same, 
Touch, mingle, are transfigured ; ever still 
Burning, yet ever inconsumable. 

One hope within two wills, one will beneath 
Two overshadowing minds, one life, one death, 
One Heaven, one Hell, one immortality, 
And one annihilation." 

Charlotte in one of her novels mentions Shirley's love for 
Shelley as a poet. Undoubtedly this sorrow of M. Heger's 
attracted both Charlotte and Emily. It has often been said, 
if Emily had lived, how much more she could have given to the 
world, even greater and better, but there is no evidence that 
she was eager to write another novel. Unlike Charlotte and 
Anne she was not anxious to write a second ; she had spent 
her strength on her masterpiece. Nothing could have given a 
greater conception of love between two spirits than that 
depicted in her one great story. Mr. Malham-Dembleby 
in his Key to the Bronte Works has travelled on the right road 
when he shows that Heathcliff, Rochester, Robert Moore, and 


Paul Emanuel each owe something to M. Heger, but he does 
not prove that Charlotte wrote Wuthering Heights. Wuthering 
Heights is " pure mind and passion," to quote Swinburne again, 
and the material things of life are so dwarfed in the story 
that they hardly matter. (The intensity of the passion is the 
dominating note of the novel, and after the death of Cathy 
her spirit broods over the pages and is never absent. ) 
f Emily Bronte wrote from instinct) (No novelist can be 
drawn to write of what repels her, and it is evident that Emily 
had a conception of great beauty in the love between Cathy 
and Heathcliff, and, if she must write a love story, it must 
show the essence of true love as it appeared to her. J Charlotte 
said later that Emily might have become a model essayist, 
but it would not have been possible to tell a story of such 
thrilling interest in an essay, f No form of literature other 
than a novel could have been the medium for portraying such 
a tragic tale of love and suffering ] /The personality of Emily 
shines through the story, " moorish, wild and knotty as a root 
of heather," and yet what a mind she had to conceive 
characters like Heathcliff and Cathy ! "Stronger than a man, 
simpler than a child." How her readers shudder under the 
tyranny of Heathcliff, and tremble at the intensity of his 
passion ; and, if those who read it feel it, what must have been 
the thoughts of Emily as she wrote ? Charlotte tells in her 
letters that when M. Heger was angry she cried, and that put 
matters right, but Mrs. Gaskell says that Emily answered him 
back, just as Cathy would have done. Some of the passages 
are among the most sublime in the English language, and the 
heights and depths are beyond ordinary comprehension/ It 
is amateurish and wanting in technique, but so powerful 
is the passion of the story that the construction of the plot does 
not seem to matter. Emily's sympathy with her chief char- 
acters, Cathy and Heathcliff, is intense, and it is that sympathy 
which grips her readers, though some of the scenes are cruel 
and appalling. ) 

There is more of the real Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights 
than in any of her poems.' She associates this intense love 
story with the moorland people at the end of the eighteenth 


century, but the vital issue is from herself, and her hero is a 

Having written this novel, she never wrote anything more 
except the immortal " Last Lines." It has been said over 
and over again, that Brussels made no impression on Emily 
Bronte ; that cannot be proved. Granted that in her few 
months at Brussels she made a greater impression on M. Heger 
than Charlotte did in two years, it is unthinkable that she 
did not receive much from her experience in Brussels that 
altered her whole outlook on life. In the poems written by 
Emily after her return from Brussels, there is a longing for 
love, and a still greater longing for death. 

Mr. Swinburne has written the most just criticism of Wuthcr- 
ing Heights, and he concludes, " It may be true that not many 
will ever take it to their hearts ; it is certain that those who do 
like it will like nothing very much better in the whole world of 
poetry or prose." 

It is strange that Emily Bronte should have objected to 
Charlotte seeing her poems, unless they contained something 
which she wished to conceal. The one poem, written in 
Brussels in May, 1842, and the poems written in the years 1843 
to 1845, which include those written in the year that shfc was 
alone with her father, point to her meditations on the over- 
whelming sorrow for the loss of the loved one. Comparing 
these poems with those written previous to her visit to Brussels 
it is evident that M. Heger's love story which she had heard 
in Brussels fitted her conception of a deathless love, and that 
she idealised the wanderer on the moor by comparing him with 
M. Heger. 

" Listen ! I've known a burning heart, 

To which my own was given ; 
Nay, not with passion, do not start, 
Our love was love from heaven/' 

Again she writes 

" Angelica, from my very birth 

I have been nursed in strife ; 
And lived upon this weary Earth 
A wanderer all my life. 


The baited tiger could not be 

So much athirst for gore, 
For men and laws have tortured me, 

Till I can bear no more. 

The guiltless blood upon my hands 

Will shut me out from heaven, 
And here, and even in foreign lands, 

I cannot find a haven." 1 

On July 26th, 1843, Emily writes 

" Had there been falsehood in my breast 

No doubt had marr'd my word ; 
This spirit had not lost its rest, 
Those tears had never flowed." x 

Emily Bronte was not so visionary and introspective as she 
has been described. People and places did affect her, though 
not sufficiently to tempt her to reveal their identity/ and her 
hard work in Brussels was not lost on her. Had she never 
gone to Brussels, she would not have written her best poems 
The Old Stoic, Death, and the immortal Last Lines. Far 
from being a mere dreamer, she has shown at her highest 
a powerful grip of both worlds. Just as Charlotte Bronte 
grew both in mind and soul, so did Emily ; it is idle to think 
she differed so much from her family. Mrs. Gaskell has done 
ill by Emily in describing her as hard, and as giving all her love 
to animals ; but those who love animals cannot truly dislike 
human beings, and Paul Emanuel is described by Charlotte as 
having a great love for his little dog. In Chapter XII of Shirley, 
M. Heger, as Robert Moore, is discussed by Caroline and 
Shirley, and his love of animals is mentioned in his favour. Mrs. 
Gaskell made a mistake in attributing this to Charlotte Bronte. 

In Charlotte's letter, published in The Times on 29th July, 
1913, she says, with reference to the starting of a school at the 
Ha worth parsonage, " Emily does not care much for teaching, 
but she would look after the housekeeping, and, although some- 
thing of a recluse, she is too good-hearted not to do all she 
could for the well-being of the children. Moreover she is very 
generous." Good-hearted and generous ! those words describe 
the " Sphinx of Literature," the incomparable Emily Bronte. 

1 Complete Poems of Emily Bronte, by Clement K. Shorter. 


In a conversation that I had with Martha Brown's sister, 
she described Emily as being kind and generous to all in the 
home, and she believed Emily died of a broken heart for 
love of her brother Branwell, because she realised what he 
might have been if he had been guided aright. It is strange 
that it was Emily who had most sympathy for Branwell; 
seeing Charlotte had suffered for love of her master, she ought 
to have had more pity for her brother. Besides M. Heger's 
story, and his passionate personality, Emily had two studies 
before her Charlotte's passion for M. Heger and Bran well's 
for Mrs. Robinson but Branwell was not in keeping with 
her hero : he was too weak, and Charlotte's fierce passion 
resulted in fevers, deliriums and bad dreams, caused by her 
poignant regrets on leaving Brussels. 

Cathy in Wuthering Heights trampled on every code of a 
wife's duty to her husband, but if her delirium, in which she 
fasted for three days, is studied, it is easy to see that Edgar 
Linton is based upon old Patrick Bronte, who had a sad time 
with his headstrong daughter. * Emily does not give anything 
of a real husband's feelings in Edgar Linton's indifference 
to Cathy's state after she locks herself in her own room, subse- 
quent to her mad fit of temper, when she wishes to spite Edgar 
by dying. This is not only a weak character, but it is treated 
with lack of knowledge. ; Cathy says, " I'll choose between 
these two : either to starve at once that would be no punish- 
ment unless he had a heart or to recover and leave the 

" . . . . These three awful nights I've never closed my lids 
and oh, I've been tormented ! I've been haunted, Nelly ! 
But I begin to fancy you don't like me. How strange ! I 
thought, though everybody hated and despised each other, 
they could not avoid loving me. And they have all turned 
to enemies in a few hours : they have, I'm positive ; the people 
here. How dreary to meet death, surrounded by their cold 
faces! Isabella, terrified and repelled, afraid to enter the 
room, it would be so dreadful to watch Catherine go. And 
Edgar standing solemnly by to see it over ; then offering 
prayers of thanks to God for restoring peace to his house, and 


going back to his books ! What in the name of all that feels 
has he to do with books, when I am dying ? " Charlotte Bronte 
says in one of her letters to M. Heger : " Oh, it is certain that 
I shall see you again one day it must be so for as soon as I 
shall have enough money to go to Brussels I shall go there 
and I shall see you again, if only for a moment " ; evidently 
like Cathy she had resolved either to die or go to Brussels. 

The incident of the two locks of hair which Nelly Dean 
twisted together and enclosed in a locket worn by the dead 
Cathy is mentioned in Shirley, and possibly has some connection 
with Charlotte Bronte. 

It was the sense of beauty indispensable to the creative 
artist that Emily, with her visions, saw in Charlotte's dreams, 
and in meditating on these, Emily created her novel. Charlotte 
Bronte varied in her estimation of M. Heger just as Cathy did 
in the case of Heathcliff. Did Charlotte find out that Emily 
had some regard for M. Heger, and did Emily discover 
Charlotte's secret from her deliriums ? 

Emily describes Isabel Linton's admiration for Heathcliff, 
and Cathy in her amazement pictures him to Isabel as " an 
arid wilderness of furze and whinstone," whilst Isabel says, 
" All, all is against me : she has blighted my single consolation. 
But she uttered falsehoods, didn't she ? Mr. Heathcliff 
is not a fiend : he has an honourable soul, and a true one." 
Genius never fully discovers itself till brought into contact 
with fellow genius, and both Emily and Charlotte found in 
M. Heger a character that altered all their former opinions 
of men. A novelist who sees something exciting in life, 
cannot refrain from transmitting the vision to others ; 
she must tell the story in some way. Emily had written 
verses, but they did not convey all she wanted to tell, and, when 
Charlotte suggested that the three sisters should each write 
a novel, Emily had hers ready to hand. She had meditated 
on M. Heger, on Charlotte and her fevers, dreams, and deliriums, 
and on Bran well. All her life she had been brooding over the 
mysteries of love and death, and when it is remembered that 
Wuthering Heights was begun in the latter part of 1845, or 
early in 1846, it is not a matter for surprise that " Over it 


there broods a horror of great darkness," and that "in its 
storm-heated and electrical atmosphere, we seem to breathe 
lightning," to quote Charlotte Bronte, for it was in January, 
1844, that Charlotte came home infatuated with her " Master, 
and from that time to the end of 1845 she was frantic for letters 
from him, and in the very depths of despair for a sight of 
him a monomaniac, as she describes herself. Charlotte 
in some phases stood for Cathy, and Emily created the intensely 
passionate Heathcliff to match her, but it is the spirit of the 
two that matters to the exclusion of everything else. 
In one of her poems Emily writes 

Watch in love by a fevered pillow, 
Cooling the fever with pity's balm ; 

Safe as the petrel on tossing billow, 
Safe in mine own soul's golden calm ! 

Guardian-angel he lacks no longer ; 

Evil fortune he need not fear : 
Fate is strong, but love is stronger ; 

And my love is truer than angel-care." 

As Charlotte and Emily tramped the moors " to the damage of 
their shoes, but the benefit of their health," Charlotte told her 
sister of her sorrow and anguish, and Emily had to bear with 
her for nearly two years. We read in her letter, dated Novem- 
ber, 1845, " I have denied myself absolutely the pleasure of 
speaking about you even to Emily ; but I have been able 
to conquer neither my regrets nor my impatience." It is easy 
to understand Charlotte's never-ending sorrow for the loss of 
Emily, for it was she who comforted and bore with her during 
this wretched time. If Charlotte wrote down her dreams, 
and Emily wrote of her deliriums during her illness, no wonder 
Charlotte said on preparing a new edition of Withering Heights 
that, on looking over the papers, they left her prostrate and 
caused her sleepless nights. 

A year and a half after Charlotte's miserable home-coming, 
Branwell was dismissed in July, 1845, and he returned to 
Haworth frantically mad for the love of Mrs. Robinson. He 
had been at Thorpe Green two and a half years, though in 
the Preface to Emily Bronte's Complete Poems, it is stated 


under date March, 1844, " Bran well got worse and worse, 
drinking heavily to excess," which is quite untrue. 

Here was Emily, the patient housekeeper, with a love-sick 
brother and sister, both incapable of controlling their thoughts 
or feelings. It is not surprising that Charlotte said that Ellis 
Bell would wonder what was meant, and suspect the com- 
plainant of affectation if they could not believe the scenes 
pictured in Wuihering Heights. We see Emily trying to 
comfort both Charlotte and Bran well, and yet keeping her own 
counsel. In a letter now privately printed by Mr. Wise, 
Charlotte says she could bear to let Anne go because she seemed 
to belong to God ; but she wanted to hold Emily back when 
she died, and she felt that for years afterwards. 

Emily's spirit seemed strong enough to bear her to fulness 
of years, and Charlotte never ceased to mourn for her. 

It becomes necessary to find some reason for Emily writing, 
at white heat, Wuihering Heights a live doc amen t. Surely 
it was because she could not help herself. She heard Char- 
lotte's passionate story, and she most probably heard the 
record of her dreams and knew of her pitiful letters. Lucy 
Snowe tells of sending letters to Paul Emanuel, but before she 
sent them she wrote another version for herself, and in those 
long, sleepless nights of 1844 and 1845 Charlotte probably 
wrote her thoughts. 

It seems quite probable that Charlotte Bronte did write her 
passionate thoughts which have found their way into Wuthering 
Heights, and afterwards she discarded them. Possibly, they 
told too much, for in her poems Frances, Apostacy, Gilbert, 
and the long poem in The Professor, she tells her heart's 
secrets without any reserve. Did she first write her thoughts 
in prose ? She was the soul of truth and could not conceal 
her feelings. As more and more of her life is revealed, 
we see how that life is reflected in her novels. In her preface 
to Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Bronte says, " Nor is even the 
first heroine of the name (Cathy) destitute of a certain strange 
beauty in her fierceness, or of honesty in the midst of perverted 
passion and passionate perversity." In after years Charlotte 
probably saw her infatuation as such. 


Over and over again, Wuthering Heights has been described 
as a dream, a nightmare, and certain scenes are veritable 
nightmares. Mrs. Humphry Ward calls it a baseless 
nightmare. Now we know that Charlotte, like Cathy, did 
actually have dreams and fever : that, like Cathy, she was 
delirious : that she resembled Caroline Helstone, who, when ill, 
was pining for Robert Gerard Moore : and like Jane Eyre, who 
longed for Rochester, when ill at Morton, after leaving Thorn- 
field, it is easy to see that there was some foundation for the 
character of Cathy. If Cathy owes something to Charlotte 
then there is only M. Heger for Heathcliff, who undoubtedly 
is a different type of lover from Rochester, Moore, or Paul 
Emanuel, although all are drawn from the same original. 
Some of the scenes in Wuthering Heights were suggested to 
Emily Bronte by what she saw in her own home. 

It is hardly fair to say that Emily's genius was entirely 
introspective, for the one novel breathes the very atmosphere 
she was surrounded by in 1844-46. It was the passionate 

(intensity of vision which moved her to write her masterpiece. 
What she saw she felt compelled to transmit, and the emotion 
that is felt by the reader of certain passages in Wuthering 
Heights must have been felt in greater intensity by Emily 
Bronte when she was writing her novel. , Like Byron she 

" A fount of fiery life 
Which served for a Titanic strife " ; 

and as Charlotte says of this best beloved sister whom she 
addressed as " Mine bonnie love " " having formed these 
beings, she did not know what she had done." 

It is probable that Emily and Charlotte occupied the same 
bedroom. The present rector of Ha worth thinks that the 
tiny room over the passage, which was said to be Emily's, 
could scarcely have been used as a bedroom, as it is only ten 
feet by five ; in any case, if Emily did not sleep in the same 
room, she would certainly have to nurse Charlotte in her 
illness, for Charlotte was ill during 1844-45. Emily, good 
and faithful, would keep old Tabby away as much as possible. 


It would not be too much to say that the two sisters agreed 
to write a novel, Emily writing of Charlotte and an 
imaginary lover and Charlotte writing of Emily and Crims- 
worth, which for the nonce represented M. Heger, as the 
conversations relating to the devoirs are certainly founded 
on actual remarks made on Emily's work at Brussels, for both 
sisters put into their novels much of their own life. In the 
light of the recently published Bronte letters in The Times, 
it is certainly remarkable that Sydney Dobell should say in 
the Palladium in 1850, " Let her (the author) rejoice if she can 
again give us such an elaboration of a rare and fearful form of 
mental disease so terribly strong, so exquisitely subtle 
with such nicety in its transitions, such intimate symptomatic 
truth in its details, as to be at once a psychological and medical 
study. It has been said of Shakespeare, that he drew cases 
which the physician might study ; Currer Bell has done no 
less." This critique was written when the writer insisted 
that Withering Heights was written by Charlotte Bronte, 
and it is an open question whether she did write down her 
dreams and nightmares. Seeing that it was Charlotte Bronte 
who had fever and delirium, and that, according to her letter 
to M. Heger, she pined away, would it be possible for her to 
remember the thoughts passing through her mind ? Does 
not this fact point to Emily as the nurse who takes Nelly 
Dean's place, and records the deliriums ? 

Sydney Dobell, in answering Charlotte Bronte, suggests a 
double entente, but the scenes in Withering Heights and Jane 
Eyre, which are similar, are not to be compared for passion, 
though the fact that Charlotte was delirious accounts for 
some of the scenes which she may have copied from Withering 
Heights, which are given by Emily. Compare the case of 
Cathy in the locked and haunted room with Jane Eyre under 
similar circumstances ; it is quite possible for Emily to be 
in the place of Nelly Dean and to be able to tell the tale quite 
graphically, and at the same time for Charlotte to relate 
it in Jane Eyre as it appeared to her. Charlotte Bronte 
admits to M. Heger in one of her letters, " Day and night I 
find neither rest nor peace. If I sleep I am disturbed by 


tormenting dreams, in which I see you always severe, always 
grave, always incensed against me," and, in a letter to Mr. 
Williams commenting on Thackeray's genius, Charlotte Bronte 
says, " he borrows nothing from fever ; his is never the energy 
of delirium." Surely it was a dream when Heathcliff visited 
Cathy just before her death ; only a woman in the throes of 
delirium would hold a lover down and say " I wish I could 

hold you till we were both dead ! I shouldn't care 

what you suffered. I care nothing for your sufferings. Why 
shouldn't you suffer ? " " I do ! Will you forget me ? Will 
you be happy when I am in the earth ? Will you say twenty 
years hence, ' That's the grave of Catherine Earnshaw ? 
I loved her long ago, and was wretched to lose her ; but it is 
passed. I have loved many others since : my children are 
dearer to me than she was ; and, at death, I shall not rejoice 
that I am going to her : I shall be sorry that I must leave 
them ! ' Will you say so, Heathcliff ? " There is a scene in 
Shirley based on this dream in the chapter on The Valley of 
the Shadow of Death, and the author says : "I was appalled 
and dared not rise to seek pencil and paper by the dim 
watchlight." Charlotte, in her recently published letters, tells 
of writing to ease her suffering, but, as she had been warned to 
tone down her letters, she writes her highly strung thoughts 
in solitude for herself. In Chapter XII, there is Cathy's three 
days' fast and her fever which point to the ravings of delirium. 
A dreaming mind is said to be a powerful although a primitive 
mind, and, if all dreams are based on a wish, it is easy to see 
the origin of Charlotte's dreams at this time. 

Nightmare has been denned as the suppression of an urgent 
wish ; if this definition is correct, then it is easy to trace 
Charlotte Bronte's nightmares during the year 1844 and 
1845, when she was regretting having left M. Heger and longing 
to see him, if only for a moment. It is thus plain to see why 
Wuthering Heights has been attributed to Charlotte Bronte, 
and why she said she possessed no real claim to it. Parts of the 
novel are based on her dreams, nightmares, fevers and her 
infatuation for M. Heger, but Emily was the nurse just as 
Nelly Dean was to Cathy ; and just as Cathy told her dreams 


to Nelly and she in turn related them to Lockwood, so Charlotte 
Bronte told her dreams to Emily who wove them into her novel, 
though the effect of this pitiful state of Charlotte urged 
Emily to create a cruel Heathcliff. Added to this is Emily's 
own experience. Charlotte tells us that Wuthering Heights 
was hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely 

The wild workshop was the Haworth parsonage on the 
desolate moors, and the homely materials Emily found in her 
own home. " He (Ellis Bell) wrought with a rude chisel, and 
from no model but the vision of his meditations." Well 
might Charlotte Bronte use the word meditations rather than 
imaginations. Emily, the brave visionary, saw power and 
strength in Charlotte's and Bran well's infatuation, but she 
also saw the evil that a passionate, selfish spirit could accom- 
plish, because it could not have its own way and realise its 
own ardent wish. Because Heathcliff could not possess 
Cathy, body and soul, he trampled on every human being 
that came in his way, and took his revenge by destroying all 
who had in any way opposed him. 

' I seek no revenge on you,' replied Heathcliff less 
vehemently. ' That's not the plan. The tyrant grinds 
down his slaves and they don't turn against him ; they crush 
those beneath them.' " There is much expressed by Emily 

The character of Heathcliff was not to Charlotte Bronte's 
liking, and it is possible that, if Emily had used him again, 
she would have toned down some of the traits in his character. 
Emily had her own troubles, but she sacrificed herself in her 
efforts to comfort other members of the family. 

Wuthering Heights has been described by Mr. Dobell as 
" the unformed writing of a giant's hand ; the large utterance 
of a baby god." Had he known Emily Bronte he would have 
recognised how well his words applied to her, rather than to 
Charlotte. Although he did not quite understand Charlotte's 
disclaimer, he wrote asking her to visit him and his wife in 
their home near Cheltenham, saying, " We will talk over 
Wuthering Heights together, and I will ask you to tell me 


everything you can remember of its wonderful author. I 
see how freely I may speak to you of my estimate of her 
genius." He would not have pressed her to discuss Emily's 
novel, if he had known that it contained records of the darkest 
time of her life when she was writing to M. Heger, and that 
is just the part that puzzled Sydney Dobell. " I shall not 
re-read this letter. I send it as I have written it. Neverthe- 
less, I have a hidden consciousness that some people, cold and 
common sense in reading it would say ' She is talking 
nonsense.' I would avenge myself on such persons in no other 
way than by wishing them one single day of the torments 
which I have suffered for eight months. We should then see 
if they would not talk nonsense, too." So writes Charlotte 
to M. Heger in November, 1845. And again " One suffers 
in silence so long as one has the strength so to do, and when 
that strength gives out one speaks without too carefully 
measuring one's words." That is the passionate Cathy, 
with her torments and her unbridled tongue in Wuthering 
Heights, as Emily describes her. 

What makes a hero, is less the deeds of the figure chosen 
than the understanding sympathy of the artist with the 
figure. Emily Bronte had loved, but the loved one was 
beyond her. Whether it was an ideal or a person matters not ; 
her passion soars beyond that of any other woman writer. 
At times she seems choked in expressing herself. It has been 
said there is no language for spirits, but Emily Bronte 
approached as near as any writer in the conversation between 
Cathy and Heathcliff ; it was spirit speaking to spirit. 
Charlotte Bronte attempted a similar task, but never attained 
the same heights, though Jane Eyre said to Rochester, " It 
is my spirit that addresses your spirit, just as if both had passed 
through the grave and we stood at God's feet, equal as we 
are ! " 

Hate is a source of inspiration just as love is, and it has been 
responsible for many works of creative genius. Shelley's 
poems owed much to his hatred of tyranny and conventionality. 
Granted that Emily Bronte saw in M. Heger an ideal, when she 
found that Charlotte's passion for him was treated with 


contempt and that Bran well's mad love for Mrs. Robinson 
made him an object of derision, she may have been inspired 
to make Heathcliff as the type of a passionate lover, brutal 
and unforgiving ; and yet his end is his longing for Heaven 
his union with Cathy. " O God ! It is a long fight, I wish 
it were over ! " and later when death draws near he exclaims, 
" I'm too happy, and yet I'm not happy enough. My soul's 
bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself." It may be 
asked finally why Emily Bronte created such a character as 
Heathcliff to mate with Cathy, since, with his fierce passion, 
he killed the woman he loved. Charlotte answers this question 
in the preface to Wuthering Heights where she says the writer 
who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he 
is not always master, something which at times strangely 
wills and works for itself ; and in support of this she quotes 
from Job xxxix 10, where it says : " Canst thou bind the 
unicorn with his band in the furrow ? or will he harrow the 
valleys after thee ? " She also makes use of verse 7 : " He 
scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the 
crying of the driver." Wuthering Heights is the outcome of 
a great mind ; it is not meant for human enjoyment or human 
opposition. It is there, and we may take it or leave it. 

In Charlotte Bronte's novels the love of the woman is always' 
greater than that of the man, and the heroines Jane Eyre, 
Caroline Helstone, and Lucy Snowe long for love first, but in 
Emily's there is equality in the love. Charlotte refers to this 
in her preface, when she says Ellis Bell could never be 
brought to comprehend that faithfulness and clemency, long- 
suffering and loving-kindness, which are esteemed virtues 
in the daughters of Eve, become foibles in the sons of Adam. 

The intensity of the passion between Heathcliff and Cathy 
leaves the readers with the firm conviction that it is immortal, 
so beautifully expressed in the concluding words of the novel. 
" I lingered round them, under that benign sky ; watched the 
moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to 
the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered 
how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the 
sleepers in that quiet earth." 


And we hear Cathy's voice twenty years after her death as 
given in the third chapter 

" * Let me in let me in ! ' 

" ' Who are you ? ' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to 
disengage myself. 

" ' Catherine Lin ton,' it replied '. I'm come home : 

I'd lost my way on the moor ! ' " 

And in the last chapter we see the boy on the moor with 
" a sheep and two lambs before him : he was crying terribly ; 
' what is the matter, my little man ? ' I asked. 

" ' There's Heathcliff and a woman yonder, under t' Nab,' 
he blubbered, ' un I darnut pass 'em. ' 

" I saw nothing ; but neither the sheep nor he would go on ; 
so I bid him take the road lower down." 

As the story begins with one spirit crying to another in 
distress, it appropriately ends with the two who haunt the 
moors together for evermore, y 





ANNE BRONTE and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Branwell Bronte 
and Anne's second novel Charlotte and Anne Bronte visit London 
They stay at the Chapter Coffee House Interview with the 
publishers Visit to the Opera Death of Branwell and Emily 

ALTHOUGH of the members of the family at Haworth parsonage 
Anne Bronte had the least claim to genius though, if she had 
not been overshadowed by her sisters, she might have ranked 
higher such was her delight on the acceptance by the pub- 
lishers of Agnes Grey that she set to work on a second novel. 
Mr. Newby, the publisher, remarked that he considered 
Wuthering Heights a dreadful book, and it seems that Agnes 
Grey was the first of the trio of novels to get accepted. 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was probably the first temperance 
novel, and it was written with a purpose. Charlotte Bronte 
loved to act as censor, and she considered that the subject 
was not by any means suitable for her sister to deal with, but 
Anne was determined, and she wrote from a most conscien- 
tious motive. Some of the reviewers found much fault with 
this novel ; it was considered exaggerated, which Anne Bronte 
denied in the preface of the second edition. She affirmed that 
the story was true enough, though she admitted that the 
profligate the principal character, " Arthur Huntingdon " 
was an extreme case. " I wished to tell the truth, for truth 
always conveys its own moral." Charlotte Bronte says that 
the choice of subject was an entire mistake, though the motives 
which dictated this choice were pure. " She (Anne Bronte) 
had, in the course of her life, been called on to contemplate 
near at hand, and for a long time, the terrible effects of talents 
misused, and faculties abused. . . . She brooded over it, 
till she believed it to be a duty to reproduce every detail 



(of course with fictitious characters, incidents and situations) 
as a warning to others." 

It is a pity that whenever a bad character appears in a 
Bronte novel, or one of the characters appears in an unfavour- 
able light, either in speech or action, poor Bran well should get 
the credit of being the original. Almost every writer on the 
Brontes attributes Huntingdon and his vices to Bran well 
Bronte. The Haworth friends, who knew the best as well as 
the worst of Branwell, emphatically denied it, and it is certain 
that Charlotte Bronte's allusion to the characters in The 
Tenant of Wild fell Hall has been misunderstood. Anne 
Bronte would never have betrayed her only brother by por- 
traying him as a drunken profligate ; she was too loyal to her 
home to expose any member in this manner, and, moreover, 
it is incomprehensible how anyone can for a moment think 
that a married man, such as Huntingdon is portrayed, could 
ever be said to have had an original in Branwell Bronte. 

Charlotte's remarks apply to a Mr. C , a curate near 

Haworth, of whom she writes in a letter to Ellen Nussey 

" Mrs. C came here the other day, with a most melan- 
choly tale of her wretched husband's drunken, extravagant, 
profligate habits. . . . 

" I am morally certain no decent woman could experience 

anything but aversion towards such a man as Mr. . Before 

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

The Squire, Mr. Lawrence* in Wildfell Hall and Heathcliff in 
Wuthering Heights have something in common, both being 
1 Mary Taylor. 


accused of " excessive reserve " and " an aversion to showy 
displays of feeling." 

When Mr. Newby accepted The Tenant of Wildfell Hall he 
sold the sheets of the novel to an American publisher, and 
caused it to be understood that the story was by the author 
of Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey, thus creating the impression 
that the three novels were written by the same person. Messrs. 
Smith, Elder & Co., Charlotte Bronte's publishers, had arranged 
to sell the sheets of her next novel to a certain publisher in 
America, but when The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was advertised 
as by the author of Jane Eyre, the American publishers at 
once asked Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. for an explanation. 
They in turn wrote to Ha worth parsonage, and caused such a 
commotion in that quiet household, that Charlotte quickly 
arranged to take Anne with her to London in order to " con- 
front Newby with the lie," after taking the advice of Mr. 
George Smith. Charlotte Bronte was always careful not to 
offend Messis. Smith, Elder & Co., who had treated her in a 
manner so different from the publishers with whom Emily 
and Anne had had to deal. The hurried preparations, the 
walk on a July day through a thunderstorm from the vicarage 
to Keighley a hard four mile walk a railway journey from 
Keighley to Leeds, and then a night journey to London had 
sufficient excitement to suit Charlotte immensely. Anne, 
however, was quiet and serene, and probably slept during the 
night travel. Charlotte had been interested in London when 
she had passed through on her way to and from Brussels, 
and the chance of visiting it again, even when on an unpleasant 
errand, satisfied her love of change and excitement. 

The arrival at Euston at seven o'clock on that Saturday 
morning afforded something for Anne to look back upon, for 
she had never been out of Yorkshire before. The two sisters 
went straight to Charlotte's old quarters at the Chapter Coffee 
House in Paternoster Row. The proprietor was doubtless 
surprised to see two quaintly dressed country women asking 
if they could have breakfast and lodgings for the week-end. 
After a meal, they meant to get a cab to Cornhill, but in their 
confusion they managed to cross the road and walk to number 


65 Cornhill ; Mr. Smith tells us it occupied nearly an hour 
to cover the half-mile. 

It is an old story how they walked into what was apparently 
a bookseller's shop, and asked for Mr. George Smith. After 
waiting a while, they were received by the busy editor, and 
Charlotte placed in his hand the letter which he had sent her. 
Mutual recognition resulted, and it was now Mr. Smith's turn 
to become excited : " You wrote Jane Eyre'' he exclaimed, 
looking at the little woman. Charlotte laughed at Mr. Smith's 
question, and admitted the authorship, and after " talk, 
talk, talk," they found their way back to the Chapter Coffee 
House. In the evening Mr. Smith called upon them, accom- 
panied by his mother, his sisters and Mr. Williams, and it was 
decided that the whole party should go to the Opera to see 
The Barber of Seville. 

Charlotte was elated at the prospect, while Anne was quiet 
and composed, as she always was, so Charlotte tells us. 
Charlotte, on the other hand, was all excitement, and she found 
it necessary to take a strong dose of sal-volatile before entering 
the carriage with her visitors. 

Mr. Williams remembered Charlotte Bronte saying : " You 
know I am not accustomed to this kind of thing," as she leaned 
on his arm when ascending the steps of the Opera House. 

Mary Taylor received a good and detailed account from 
Charlotte Bronte, which Mrs. Gaskell published. 

The sisters refused to accept an invitation to stay with 
Mr. Smith's mother at 4 Westbourne Place, Bishop's Road, 
preferring to be independent. Charlotte loved the stir and 
bustle of the City, and in Villette she says 

" Since those days, I have seen the West End, the parks, 
the fine squares ; but I love the City far better. The City 
seems so much more in earnest ; its business, its rush, its roar 
are such serious things, sights, sounds. The City is getting its 
living the West End but enjoying its pleasure. At the West 
End you maybe amused, but in the City you are deeply excited." 

The sisters had to pass through Kensington Gardens on their 
way to the home of Mr. Williams, where they took tea. They 


were struck by " the beauty of the scene, the fresh verdure 
of the turf, and the soft rich masses of foliage," and still more 
were they struck by the soft and varied intonation of the 
voices of the people in the South compared with the rough and 
blunt speech of the North. 

This visit to London was the subject of much conversation 
for a long time in the Haworth vicarage, and when some years 
afterwards Martha Brown, the servant, had an opportunity 
of visiting London, she was much interested in Paternoster 
Row and the Chapter Coffee House as well as the publishing 
firm in Cornhill. She had assured Charlotte Bronte that she 
should visit the two latter places and tell them that she came 
from Haworth parsonage. " You never will, Martha ! " said 
Charlotte. " But I will," replied Martha, in her broad York- 
shire, and her sister, Mrs. Ratcliffe, affirmed that she carried 
out her intention in part by making herself known at the 
Chapter Coffee House to the waiter, whilst at Cornhill she was 
content with seeing the young man behind the counter on 
which were books, some of which had " Currer Bell " on the 
cover. Her courage failed, however, and she did not dare 
to ask for the head of the firm, which very much amused 
Charlotte Bronte. 

After the two sisters had returned to Haworth, Charlotte 
worked hard at Shirley. Mrs. Gaskell does not tell us much 
that happened when Charlotte and Anne visited Mr. Newby, 
but Mary Taylor, in one of her letters, says : " What did Newby 
say when he met the real Ellis Bell ? " x which is strange, seeing 
that it was Currer and Acton that went to see him. The matter 
was left mainly in the hands of Mr. George Smith, who was 
not successful in obtaining the money due to the Bronte 
sisters, Emily and Anne. 

Branwell was causing trouble in the home, and the sisters 
were keeping the secret of their authorship not only from him, 
but also from their friends. Whilst in London they adopted 
the name of Brown, and they were determined that the secret 
should not leak out through them. It was about this time, 

1 Evidently an error as in her next letter she refers to Emily as the 
author of Wuthering Heights. 


when Branwell was drinking heavily, that he narrowly escaped 
with his life. Having gone to bed drunk, he managed to set 
his bedclothes on fire, and Charlotte, passing the bedroom, 
saw the flames and called to Emily, who quickly threw water 
over the bed and partly dragged and partly carried Branwell 
to her own room. It was all a matter of a few moments, and 
after giving up her own bed she contented herself with the 
couch in the dining-room, the one on which she breathed her last. 
That horsehair sofa is still in use in Bradford, though, when 
I last saw it, it was in a house near the vicarage at Haworth. 

Mr. Clement Shorter has questioned this incident, which Miss 
Robinson first mentioned in her monograph on Emily Bronte, 
but the account is quite true. The story was confirmed by 
Dr. Ingham, the Haworth doctor who attended some of the 
members of the Bronte family. As Mr. Bronte was still living 
when Mrs. Gaskell collected her information, Dr. Ingham did not 
volunteer any details about the family, though he was able after- 
wards to point out several errors in the Life of Charlotte Bronte. 

Branwell Bronte's health was completely undermined by 
his drinking habits, and in fact he was slowly dying of consump- 
tion. Mrs. Ratcliffe told me that he became a mere skeleton. 
She well remembers the last time he was in her father's house, 
when she and her sisters were teasing him because his clothes 
hung on him so loosely ; they asked him if he had got his 
father's coat on. Poor fellow ! he was dead two days after- 
wards. John Brown, the sexton, went to see him in his bed- 
room on the day that he died, and he affirmed that Branwell 
did not die standing up, as stated by Mrs. Gaskell. From 
what the father told Mr. Brown, Branwell lost all his bravado ; 
he raised himself a little, as the last paroxysm came on, just 
before he died, and was very penitent and prayed for forgive- 
ness from all the members of the family. He whispered 
" Amen " after his father had prayed by the bedside. 

Haworth mourned for this misguided brother, for with all 
his faults he was a favourite. In his early days, much was 
expected of the brilliant youth, who, it was hoped, would hand 
down the name of Bronte to future generations as one worthy 
of being remembered. 


According to the old servants, Emily mourned most for the 
brother. " She died of a broken heart for love of her brother 
Branwell," said Martha Brown's sister. She realised what 
he might have been, had he been trained and guided aright. 
Charlotte seemed surprised that Branwell should have died 
so soon, but Emily, who waited for him, night after night, 
probably knew that the end was not far off. She was the only 
sister who wrote stanzas to his memory. Charlotte had lost 
patience with him and, if Haworth tales are to be believed, 
she did not speak to him for weeks together before his death. 
Anne, like Emily, pitied him ; she writes of his illness and of 
his having much tribulation when at Thorpe Green, and, like 
Emily, she hoped " He would be better, and do better in the 

The funeral was the first after the aunt's death. All the 
family attended, as well as the Browns, and a neighbouring 
clergyman. Emily went back to the house broken-hearted ; 
she was present at the funeral service on the following Sunday, 
and that was the last time she was out of doors. It was 
September, and a cold on the chest developed lung trouble. 
At all costs a doctor should have been consulted, whether she 
agreed or not. Charlotte's pitiful appeal to Mr. Williams for 
help and advice is sad reading, but it needed a stronger will 
than Charlotte's to deal with Emily. What the father was 
thinking of is a puzzle, but Emily was considered to be the 
strong member of the family. When Tabby was old and feeble, 
it was Emily who took her place in the early morning, and it 
was she who traversed the moors in all sorts of weather with 
her dogs at her heels. 

Charlotte and Anne had a sad time during the illness of 
Emily, who seemed to be a fatalist, and was prepared to suffer 
rather than yield and consult a doctor. In early December 
Charlotte searched the moors for one sprig of heather, however 
faded, but Emily was too ill to appreciate it. The old servants 
said that she dreaded giving trouble ; she had great faith in 
her own strong will power. Well might she write in her 
Last Lines, " No coward soul is mine." 

There are few more pathetic scenes described in literature 


than that of Emily Bronte in her dying moments. Getting 
out of bed, she tried to comb her hair before the fire, but such 
was her weakness that the comb fell from her hand into the 
fire. Martha Brown was near, and the poor, dying Emily 
gasped, " See, Martha, my comb has fallen into the fire, and I 
cannot get it." Martha picked it up and recognised that 
Emily had not long to live. After dressing herself she was 
quite exhausted and remarked, " I will see a doctor now," 
but it was too late ; she leaned on the couch and passed 
quietly away. The brave, heroic spirit was quenched, and 
Charlotte and Anne, with the old father, had to suffer another 
and a greater bereavement. 

There is not the slightest doubt that Emily might have 
lived longer if she had received medical aid in time, but " while 
full of ruth for others, on herself she had no pity." 

The old comb, with a piece burnt out, that fell from Emily's 
grasp, is now in my possession. It was the last thing that 
Emily held, and, when she could no longer retain it in her hand, 
she realised that she was meeting death, of which she had so 
often written. 

Haworth had scarcely recovered from the shock of BranwelPs 
death, when the old church bell tolled for Emily, the pride 
of the family, and the willing helper of the old servants. She 
whom none had quite understood was taken from them, and 
the parsonage had lost its most helpful inmate. There are 
no letters of Anne's to show her grief, but, if Charlotte missed 
the sister " who made the sunshine of her life," what must Anne 
have felt, to whom Emily had been as a second mother ? Anne 
was frail and timid, though brave, as all the Bronte's were, but 
Emily was always ready to shield and defend her. The little 
gate of death at the end of the garden had once more to be 
unlocked to permit of another sad procession to wind its way 
through to the church. The poor, broken-hearted father, 
Charlotte, Anne, the servants and the curate, Mr. Nicholls, 
were there. The whole village gathered round the grave ; 
it was pitiful that Emily the Major, as she was called, because 
of her smart, soldierly bearing should so soon have followed 
Bran well to his last, long home. 


" As the old bereaved father and his two surviving children 
followed the coffin to the grave, they were joined by Keeper, 
Emily's fierce, faithful bull-dog. He walked alongside 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." 

Charlotte Bronte's letters at this time are sad reading : 
there is no rebellion. She would know fiom Emily's poetry 
that death was welcome to this child of nature. Her poems 
are full of an ache for the release of the spirit ; the body seemed 
to clog it, and it may be that she longed for rest and welcomed 
death. The date of her poem entitled Death is 1843, the year 
after she left Brussels. If Emily Bronte could have chosen 
her grave, it would not have been in the cold, damp church, 
but on the wild moors. 

Death ! that struck when I was most confiding 

In my certain faith of joy to be 
Strike again, Time's withered branch dividing 
From the fresh root of Eternity ! 

Strike it down, that other boughs may flourish 
Where that perished sapling used to be ; 

Thus, at least, its mouldering corpse will nourish 
That from which it springs Eternity." 

Charlotte tells how, as Emily's physical strength diminished, 
mentally she grew stronger. " Day by day, when I saw with 
what a front she met suffering, I looked on her with an anguish 
of wonder and love." Emily Bronte's Last Lines must have 
been written at this time. 

" No coward soul is mine, 
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere ; 

I see Heaven's glories shine, 
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear. 

O God within my breast, 
Almighty, ever-present Deity ! 

Life that in me has rest, 
As I undying Life have power in Thee ! 


Vain are the thousand creeds 
That move men's hearts : unutterably vain ; 

Worthless as withered weeds, 
Or idle froth amid the boundless main. 

To waken doubt in one, 
Holding so fast by Thine infinity ; 

So surely anchored on 
The steadfast rock of immortality. 

With wide-embracing love 
Thy spirit animates eternal years, 

Pervades and broods above, 
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears. 

Though earth and man were gone, 
And suns and universes ceased to be, 

And Thou wert left alone, 
Every existence would exist in Thee. 

There is not room for Death, 
Nor atom nor his might could render void ; 

Thou THOU art Being and Breath, 
And what Thou art may never be destroyed." 

Much as Charlotte felt the loss, she tried to be resigned. 
" Emily suffers no more from pain or weakness now. She will 
never suffer more in this world. . . . 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 pro- 
mise. 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 that 
she has left." Poor Charlotte ! left with delicate Anne to 
struggle through that hard winter of 1848-1849. 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S preparations for writing the story Difficulties 
in her way The curates in Shirley Charlotte Bronte and Mr. 
A. B. Nicholls Characters in the novel Writing of the novel 
laid aside owing to Anne Bronte" s death The story continued and 
completed Reception of Shirley Mrs. Gaskell's first letter to 
Charlotte Bronte The curates in the story recognised and defended. 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE commenced Shirley in the spring of 
1848, after having fixed on a subj ect. Mr. Butterfield of Keighley 
said she had asked his opinion about writing a novel based 
on the Chartist movement, but he dissuaded her, and then, 
possibly at the suggestion of her father, she gathered all the 
information she could on the Luddites, obtaining the loan of 
old copies of the Leeds Mercury for 1812, '13 and '14, and 
taking notes, as well as getting information from her father, 
her Birstall and Gomersal friends, and the Wooler family at 
Dewsbury. Mr. Bronte, Miss Wooler and the Nusseys took 
the side of the masters, being Tories and staunch church 
folk. The Taylors of Gomersal were Nonconformists and 
Radicals, and took the side of the people. 

Shirley was the book that was written on the rebound of the 
popularity of Jane Eyre : the success, in spite of some scathing 
reviews, had given Charlotte a great zest for her work and a 
desire to excel, but when she exerted herself most she seemed 
to please least. She had fixed on Hollows Mill for the title ; 
later she hesitated between Fieldhead and Shirley, and her 
publishers decided on Shirley. 

It was a happy thought to immortalise her sister, but, by 
the time twenty-three chapters had been written, the old 
parsonage was full of trouble : Branwell was very ill and had 
become a slave to opium. Emily at this time was assisting 
in the housework and rendering what help she could to her 
miserable brother. It was quite in agreement with Emily's 



unselfishness to release Charlotte as much as possible, so that 
she could get her second novel finished. 

It is easy to see why Charlotte had no patience to talk to 
Branwell ; she had her novel to write, and it engaged all her 
thoughts. The kindness she had received from her publishers 
made her very anxious to please. Shirley was not a story in 
the first person, as was the case with Jane Eyre ; she had to 
make the chapters fit in, and create the characters, which to 
Charlotte Bronte was far from being an easy task. Shirley 
never touched the heights realised in Jane Eyre and later in 

Just as Mrs. Gaskell wrote Cranford on the rebound after 
Mary Barton, and proved that she could write a humorous 
as well as a sad story, so Charlotte Bronte, though almost 
devoid of the saving grace of humour, tried to raise a laugh 
in Shirley, if only at the curates. Unlike Mrs. Gaskell, she 
showed a tendency to become sarcastic rather than humorous, 
and the curates, except, perhaps, Mr. Nicholls, were not too 
pleased with the liberty which had been taken with their 
characters, and above all, with their office. Moreover, 
Charlotte Bronte had been careful not to caricature her 
father's curate for the time being Mr. Nicholls as he might 
have retaliated and thus made it awkward for her father 
as well as for herself. Haworth people, who knew Charlotte 
Bronte and Mr. Nicholls too, thought that the flattering 
portrait that Charlotte drew of Mr. Nicholls as Mr. Macarthey 
was the first step in their love affair. Mr. Nicholls himself was 
extremely pleased to be shown in such a favourable light by the 
distinguished author, and especially that he should have been 
immortalised with so much eulogy. It is probable that he 
inferred that the novelist had a kind regard for him, which 
might grow into something more affectionate. Some of the 
villagers were none too proud of him, as they knew him well, 
and they agreed with old Mr. Bronte that he was not good 
enough for Charlotte. They thought Shirley was responsible 
to a great extent for the beginning of the love affair, though it 
is doubtful if Charlotte for one moment suspected it. Her 
independent spirit would have rebelled against the idea that 


she could make the first advance, for she quite gave Ellen 
Nussey the impression that she did not like Mr. Nicholls in 
the early days, so that the favourable representation of him 
in Shirley may be taken as a clever bit of diplomacy. If 
Jane Eyre offended the Mrs. Grundy of the period, Shirley 
was not altogether pleasant reading for those nearest home. 
Outsiders could laugh at the curates' tea parties, but those in 
the Ha worth district were quick to recognise the originals. 
The sexton's family was fond of telling how Mr. Nicholls 
nearly raised the roof with his boisterous laughter over the 
shortcomings of the curates, and Shirley pleased him far more 
than Jane Eyre. He was not a genius himself, and he could 
not detect genius in others very readily, but Shirley was more 
to his taste than either Jane Eyre or Villette. 

Charlotte Bronte put some of her best work into Shirley, 
though the story is somewhat disjointed, and it does not, like 
Jane Eyre, carry the reader on by a mighty torrent. There is 
not in it the same passion and life, and the figures at certain 
times move like puppets at a show. Although Shirley Keeldar, 
who is based on Emily, or rather is what Emily would have 
been under such circumstances, figures as the heroine, Caroline 
Helstone is the most convincing character. Ellen Nussey 
liked to think that she herself was the original of Caroline 
Helstone, but, as a matter of fact, Charlotte Bronte put too 
much of herself in the character. Caroline Helstone is a much 
more modest figure than Jane Eyre, but Charlotte is there 
with her longing for love, though she does not betray herself 
quite so openly as Jane Eyre does. Harriet Martineau 
reviewed Shirley in the Daily News, but the criticism did not 
please Charlotte Bronte. 

There are one or two reveries in Shirley that look like extracts 
from some old mystic ; the first was when Caroline and Shirley 
were together on the calm evening in the Briarmains church- 
yard, which is Birstall churchyard. " Nature is now at her 
evening prayers ; she is kneeling before those red hills. I see 
her prostrate on the great steps of her altar, praying for a fair 
night for mariners at sea, for travellers in deserts, for lambs 
on moors, and unfledged birds in woods. . . I see her, and I 


will tell you what she is like : she is like what Eve was when 
she and Adam stood alone on earth." 

The second is in the chapter on the " First Blue-Stocking," 
and was suggested by a devoir written by Charlotte and 
corrected by M. Heger. The original, which I have handled, is 
now in the possession of the Heger family ; it was written by 
Charlotte Bronte in 1843 when at the Heger pensionnat, and 
it is possible that she had this in mind when she wrote the 
chapter in Shirley, headed " The first blue-stocking the account 
of the meeting of Genius and Humanity." 

M. Heger wrote at the end of the devoir his own description 
of genius which differed from his pupil's. 

Shirley Keeldar is quite an imaginary character, though said 
by Charlotte Bronte to be based on her sister Emily ; she does 
not ring quite true to life. Who could for a moment think 
of Shirley Keeldar as the author of Wuthering Heights ! it is 
impossible. Robert Moore has something of the temperament 
of Rochester, but he is not quite so coarse and brusque, though 
both owe much to M. Heger and also to Mr. Joshua Taylor. 
Louis Moore is not a good character, and he seems made to 
order for Shirley, and not at all quite real enough for the 
mistress of Fieldhead. 

, Mrs. Pryor owes something to Miss Margaret Wooler, but 
she is not one of Charlotte Bronte's best drawn characters. 
The Yorkes are the Taylors of Gomersal, true to life, and the 
houses which figure in the story are all to be found in the vicinity 
of Birstall and Gomersal, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. 

Helstone, " the old Cossack," owes much to Patrick Bronte, 
though the character is really founded on Hammond Roberson 
whom Charlotte Bronte only saw once, but she heard much 
concerning him from her father, the Taylors, Nusseys, and her 
schoolmistress, Miss Wooler. 

Oakwell Hall the Fieldhead of Shirley, and the home of 
Shirley Keeldar is the most important house in the story. 
The Walkers, who lived there at the time that Charlotte Bronte 
visited the house with Ellen Nussey, were friends of the Nusseys. 
In Henry Nussey's diary he mentions the wedding of one of the 
Walkers of Oakwell Hall. 


On 6th October, 1908, I was privileged to go through every 
room in the house accompanied by the lady who lives there. 
With a copy of Shirley at hand it is easy to trace all the delight- 
ful scenes associated with this beautiful home. The large 
banqueting hall, " very sombre it was, long, vast and dark," 
is full of historic interest, dating from 1583, when the floor 
was strewn with rushes, and the hunters came back from 
the chase with their spoils and their dogs. The beautifully 
carved fret-work gates at the bottom of the stairs leading 
to the gallery were necessary then to keep the dogs from 
entering the upper rooms ; it was through those open gates, on 
to the gallery above, that Mr. Donne escaped from Tartar, one 
of the most graphic scenes in Shirley. 

The old oak panels are still very handsome. " These shining 
brown panels are very yellow in colour and beautiful in effect," 
says Charlotte Bronte. The large window of two thousand 
diamond-shaped panes has many names scratched on it, the 
most distinguished being that of Charlotte Bronte, which 
may still be seen. Near the door hangs a framed invitation 
card for the last hunt held in the Birstall district ; it contains 
the names of the fourteen gentlemen who took part in the 
chase, and who afterwards dined in the banqueting hall from 
the venison they brought. In this hall is an arm-chair bought 
by Mrs. Maggs at Miss Nussey's sale in May 1898, because it 
was Charlotte Bronte's favourite chair when staying with the 
Nusseys. She sat in this chair when correcting the proofs of 
Jane Eyre. The gallery on one side of the hall is worn and 
slippery, and it slopes towards the room below. The bedrooms 
open on the gallery, and it was in one of these that Mr. Donne 
hid when Tartar was on his heels. 

The story of the ghost and the bloody footprints which 
Mrs. Gaskell mentions in connection with the Batts, the original 
owners, are gone and this room has lost its importance, but as 
no ghost haunts the house now the tenant has supplanted it 
by a skeleton in the cupboard, this being the painting of a 
skeleton on the back of an old cupboard in the gallery. For- 
tunately the present tenants have not attempted to modernise 
the place, but have restored the hall to its former grandeur, 

34 (aaoo) 


It is decorated with shields and stag-heads, which are in 
keeping with its old associations. 

Here is the drawing-room that Charlotte Bronte described 
as being " pinky white," which she commended as being less 
trouble to the housemaid than the original oak panels, which 
needed so much polishing, but it is a matter for regret that the 
oak, even in Charlotte's days, had been covered by a coat of 
paint. Even the old Tudor fire-place had been blocked up, 
but the present owner has had the modern fire-grate removed 
and its place taken by the old sixteenth century one. For- 
merly the ceiling was stucco, and on it were depicted the little 
griffins and devils, but some time ago the house was untenanted 
for years, and during that period the old ceiling fell and the 
stucco was destroyed with the exception of a little by the side 
of the windows. Even the old oak panels in the bedrooms 
had been painted green, but the paint has now been removed. 
Attached to the best bedrooms are small powder-rooms, which 
were necessary in the days of powdered hair. The house 
shows that it was built in troublous times, for each of the 
bedroom windows has strong iron bars across, and the outside 
doors are provided with bolts which reach from one side of 
the door to the other. The hall bears traces of having been 
built in the time of the Civil Wars ; there are the remains of a 
moat round the house. The battlefield of Adwalton Moor is 
near by, where the Parliamentarians, under Lord Fairfax, met 
with a severe reverse, some two thousand being killed or 
mortally wounded. The old-world garden at the back of the 
house is much as it was when Shirley and Caroline walked in 
it. In spring-time the blossom on the trees gives it the 
appearance of fairyland. 

Birstall Church is only about a mile from Oakwell Hall, 
and by the " green hedges and greener leas " Robert Moore 
walked home with Caroline Helstone, taking three-quarters of 
an hour to walk a mile, as Shirley said. In the churchyard 
Ellen Nussey lies buried. Like Haworth Church, all but the 
tower has been re-built, and the old rectory, where Caroline 
lived, has also been demolished. 

About a quarter of a mile from the church is The Rydings, 


where Charlotte Bronte spent so many happy days with the 
Nusseys, and which she pictures as Thornfield. There is a 
sunk fence, and until within the last few years there was an 
old oak tree that had been split by lightning, which suggested 
the memorable scene in Jane Eyre. Only a short distance 
away is Gomersal, and on the main road is the Red House, 
still the home of a branch of the Taylor family. Roe Head, 
Mirfield and Kirklees Hall the Nunnely of Shirley are not 
far away. The whole district has come to be known as 
The Shirley Country, and in summer the residents of the houses 
associated with the Brontes are much troubled by visitors, 
as many as twelve large parties on one Saturday afternoon 
asking to go through Oakwell Hall, one excursion party 
wondering if they could have tea on the lawn. 

Miss Wheelwright told me that she would have recognised 
that Shirley was written by Charlotte Bronte because of 
Hortense, whom she knew as Mdlle Hausse, in the Heger 
Pensionnat, but Charlotte Bronte was then known to be 
Currer Bell. The disguise is so slight in the tale that there is 
no difficulty in recognising the originals both of persons and 
places. An article written by the Rev. Canon Bailey, a nephew 
of Mr. Roberson, was published in the Heckmondwike Herald 
and Courier after Mrs. GaskelPs Life of Charlotte Bronte was 
issued, complaining of what had been published both by 
Mrs. Gaskell and Charlotte Bronte regarding Mr. Hammond 
Roberson. Ellen Nussey was most indignant concerning what 
was said of Charlotte Bronte in this article, and she got a friend 
to write to the paper complaining, and she quoted what the 
author of Shirley herself had said. " You are not to suppose 
that any of the characters in Shirley are intended as literal 
portraits," but this did not satisfy the parsons in the story, as 
it was not difficult to identify them. Ellen Nussey went so 
far as to sign herself Caroline Helstone when writing to the 
Vicar of Birstall, who signed himself Cyril Hall. 

Charlotte Bronte had got as far as Chapter XXIII, where 
Louis Moore comes on the scene, and then her pen was laid 
aside for months. " I should consider myself blameworthy 

I attempted to write," she avowed, and well she might. 


BranwelPs death in September, followed by Emily's illness and 
death in December, and the very sad time between then and 
the following May, when Anne died, caused the author to put 
the novel aside. There was just the possibility that she might 
never complete the story, though it must be acknowledged 
that the literary effort which she made to complete it was a 
means of blessing to her and saved her from herself. After 
a few days at Scarborough, after Anne's death, with Ellen 
Nussey she visited the little farm at Easton, and there she took 
up again the thread of her novel. 

Chapter XXIII, probably written in the August or September 
of 1848, was entitled, " An Evening Out." After the interval 
previously referred to, she calls her next chapter " The Valley 
of the Shadow of Death," and the first paragraph a sort of 
prologue seems necessary to bridge the last chapter and the 
new one. 

" The future sometimes seems to sob a low warning of the 
events it is bringing us, like some gathering though yet remote 
storm, which, in tones of the wind, in flushings of the firmament, 
in clouds strangely torn, announces a blast strong to strew the 
sea with wrecks ; or commissioned to bring in fog the yellow 
taint of pestilence, covering white Western isles with the 
poisoned exhalations of the East, dimming the lattices of 
English homes with the breath of Indian plague. At other 
times this Future bursts suddenly, as if a rock had rent, and 
in it a grave had opened, whence issues the body of one that 
slept. Ere you are aware you stand face to face with a shrouded 
and unthought-of calamity a new Lazarus." 

The twenty-fourth chapter in Shirley concludes, " Till 
break of day, she wrestled with God in earnest prayer." 

Charlotte Bronte arrived home in the middle of June, 1849, 
and by the end of August the book was finished, and Mr. James 
Taylor, of Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., called at Haworth 
parsonage and took the manuscript with him to Cornhill. 
Writing to her faithful friend, Ellen Nussey, she tells her that 
the publishers are delighted with Shirley, which is a support 
to her, but life is a battle. She had begun to write Shirley 
full of love for her favourite sister, and she took pleasure in 


making her the heroine that she meant Shirley to be, but it 
must have been hard to continue writing about the sister 
when she was cold in the grave. The story, however, grows, 
and Brussels contributes to it. There is the finding of the old 
copy books, the praise of Shirley's French all true to life. 
The daring of the last chapter entitled " The Winding Up," 
resembles the conclusion of a play : all the members toe the 
line and bow to the audience ; but the writer does more than 
that, she gives running comments on all her characters. Mr. 
Nicholls, as Mr. Macarthey, comes in for eulogium, which is 
more than the other curates get. 

"There came as his successor another Irish curate, Mr. 
Macarthey. I am happy to be able to inform you, with truth, 
that this gentleman did as much credit to his country as Malone 
had done it discredit : he proved himself as decent, decorous, 

and conscientious, 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 ; what many would call virtues : 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. Macarthey's physical and mental economy ; 
otherwise he was sane and rational, diligent and charitable." 

The conclusion of the story tells of a double wedding, which 
is reminiscent of Patrick Bronte's and the Rev. William 
Morgan's marriage ; the brides were cousins, Miss Branwell 
and Miss Fennell, and in Shirley the bridegrooms are brothers. 
The author has evidently exerted herself to let the story end 
happily with the wedding bells and the mention of a fserish 
(fairy) in Fieldhead Hollow. " That was the last faerish that 
ever was seen on the country side (though they've been heard 
within these forty years). A lonesome spot it was and a 
bonnie spot full of oak trees and nut trees. It is altered now." 


This refers to Kirklees Park, near Roe Head. Mrs. Gaskell 
enjoyed a chat with Old Tabby when visiting Haworth, and, 
with characteristic love of the supernatural, she delighted 
to hear Tabby tell of the fairies of the district, as she mentions 
in one of her letters. 

Shirley was a great success, and quickly went into a second 
edition. The publishers had wished for certain slight altera- 
tions, but Charlotte Bronte would not give way ; she had 
satisfied herself, and there were no censors at home now, 
as her father did not count. The story has always taken the 
third place in Charlotte Bronte's novels. If the bolts of death 
had not fallen in the midst of the tale, it might possibly have 
been different in some respects, but it probably followed the 
lines the author intended. 

Mrs. Atkinson, Charlotte Brontes godmother, who lived at 
Green House, Mirfield, was very angry because of the treat- 
ment meted out to the clergy in the story, and consequently 
Charlotte Bronte got no further recognition from her. Though 
Mr. Atkinson is not known to figure in the story, the novelist 
probably felt like Mrs. Gaskell with regard to Cranford, " They 
say I have put them in the story, do they ! very well, if the 
caps fits they may wear it." 

Shirley was published on 26th October, 1849, and the reviews 
were for the most part favourable. Some readers prefer it 
to the other Bronte novels because it is not quite so passionate, 
and it does not offend the prude. Just as Mrs. Gaskell could 
enjoy reading Cranford with a laugh, so Charlotte Bronte, in 
later days, could enjoy the earlier part of Shirley. 

She received the same amount for the copyright of Shirley, 
viz., five hundred pounds, that she had been paid for Jane 
Eyre. It has been said that there were no offers from rival 
firms, but Ellen Nussey, on the authority of Charlotte Bronte 
herself, said that other firms did offer larger sums of money, 
but the author was loyal to her first publisher, who had given 
her a kindly word of encouragement in connection with The 
Professor, and had raised her from the despair which chilled 
her heart by accepting Jane Eyre. 

Shirley was responsible for Mrs. GaskelTs first letter to 


Charlotte Bronte. She had got her publisher to forward a 
copy of Shirley to Mrs. Gaskell, whose reply reminded Charlotte 
Bronte of Emily. 

Charlotte Bronte never seemed to lose sight of her sister 
Emily. She likens her to Mrs. Gaskell and Miss Martineau before 
she had seen them, because she thought they were like Emily in 
mind. When she met George Henry Lewes, she thought he 
was like Emily, and when she saw her own unfinished portrait 
by George Richmond, with tears in her eyes, she remarked 
that it reminded her of Emily ; Emily's face haunted her. 

Though Shirley was well received both in England and 
America, many critics, including Charles Kingsley, were 
displeased with the opening chapter, which caused some pre- 
judice against the book, but in answer to a letter from Mr. W. S. 
Williams Charlotte Bronte said that the first chapter was all 
true. However, it deeply offended " the fighting gentry," as 
Charlotte termed the curates, and they complained of the 
author's account of the tea parties and said they were meet- 
ings for theological discussion. Even Mr. Nicholls said 
that Charlotte Bronte was wrong in her statement, but he 
considered it was fiction and not given as truth. 

Shirley was scarcely just to the curates who figured as 
Mr. Donne, Mr. Malone, Mr. Sweeting and Mr. Macarthey. 
In real life these were respectively the Rev. Joseph Brett 
Grant, who was at the time master of the Haworth Grammar 
School and afterwards curate and subsequently Vicar of 
Oxenhope, the Rev. James William Smith, the Rev. James 
Chesterton Bradley and the Rev. A. B. Nicholls. Mr. Smith 
was a graduate of Dublin University and for two years a curate 
at Haworth. He was accused by Charlotte Bronte of being 
too fond of drink, and those who wish to find a reason for the 
novelist's leaving Brussels in January, 1844, other than the true 
one, have suggested that this curate was influencing his vicar 
and causing him to imbibe too freely. There is no truth in 
this, and as recently as 3rd May, 1902, the Rev. James Chester- 
ton Bradley, who was formerly curate at Oakworth, wrote 
bearing testimony to Mr. Smith's excellent character, and pro- 
tested against the false and cruel way in which Charlotte 


Bronte had held up Mr. Smith in Shirley. The nephew, Mr. 
W. Smith, wrote to the Taller on 2nd April, 1902, defending 
his uncle, who had led an exemplary life and had tried to build 
up a home in Canada for his Irish relatives. If Charlotte 
Bronte took a dislike to anyone, she seemed unable to keep 
him out of her stories, and her letters to Ellen Nussey show that 
she had some antipathy to Mr. Smith, and was afraid of his 
paying attention to her friend. 

It is interesting to find in the old minute book of the Haworth 
Mechanics' Institute a resolution proposed by Mr. Nicholls, 
about the time that Shirley was published, advocating that 
fiction should not be purchased for the library at the expense 
of more solid books. 

Not only was Shirley bought in its three volume form, but 
such was the demand for it that a time limit was placed on its 
use by subscribers to the library, and a fine of one shilling was 
imposed on those who kept it too long. Jane Eyre and 
Wuihering Heights were too far-fetched for the people of 
Haworth, but Shirley was more to their taste. 

Martha Brown's sister told me of the tremendous excite- 
ment which the novel caused in Haworth. When it was known 
who had written it (for it was a native of the Haworth district 
living at Liverpool who identified the curates and traced 
the authorship of the novel to the Haworth parsonage), 
Martha Brown burst into the dining-room one day saying, 
** Oh, Miss Bronte, you have gone and written the two grandest 
books that ever were known, and the Committee of the 
Mechanics' Institute are arranging to buy them." Charlotte 
told the proud domestic to be off and not talk nonsense, and 
then she was troubled, thinking what the natives of the village 
would say. Her conscience, no doubt, pricked her when 
she found how easily the characters were identified. 

William Johnson Cory, in his journal, writes of Shirley as 
the best of books, and tells of his longing when on tour in 
Yorkshire to find some of the originals of the story. He speaks 
of it as a book of courage and says that he preferred Caroline 
to all women in books. He thought that Charlotte Bronte 
" was not nearly so good or wise as Mrs. Gaskell, or Juliana 


(Mrs. Ewing) or perhaps Christina Rossetti, but she told us 
all about her eager, passionate life." 

When visiting the old parsonage, years after Shirley was 
published, he wrote, " Out of that prison the little Charlotte 
put forth a hand to feel for the world of human emotion. I 
wish she would come back to us, and count up the myriads 
to whom she has given new souls." 

It was no use for Charlotte Bronte to attempt to hide her 
identity any longer. A young author living at Bradford 
suspected that she had written Shirley, and he wrote to her 
and sent a copy of his book, which she acknowledged in her 
own name, and so the nom de guerre of Currer Bell, though 
still used by her, did not hide her identity, and to-day Currer 
Bell is seldom used, but Charlotte Bronte is recognised 
throughout the whole literary world. 



Jane Eyre and the Quarterly Review Anne Bronte's illness 
Charlotte and Anne Bronte go to Scarborough, accompanied by 
Ellen Nussey The journey broken at York Arrival at Scar- 
borough Ellen Nussey's account of Anne Bronte's last hours 
Funeral at Scarborough Inexplicable conduct of Mr. Bronte 
Grave-stone in St. Mary's Churchyard Charlotte Bronte's return 
to Haworth. 

IT was during the sad December when Emily Bronte* died that 
the scurrilous article on Jane Eyre appeared in the Quarterly 
Review. Charlotte Bronte was too much absorbed in her sad 
bereavement to trouble much about it then, but later it was 
frequently in her mind. The copy of the Quarterly, which was 
sent to her, was for long in the possession of Martha Brown. 
It had evidently been well thumbed, and was found in a drawer 
after Charlotte's death. It is clear that she had taken the 
criticism very much to heart, but her sorrow for her dead 
sister and her anxiety concerning Anne left her little time to 
worry about it. It was probably at a later period, after 
Anne's death, that she read and re-read this review of her 
book, and she kept it from her father. 

Mrs. Gaskell, who knew to her sorrow what it meant to 
receive a spiteful and unfair review, was highly indignant. 
It was the flippancy that annoyed her, and also the fact that 
the review was not signed. " We call it then cowardly 
insolence." " Who is he that should say of an unknown 
woman, she must be one, who, for some sufficient reason, has 
long forfeited the society of her sex ? " 

Too much has been made of this scathing review, and it 
stands out with too great prominence. To-day it would not 
be accepted as a review at all, for a good part of it has little to 
do with Jane Eyre ; it is a treatise on governesses and their 
work. It was intended to be very severe, but Andrew Lang 



detected in it the work of two writers, and he thought that the 
part about the governess was written by Miss Rigby (who 
afterwards became Lady Eastlake) and the bitter, critical 
part by Lockhart. If this is so, then the most objectionable 
part of the review cannot be attributed to a woman. Charlotte 
Bronte's only revenge was to put some of the review into the 
mouth of one of the vulgar women characters in Shirley, but 
few readers have recognised this. " Governesses," Miss 
Hardman laid down, " must ever be kept in a sort of isolation : 
it is the only means of maintaining that distance which the 
reserve of English manners and the decorum of English families 
exact." .... " We need the imprudences, extravagances, 
mistakes and crimes of a certain number of fathers to sow the 
seed from which we reap the harvest of governesses." 

Reviews good, bad or indifferent were matters of little 
importance to Charlotte Bronte at this time, for all her thought 
was for her only surviving sister, Anne, who had never been 
strong, and whose years as a governess, both at Blake Hall and 
Thorpe Green, had been very strenuous. At the same time, it 
is questionable if the writing of their novels had not been a 
greater strain than teaching to both Emily and Anne. Char- 
lotte remarked that the bringing out of their poems had been 
hard work, but the novels seem to have furnished a much more 
severe task. To such sensitive natures, the reviews must have 
caused great and unnecessary anxiety. Branwell had added 
to the burden, and with no one else to lean upon the women 
in the Bronte family had a hard time whilst they were groping 
their way into the field of literature. From January to May, 
1849, Anne was ill, and Charlotte was almost beside herself 
to find a check to the hand of death. The well-known Dr. 
Teale, of Leeds, was consulted, and also Dr. Forbes, a homoeo- 
pathic doctor of London ; nothing was spared, for, unlike Emily, 
Anne was willing to try any remedy in order that she might 
live, and the legacy which she had received from her god- 
mother, Miss Outhwaite of Thornton, enabled her to afford 
any medical skill. The faithful Ellen Nussey did all she could, 
and as a last resource Anne wished for a change of air. She 
had been to Scarborough with the Robinsons on several 


occasions, and she felt that if she could get to the sea she would 
be better. Charlotte's heart was at breaking point ; the loss 
of Emily was ever with her. " The feeling of Emily's loss does 
not diminish as time wears on ; it often makes itself acutely 
recognised." Again Charlotte refers to it : "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." How well to know that Charlotte 
considered Emily's a happy life ! 

Anne wished to live, and that helped both her and her 
friends. She writes to Ellen Nussey : "I have no horror of 
death . . . but I wish it would please God to spare me, not 
only for papa's and Charlotte's sake, 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 such little purpose, but God's will be 
done." M. Dimnet, in his Les Sceurs Bronte, says, "This 
pious little Anne would have been considered a genius in any 
other family, but her sisters overshadowed her." 

Anne was actually dying when she started for Scarborough, 
and Martha Brown remarked it as she helped the poor invalid 
to the conveyance that was to take her down the steep Ha worth 
hill for the last time. Charlotte felt that her sister would 
never return, but she could not deny her last request. It 
was arranged that Ellen Nussey should meet Charlotte and 
Anne at Leeds, but on the day fixed for the journey Anne 
was too ill to go, and Ellen Nussey told in later days how she 
waited for hours on the platform at Leeds, and whilst waiting 
she saw two coffins carried from two different trains, which 
she considered to be a bad omen. As Charlotte Bronte had 
not been able to communicate with Miss Nussey she returned 
home, but she started the next day for Haworth, and was just 
in time to see the servants helping the dying Anne into the 
conveyance. Ellen Nussey never cared to talk of this sad 
time, but she wrote an account of it for Mrs. Gaskell. The 
sexton's family all deplored Anne's being taken away, as 


Martha Brown said, death was written on Anne's face. There 
is no mention of the old father's wishes in the matter ; he had 
allowed his daughters to manage for so long that he seemed 
powerless to interfere, and he agreed to all they wished. 
Although a good and a kind man, he never understood women ; 
his daughters must have been far stronger before Branwell's 
death than has generally been assumed, for only strong women 
could have walked the long distance to and fro to the falls 
on the moor, to Wycoller or to Keighley, the roads being 
rough and stony. 

There is no doubt that both Emily and Anne injured their 
health in the period when they were writing their novels, 
and when they were staying up until midnight, discussing 
their stories. Charlotte tells us that at that time Anne could 
hardly be persuaded to go out for a walk, so intent was she 
on her work. The walks on the moors had benefited them 
previously, for the vicarage was far from healthy. Well might 
Emily develop consumption if she slept in that tiny box-room 
over the passage with no fireplace and little opportunity for 
open windows owing to the cold winds that sweep over the 

On that sad May morning when Charlotte, Anne and Ellen 
Nussey drove to Keighley railway station, Charlotte says there 
was always someone at hand to render the necessary assistance. 
Anne was carried from the conveyance to the train for Leeds 
and then on to York, where the trio stopped for the night and 
actually purchased new bonnets, etc., visiting York Minster in 
order to gratify Anne's wish. Anne knew York, for she and 
Emily had made a short pilgrimage there in 1845 when they 
pretended to take part in the battle of their mysterious Gondals. 
Evidently they were acting a bit of history with fictitious 
characters, for the Royalists did actually march on York in 

Churches and especially cathedrals attracted Anne ; she 
was truly good and rejoiced in the worship and ritual of the 
Church of England. Mr. William Scruton, the well-known 
author of Thornton and the Brontes, told me of some circum- 
stances connected with Anne's illness at Roe Head in 1837, 


which showed Anne's religious fears, and her anxiety to get 
spiritual comfort. The Rev. James La Trobe, a bishop of the 
Moravian Church, and a descendant of a noble Huguenot 
family that had been driven from France by the Revocation 
of the Edict of Nantes, was the minister of the Moravian 
Church at Mirfield, when Anne was at Roe Head School. 
When ill, Anne requested that this minister might be sent for, 
and Mr. Scruton received a letter, years after Anne Bronte's 
death, from Mr. La Trobe, saying 

" She (Anne Bronte) was suffering from a severe attack of 
gastric fever, which brought her very low, and her voice was 
only a whisper : her life hung on a slender thread. She soon 
got over the shyness natural on seeing a perfect stranger. 
The words of love, from Jesus, opened her ear to my words, 
and she was very grateful for my visits. I found her well 
acquainted with the main truths of the Bible respecting our 
salvation, but seeing them more through the law than the 
gospel, more as a requirement from God than His gift in His 
Son, but her heart opened to the sweet views of salvation, 
pardon, and peace in the blood of Christ, and she accepted His 
welcome to the weary and heavy laden sinner, conscious more 
of her not loving the Lord her God than of acts of enmity to 
Him, and, had she died then, I should have counted her His 
redeemed and ransomed child. It was not till I read Charlotte 
Bronte's Life that I recognised my interesting patient at Roe 
Head, where a Christian influence pervaded the establishment 
and its decided discipline." 

Anne Bronte was acquainted with the history of York, for 
whilst staying at Thorpe Green, Little Ouseburn, she visited 
the city several times, and, with its numerous churches and 
ancient Minster, it was a place most congenial to her. The 
journey from Haworth to York was more than enough for the 
poor emaciated invalid ; it seemed a mockery, as Charlotte 
said, to think of buying bonnets and dresses, but Anne appeared 

The following day, 25th May, they reached Scarborough, 
and on Sunday, 28th May, the invalid was evidently worse. 
Ellen Nussey gives a pathetic account of her death 


" The night was passed without any apparent accession of 
illness. She rose at seven o'clock, and performed most of her 
toilet herself, by her expressed wish. Her sister always 
yielded such points, believing it was the truest kindness not 
to press inability when it was not acknowledged. Nothing 
occurred to excite alarm till about 11 a.m. She then spoke of 
feeling a change. ' She believed she had not long to live. 
Could she reach home alive, if we prepared immediately for 
departure ? ' A physician was sent for. Her address to him 
was made with perfect composure. She begged him to say 
4 How long he thought she might live ; not to fear speaking 
the truth, for she was not afraid to die.' The doctor reluc- 
tantly admitted that the angel of death was already arrived, 
and that life was ebbing fast. She thanked him for his truth- 
fulness, and he departed to come again very soon. She still 
occupied her easy chair, looking so serene, so reliant : there 
was no opening for grief as yet, though all knew the separation 
was at hand. She clasped her hands, and reverently invoked 
a blessing from on high ; first upon her sister, then upon her 
friend, to whom she said, ' Be a sister in my stead. Give 
Charlotte as much of your company as you can.' She then 
thanked each for her kindness and attention. 

" Ere long the restlessness of approaching death appeared, 
and she was borne to the sofa ; on being asked if she were 
easier, she looked gratefully at her questioner, and said, ' It 
is not you who can give me ease, but soon all will be well 
through the merits of our Redeemer.' Shortly after this, 
seeing that her sister could hardly restrain her grief, she said, 
c Take courage, Charlotte ; take courage.' Her faith never 
failed, and her eye never dimmed till about two o'clock, when 
she calmly and without a sigh passed from the temporal to 
the eternal. So still, and so hallowed were her last hours and 

Was ever a funeral of an author more simple ; just the two 
mourners, the necessary minister and carriers? In addition 
there was a lady a stranger who had interested herself in 
the little party, and she stood as a silent spectator of that sad 
scene in the old churchyard at Scarborough. 


To those who do not know of the wall of separation between 
the father and his children, it appears unthinkable that he 
should not have hurried to his daughter's side and taken his 
part in the funeral of his youngest child, who had never known 
a mother. Although Anne died on the Monday, Charlotte 
did not write to her father until Tuesday, and then she excused 
him from attending on account of some church meeting. 
Argue in favour of the father as one will, his absence is inex- 
plicable. In Anne's last talk with the doctor, she certainly 
expressed a wish to get home to die, and why Charlotte decided 
to " lay the flower where it fell " rather than make arrange- 
ments for the body to be taken to Haworth, so that it could rest 
in the family vault, has never been satisfactorily explained. 
Ellen Nussey said that afterwards Charlotte regretted the course 
she adopted, but, when she found how difficult it would be to 
have the body exhumed, she gave way and arranged for a 
tombstone to be placed over the grave. It could not be 
altogether a question of money, for Anne had more money 
of her own than Emily and Charlotte, as she had earned more 
than either, and she had carefully hoarded what she had 
obtained during the six years whilst she was a governess. In 
addition she had a legacy from her godmother. Moreover, 
the grave and the tombstone cost more than the transfer of 
the body to Haworth would have done. Charlotte was always 
impulsive, and in deciding to bury Anne at Scarborough she 
probably acted on the spur of the moment, without consulting 
her father in any way. In a privately printed letter Charlotte 
says : " For the present Anne's ashes rest apart from the others. 
I have buried her here at Scarborough to save papa the anguish 
of the return and a third funeral." * 

Haworth has from time immemorial shown much reverence 
for funerals, and the whole village gossiped about Charlotte's 
lack of consideration in burying her sister away from her own 
kith and kin. The old servants, Tabby and Martha, were 
not pleased that their young mistress Miss Anne as they were 
accustomed to call her should have been buried in what they 
considered a foreign grave. Ellen Nussey says that even 

1 Letter to Mr. Williams privately printed by Mr. T. J. Wise. 


after Charlotte was married she worried about the grave 
being so far away, and had it not been for Mr. Nicholls' objec- 
tion she would have had the remains transferred, for she 
came to the conclusion that Anne would have preferred to be 
buried at Haworth, and Ellen Nussey agreed, but she would 
not dissuade Charlotte from carrying out her own wishes in 
the matter. 

Patrick Bronte never visited the grave of his youngest child, 
and Charlotte went only once to see the grave-stone. Anne's 
money came to Mr. Bronte and Charlotte, who felt afterwards 
that she had not acted wisely. The grave is in the detached 
portion of the burial ground, at the east end of the church, and 
can be seen near the boundary wall. Charlotte gave minute 
directions for the placing of the stone over her sister's remains, 
but she did not go to see it until three years later, and then, 
writing to Ellen Nussey on 23rd June, 1852, she says, " On 
Friday I went to Scarborough, visited the churchyard and 
stone. It must be refaced, 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." 

Visitors to the Bronte shrine in St. Mary's churchyard, 
Scarborough, will find that the grave-stone has been painted 
white and the inscription reads 







MAY 2, 1849." 

Anne Bronte died on 28th May, but instead of the figure 
" 8 " there is a dash actually cut in the stone. The only 
explanation is that when the grave was painted the date must 
have been obliterated. It is strange that the date was not 
cut in the stone as was the rest of the inscription, the result 
being that the date must have been forgotten, although it 

25 (3200) 


could easily have been obtained after Mrs. GaskelPs Life of 
Charlotte Bronte was published. On the upper part of the grave- 
stone is a draped urn, standing on a book. It is noticeable that 
small pieces of the edge of the monument are chipped out, 
evidently purposely, by some relic hunter. 

Scarborough shares in the reflected glory of the Brontes, not 
only because of the visits of Charlotte and Anne to the now 
fashionable watering-place, but more especially because 
" Acton Bell," the author of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of 
Wildfell Hall, lies buried there. 

If the letters which Anne Bronte wrote to her sisters when 
at Scarborough with the Robinsons had been preserved, they 
would have proved very interesting, though in Agnes Grey 
much of her actual experience is given. In 1849 Scarborough 
was very different from the fashionable watering-place of to- 
day. Anne Bronte died at No. 2, The Cliff, within sight of the 
sea. The house has since been demolished, and the Grand 
Hotel now stands on the site. She obtained her first view of 
the sea at Scarborough ; indeed, it was the only sea-side place 
that she knew, but it was to her, in her narrow life, a very 
haven of rest. She loved the place, and it was to this district 
that she and her sister looked forward as a suitable place for 
a boarding school. If the aunt had lived, the probability is 
that the three sisters would have realised their dream, and 
would have found health and strength for their work, but, 
if this had happened, it is doubtful if any novels by the Bronte's 
would ever have seen the light. It was when other means of 
livelihood seemed likely to be failures that they turned to 

In Agnes Grey there is a chapter headed " The School," 
in which is a description of Scarborough as it was when Anne 
Bronte visited it, and in The Professor and Villette the school 
appears at the conclusion of the story. The school was their 
pole-star, as Charlotte said, but they never reached it. 

Old Mr. Bronte, after Anne's funeral, urged Charlotte to 
remain at Scarborough for the sake of her health. In no single 
instance did the daughters ever go away with the father, or 
have a holiday with him so far as is known. After all was over, 


Charlotte Bronte and Ellen Nussey stayed at Scarborough for 
a little while and then after a brief visit to Easton, to Mr. and 
Mrs. Hudson's small farm, they parted. 

It has been said that Charlotte Bronte''s greatest attribute 
was fortitude, and certainly during the time from 24th May 
to the end of June she had a severe struggle. Mrs. Hudson 
said that, whilst Charlotte was staying at the farm, for this her 
second visit, she was writing continually, and it is now known 
that she was working on Shirley. The first chapter written at 
Easton was entitled " The VaUey of the Shadow of Death." 
She had evidently taken her manuscript to Scarborough, 
hoping, perhaps, that she might have the joy of seeing Anne 
recover and whilst there she hoped to work at her second novel 
which her publishers were impatient to receive. 

She appeared to dread returning to the parsonage. " I tried 
to be glad that I was come home. I have always been glad 
before except once. Even then I was cheered." (The " except 
once " has been attributed to the last return from Brussels, 
when she felt so wretched on leaving M. Heger.) 

Perhaps the most pathetic incident on her return from 
Anne's funeral was the welcome she got from the dogs 
Emily's faithful Keeper and Anne's pet dog. " 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." 




CHARLOTTE BRONT visits London at the invitation of her publisher- 
Her stay at Westbourne Place, Paddington She dedicates 
the second edition of Jane Eyre to Thackeray Unfounded 
rumours in consequence Charlotte Bronte meets Thackeray and 
Miss Martineau She renews the acquaintance with the Wheel- 
wright family Return to Haworth Visit to Gawthorpe Hall-r- 
Her fifth' visit to London A disputed portrait Sue's story in the 
London Journal Kitty Bell and Jane Eyre A Bronte manuscript 
bought at a public auction in Brussels. 

AFTER Shirley had been launched, and the reviews had showered 
upon the novelist, her publishers prevailed upon her to accept 
an invitation to London, at the end of November, 1849. Mrs. 
Wheelwright, the mother of Charlotte Bronte's friends at the 
Heger Pensionnat, also wrote inviting her to their home at 
Phillimore Gardens. It was six years since they had met, 
but Mr. George Smith and his mother much preferred that she 
should remain as their guest, and fearing to offend them 
Charlotte Bronte consented, only paying a short visit to Dr. 
Wheelwright's family. No one was prouder of Charlotte 
Bronte's success than Dr. Wheelwright and his family, and they 
delighted to tell of the pleasant visits which she paid to them 
in London. A work-bag, which she made in Brussels, and 
presented to Mrs. Wheelwright, is still treasured by Mrs. 
Wheelwright's grand-daughter, Mrs. J. J. Green, of Hastings. 
This visit to London in 1849 is memorable as being the one 
when Charlotte Bronte met Thackeray for the first time, and 
also Harriet Martineau, in addition to several less noted 
writers. The house in which Mr. George Smith lived with his 
mother, two sisters and a younger brother, was No. 4 West- 
bourne Place, Bishop's Road, Paddington ; it is now No. 26 
Bishop's Road, and it was the house in which Charlotte and 
Anne Bronte had been entertained in July, 1845. Bishop's 
Road, close to Paddington Station, was then a quiet and select 

h-l o 


thoroughfare, very different from what it is to-day. The 
house is still standing, but is now divided into two shops on 
the ground-floor. On one side of what was formerly the 
dining-room is now a small shoemaker's shop, and on the other 
side is an underlinen draper's ; the other parts of the house are 
let in tenements. Some ten years ago a hairdresser rented 
the house, and it was possible for ladies to have their hair 
dressed in the very drawing-room in which Charlotte Bronte 
first met Thackeray, John Forster, and other notabilities, and 
on the ground-floor in a room at the back, which was once Mr. 
George Smith's sanctum, and where he first read the manu- 
script of Jane Eyre, one Sunday in August, 1847, it was possible 
for men to have a shave. Nearly fifty years afterwards, Mr. 
George Smith published an account of his receiving the manu- 
script of Jane Eyre from Mr. Williams in order that he might 
read it during the week end ; he tells how he repaired to his 
private room on the Sunday morning, and having begun the 
story could not leave it : how he refused to go to lunch with 
his mother and sisters, preferring a sandwich and a glass of 
wine : how he ignored tea altogether, as the novel kept him 
enthralled, and it was only with difficulty that he was persuaded 
to join the family at dinner : and before he went to bed he 
had finished the thrilling novel and the next day sent Charlotte 
Bronte a letter accepting the copyright of the novel for five 
hundred pounds. The dining-room of the house was on the 
ground-floor to the front, and here it was that Charlotte and 
Anne Bronte sat trembling at their first dinner party in London 
in July, 1845. 

Charlotte speaks of the drawing-room as being " very grand," 
but it was modest enough from Mr. George Smith's account, 
though, in contrast with the bare and shabby parlour at Haworth 
parsonage, it was probably considered palatial. At this visit 
to London in 1849 Charlotte Bronte was treated most royally, 
and Mr. George Smith and his mother humoured her every 
whim. At this time her hero was W. M. Thackeray, and with- 
out knowing him, or even asking for permission, she dedicated 
the second edition of Jane Eyre to him in most flattering terms. 
This led to much speculation on the part of the readers of 


Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair. It was even reported that 
Currer Bell was governess to Mr. Thackeray's children. She 
was quite innocent of all this gossip, and knew absolutely 
nothing of his domestic affairs ; all she did know was that 
his novels stood first in her estimation, and in pure and simple 
hero-worship she dedicated the second edition of her book 
to him. 

Thackeray wrote her a kind letter in acknowledgment of her 
eulogistic dedication, and possibly explained the sad circum- 
stances of his own home that his wife was mentally afflicted 
as was the case with the wife of " Rochester," and that it was 
necessary for her to live away from the rest of his family, but 
he charged Charlotte Bronte not to show his letter to anyone. 
Charlotte Bronte's hero-worship caused her much sorrow, but 
she was cheered by Thackeray's kindness, and when he sent 
her a signed copy of Vanity Fair, in acknowledgment of a 
copy of Jane Eyre, she was delighted. 

General Wilson, in his Thackeray in the United States says, 
" Charlotte Bronte, the shy Yorkshire governess, instinctively 
fixed her eye upon him just after he had published Vanity 
Fair, and saluted him in the remarkable dedication to her 
second edition of Jane Eyre. It was the sharpest-eyed woman 
in England recognising the sharpest-eyed man." There is 
little doubt that Charlotte Bronte's dedication did much to 
bring the author of Vanity Fair to the front, though Thackeray 
himself said that he thought his Christmas story, Mrs. Perkins's 
Ball, was the cause of his sudden popularity, but as Sir Whitelaw 
Reid wrote, " The dedication counted most of all." In con- 
versation with Charlotte Bronte, Thackeray once told her that 
she had jumped into popularity very quickly, whilst he had 
been waiting for ten years before he came to his own. She 
replied that she had been writing for more than ten years. 

Though Charlotte Bronte' stipulated with Mr. George Smith 
that she was not to meet many people, she was particularly 
anxious to know Thackeray, and Mr. Smith invited the cele- 
brated author to meet her at his house. This proved mutually 
helpful, as Mr. Smith had not known Thackeray personally 
until he accepted this invitation, so that Charlotte Bronte had 


the honour of bringing these two men together, to their mutual 

It was unfortunate that at the time arranged for this meeting, 
Charlotte Bronte had had a hard day sight-seeing, and for some 
reason not explained she had not had any meal since her early 
breakfast. "At the moment Thackeray presented himself 
I was thoroughly faint from inanition . . . ; exhaustion made 
savage work of me that evening. What he thought of me I 
cannot tell." Referring to Thackeray in a letter to her father, 
she says, " We were not introduced, but when they all rose to 
go down to dinner, he just stepped quickly up and said : 
' Shake hands,' and I shook hands." She told Mrs. Gaskell 
how difficult she found it to decide whether Thackeray was 
speaking in jest or in earnest, and that she had (she believed) 
completely misunderstood an inquiry of his ; he asked her 
" if she had perceived the scent of their cigars, to which she 
replied literally, discovering a minute afterwards, by the smile 
on several faces, that he was alluding to a passage in Jane 
Eyre." A few days afterwards, in a letter to Mr. W. S. Williams, 
she tells how she lost her self-possession when Thackeray was 
announced. In describing her London holiday to Ellen Nussey 
she says, " Thackeray is a Titan of mind. His presence and 
powers impress one deeply in an intellectual sense ; I do not 
see him or know him as a man. . . I felt sufficiently at my ease 
with all except Thackeray ; with him I was fearfully stupid." 

The other notable person whom Charlotte Bronte met at 
this time was Harriet Martineau. Currer Bell had sent her a 
copy of Shirley, in acknowledgment of the gratification he 
had received from Miss Martineau's works. Miss Martineau 
began her letter of thanks " Dear Madam," although she 
addressed it to " Currer Bell, Esq." She sent the letter from 
a house in London that was not far from Mr. George Smith's, 
and when Mr. Smith explained to Charlotte Bronte how near 
this house was to Westbourne Place, the impulsive little novelist 
wrote a letter to Miss Martineau asking if she might be allowed 
to call on her. Miss Martineau and her friends invited Charlotte 
Bronte to tea on the Sunday afternoon. At every ring, the 
eyes of the party turned towards the door, for they were not 


sure if Currer Bell was a lady or a gentleman. Whilst waiting, 
a very tall gentleman arrived, and they wondered if he could 
be the famous author. Later, the writer of Jane Eyre arrived, 
and the footman announced her as " Miss Brogden," instead of 
Miss Bronte, for Currer Bell had decided to give her real name. 

Miss Martineau tells how a young-looking lady in deep 
mourning, neat as a Quaker, with beautiful brown hair, great 
blazing eyes, and a sensible face showing self-control, appeared 
and, hesitating to find four or five people, looked round and then 
went straight to Miss Martineau, and sheltered near her with 
child-like confidence. She told the party something of her 
history, and Miss Martineau, drawn to the little woman, 
remarked, after Charlotte Bronte had told her of her sad and 
lonely life, " I should have been heartily glad to cry." 

It was on 7th November, 1849, that Currer Bell had sent a 
copy of Shirley to Miss Martineau, saying, " 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." 

Harriet Martineau says that she had made up her mind that 
a certain passage in Jane Eyre about sewing brass rings on to 
the curtains after the fire at Thornfield could only have been 
written by a woman or an upholsterer. " I had more reason 
for interest than even the deeply interested public in knowing 
who wrote Jane Eyre, for when it appeared, I was taxed with 
the authorship by more than one personal friend, and charged 
by others, and even by relatives, with knowing the author, 
and having supplied some of the facts of the first volume from 
my own childhood. When I read it, I was convinced that it 
was by some friend of my own, who had portions of my childish 
experience in his or her mind." Charlotte Bronte told Harriet 
Martineau long afterwards that she had read with astonishment 
those parts of Household Education, by Harriet Martineau, which 
related her own experience. It was like meeting her own 
fetch, so precisely were the fears and miseries there described 
the same as her own, told or not told, in Jane Eyre. 

The two authors became friends at once, but in later days, 
when Villette was published, Charlotte Bronte regretted it, 


though perhaps she was too sensitive, for Miss Martineau was 
far above being envious of her contemporary. 

Mr. Smith could not help the literary circles of London 
knowing that he had the author of Jane Eyre staying with him, 
and on condition that he did not personally present Charlotte 
Bronte to any of them, he was allowed by his little guest to 
invite a number of literary critics to meet her. John Forster 
was one. Charlotte Bronte did not dislike him, though she 
characterised his conversation as " swagger," and compared 
him unfavourably with Thackeray. She went twice to the 
theatre and saw Macready act in " Macbeth " and " Othello." 
Whilst on this visit she renewed her acquaintance with Dr. 
and Mrs. Wheelwright and their family. Miss Wheelwright 
delighted to recall the visits paid to them by Charlotte Bronte 
after she had became famous as an author. 

This visit to London proved trying and exhausting, especi- 
ally the meeting with so many distinguished authors and critics, 
and the novelist confessed that she did not sleep at all after 
the big dinner party, and so tired was she when she reached 
Derby on her return, that she had to stay the night, causing 
her father much anxiety, for he was expecting her to come 
direct to Haworth from London. 

This visit to her publishers gave Charlotte Bronte an insight 
into London literary circles, but she did not enjoy it ; she 
somewhere says she would prefer to walk straight into a red-hot 
Yorkshire fire, rather than go into what is called society. 
The Smiths wished that she would have stayed with them a 
month, but a fortnight caused as much excitement as she could 
bear. She had the chance of meeting Charles Dickens, and 
several other distinguished people, but she declined as she did 
not wish for notoriety. 

At this time, she had many offers from editors, who were 
anxious to get the author of Jane Eyre to contribute a serial 
to their magazine. Charles Dickens would have welcomed her 
as a contributor to Household Words, and Mary Howitt wrote 
asking for a contribution from her pen, but Charlotte Bronte 
was determined not to write to order. She tells in one of her 
letters of waiting for the 1 spirit to move her in Quaker-like fashion. 


The winter of 1849-50 was one of restless anxiety concerning 
Shirley ; every review was studied, and she was anxious 
to benefit by what the reviewers said. Criticism she never 
refused, but she would not accept it unless she considered 
it just. People began to make pilgrimages to Ha worth to 
get a glimpse of the author of Jane Eyre and Shirley. The 
Vicar found his congregation increasing, for it became fashion- 
able to join the worshippers at Haworth Church, in order to 
see Charlotte Bronte sitting alone in the roomy vicarage pew 
near the pulpit. She was not at all pleased by this notoriety, 
and used to stay behind until the others had gone, and then 
walk quickly out by the side door, though often a number of 
people would be waiting to see the famous novelist. 

Miss Wooler, Charlotte Bronte''s old schoolmistress, wrote 
soon after Shirley was published, expressing disapproval of her 
novels, but adding that she should still be friendly with her old 
pupil. Charlotte Bronte at once took the defensive, and said 
that she was not at all ashamed of anything she had written. 
The quarrel did not last, for there are kindly letters between 
the two later. 

Two of the most persistent admirers of the author of Shirley 
were Sir James Kay Shuttleworth and his wife, Lady Shuttle- 
worth, who lived about eight miles over the moors from 
Haworth, on the Lancashire side, at Gawthorpe Hall, some 
three miles from Burnley. They delighted Mr. Bronte by 
calling at the Haworth parsonage, and offering their congrat- 
ulations to the clever daughter, who preferred however to 
remain unknown. Their admiration of Charlotte Bronte, 
the woman, was as great as of Currer Bell the writer, and they 
were eager to take her back with them on a visit to their 
home, but she excused herself. Very soon, however, a second 
invitation came, which, to please her father, she accepted, 
spending three days in March, 1850, at Gawthorpe Hall. 

It is a beautiful old mansion, about three hundred years old. 
The oak in the interior is very fine, and the coat-of-arms of 
the Shuttleworths is carved in each room. The grounds are 
beautifully laid out, and if Charlotte Bronte could have felt 
more at ease she would have enjoyed the visit. Her miserable 



shyness, however, prevented her from feeling comfortable, and 
strange faces always brought on a nervous depression, which 
caused her to appear awkward. Whilst staying at Gawthorpe 
Hall, she spent much of the time driving about to the different 
places of interest, but she was glad to get home again. 

Sir James Kay Shuttleworth was a keen lover of literature, 
and was the author of two novels ; he was trained as a doctor 
of medicine, but became Secretary of the Committee of Council 
for Education. He married Janet, the only child and heiress 
of Robert Shuttleworth, of Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley, in 1842, 
and he took his wife's name. In 1849, he was made a baronet. 

He was very anxious to have Charlotte Bronte as his guest 
in London, but the Smiths were always adverse to her staying 
with anyone but themselves ; possibly they did not wish any 
information to be disclosed regarding any work by Charlotte 
Bronte before it was published. 

Towards the end of May, 1850, Charlotte Bronte again visited 
London, and stayed with the Smiths, who had removed from 
4 Westbourne Place to a larger house, No. 76 Gloucester Ter- 
race, Hyde Park Gardens, afterwards known as 112 Gloucester 
Terrace, Hyde Park. The writer once had the pleasure of 
going through the house, which resembles many other houses 
in the West End of London. The dining-room is beneath the 
drawing-room, and the spare bedroom, which Charlotte Bronte 
occupied, was pointed out. 

This visit in the summer of 1850 was the longest Charlotte 
Bronte, ever paid to London. 

There has been a certain amount of controversy during the 
last few years about a water-colour painting of Charlotte 
Bronte, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. 
This water-colour painting is doubtless a clever fraud, and had 
I not succeeded in getting it taken from the wall of the National 
Portrait Gallery for the purpose of a thorough investigation, 
it would probably have remained there for an indefinite period 
as a genuine portrait of Charlotte Bronte. 

The late Director of the National Portrait Gallery first 
heard of it in July, 1906, through Charlotte Bronte's publishers, 
Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., who would have purchased it 


had the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery been 
unwilling to do so. 

The Smiths had the portrait submitted to them by a Miss 
Alice Boyd Green, who stated that her family had received it 
in 1871 from a Dr. Baylis, who was said to have acquired it 
from the Heger family in Brussels. As Dr. Baylis was once 
a personal friend of Lord Lytton, it hardly seemed probable 
that he would knowingly possess a " faked " portrait of Char- 
lotte Bronte, though it must be admitted that the Heger 
family deny that the portrait was ever in their possession. 
Miss Green stated that Dr. Baylis had other Bronte relics, 
including an oil-painting of Emily Bronte by her brother 
Branwell, and also two of Emily Bronte's letters, once in the 
possession of the Hegers. These, she said, were given to her 
brother, who is now in South Africa. 1 The then Director of 
the National Portrait Gallery was very sceptical of the portrait 
when it was first submitted to him, but he was unable to find 
any valid reason for disbelief in its genuineness, and it was 
hung close by the Richmond portrait of Charlotte Bronte. 
Unfortunately, it was not until after it was purchased that 
its genuineness was questioned by Mr. Shorter in The 
Times for December, 1906. 

It was evidently considered to be a genuine portrait, though 
several tests might have been applied which would have shown 
this was not so. It measures 12 inches by 9, and represents 
a lady in a green dress, sitting reading Shirley ; beneath the 
word "Shirley" is painted " C. Bronte." On the right- 
hand side of the painting is the signature " Paul Heger, 1850." 
It is evidently the work of a skilled artist, though it bears 
traces of having been altered in places, which may have been 
done with the intention of deceiving a purchaser. At the 
back are two inscriptions, the upper one being 



and near the lower edge of the paper there is the following 

1 Since writing the above I have thoroughly investigated the matter, 
and the evidence is most conflicting and unsatisfactory. 


This drawing is by P. Heger, 

done from life in 1850. 

The pose was suggested first 

by a sketch done by her brother Branwell 

many years previous." 

There are also directions probably intended for the original 
framer of the picture 

Streched (sic) on wood. 

J Imperial Trimed (sic). 

The first inscription is evidently painted in a medium of 
pale sepia with a brush, to represent faded ink, and also to 
imply that it was written by Charlotte Bronte the letter d 
in the word " death " being very similar to her Greek style 
of writing that letter, as noted in 1863 by W. Johnson Cory. 
Across the first inscription may be traced in very faint pencil 
the capital letters P and H, which may have been put there to 
indicate the name of the supposed artist, Paul Heger. 

The water-mark on the drawing-paper is " Whatman, 
Turkey Mills, 1850." This helps to limit the date, though 
the painting could easily have been done at a later period, as 
it is not impossible to obtain drawing paper with an old water- 
mark. The second inscription is presumably by a lady, but 
on a careful examination it is evidently by the same hand as 
the two inscriptions on the front. Even this is written in a 
pale sepia medium, giving the appearance of faded ink. 

It is quite impossible for any member of the Heger family, 
or Charlotte Bronte, to have painted this portrait. M. Heger, 
Charlotte Bronte's professor, always used the signature 
" C. Heger," and his son, Dr. Paul Heger, was only a boy of 
four in 1850. He has assured me, both in conversation and by 
letter, that his father did not either paint or draw, and as 
one of M. Heger 's daughters, Mdlle Louise Heger, is a pro- 
fessional artist, it is impossible that there can be any mistake 
in the matter, and yet the inscription at the foot of the 
frame reads " Signed Paul Heger, 1850." I was able to 
convince the present Director of the National Portrait Gallery 
that this could not possibly be correct, and the plate with the 
inscription on was removed in my presence. 


Whoever painted the portrait knew something of the Bronte 
story, for it was in 1850 that Charlotte Bronte had her portrait 
painted by George Richmond, R.A., and it was in that year 
that she enjoyed the popularity of Shirley. Moreover, on 
12th June, 1850, she was invited to a dinner-party by Thack- 
eray, to meet a number of the great writers, and Thackeray's 
daughter Lady Ritchie forty years afterwards, in her 
Chapters from Some Memories, describes Charlotte Bronte as 
clad at that party in a barege dress, with a pattern of faint 
green moss. This is not quite correct, however, for when I 
showed Lady Ritchie a portion of the dress worn by Charlotte 
Bronte she recognised it at once ; it is a white delaine, with 
a pattern of tiny bright blue leaves, and small tendrils, joined 
together with a faint line. This is confirmed by Mrs. Ratcliffe, 
the sister of the old servant at the Ha worth Rectory Martha 
Brown the daughter of the sexton, who received all Charlotte 
BrontS's clothing from Mr. Nicholls after his wife's death, 
including even her wedding veil. The Browns had no recol- 
lection of a dress with a green pattern, but the white delaine 
was produced, and it is now in my possession. One of the 
daughters of Mrs. Ratcliffe, Eleanor, wore it for a little time 
when she was a girl. 

That Charlotte Bronte did wear a coloured dress in June, 
1850, bought for her by Mrs. Smith, the mother of Mr. George 
Smith, in order to accompany them to the Opera, is an admitted 
fact. This is the origin of the incident in Villette where 
Mrs. Bretton buys Lucy Snowe a new pink dress and Paul 
Emanuel afterwards teases her about it, calling it scarlet, 
upon which Lucy Snowe replies, " Scarlet, Monsieur Paul ? 
It was not scarlet ! It was pink, and pale pink, too ; and 
further subdued by black lace." To which he responded 
" Pink or scarlet, yellow or crimson, pea-green or sky-blue ; 
it was all one." Charlotte mentions in her novel the light 
fabric and the bright colour, which exactly describes the 

Connecting the facts concerning Shirley, Charlotte Bronte's 
writing, and the dress with a pattern of faint green moss 
together, it is evident that someone utilised these for the 


inscriptions on the portrait. It should be remembered, how- 
ever, that Shirley was not issued in 1850 under the name of 
C. Bronte. Every volume in that year had on the title page, 
in capital letters, " Currer Bell," as the name of the author, 
whereas the book held by the lady in the picture has 
" C. Bronte " in small letters. It is also clear that Charlotte 
Bronte never wore a green dress in 1850, as could easily have 
been ascertained by examining specimens of the material used 
in her dresses, all of which were available in 1906. It should 
also be remembered that Charlotte Bronte did not wear curls 
in 1850 ; on the independent authority of three pei sons who 
met her in that year her hair was thin, and there would not be 
sufficient to allow for a coil at the back and curls in front. 
Mrs. Brookfield says she wore a crown of brown silk on her 
hair because she had not sufficient, and Lady Ritchie refers 
to it as a bandeau. She told me quite recently that Charlotte 
Bronte's hair was thin and quite straight, coming down over 
her ears. Then in 1868 Mr. Stores Smith, in an article published 
in the Free Lance, says, " She had rather light-brown hair, 
somewhat thin, and drawn plainly over her brow," when he 
met her in Sept., 1850. Then, comparing the oval face with 
the Richmond portrait, they could not both represent the same 

This all goes to prove that Charlotte Bronte could not have 
sat for the portrait as it is, and the signature is evidently 
written by someone who knew that M. Heger was the original 
of Paul Emanuel in Villette. As Mr. Clement Shorter has 
given the name " Paul Heger " to the portrait of M. Constantin 
Heger in his book, Charlotte Bronte and her Sisters, published 
in 1896, this may possibly have led to the signature on the 
portrait, for all the inscriptions have been added later than 

Shortly after my visit on 2 Oct., 1913, the officials of the 
National Portrait Gallery found an impression of an inscrip- 
tion in large hand across the back of the painting " Por- 
trait of Miss Mary Vickers." It is very faint, and it took 
several hours to decipher it by means of magnifying glasses 
and mirrors. This confirms my arguments that the painting 


is a fraud. The first letter P can easily be detected, and it 
is marvellous that this writing was not discovered before. 

On my submitting the photograph of the painting to Mrs. 
Ratcliffe, Martha Brown's sister, at Haworth in August, 1908, 
she failed to recognise it, and when asked if it looked like 
Charlotte Bronte replied without the slightest hesitation, " Not 
a bit of it ! she was a much smaller woman than that. That's 
never Miss Charlotte." 

The name of the artist is unknown, and it is not clear how 
the portrait came into the hands of Dr. Baylis, but it is abso- 
lutely certain that the portrait could never have represented 
Charlotte Bronte, or been so altered as to represent her. 
* * * * * 

In a letter to Miss Laetitia Wheelwright, dated 3rd June, 
1850, Charlotte Bronte says : " 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 mean- 
while address as above, and I shall find the letter on my return." 

The Wheelwrights were living at Phillimore Gardens, and 
were Charlotte's only friends in London, besides the Smiths. 
Evidently she did not wish them to call on her during her 
absence, and she wrote the letter to keep them from making 

On the very same day, 3rd June, she writes to Ellen Nussey, 
and, intimate friend as she was, she does not mention the 
" going out of town," but she does say she has " some little 
business to transact," though at that time she had no book on 
hand, and Villette did not appear until nearly three years later. 

On 4th June Charlotte Bronte writes to her father a long 
and interesting letter, but she does not mention one word 
about " going out of town for a few days," which is strange. 
Then again, on 12th June, she writes again to Ellen Nussey, 
but does not mention having been out of town ; though she 
says, " I have not had many moments to myself, except such 
as it was absolutely necessary to give to rest. ... 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," which she gives as a sight of the Duke of 
Wellington, a visit to the House of Commons, and an interview 
with Thackeray. The letter is long, but there is no mention 
of the days spent out of town. 

These letters seem to point to the fact that Charlotte Bronte 
went over to Brussels, for she had no friends out of town, 
except the Brussels friends, and her relatives in Cornwall. 

It is possible that the Smiths were in the secret, as Charlotte 
Bronte could scarcely go away for a few days without telling 
Mrs. Smith where she was going. The business that she had 
on hand must in some way have been connected with Villette, 
though it was not until March, 1851 that there is any men- 
tion of her writing another book. A portion, however, had 
evidently been written by that time, though it was not 
completed until November, 1852. The fact that Mrs. George 
Smith and Mr. Reginald Smith considered the water-colour 
painting genuine Would seem to show that they had some 
information concerning a meeting between Charlotte Bronte 
and M. Heger, which they would get from Mr. George Smith. 
Then again, Charlotte says in her letter to the Wheelwrights 
that she expected to stay with the Smiths for a fortnight 
but the holiday was extended to six weeks, showing that 
something kept Charlotte in London. 

Why Brussels should have supplied the novelist at this 
time with another story is somewhat strange, as both Jane 
Eyre and Shirley had no connection with Madame Heger, and 
she seems to have decided to leave it alone. It was not that 
The Professor had been rejected so often, for Villette is quite a 
different tale from The Professor. The reason seems to hang 
on this visit " out of town " in 1850, and the meeting between 
Charlotte Bronte and M. Heger may be accounted for by a 
story first discovered by Mr. Malham-Dembleby, and referred 
to at length in his Key to the Bronte Works. 

This serial is entitled Mary Lawson, by Eugene Sue, and 
appeared in the London Journal from October, 1850, to March, 
1851. It is evidently a translation from the French, as the 
English translator in several foot-notes refers to the French 
copy, and not to a manuscript. Whether the story was first 

26 (2200) 


published in a French journal is not certain, but an abridgment 
of Mary Laws on, under the title of Miss Mary, ou PInstitutrice, 
has been published in book form by Ernest Flammarion, 
who is stated to be the editor of Eugene Sue's works. An 
author's note in the preface, dedicating the novel to M. Geordy 
M. . . . , MacFarlan Cottage, near Limerick, and dated 
" Paris, 20 April, 1851," says that the story was written two 
years earlier, after a visit to Ireland. 

It is important to note that this date was two years after 
Jane Eyre was published in 1847. 

Mary Lawson of the London Journal, and Miss Mary, ou 
flnstitutrice, are practically the same, but two short stories 
which are sandwiched in Mary Lawson are omitted in Miss 
Mary, and there are certain minor differences. These two 
short stories are Kitty Bell, the Orphan, and Giulio and Eleanor. 

The story of Kitty Bell is supposed to be a manuscript sent 
to M. and Madame de Morville, for their opinion and criticism 
by a former governess, Mdlle Lagrange. Giulio and Eleanor 
is said to be a story printed in a magazine by a well-known 
French writer, who had collected the facts from the friends of the 
family of the governess. On this becoming known, all the 
copies of the magazine were bought up, and destroyed, except 
the one in the possession of Mary Lawson, who reads it to her 

Kitty Bell, the Orphan, is undoubtedly another version of the 
early part of Jane Eyre. My own view with regard to the 
story is that it was actually written by Charlotte Bronte, 
either when she was alone in Brussels in 1843, in which case 
M. and Madame Heger may have had a copy, or after Charlotte 
Bronte's return in 1844-1845, when it may have been sent to 
the Hegers. 

Mr. Malham-Dembleby thinks that Kitty Bell was written by 
Eugene Sue, from information supplied by some one who 
knew Charlotte Bronte in Brussels, possibly the Hegers, but 
that could hardly be so, for the principal names used in the 
story are such as were common in Haworth in the Bronte days, 
and are still to be found in the district, as anyone who has 
lived in Haworth can testify Heaton, Parker, Lambert, 


Hutchinson, Wright, Briggs, Brown, and the name of the 
heroine Bell which the Bronte sisters adopted. It could 
hardly be possible for Belgians to remember all these Ha worth 
names. Moreover, the story is written in an autobiographical 
style, which could hardly be copied by a Frenchman. Eugene 
Sue could scarcely have fixed upon those surnames by chance ; 
they are too Yorkshire. Then again, in the story of Kitty Bell 
there are facts concerning Charlotte Bronte's life that were 
not commonly known until after her death, when Mrs. Gaskell 
published her Life of Charlotte Bronte. In the first edition, 
Mrs. Gaskell says, in speaking of Charlotte Bronte', " Her great 
friend was a certain Mellany Hane (as Mr. Bronte spells the 
name), a West Indian . . ." 

In Kitty Bell she is referred to as " the beautiful Creole from 
Trinidad, Isabella Hutchinson," and Bertha Mason in Jane 
Eyre is from the West Indies. The hair-cutting scene given in 
Jane Eyre is described much more graphically. Mellany 
Hane's brother was a curate at Sydenham, as stated by the lady 
superintendent at Cowan Bridge, and it is very probable that 
he wrote to Mrs. Gaskell, asking that the words " West Indian " 
should be deleted, as they do not appear in the later editions. 

In one of her letters to Miss Wooler, not published until 
1896, when it appeared in Mr. Clement Snorter's Charlotte 
Bronte and her Circle, Charlotte Bronte mentions that whilst 
at Cowan Bridge the pupils suffered from skin diseases, and 
in Kitty Bell the heroine says, " I have been awake half the 
night, tormented by the acute shootings of the sores upon my 
chest and limbs. The doctor calls this complaint the herpes" 

In the story of Kitty Bell there is an orphan, who, like Jane 
Eyre, was very unhappy at home with an aunt, and who was 
sent to a school called The Kendal Institute. The Clergy 
Daughters' School is in the district of Kendal. Until the 
death of Agnes Jones, who, it is plain to see, is drawn from the 
same original as Helen Burns, the story runs somewhat parallel 
with Jane Eyre, but later the heroine Kitty Bell (who at 
school has to submit to be called Catherine) gives place to a 
Miss Ashton, the superintendent of the Kendal Institute 
(the Miss Temple of Jane Eyre), and there is an account of a 


governess who is harassed by her profligate brother. Then 
follows the removal of Kitty Bell to Bath, where she meets the 
Creole, who was with her at the Kendal Institute, and she 
becomes her rival. 

It is not difficult to trace in this story of Kitty Bell Charlotte 
Bronte's early life, and in several respects it is truer to fact than 
in Jane Eyre, as in The Professor she uses real names of places. 

In the summer of 1837 Ellen Nussey was at Bath, and she 
was writing to Charlotte Bronte from that city. It is possible 
that her letters to Charlotte Bronte may have suggested Bath 
to the writer of Kitty Bell. There is one sentence in the earlier 
part of Kitty Bell which is quite Brontesque. " One evening, 
about the middle of March, just at that pleasant hour of twi- 
light, when two of God's wonders, Night and Day, cross each 
other like ships on the sea. . . ." 

In Shirley Charlotte Bronte writes of the wonders of the 
change from night to day. Moreover, the telling of the story of 
Kitty Bell, the Orphan, is in keeping with the Bronte tradition 
that the writer must adopt the role of an outcast. When 
reading the story it is easy to detect the difference in style from 
Eugene Sue's, and comparison with any of his French novels 
proves this. The style is not that of the author of The Seven 
Cardinal Sins, but of the writer of Jane Eyre. Miss May 
Sinclair in her Three Brontes assumes that Eugene Sue pla- 
giarised from Jane Eyre, but that could not be, as there are more 
actual facts of Charlotte Bronte's life in Kitty Bell than in Jane 
Eyre, which Mrs. GaskelPs Life of Charlotte Bronte proves, though 
it must be remembered that it was written seven years afterwards. 

It has always been a matter of surprise that Charlotte Bronte 
set to work so quickly on Jane Eyre, whilst her father was 
undergoing an operation in Manchester, for, according to one 
of her letters to Ellen Nussey, she had a very busy time, as she 
had to " board " her father, the nurse, and herself. Yet, 
on receiving the manuscript of the rejected Professor, she set 
to work immediately on Jane Eyre in her lodgings in a small 
house, at 59 Boundary Street, Greenheys, Manchester, during 
August, 1846, and she wrote very quickly, until she got the 
heroine away from " Thornfield," according to Mrs. Gaskell. 


This seems to show that the earlier part of Jane Eyre was 
already in Charlotte Bronte's mind, and that the plot was 
ready, though after the death of Helen Burns in Jane Eyre 
the similarity with Kitty Bell is not so clear, for Jane Eyre is 
kept to the front as the heroine all through the novel, whilst 
in Kitty Bell Kitty loses grasp. If Eugene Sue had plagiarised 
from Jane Eyre he would not have made such a blunder, 
and Kitty Bell is inferior in dramatic incident to Jane Eyre. 
There is a Captain Pottinger in the story, but he is a poor 
type compared with Rochester ; had Eugene Sue copied the 
story of Jane Eyre he would have found something more 
startling to compare with it. 

It is just possible that Kitty Bell was begun between 
October, 1842, and January, 1843, after Miss Branwell's death, 
and when Charlotte and Emily were both at home, previous 
to Charlotte's return to Brussels. 

Charlotte Bronte evidently knew Eugene Sue's works, for in 
The Professor she mentions a row of French books in Hunsden's 
Library, and she also gives Eugene Sue's name as one of the 

In Kitty Bell it is mentioned that the heroine had been 
beaten by George Burke, and in Jane Eyre a milder version is 
given of George Reed treating Jane Eyre badly. 

When M. Heger died, M. Albert Colin, the editor of UEtoile 
Beige, writing an obituary notice for the Sketch for 3rd June, 
1896, mentions that Charlotte Bronte was very unhappy 
when at Haworth, and that a drunken brother who beat her 
continually disturbed her home. On the evidence of those 
who knew Charlotte Bronte in Brussels, she gave the impression 
that she was happier at school than at home, until the last 
few months of her residence there. This certainly seems to 
be borne out by the fact that Charlotte determined to return 
a second time, and also that she left most reluctantly at the 
end of 1843, and her recently published letters prove she had 
determined to return, if possible, a third time. 

Eugene Sue evidently knew of the sensation caused by the 
publication of Jane Eyre, and, as he visited Ireland in 1849, 
and most probably was in London during that year, he may have 


read the autobiographical novel by Currer Bell, and decided 
to write a " governess story " of his own, for Mary Lawson, 
the Irish governess, and Mdlle Lagrange, her predecessor, 
owe something to the author of Jane Eyre, as anyone who is 
acquainted with Charlotte Bronte's life can easily tell. Whether 
Eugene Sue got the particulars from Brussels, or obtained 
possession of other manuscripts of Charlotte Bronte is not 

The question arises whether Charlotte Bronte knew that 
Eugene Sue had included the manuscript of Kitty Bell, the 
Orphan, in his governess story of 1850, and had used certain 
particulars in Mary Lawson concerning Charlotte Bronte's 
life at the Heger pensionnat, which were not published until 
Villette and The Professor made their appearance some years 
later. If Charlotte Bronte had sent the story of Kitty Bell, 
the Orphan, to M. Heger some years before, it would be easy 
to recognise Jane Eyre as Kitty Bell, and Eugene Sue must by 
some means have got either a copy of Kitty Bell, or the actual 
manuscript, and other particulars also. 

Is it possible that Charlotte Bronte found out in the 
summer of 1850 that her life-story was being used by Eugene 
Sue in a French feuilleton, and that she succeeded in getting the 
Kitty Bell story and Giulio and Eleanor deleted in the French 
version, not knowing that the English rights had been sold to 
the London Journal, which did not publish the part of Mary 
Lawson containing Kitty Bell until November, 1850 ? It is 
certainly strange that this Kitty Bell story was never referred 
to in the early fifties, but, had it been issued in England as a 
book, it might possibly have been detected. In any case, 
granted that the story of Mary Lawson did first appear in the 
London Journal, it is significant that when it was published 
in French in 1851 it took a new title and Kitty Bell was deleted ; 
yet the publishers did not accept the story as an abridgment. 
The author must have had some reason for leaving out the 
two stories of Kitty Bell and Giulio and Eleanor. 

If Charlotte Bronte went to Brussels and Paris in 1850, 
her visit may have had some reference to Eugene Sue's story. 
In Villette, Lucy Snowe tells of Dr. John (Mr. George Smith) 

EUGfeNE SUE 407 

showing her places she had never seen in Villette (Brussels), 
and that in a short fortnight she saw more of the city than 
she had seen during the whole of the time she had lived there. 
She describes a visit to a picture gallery with Dr. John, 
and the pictures she describes are Flemish women. Had 
this referred to the National Portrait Gallery in London, 
there would scarcely have been a reference to Flemish por- 
traits, although Villette sometimes represents London and 
sometimes Brussels. Those " few days out of town " seem to 
point to Brussels, and the " business," which appears to have 
taken up all Charlotte Bronte's time " except for the hours 
given to sleep," apparently points to some publishing matter 
in which Mr. Smith took some part, for she had no business 
except that which concerned her literary work. 

In a letter published in the Ha worth Edition of Mrs. GaskelTs 
Life of Charlotte Bronte, pages 464 and 467 Charlotte Bronte, 
writing to Mr. Smith, mentions that she owes him for some 
cards and power of attorney, and in her next letter she encloses 
one pound, eleven shillings and sixpence, for this. The letter 
is dated 5th August, 1850, and it proves that certain business 
had been transacted by Mr. Smith for Charlotte Bronte. 

If she found that someone in Brussels had given particulars 
relating to her life and that Eugene Sue was using them in his 
novels, it is very probable that she determined to write a story 
using her experience in Brussels, and especially designed to 
caricature Madame Heger, for there must have been some 
reason for the vindictive nature of Villette, especially con- 
sidering that in Shirley she had not attempted to betray any 
spite towards Madame Heger, although Robert Moore owes 
much to M. Heger. 

Eugene Sue (1801-1857) was first a doctor, then a soldier, 
afterwards an artist, ultimately becoming an author. Owing 
to the part he took in French politics, he was banished and 
died in exile. Unless the facts concerning the life of an English 
or Irish governess had been supplied to him, he would probably 
not have been so successful in Mary Lawson ; indeed, it is 
noticeable that the translator, in a foot-note, compliments 
M. Sue on his correct and beautiful description of an English girl. 


If Charlotte Bronte read this story in the London Journal, 
as she probably did, it is very easy to understand the vindictive- 
ness of V illette y and why she wrote, " I said my prayers when 
I had finished it. It is not pretentious, and I think will not 
be likely to cause hostility." Yet the Smiths were so offended 
that the story had to be much reduced by whole portions 
being cut out, which shows that they were not favourable to 
these parts. When the novel reached Brussels, there was still 
more hostility. The other manuscript sent by the governess 
who succeeds Mdlle Lagrange, Giulio and Eleanor, tells of the 
daughter of a lady, Mrs. Maywood, whose father took part in 
the Irish rebellion of 1798. It has a certain relation to 
Wuthering Heights, and the heroine Eleanor shares the fate of 
Cathy, who, after her burial as the wife of a man she does not 
love, is visited by her former lover, who has her grave opened, 
and longing to have Eleanor in his arms again, hears a sigh, 
and, snatching her from her coffin, takes her away, when she 
is restored to life. In Wuthering Heights it is the spirit that is 
active after death, and when Heathcliff tears up the ground 
which covers Cathy, saying, " I'll have her in my arms again. 
If she be cold, I'll think it is this north wind that chills me ; 
and if she be motionless, it is sleep," he hears a sigh, but does 
not disturb her, though he is conscious of her presence ever 
after. " I was sure she was with me, and I could not help 
talking to her," says Emily Bronte in the novel. 

There is a small volume of manuscripts entitled The Spell, 
an Extravaganza, and several other small compositions by 
Charlotte Bronte in the British Museum, signed and dated 
1834 and 1835. The book is beautifully bound in red leather, 
and there is an inscription in gilt letters on the cover " Manu- 
scripts by Charlotte Bronte." Underneath is her nom de guerre 
" Currer Bell." On the inside of the cover is written " Pur- 
chased from E. Nys, of Brussels, 10th Dec., 1892." Being 
curious to know how it came about that the manuscripts had 
been purchased from someone in Brussels, I made inquiries 
and found the address of M. Nys. To my inquiries concerning 
his possession of the volume he replied 

" Ce petit cahier a etc" achet6 par moi avec d'autres livres : 


M. Richard Garnett, qui 6tait alors surintendant des imprimes, 
a tenu a 1'avoir pour le British Museum. C'est tout ce que 
je connais de 1'ouvrage. Charlotte Bronte Paura oublie a 
Bruxelles, et de longues ann6es apr6s il a echoue* au marche 

" Votre tout devoue 

" S. NYS." 

It appears that M. Nys was not quite certain of the genuine- 
ness of the manuscripts, and he applied to Dr. Garnett, who 
was anxious to secure the volume for the British Museum, 
recognising it as the work of the famous novelist. Seeing that 
this little collection of Charlotte Bronte's manuscripts was 
left at the pensionnat in Brussels, or was sent to M. Heger 
later, it is quite possible for Kitty Bell, the Orphan and Giulio 
and Eleanor to have shared the same fate, and for Eug&ne Sue 
to have got the actual manuscripts. Giulio and Eleanor may 
account for Charlotte Bronte's claim to an earlier version of 
Wuthering Heights, but, although the plot is very similar, the 
style is absolutely different from Emily's great novel. 

Whether these short stories were written by Charlotte 
Bronte or not, they are connected in some way with the 
Brontes. If Charlotte Bronte took her manuscripts of 1834 
and 1835 to Brussels, it is very possible she took others. 

During this visit to London in the summer of 1850, Charlotte 
Bronte had a varied experience. After her few days spent 
out of town, she received a call from Thackeray on 12th June, 
and she gave him one of her smart lectures, when he defended 
himself like a great Turk ; but in the evening of the same day 
she dined at his house in Kensington, now known as No. 16 
Young Street. The house is much as it was in the days when 
Charlotte Bronte visited it. Now there is a bronze commemora- 
tion tablet over the door in honour of Thackeray. It was on 
passing this house that Thackeray said to Fields, the American 
publisher, " Down on your knees, you rogue, for here Vanity 
Fair was penned." 

Lady Ritchie once described to me little Jane Eyre sitting 
near the drawing-room window with mittens on her small 
hands, looking very demure, and when the company rose to 


go to dinner, her father offered his arm. Charlotte had to 
reach up to take it. Thackeray was six feet three, and 
Charlotte Bronte a little over four feet. 

It was the first dinner party that Thackeray gave in Miss 
Bronte's honour, but it was not a success. This party has 
been assigned by Mrs. Brookfield to the first time Thackeray 
met Charlotte Bronte in November, 1849, but it was evidently 
on 12th June, 1850, according to Charlotte Bronte's letter. 

Mrs. Brookfield says in Mrs. Brookfield and her Circle 

" There was just then a fashion for wearing a plait of hair 
across the head, and Miss Bronte, a timid little woman with 
a firm mouth, did not possess a large enough quantity of hair 
to enable her to form a plait, so therefore wore a very 
obvious crown of brown silk. Mr. Thackeray on the way 
down to dinner addressed her as Currer Bell. She tossed 
her head and said, ' she believed there were books being 
published by a person named Currer Bell . . . but the person 
he was talking to was Miss Bronte and she saw no 
connection between the two.' ' 

The crown of brown silk worn by Charlotte Bronte settles 
the question that she was not wearing mourning in June, 1850, 
and Lady Ritchie, describing the same dinner party, mentions 
" the tiny, delicate, serious little lady, pale, with fair straight 
hair, and steady eyes . . . 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." 

The party was a failure, according to the account given by 
Thackeray's daughter. Conversation flagged, and Miss Bronte 
the lioness of the evening confined herself and her con- 
versation almost entirely to the children's governess, although 
there were present Mrs. Crowe, Mr. and Mrs. Brookfield, Mr. and 
Mrs. Carlyle, Mrs. Procter and her daughter, Mrs. Elliot and 
Miss Perry, in addition to Thackeray and his two girls. Mrs. 
Brookfield tells how she made an effort to draw into conversa- 
tion " the great, little Jane Eyre." " Do you like London, 
Miss Bronte ? " she asked, and after a pause the reply came 


" Yes and No." Charlotte Bronte and Mr. George Smith 
were the first to leave and, as soon as they had gone, Thackeray 
slipped out of the drawing-room, and his eldest daughter 
was surprised to see him open 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," 
wrote Lady Ritchie. 1 

Lady Ritchie remembers how Charlotte Bronte was offended 
with her father for introducing her to her grandmother as 
" Jane Eyre." Evidently London and Brussels were both 
excited over the author of Jane Eyre and Shirley. 

In telling Ellen Nussey of her interview with the author of 
Vanity Fair, she says 

" 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 sate 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 head, 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 ; if all be well, I am to dine at his house this 

It was whilst staying for the first time at 112 Gloucester 
Terrace, Hyde Park, that Charlotte Bronte met George Henry 
Lewes, " 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 forehead, even, at 
moments, the expression : whatever Lewes does or says, I 
believe I cannot hate him." Yet it was Lewes who, when 
dining at Mrs. Smith's, leant across the table and said, " There 
ought to be a bond of sympathy between us, Miss Bronte, for 
we have both written naughty books." 

Mr. Smith tells us " This fired the train with a vengeance, 

1 Chapters from some Memories, by Lady Ritchie. 


and an explosion followed," but afterwards she asked Mrs. 
Smith to explain what she had written which could be classed 
as naughty, and on another occasion she said to the friend at 
Briery Close, " I trust God will take from me what power of 
invention or expression I may have, before he lets me become 
blind to the sense of what is fitting or unfitting to be said." 

It was during this visit in the summer of 1850 that the Smiths 
persuaded Charlotte Bronte to sit to George Richmond for a 
portrait, and she agreed, as the drawing was to be framed and 
presented to her father, and Ellen Nussey had also wished 
for a portrait of her friend. Richmond found Charlotte 
Bronte by no means a good subject ; it is well known that he 
was keen about having a good picture as well as a faithful 
likeness. Richmond found Charlotte Bronte very depressed, 
and after she had given him two sittings he lost hope. It was 
her melancholy expression, as well as her irregular features 
that troubled him. On her third visit, the Duke of Wellington's 
servant was just leaving the studio as she entered, which caused 
Richmond to say in welcoming her, " If you had been here a 
quarter of an hour sooner, you would have seen the Duke of 
Wellington." Whereupon she broke out into eager talking 
about the Duke, and the artist caught the wistful expression 
given in her portrait. 

When Richmond was getting on well with the drawing, 
Charlotte Bronte stood behind him, looking at it ; he heard 
a sob, and on turning round she said to him, " Excuse me it 
is so like my sister Emily." 

When the drawing was finished, Mr. George Smith says in 
his paper, " In the Early Forties," " She burst into tears, and 
said it was so like her sister Anne, who had died the year 
before." The fact was, there was a family likeness between the 
three sisters, but Charlotte was not so good-looking as Emily 
and Anne. Mrs. Gaskell considered the drawing an excellent 
likeness, as did others who knew her in 1850. 

Mr. Smith sent the drawing, and also a framed portrait of 
the Duke of Wellington as a present for Mr. Bronte, whom, 
as an Irishman, he greatly admired. 

This visit to 112 Gloucester Terrace proved to be the longest 


holiday Charlotte Bronte ever had, for, as the alterations at the 
parsonage were not completed, she extended her holiday by 
first going from London to Birstall to stay for a while with 
Ellen Nussey, and then she went to Scotland to meet Mr. George 
Smith and his younger brother. Charlotte Bronte had always 
a great admiration for Scotland and Scottish characters, and 
though she spent only a few days over the border, and the time 
mainly in Edinburgh, she enjoyed the visit immensely. 

" My stay in Scotland " (she wrote some weeks later) " was 
short, and what I saw was chiefly comprised 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 Highlands ; but 
though the time was brief, and the view of objects limited, I 
found such a charm of situation, association, and circumstance, 
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." 

Seeing that parts of Villette were cut out and whole pages 
deleted, it is very possible that the two days in Scotland found 
a place in the novel, but Mr. Smith may have objected, as it 
was well known that he went with Charlotte Bronte to 

The father, left behind in Ha worth with the alterations 
at the parsonage, got very anxious about his daughter, who 
had only gone for a fortnight. She had never been away for 
so long a period before and the old man and the servants had 
got the impression that Miss Bronte was arranging to get mar- 
ried, or else that she actually was married, for Mr. Bronte 
knew that a Mr. James Taylor, of the firm of Smith, Elder 
& Co., was anxious to marry Charlotte Bronte, and had she 
been willing there is evidence that her father would not have 
objected. Later Mr. Taylor went to India on business for the 
firm, and before his return Charlotte Bronte had married her 
father's curate. This offer of marriage was the third that 


Charlotte Bronte received, but she was emphatic in her 
rejection. She considered Mr. Taylor to be second-rate, and 
she said that she preferred to remain unmarried if Fate only 
offered her such a husband, though in the latest letters there 
is evidently a suspicion that had Mr. Taylor returned, he might 
have had Charlotte Bronte for his wife. 

Mr. Bronte became so anxious about his daughter that he 
got old John Greenwood to start, staff in hand, to look for her 
in Birstall. He had only got to the foot of Bridgehouse Hill, 
in the village, when he met Charlotte Bronte in a cab, and 
very glad he was for Mr. Bronte's sake. 

If Charlotte Bronte did have trouble over her literary work, 
and go over to Brussels in 1850, it accounts for Brussels being 
fresh in her mind when writing Villette, but I have an assurance 
from Mrs. George Smith that she never heard of her husband 
and Miss Bronte going to Brussels together. The question of 
" the few days out of town " may never be settled, but a letter 
was once offered for sale, said to have been written by Charlotte 
Bronte and dated from Paris. If that letter is genuine, it 
may help to throw light on the mystery, especially if the date 




CHARLOTTE BRONT invited to Briery Close, Windermere Her first 
meeting with Mrs. Gaskell Mrs. Gaskell's account Visits to the 
Arnolds of Fox How Return to Haworth Second visit to the 
Lake District She stays with Miss Martineau at Ambleside. 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S first interest in the Lake District must 
have been awakened when she wrote to Southey in 1837, and 
afterwards to Wordsworth and Coleridge. Southey had 
expressed a wish to see her if she visited the English Lakes. 
In those days money was not too plentiful at the Haworth 
parsonage, and much as Charlotte Bronte would have liked 
to pay a^visit to the Lake District it was all but impossible. 
Alas ! when she did get an opportunity of going, Southey had 
been dead for seven years, Hartley Coleridge had recently 
died in 1849, and Wordsworth in April, 1850, so that the poets 
in whom she was specially interested had all passed away. 
As Branwell Bronte had been at Broughton-in-Furness in 
1839, and had visited Hartley Coleridge, Charlotte Bronte 
would have heard something of the beauties of the English 
Lakes at least ten years before she herself became a guest at 
Briery Close, Windermere. 

The English Lake District, so redolent of the poets associated 
with its name, was an ideal spot for Charlotte Bronte to visit, 
and, although she had been away from home for six weeks in 
the June and July of 1850, her father persuaded her to accept 
an invitation from Sir James Kay Shuttle worth and Lady 
Shuttleworth to a house known as Briery Close, which they 
had rented on the shores of Lake Windermere, just above the 
little landing stage at Low-wood. The house is still there, but 
it has been recently altered ; it had been renovated pre- 
viously and enlarged, so that it is a more palatial mansion 



than when Charlotte Bronte visited it. The house is sheltered 
by trees, and is approached from the shore of Lake Windermere 
by a steep, winding path. The view from the house is the same 
as in Charlotte Bronte's days, and Coniston Old Man and 
Langdale Pikes can be seen overlooking the lake. Dove Nest, 
where Felicia Hemans lived, can be seen among the trees in the 
distance, and the view, up and down the lake, is magnificent. 

Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, who knew Mrs. Gaskell in 
Manchester, before he was acquainted with Charlotte Bronte, 
had invited the author of Mary Barton to meet the writer of 
Jane Eyre. One who was present to meet the two novelists 
at this time described Charlotte Bronte as extremely nervous 
and shy, looking as if she would be glad if the floor would open 
to swallow her, whilst Mrs. Gaskell sat bright, cheerful, and 
quite at ease. Hitherto the two writers had not met. Charlotte 
Bronte did not approach the house from the lake, but from 
Windermere Station, the railway having been opened in 1847. 
She arrived at Briery Close on 18th August, 1850, and Mrs. 
Gaskell a day later. Sir James K. Shuttle wroth never seemed 
weary of inviting Charlotte Bronte and trying to give her plea- 
sure ; he had written two novels himself, Scars dale, dealing 
with the Lancashire border, and Ribblesdale. Charlotte Bronte 
seemed to be nervous in his company, though she tried to 
appreciate his kindness, and he certainly was very good to her. 

Fortunately Mrs. Gaskell wrote a long descriptive letter 
concerning her first meeting with Charlotte Bronte. It has been 
said that Mrs. Gaskell did not keep a regular diary, but she did, 
perhaps, what was better : she made notes of her visits to 
distinguished people, and she wrote long letters to her husband 
and others, which were of great use when she needed material 
for her stories. Had she known that she was to be the bio- 
grapher of Charlotte Bronte, she could scarcely have been more 
particular in recording her impressions of her friend. This 
will readily be admitted by reference to her letters. 

Much as Charlotte Bronte enjoyed the scenery, she was 
cramped in her sight of it 

" 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 carriage with company, it was very well. 

"HI 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 Kay Shuttleworth was warning me against the 
faults of the artist-class, all the while vagrant artist instincts 
werejDusy 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." 

Her visit to the Lake District did not produce the same 
enthusiasm as is noticeable in her account of the time spent 
in Scotland, though she admits that the scenery in the Lake 
District was grander, which is partly to be accounted for by 
the difference in the company she was in ; she never seemed to 
relax with Sir James K. Shuttleworth, and even with Mrs. 
Gaskell she was reserved and afraid to be natural, whilst in the 
company of Mr. George Smith she could be quite free and even 
jolly at times. The few published letters which passed between 
Charlotte Bronte and Mr. George Smith show a delightful 
spirit ; she could make a pun and jest with him in her letters, 
as with no other person. Letters are said to reveal not only 
the writer, but also the receiver, and certainly a study of 
Charlotte Bronte's letters proves that she could suit her letters 
to the receiver, and none shows her to better advantage than 
those to her publisher, for in them is a joyousness and abandon 
which contradicts the impression conveyed by Mrs. Gaskell's 
Life of a woman who experienced nothing but sorrow, and 
who was only capable of living a sad and subdued life. 

In the course of this visit, Sir James K. Shuttleworth and 
his guests were invited to Fox How, the beautiful home 
of the widow of Dr. Arnold, of Rugby. The house is still kept 
as it was in 1851 ; the quiet, shady garden, just off the carriage 
road leading to Grasmere can be seen by tourists, and drivers 
of carriages seldom fail to point out the house. When the 
present writer visited it in 1910 the drawing-room in which 
the party assembled to meet Charlotte Bronte was shown, 

27 (2200) 


with the paintings and portraits of some of those who formed 
the company in August, 1850. The beautiful painting of 
Mrs. Arnold hangs over the mantelpiece, and there is also a 
strikingly fine picture of Dr. Arnold, who, his daughter told me, 
built the house with great care for the sake of his children. 
Now all the members of the household are gone, except the 
youngest, Miss Frances Arnold, who maintains the delightful 
and hospitable associations of the old home. One portrait, 
of which Miss Arnold is very proud, is that of her cousin, 
Mrs. Humphry Ward, who has spent long holidays at Fox 
How, during which she sometimes wrote part of her novels. 
Westmoreland has done much to inspire her writing, and the 
latest edition of her novels, for which she has written charming 
introductions, is known as The Westmoreland Edition. 

Amongst the books treasured at Fox How are many from 
distinguished authors, including a first edition of Sylvia's 
Lovers, sent by Mrs. Gaskell to Mrs. Forster, one of Mrs. 
Arnold's daughters. Among the autograph letters are some 
from Charlotte Bronte and Mrs. Gaskell, which both in style 
and caligraphy are quite different. 

The memories of that August meeting still linger in the 
home. Miss Arnold remembers Charlotte Bronte, with her 
high-necked black silk dress, sitting on the couch, looking 
nervous and tired, and shrinking from notice, though to the 
youngest member of the family she was most affectionate, 
and asked her to sit next to her. Mrs. Gaskell sat in an 
arm-chair near the hearth, and was considered to be the most 
beautiful woman of the party. She talked gaily with the 
members of the Arnold family, and appeared the picture of 
happiness. She possessed the joyous disposition which could 
make itself at home anywhere. 

The whole family at Fox How was struck by the great 
difference, both in temperament and appearance, between the 
two novelists. Charlotte Bronte did not convey the impression 
that she had enjoyed the evening ; she was much too con- 
strained, though she appears to have used her eyes and her 
brain as she generally did when she met new people to 
sum up the characters of those who were present to meet her. 


She gave, naturally, most of her attention to Mrs. Arnold 
and the daughters of the house, and she was very charmed 
with the beautiful home life. 

It was early in December, 1850, that the second edition of 
Wuthering Heights was published, with Charlotte Bronte's 
remarkable introduction. A copy of this second edition was 
sent to Mr. Sydney Dobell, in appreciation of his favourable 
review of Wuthering Heights in the Palladium. In her letter 
to him Charlotte Bronte concludes 

" 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, I must also disclaim the flattering side of the por- 
trait. I am no ' young Penthesilea mediis in millibus,' but a 
plain country parson's daughter." 

In one of her letters to Harriet Martineau she says that if 
Mr. Dobell could see her sometimes darning a stocking, or 
making a pie in the kitchen of an old parsonage in the obscurest 
of Yorkshire villages, he might recall his sentence. 

The year 1850 made a holiday record for Charlotte Bronte, 
who was then at the zenith of her popularity. The wealthy 
people around Haworth, including Mr. Busfeild Ferrand (with 
whom was Lord John Manners), Sir James K. Shuttleworth and 
others called at the parsonage, to the great delight of Mr. 
Bronte, who enjoyed this notoriety much more than his 

As Charlotte Bronte had not been well, her father persuaded 
her to accept Miss Martineau's invitation to spend a few days 
at The Knoll, Ambleside. Charlotte Bronte had intended to 
pay a visit to Mrs. Gaskell, who, however, was not at home, and 
so she decided to pay her second visit to the Lake District 
in the December of 1850. Miss Martineau's residence is now 
tenanted by her niece ; the house and garden are much the 
same as they were when Charlotte Bronte stayed there, except 
that the trees have grown so much as almost to hide the house 


on the south side. In front of the main entrance is a sundial, 
which was presented to Miss Martineau by her admirers, to 
remind her of the old sundial in her grandmother's home in 
Newcastle. The bedroom over the dining-room is the one 
that was given up to Miss Bronte, who would appreciate the 
lovely view from the window. 

December is not a very suitable month for visiting the English 
Lakes, but Charlotte Bronte appears to have had a very good 
time. Sir James K. Shuttleworth took her for drives almost 
every day, so that she got views of the surrounding country 
in winter as well as in summer. Miss Martineau despised driv- 
ing, and she could be seen, winter and summer alike, tramping 
the lanes in thick boots and short skirt. She ruled the district 
around Ambleside as an autocrat, and her word was law in the 
cottages. Charlotte Bronte was much surprised at her influ- 
ence and power. The two novelists had not much in common, 
but Charlotte Bronte felt drawn to Miss Martineau, whose 
strength and modesty surprised her. Although Miss Martineau 
did not possess her wealth of intellect, nor her ability as a writer, 
she was much more robust than Charlotte Bronte, who seems 
to have taken the second place whilst staying at The Knoll, 
for she asked for advice and seemed dominated by Miss 

During this second visit, Charlotte Bronte again called 
several times on the Arnolds at Fox How, and Miss Arnold 
says they all got to like the little woman, especially when the 
shyness wore off. 

It was at this time that Charlotte Bronte met Matthew 
Arnold ; neither seemed particularly struck with the other. 
Matthew Arnold writes of Charlotte Bronte as " past thirty 
and plain, with expressive grey eyes." He talked to her of 
French novels and Brussels, and she came to the conclusion 
that he was very conceited, though she altered her view later. 
He, in his turn, certainly appreciated her after her death, as 
his poem on Haworth Churchyard proves. 

After her return from the Lake District, she spent the 
Christmas of 1850 with her friend, Miss Nussey, and then 
returned before the end of the year to the Haworth vicarage. 


These visits, paid in 1850, were certainly beneficial to Char- 
lotte Bronte in many ways. She became more interested in 
dress, and her life seemed brighter. Mr. James Taylor, of 
Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., continued his courtship, but 
without success, and he went off to India on business. Char- 
lotte Bronte's letters to him breathed little of love, though in 
her correspondence with Ellen Nussey she discussed the pros 
and cons. She appears to have had the same feeling towards 
him that she afterwards had for Mr. Nicholls, that she could 
not look up to him. It was unfortunate that she never found 
any man, unless it be M. Heger, who could command her 
complete esteem. 




CHARLOTTE BRONTE visits London to hear Thackeray lecture Mr. 
George Smith Thackeray's lecture at Willis's Rooms Charlotte 
Bronte's annoyance at his reference to Jane Eyre Meeting between 
Thackeray and Charlotte Bronte* at Gloucester Terrace Thackeray's 
second dinner party The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park 
Charlotte Bronte sees Madame Rachel Short visit to Mrs. 
Gaskell at Manchester Return to Haworth Visit to Scarborough 
She writes Villette Difficulties with the third volume Altera- 
tions in the manuscript She pays another visit to London to 
correct the proofs of Villette Reception of Villette Price paid 
for her novels Review by Harriet Martineau Mrs. Gaskell's 
defence of Charlotte Bronte's novels. 

ON 28th May, 1851, Charlotte Bronte started for London. 
She had just declined an invitation to accompany Mr. and 
Mrs. Sydney Dobell to Switzerland, though they had never 
met. The correspondence commenced by Charlotte Bronte 
thanking Mr. Dobell for his critique on Withering Heights and 
Jane Eyre, both of which he at first attributed to her. Charlotte 
explained matters, but Mr. Dobell was very sure that she 
was responsible for many of the scenes in the books, and 
now sixty years later his wonderful insight is proved to be 
correct, for the fevers, deliriums, and dreams were the origin 
of the most passionate scenes. 

Charlotte and Mr. Dobell never met, though the correspond- 
ence was continued. Mr. Dobell wished to discuss Wuthering 
Heights with her, and was also very anxious to know aJl about 
Emily Bronte, the author. 

Charlotte Bronte's answer to the invitation was an emphatic 
negative. It was sad that when she had the means, she could 
not avail herself of pleasures, which would have helped her in 
her lonely life, but she had such a horror of strangers and a 
great fear of disappointing them, that what would have afforded 
pleasure to most people caused her pain. 



One reason for visiting London in 1851 was to hear Thackeray 
lecture at Willis's Rooms. As she had made greater prepara- 
tions than usual in the matter of dress for this visit, her father 
and the servants got an impression that she intended to get 
married, for, though prim and quaint in many ways, she had 
bought a white lace mantle instead of the customary black 
one, and she had also purchased a bonnet, with a pink silk 
lining. If she had not had an insufficient amount of money 
with her when making the purchases, she would have been 
tempted to buy a silk gown " of pale, sweet colours " at five 
shillings a yard. It was only because she was short of money 
to the extent of a sovereign which her father said later he 
would have lent her that she bought a black silk at three 
shillings a yard, and then regretted it, as she wrote to Ellen 
Nussey. The incident of Mrs. Smith buying Charlotte a new 
dress for a concert in 1850 possibly suggested to Charlotte 
that she ought to dress in brighter colours. 

Miss Noissey, Tabby, Martha, and Mr. Bronte could only 
conjecture that Charlotte Bronte was intending to be married, 
or had become engaged. " How groundless and improbable 
is the idea ! Papa seriously told me yesterday that if I married 
and left him, he should give up housekeeping and go into 

Ellen Nussey always affirmed that Mr. George Smith did 
actually propose to Charlotte Bronte. Whether this is correct 
or not, it is certain that she was a different creature when in 
the company of her publisher, a teacher like M. Heger, or an 
author like Thackeray. At this time, although Ellen Nussey, 
in her commonplace letters, wrote of little but marriage, 
Charlotte's answer was, " If life be a war, it seems my destiny 
to conduct it single-handed." 

Charlotte Bronte was just thirty-five, whilst Mr. George Smith 
was only twenty-seven, but there is no doubt that the home at 
Gloucester Ten ace, which in Villette became La Terrasse, and 
was placed in Brussels, was the one in which she found great 
happiness. If, as she admitted, Villette is founded on the 
real though the shifting of the scenes, and the fictitious 
names act as a thin disguise then Currer Bell had a warm 


feeling for Graham Bretton, or Dr. John, as the novelist calls 
him later in the story. 

In one of her letters to the Smiths, Charlotte Bronte gives 
as a reason for not visiting them oftener, " the pain of the last 
good-bye, and the unforgettable handshake," and she mentions 
that reaction follows, which seems to give her the heading for 
a chapter in Villette, where she describes her grief at saying 
good-bye to those in La Terrasse, which points undoubtedly 
to those in Gloucester Terrace. 

Mr. George Smith only visited Haworth once, in the January 
of 1852, and unfortunately Charlotte Bronte was staying with 
Miss Nussey, and old Mr. Bronte had to do the honours of the 
parsonage. No reason seems to have been given for this visit, 
for, if it had been connected with business, it would have been 
an easy matter for Mr. Smith to have seen Charlotte Bronte, 
who was only some few miles away at Birstall. Indeed, she 
wrote asking Mr. Smith to meet her at Brookroyd, her friend's 
home, and assured him of a true Yorkshire welcome. It is 
possible that he was anxious to get the manuscript of Villette, 
which took so long to write. He hoped to publish it in the 
autumn of 1852, but it was not finished until February, 1853. 
Just after Villette was published, Mr. Smith sent Charlotte 
Bronte a framed portrait of Thackeray, and in thanking him 
she expressed a wish that he would sometime see it, as it hung 
on the wall of her sitting-room at Haworth ; but he never 
visited the parsonage again. 

Whether Mr. Smith proposed to Charlotte Bronte or not, she 
evidently saw the unsuitability of the union, and like Lucy 
Snowe, she recognised there was no hope for her where there 
was such a disparity in age and temperament. When her pub- 
lisher hinted at some " discrepancy " and " want of harmony" 
in the conception of Dr. John, and suggested that he should 
marry Lucy Snowe, Charlotte Bronte wrote to Mr. Smith 

" 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." 


Charlotte Bronte knew that she could not claim to be 
" young, rich, and pretty." 

Mr. George Smith was married to Miss Elizabeth Blakeway 
on llth Feb., 1854, before Charlotte Bronte's wedding in 
June, 1854, but the novelist never saw Mrs. George Smith, 
who is still living, and who recently wrote a short article for 
the jubilee number of the Cornhill Magazine in 1911. 

In 1856 Mrs. Gaskell wrote of her after an interview when 
collecting material for the Life as " a very pretty Paulina-like 
little wife." This evidently had reference to the Paulina of 
Villette. As, however, Charlotte Bronte never met Mrs. George 
Smith, she could not possibly have been the original of Paulina, 
but there is good reason to think that Miss Adelaide Procter 
contributed something to Paulina, and evidently Charlotte 
Bronte had concluded that Mr. George Smith would marry her, 
as Dr. John married Paulina. 

Miss Bronte was fond of teasing Mr. Smith, and it is said that 
on driving from one of Thackeray's dinner-parties she leaned 
across to Mr. Smith and said, " Miss Adelaide Procter would 
make you a very suitable wife." Mr. Smith admitted that he 
admired Miss Procter, and after her father's death he was 
very good to her and to her mother. 

Mr. Smith and Charlotte Bronte became engaged about the 
same time, and congratulations were exchanged, but that 
seems to have ended the correspondence between the author and 
her publisher, which has been described as " a publishing idyll." 

She visited London on 28th May the second anniversary 
of Anne Bronte's death, and a day earlier than she had arranged. 
She was anxious to hear Thackeray deliver the second of his 
series of lectures on " The English Humorists of the Eighteenth 
Century." The series consisted of six lectures. It was the 
lecture on Fielding that Charlotte Bronte heard. The charge 
for the full course was two guineas, and for an unreserved seat 
for a single lecture seven shillings and sixpence. 

Charlotte Bronte was in London when the third lecture was 
given, but she did not attend, probably because Thackeray 
had offended her by pointing her out as " Jane Eyre " at a 
previous lecture. 


She tells us that the first lecture was given in Willis's Rooms 
where the Almack's balls were held. " A great painted and 
gilded saloon, with long sofas for benches." 

Dr. Forbes came to the lecture and introduced himself. 
He was the doctor whom Charlotte Bronte had written to in 
connection with her sister Emily, on the advice of Mr. Williams, 
and she afterwards corresponded with him on her own account. 

Mrs. Smith, the lady who accompanied Miss Bronte, said 
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, " 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 
platform, and making his way towards her, asked her for her 
opinion. This finds a place in Villette, where Mr. Thackeray 
figures for the time being as Paul Emanuel 

" As our party left the Hall, he stood at the entrance ; he 
saw and knew me, and lifted his hat ; he offered his hand in 
passing, and uttered the words ' Qu'en dites-vous P ' question 
eminently characteristic, and reminding me, even in this his 
moment of triumph, of that inquisitive restlessness, that 
absence of what I considered desirable self-control, which were 
amongst his faults. He should not have cared just then to 
ask what I thought, or what anybody thought ; but he did 
care, and he was too natural to conceal, too impulsive to repress 
his wish. Well ! if I blamed his over-eagerness, I liked his 
naivete. I would have praised him ; I had plenty of praise 
In my heart ; but alas ! no words on my lips. Who has words 
at the right moment ? I stammered some lame expressions ; 
but was truly glad when other people, coming up with profuse 
congratulations, covered my deficiency by their redundancy." 


Thackeray called on Charlotte Bronte at 112 Gloucester 
Terrace the morning after the lecture, and the big man, six 
feet three in height, stood on the hearth-rug, whilst the little 
" Currer Bell " upbraided him for accosting her in the presence 
of the large assembly as " Jane Eyre." 

" What would you have thought if I had invited you to 
Haworth and introduced you to my father as ' Mr. Warrington ' 
before a mixed company of strangers ? " 

" You mean ' Arthur Pendennis,' " said Thackeray. 

" No, I don't mean ' Arthur Pendennis.' I mean ' Mr. 
Warrington,' " said Charlotte. 

Mr. George Smith looked in at this juncture, and was greatly 
amused to see the giant receive his scolding from the little 
woman, who was in a real tantrum. 

Writing of this in the Critic in Jan., 1901, Mr. George 
Smith says, " The spectacle of this little woman, hardly 
reaching to Thackeray's elbow, but somehow looking stronger 
and fiercer than himself, and casting her incisive words at his 
head, resembled the dropping of shells into a fortress." 

Thackeray was evidently excited after his lecture, and in 
asking Charlotte Bronte what she thought of it, he meant to 
pay her a compliment, but he was not at all pleased to be taken 
to task by the little novelist. 

In Mrs. Brookfield and her Circle it is recorded that Thackeray 
most amiably arranged a second dinner-party for Charlotte 
Bronte whilst giving his lectures. As the first party in June; 
1850 had turned out such a fiasco, he now tried to get together 
a number of women writers, and one or two of his intimate 
friends. " There will not be a Jack amongst us," said Thack- 
eray. The company included Mrs. Elliott and Miss Perry 
altogether about six ladies, and by accident Carlyle, who had 
not been invited. 

Miss Perry, writing to Mrs. Brookfield, says, " I remember 
every detail of it ; such a comedy it turned out. I have 
somewhere dear Thackeray's amusing list of the names he 
asked and their works." 

Miss Perry and Mrs. Brookfield agreed that the probable 
reason for the failure of the first party was Miss Bronte's own 


inability to fall in with the easy badinage of the well-bred 
people with whom she found herself surrounded. 

" Alert-minded and keen-brained herself, she was accustomed 
only to the narrow literalness of her own circle, and could 
scarcely have understood the rapid give and take, or the easy 
conversational grace of these new friends. Also she may 
hardly have appreciated the charming conciseness with which 
they told their stories ; for the members of this set were the 
first to break away from the pedantic ponderousness usual with 
all the great talkers, even those of their own time ; and Miss 
Bronte, a square peg in a round hole, was doubtless, too, 
dismayed at anecdotes that gained in elegance as they lost in 
accuracy." l 

Charlotte Bronte makes no mention of this second party, 
which must have been given in 1851, but that is not surprising 
as this holiday was so full of engagements. She visited the 
Exhibition in Hyde Park no less than five times, and she 
saw Madame Rachel act, which supplied her with the title 
of a chapter, "Vashti," in Villette. She heard Cardinal 
Wiseman speak at a meeting of the Roman Catholic Society 
of St. Vincent de Paul ; this was surely in remembrance of 
M. Heger, who was a member of this Society. She also paid 
a visit to the Duke of Westminster's Art Gallery, and attended 
a dinner-party at Sir James K. Shuttleworth's, to meet Mrs. 
Davenport and Mr. Monckton Milnes afterwards Lord 
Houghton. Then she accepted an invitation from Mr. Samuel 
Rogers to meet Lord Glenelg and Mrs. Davenport. On one 
occasion she was escorted to the Exhibition by Sir David 
Brewster. Altogether she had a very busy time, but the hot 
weather in London tried her very much. " 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 otherwise might have been 

Though ill and tired of sight-seeing, Charlotte Bronte had 
promised to call at Manchester for a short visit to Mrs. Gaskell. 
She only stayed two days, but she says the visit " proved a 
cheering break." It was when on this visit to Manchester 

1 Mrs. Brookfield and her Circle, by C. and F. Brookfield. 


that she stood on the hearth in the drawing-room at 84 Ply- 
mouth Grove, and gave Mrs. Gaskell and her family an account 
of Madame Rachel's performance. Her eyes fairly blazed, 
and she clenched her fists as she tried to give them her impres- 
sion of the great French actress. Mrs. Gaskell's daughters 
related to the present writer their very vivid remembrance of 
the little woman telling them in her emphatic way of the 

Writing to Ellen Nussey, Charlotte Bronte says 

" 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 ." 

How well the sight of this great actress impressed Charlotte 
Bronte is seen in Villette in the dramatic chapter on Vashti. 

Later she writes 

" Vashti was not good, I was told ; and I have said she did 
not look good ; though a spirit, she was a spirit out of Tophet. 
Well, if so much of unholy force can arise from below, may 
not an equal efflux of sacred essence descend one day from 

In Villette Charlotte Bronte gives a very faithful representa- 
tion of what she felt on seeing Madame Rachel, and she does 
not hesitate to liken her to " the very devil." She also con- 
trasts her impression with that of Dr. John, who judged Rachel 
as an artist rather than as a woman. 

How the great London with its sights appealed to the shy 
little woman from the Yorkshire moors more strongly than to 
most people ; her impressions were fresh and original, and with 
her marvellous memory she could reproduce them in her novels. 
In the chapter on Vashti, the performance in which the great 
French actress took the most important part, there is an account 
of a fire in the theatre. This was not from Charlotte Bronte's 
own experience, but was taken from a letter written by Mr. 
George Smith, relating what had occurred at some private 
theatricals at Devonshire House, Piccadilly, to which he had 


taken one of his sisters and a friend. The scenery on the stage 
caught fire, and for a few minutes a panic was threatened. 
Mr. Smith's two friends were eager to leave the place, but he 
gripped them both by the wrist and held them in their seats. 
They were much frightened and resented his forced roughness, 
but he prevented them from joining in the general stampede 
for the door, and helped to restore confidence in those who sat 
near. The fire was quickly extinguished and calm returned. 
Whether Mr. George Smith told who the young lady referred 
to in his letter was does not appear, but Charlotte Bronte's 
quick brain soon worked the incident into her story and Dr. 
John, with his " comely courage and cordial calm," appeals 
to the readers as the hero of the occasion. Charlotte has rather 
overworked the character of Dr. John. First he finds Lucy 
on the steps of the church, and she turns out to be a friend ; 
then at the fire he rescues a young lady, who becomes his wife. 

Charlotte Bronte had been taken by Mr. George Smith to 
one of the famous amateur theatrical performances at Devon- 
shire House, in which Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins took 
part some short time before, and she did not need to draw 
largely upon her imagination to supply the chapter in Villette 
entitled " The Concert," where she describes the interior of 
the ball-room of Devonshire House, although for the sake of 
disguise it is located in Belgium, and the concert is supposed 
to take place in the conservatoire in Villette. 

The conclusion of the 1851 summer holiday was at Mrs. 
Gaskell's home in Manchester. She spent the two days very 
quietly, and she describes the house as " a large, cheerful, 
airy house, quite out of Manchester smoke." As the weather 
was so hot, the novelist sat chatting with the windows open, 
and " a whispering of leaves and a perfume of flowers always 
pervaded the rooms." Mrs. Gaskell's house and family never 
appeared in Charlotte Bronte's novels. The only circumstance 
that Mrs. Gaskell thought worth mentioning in connection 
with this visit was Charlotte Bronte's anxiety to procure a 
shoulder shawl for Tabby, in order to obtain which she visited 
the Manchester shops. 

It is evident that Charlotte Bronte was writing Villette at 


this time, and her London holidays gave colour and brightness 
to her story ; she had finished the first volume, and submitted 
it to Mr. Smith, who was very pleased with it. 

It was during this London visit of 1851 that Mr. George 
Smith took Miss Bronte to see a phrenologist a Dr. Brown, of 
367 The Strand. Both went under assumed names : Mr. Smith 
became Mr. Eraser a name which Charlotte Bronte tried to 
get Harriet Martineau to use as a nom de guerre later, whilst 
Charlotte was known only as a lady, probably Miss Brown. 
Both submitted to have their heads examined, and Mr. George 
Smith published Charlotte Bronte's " Phrenological Estimate 
of the Talents and Dispositions of a Lady " in the Critic for 
1901, in his article " The Early Forties." 

It is a lengthy document, and Dr. Brown gives a very good 
estimate of Charlotte Bronte's character as now known by her 
published Life 

" She is fond of dramatic literature and the drama. In its 
intellectual development, this head is very remarkable. The 
forehead is at once very large and well formed. ... It is 
highly philosophical. It exhibits the presence of an intellect 
at once perspicacious and perspicuous. The lady possesses 
a fine organ of language. In learning any language she would 
investigate its spirit and structure. In analysing the motives 
of human conduct this lady would display originality and 

Dr. Brown was so struck by Charlotte's head that he men- 
tioned her wonderful imaginative power to a friend, who, meet- 
ing Mr. George Smith, told him of this wonderful woman, 
saying, " If I can get to know who she is I will let you know, 
as she ought to prove useful as a writer." 

Mr. George Smith forwarded the " character " and also his 
own, which Charlotte Bronte thought " very like." She took 
a copy of her own, and was evidently not displeased treating 
the whole affair as one of Mr. Smith's whims. In returning 
Mr. Smith's " character," she felt she must supplement it by 
giving him advice " about the phrenological character." 

Thackeray's last lecture was on Sterne and Goldsmith. 
Charlotte Bronte received three different accounts from Mr. 


Smith, Mrs. Gaskell, and Harriet Martineau respectively. 
Comparing Harriet Martineau's with Mrs. GaskelPs, she says 

" 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 oppo- 
sition, the more delicate diversity of different kinds of good. 
The excellences 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 
nourishing efficacy of our daily bread. It is not bitter ; it is 
not lusciously sweet ; it pleases, without flattering the palate ; 
it 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 complete." 

The winter of 1851 was a trying one ; sickness, mostly liver 
trouble, kept Charlotte Bronte from working at Villette. She 
speaks of her " Quaker-like spirit," and could not get either 
inspiration or enthusiasm for her work. The winter was one 
long trial. From Cornhill Mr. George Smith sent her books to 
read and patiently waited for Villette, for which the publishers 
were very eager. 

The following spring Charlotte Bronte was much better in 
health, and in June she decided to revisit Filey, which she had 
not visited since Anne died at Scarborough, three years before. 
Whilst at Filey, she had Anne's gravestone refaced and 
re-lettered, and she stayed at the same house as before. 

Whilst at this seaside resort Charlotte Bronte wrote to Miss 
Laetitia Wheelwright ; only part of the letter has been preserved 
and has not previously been published 

" I am now staying at Filey a small watering-place on the 
east coast of Yorkshire. I have been here three weeks, and 
thus far I think I have derived real benefit from the change. 
I earnestly wish you could say as much ; of all merely national 
blessings, I think health is the greatest. 


" Well can I sympathise with you all on the subject of your 
papa's state. I have watched the progress of that calamity, 
and know how sad is the gradual darkening. 

" With kindest regards to your dear parents and all your 
sisters with hopes that strength needful for the day will be 
given to all, and with sincere solicitude for yourself. 
" I am, dear Laetitia, 

" Yours affectionately, 

" C. BRONTE." 

Dr. Wheelwright was suffering from cataract of the eye, and, 
as he was living when Mrs. Gaskell got Charlotte Bronte's 
letters from Miss Wheelwright, it is very probable that he did 
not wish his state of health to be published, and so the letter 
was kept back. He died in 1861. 

There is no doubt that the hardest task that Charlotte 
Bronte ever had was the writing of Villette, for, as she says, 
there was no one from whom she might ask advice. Jane 
Eyre was written quickly, and so were two-thirds of Shirley, 
but after her sisters died she had to work entirely alone. 
It is very certain that the nightly discussions between the three 
sisters were a great help, and Emily especially must have been 
of great service to Charlotte, who had adopted her own methods 
in writing The Professor, but was glad to adopt Emily's style, 
and let herself " go " in Jane Eyre. Well might Charlotte 
Bronte say after Emily's death, " There is no sunshine in the 
world for me now." 

The autumn and winter of 1851, and the whole of 1852 up 
to November, was one hard struggle in writing Villette. Her 
letters at this period are quite monotonous with regard to the 
accounts of her health, but it is easy to see that it was her work 
that caused her illness and kept her in a low, nervous state. 
Dickens said he could write better when he was ill, and in the 
mid- Victorian days there was an impression that illness helped 
the author. Instead of the even, happy flow of language, 
there was the constant strain and stress, which found vent in 
highly strung phrases and strong passions. Whether that is 
so or not, Charlotte Bronte's best novels Jane Eyre and 

as (2200) 


Villette were written under stress : one of deferred hope and 
"the chill of despair," and the other when afflicted with 
sleepless nights and racking nerve pain, caused by the recollec- 
tion of former days. It is pitiful to read of the struggle which 
the novelist underwent trying bravely to do without com- 
panionship and lashing herself to finish her book. Once or 
twice she had to give in : on one occasion for a visit from Miss 
Wooler, whose companionship benefited her, and again she 
received a visit from Ellen Nussey, and also spent some time 
at Miss Nussey's home. Then there was her visit, alone, to 
Filey in June for three weeks, which gave her strength to plod 
on with Villette. 

Since the publication of the four Times' letters, it is plain 
to see that Charlotte had a difficult task in writing her heart's 
secrets, and the strain proved almost too much for her. She 
appears to have promised a novel on her Brussels' experience, 
which she found difficult to fulfil. 

All who knew her at this time looked on and wished to help, 
but her writing had to be done by herself; the servants, 
Mr. Nicholls, Ellen Nussey, and Miss Wooler all sympathised 
with her. It was about this time that Mr. Nicholls felt full 
of compassion for the brave little woman in her loneliness. 
He lived with Martha Brown's mother, and knew of Charlotte 
Bronte's constant illness, and her hard lot. Mr. Bronte's 
pride in his daughter's work caused him not to realise how ill 
she was, especially as she herself tried to persuade him that 
she was better than in reality. 

Her publishers were becoming quite impatient, and chafed 
at the delay in receiving the manuscript of Villette. She, 
however, felt that she was not to blame, and so she replied 
in a most independent spirit when her father was ill, with the 
result that the relation between author and publisher became 
somewhat strained. 

Mr. and Mrs. Forster Dr. Arnold's daughter and son-in- 
law of Fox Ghyll, Ambleside, called in the spring of 1852 
with friends at the Haworth parsonage, and wished to take 
Charlotte Bronte back with them, but she declined ; she had 
set herself resolutely to refuse all invitations until she had 


finished Villette, and on 8th October she forwarded the second 
volume, which contained Chapters XV to XXVIII, and 
practically brought in her visits to London in 1850 and 1851. 
The first chapter of the second part is entitled " The Long 
Vacation," and refers to the sad time in Brussels in 1843. 

The second volume ends with the chastisement of Lucy 
Snowe by M. Paul, who took her to task because of her dress. 

" M. Paul had reached the door ; he turned back just to 
explain, ' that he would not be understood to speak in entire 
condemnation of the scarlet dress ' (' Pink ! pink ! ' I threw 
in) ; ' that he had no intention to deny it the merit of looking 
rather well ' (the fact was, M. Emanuel's taste in colours 
decidedly leaned to the brilliant) ; * only he wished to counsel 
me, whenever I wore it, to do so in the same spirit as if its 
material were bure, and its hue gris de poussie're.' 

" ' And the flowers under my bonnet, Monsieur ? ' I asked. 

" ' They are very little ones ? ' 

" ' Keep them little, then/ said he. * Permit them not to 
become full blown.' 

" ' And the bow, Monsieur the bit of ribbon ? ' 
" 4 Va pour le ruban ! ' was the propitious answer. And 
so we settled it." 

It is difficult not to think that M. Heger did actually see 
Charlotte in a coloured dress in the summer of 1850, for the 
account of Dr. John showing Lucy the sights of Villette rings 
very true. 

The publishers were much pleased with the second volume of 
Villette, which was ready in October ; the third part of Villette 
caused the most trouble. The novelist seems to have had a 
difficulty in summing up and disposing of her characters. Even 
her father, who never seems to have been consulted until the 
last chapters were reached, was allowed to give advice, which, 
however, was not accepted. He wanted the tale to end happily, 
and Paul Emanuel might, in his judgment, marry Lucy Snowe, 
but Charlotte Bronte would not agree. She left the conclusion 
so vague that the readers could decide for themselves what 
really happened. 


In a letter to Mr. W. S. Williams, thanking him for his critique 
on the first two volumes of Villette, Charlotte Bronte gives 
enough to show herself to be the heroine of the story Lucy 

" November 6th, 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 ' 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 ' principle partly on that of 
the ' 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 
pretensions 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 

" I am, my dear Sir, 

" Yours very sincerely, 
"C. BRONT." 

" I trust the work will be seen in MS. by no one except 
Mr. Smith and yourself." 

Villette was completed on Saturday, 29th Nov., 1852, and 
the third volume sent off to the publishers. " 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 and wait the issue quietly." 
Miss Wheelwright told me Lucy Snowe was a true portrait of 
Charlotte Bronte, truer than Jane Eyre. 

Charlotte Bronte pleaded to be allowed to publish incognito . 
" I seem to dread the advertisements the large-lettered 
' Currer Bell's new novel,' or ' new work, by the author of 
Jane Eyre.' These, however, are the transcendentalisms of 
a retired wretch, so you must speak frankly." 

Villette was the one book which Charlotte Bronte did not 
wish to own, because it dealt severely with persons then living. 
Madame Beck, based undoubtedly on Madame Heger, was 
probably the character the novelist was most afraid of being 
identified, and for that reason she got Messrs. Smith, Elder 
& Co. to print on the title page : " The author of this novel 
reserves the right of translating it," so that it could not be 
translated into French for the Heger family, or any of the 
teachers at the Pensionnat to read. There she betrays herself, 
but as a matter of fact it had not been published many months 
before one of her own schoolfellows at Brussels bought a 
copy, and, although she did not know that Currer Bell was her 
old school-mate, she recognised the scenes, and knew the 
author must have been at the Heger pensionnat. I handled 
that very copy of Villette in Brussels some time ago. 


Charlotte Bronte was over-sensitive, and on receiving a 
cheque in payment for Villette, without a personal note, she 
decided to go to London to inquire the reason for the omission. 

Evidently the third volume of Villette caused some conster- 
nation at Cornhill, or at 112 Gloucester Place, for the novelist 
received one letter after another from Mr Smith, who appears 
to have constituted himself " reader." There were so many 
objections to certain characters that Charlotte Bronte lost 
courage and replied that, whilst she agreed to the criticisms 
to a certain extent, she could not alter the story. The original 
manuscript of Villette is in the possession of the Smith family, 
and some years ago it was lent to the Bronte Museum. A 
sorry spectacle it was ; the name * ' Frost " is altered through- 
out to " Snowe," and not only are words and sentences scored 
out, but whole paragraphs are cut out and numerous alterations 
are made, for there was no time to re- write it. 

Although Charlotte Bronte asked that no one but Mr. 
Williams and Mr. Smith should see the manuscript, her letters 
imply that Mrs. Smith must have known something of the 
contents and consequently she was not too well pleased. Like 
some of Mrs. GaskelPs relatives in Cranford, there was an 
objection made to persons being put into novels without their 

As Mr. Smith refused to answer any more letters about 
Villette, Charlotte Bronte accepted an invitation to Gloucester 
Terrace, and there she discussed her novel and mutilated it 
in order to satisfy her publishers. 

This visit to London was not so pleasant as the other visits ; 
a coolness had sprung up between Mrs. Smith and her former 
protegee, and Charlotte Bronte was gloomy and morose. She 
refused to meet anyone, preferring to see places rather than 
people. Mr. Smith seems to have been as assiduous as ever 
in obtaining permission for her to visit several public institu- 
tions, so that in the intervals of correcting proofs she visited 
Newgate and Pentonville prisons. Whilst in Newgate prison 
she saw a poor woman prisoner and spoke to her. She would 
have had quite a long chat with her had not the warder inter- 
vened and explained that visitors were not allowed to speak 


to the prisoners, which seemed greatly to annoy Charlotte 

She also visited the Foundling Hospital, and Dr. Forbes- 
the homoeopathic doctor, with whom she still kept up a corre- 
spondence took her through the Bethlehem Hospital ; she 
also went through the Bank of England and the Royal 

It is very certain that Mrs. and the Misses Smith knew 
that " Mrs. Bretton " in Villette was founded on Mrs. Smith, 
and this may have affected their attitude towards their guest. 
Mrs. Gaskell seems to think that the visits to the prisons and 
hospitals accounted for her change of mood. London had on 
previous occasions been a very El Dorado to her, and had 
circumstances been otherwise she would probably have entered 
into the London life with zest, for she had jokingly likened 
this London visit to " the best peach " which the schoolboy 
leaves until the last, for she had planned a visit to Miss 
Martineau and to Miss Nussey before starting for London. 

Since the bulk of the Bronte letters have been published 
it is evident that Mrs. Gaskell, who had looked through them, 
put the best possible construction upon all that Charlotte 
Bronte did. Wherever there is an omission, it is seen to be 
an advantage in favour of her friend. 

Charlotte Bronte seems to have envied Mrs. Gaskell her 
problem stories, and to have desired to write something 
purposeful herself. She says 

" Villette touches on no matter of public interest. I cannot 
write books handling the topics of the day ; it is no use trying. 
Nor can I write a book for its moral. Nor can I take up a 
philanthropic scheme, though I honour philanthropy ; and 
voluntarily and sincerely veil my face before such a mighty 
subject as that handled in Mrs. Beecher Stowe's work, Uncle 
Tom's Cabin. To manage these great matters rightly, they 
must be long and practically studied their bearings known 
intimately, and their evils felt genuinely." 

Was it that Charlotte Bronte was tired and utterly weary 
of creating a story with herself as heroine, and that she meant 


if she wrote another novel to try to handle some " philan- 
thropic scheme " or " some topic of the day," and for that 
reason visited the places in London that would not only inspire 
her, but give her actual information ? Mrs. Gaskell seemed 
to think so, for she says, " If she had lived, her deep heart 
would sooner or later have spoken out on these things." Her 
experience of what she called the decorative side of London 
life wearied her and she therefore chose the real, as she termed it. 

It was whilst staying with her publishers that she wrote the 
generous and magnanimous letter to Mrs. Gaskell with regard 
to the publication of Ruth. 

Mrs. Gaskell had been working at Ruth during the time that 
Charlotte Bronte had been engaged on Villette, and when she 
found that Villette would be published just at the time that 
Ruth came out, or a little earlier perhaps, she wrote a pitiful 
letter to Charlotte Bronte, asking if she could get Messrs. Smith, 
Elder & Co. to hold Villette back for a little while, and thus give 
Ruth a fair start. 

Why Mrs. Gaskell should have done this has always been a 
subject for comment. She was known, however, to be very 
keen about the success of her books, both financially and 
otherwise, and George Eliot is credited with saying to her, 
" Surely your husband and four daughters give you sufficient 
interest in life, without writing books." If it was not a ques- 
tion of making Ruth a success for her own sake, it was a fear 
of disappointing her publishers, for she knew that another book 
by Currer Bell might swamp her problem story, and yet, if 
Villette were delayed, it would not suffer on account of any 
success that had been achieved by Ruth. 

It redounds to Mrs. GaskelPs goodness of heart and humility 
of spirit that she included Charlotte Bronte's letter in the Life, 
without mentioning that she had written asking Charlotte 
Bronte to get the publication of her novel delayed. 

The fate of Villette was a source of great anxiety to Charlotte 
Bronte, and her publishers' criticism made it harder for her, 
for she had sacrificed so much health and peace of mind in 
writing it. It was published on 28th January, 1853, " and was 
received with one burst of acclamation." George Eliot wrote 


to her sister, excitedly saying, " Have you read Villette, 

The reviews came thick and fast, and Charlotte Bronte 
got more appreciation than she ever expected. A few days 
after publication she wrote 

"Feb. 15th, 1853. 

" 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 
expecting them to take any large share in this sort of gratifica- 
tion. The longer I live, the more plainly I see that gentle must 
be the strain on fragile human nature ; it will not bear much." 

She would not have been an author, much less a woman- 
writer, if she had not gloried in the favourable reviews, and 
twitted Mr. George Smith with his censure and opposition to 
the last volume of Villette. She writes of him as an " amateur 
critic," and she was relieved that the public was so genuinely 
pleased with what was alas ! her last novel. 

Time has not altered the favourable verdict which greeted 
its appearance, for to-day it is proclaimed by some to be her 
best novel, and, though not of such absorbing interest as Jane 
Eyre, it reveals greater skill. It is, indeed, a great masterpiece, 
though it is not without faults. The mysterious nun is too 
easily traced, and the reader is disappointed to find that there 
was no ghost at all. At the same time, the story is wonderful 
in its sustaining interest, and the pensionnat provided material 
that only a great genius could ever have discovered. 

The price paid for the novel was the same as for Jane Eyre 
and Shirley 500 for the entire copyright a sum of money 
which was not considered sufficient either by Charlotte Bronte 
or her father. The success of Jane Eyre and Shirley gave them 
good reason to expect half as much again, and certainly the 
amount received was well deserved, for the sum paid included 
the American rights also. Altogether the novelist received only 
1,500 for her three novels, which are still being printed and 
sell well. , 


Charlotte Bronte writhed under what she felt to be injustice, 
not only in the Daily News 9 review by Harriet Martineau, but 
in a private letter which the reviewer felt it her duty to send. 
Charlotte Bronte marked in red ink the parts to which she 
objected, and then added the famous paragraph, which has 
been frequently quoted to show that she had a real attachment, 
generally attributed to M. Heger 

" 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 comprehend rectitude, nobleness, fidelity, truth, and 
disinterestedness." 1 

She never wrote to Harriet Martineau again, nor did she 
have any communication whatever with her. Miss Martineau 
was anxious to heal the breach, but Charlotte Bronte would 
not yield. Mrs. Gaskell makes matters worse by trying to 
defend Charlotte Bronte, and she is certainly wrong in her 
assertions. She records a conversation, during a visit to 
Briery Close, when the discussion turned on instances of 
" authoresses who had much outstripped the line, which men 
felt to be proper in works of this kind," and then she quotes 
Charlotte Bronte's explanation, " She wondered how far 
this was a natural consequence of allowing the imagination 
to work too constantly," closing with the statement, " I trust 
God will take from me whatever power of invention or expres- 
sion I may have, before He lets me become blind to the sense 
of what is fitting or unfitting to be said." 

In an unpublished letter written by Mrs. Gaskell, she ex- 
presses herself as being quite puzzled at Charlotte Bronte's 
coarseness and her utter ignorance of the fact. At the same 
time Mrs. Gaskell admits Charlotte Bronte's genius. 

By way of explanation as well as defence, Mrs. Gaskell says 

" I do not deny, for myself, the existence of coarseness here 
and there in her works, otherwise so entirely noble. I only 
ask those who read them to consider her life which has been 

1 Life of Charlotte Bronte, Haworth Edition, p. 598. 


openly laid bare before them and to say how it could be 
otherwise. She saw few men ; and among these few were one 
or two with whom she had been acquainted since early girlhood 
who had shown her much friendliness and kindness 
through whose family she had received many pleasures for 
whose intellect she had a great respect but who talked before 
her, if not to her, with as little reticence as Rochester talked to 
Jane Eyre. Take this in connection with her poor brother's 
sad life, and the outspoken people among whom she lived 
remember her strong feeling of the duty of representing life 
as it really is, not as it ought to be and then do her justice 
for all that she was, and all that she would have been (had God 
spared her), rather than censure her because circumstances 
forced her to touch pitch, as it were, and by it her hand for a 
moment was defiled. It was but skin deep. Every change in 
her life was purifying her ; it hardly could raise her. Again 
I cry, * If she had but lived.' " 

Haworth has always resented this explanation, and it is 
certainly not correct ; if the people of Haworth and neighbour- 
hood were outspoken, they never talked as Rochester did to 
Jane Eyre ; such speech was quite foreign to their nature, 
and the male members of the two families that Charlotte 
Bronte was specially intimate with, the Taylors of Gomersal 
and the Nusseys of Birstall, were highly respected and 
intellectual people, with not a trace of Rochester in them. 
Ellen Nussey and Martha Taylor naturally objected to the 
insinuations conveyed in Mrs. Gaskell's explanation. 

Haworth could not have helped in the portraying of a 
Rochester, who was based on a foreigner, and had travelled 
and seen much of the world. 

Mrs. Gaskell also tries to bring poor Branwell in as being 
partly responsible for Rochester, but, if addicted to drink, he 
never talked like Rochester. 

The " immoral " French novels, of which Charlotte Bronte 
had read many from the Taylors of Gomersal, may have had 
something to do with the sayings of her characters. As a 
woman she was pure, upright, and religious, and there is no 


reason to write of her as " touching pitch and becoming 
defiled," or of her writing being coarse. 

/ In conclusion Mrs.Gaskell says, " Every change was purifying 
her," which is quite a gratuitous assumption. Her life was 
one long sacrifice, and her purity, both of spirit and motive, 
was beyond reproach. 

Mrs. Gaskell and Harriet Martineau became acquainted with 
Charlotte Bronte at about the same time. Both prided them- 
selves on their domesticity, and Charlotte Bronte found in 
these two women, so different in temperament, much that was 
helpful and stimulating. When Harriet Martineau had 
completed the manuscript of a new novel, Oliver Weld, it was 
submitted to Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., through Charlotte 
Bronte, who was very anxious that it should be accepted. It 
was, however, refused, and was never published. This must 
have been a source of great disappointment to the author of 
Deerbrook, who afterwards went so far as to disparage the story 
herself. She was fourteen years older than Charlotte Bronte, 
and had been before the public as a writer for thirty years 
when she met Charlotte Bronte. If Oliver Weld had been 
accepted, it is possible that Villette might have fared better in 
her Daily News' review. 

Charlotte Bronte was given to impulsive attachments, and 
she loved literary people. When first she knew Harriet Mar- 
tineau, she was most enthusiastic in her praise. Miss Wooler, 
who was puritanical to a degree, advised her to break off this 
attachment on account of the Atkinson Letters, but Charlotte 
Bronte stuck to her friends. 

Miss Martineau admitted that she had not lost a single friend 
by the Atkinson Letters, but had gained in many ways. 

When Charlotte Bronte died, it was Harriet Martineau who 
wrote the most kindly and appreciative obituary notice of her 
friend in the Daily News. She had received no cards at 
Charlotte Bronte's wedding, the friendship having been severed 
after the appearance of her review of Villette. 

Villette had caused a ruffle in the smooth waters at Cornhill, 
but, after it was published and proclaimed a great success, the 
old kindly relationship was renewed, and Mr. George Smith 


sent Charlotte Bronte a framed portrait of Thackeray, engraved 
from the Laurence portrait, possibly as a peace offering, for 
he had been very severe about the third volume of Villette. 
When Charlotte Bronte saw the original she exclaimed, " And 
there came up a Lion out of Judah." 

He did not correspond with her after 1851, and when she 
died he did not even write a line to her husband or her father, 
although Mrs. Gaskell wrote specially to tell him of the sad 
occurrence. Mrs. Gaskell was indignant, and wrote to Mr. 
Bronte, saying she could not understand the absence of a line 
of condolence from Thackeray to those at the Ha worth parson- 
age. No reason has ever been given for this omission, but it 
was noticeable that Charlotte Bronte did not send wedding 
cards to him on her marriage. It was not until 1861 that 
Thackeray gave to the world an appreciation of Charlotte 
Bronte, which was worthy of him, and of his subject. This was 
the beautiful preface to Emma, in the Cornhill Magazine 
for 1861. 



THE Haworth Curates Mr. Bronte's partiality for Irish Curates 
Rumours of Charlotte Bronte's engagement to Mr. Nicholls Mr. 
Bronte refuses his consent Mr. Nicholls leaves Haworth 
Charlotte Bronte visits Mrs. Gaskell Her shyness with strangers 
Ellen Nussey's letters Mrs. Gaskell pays her first visit to Haworth 
Vicarage A break in the Cornhill friendship Correspondence 
between Mr. Nicholls and Charlotte Bronte'. 

THE curates of Haworth and neighbourhood were the only men 
the Bronte sisters were accustomed to meet in their own 
home, and the two that found most favour were the Rev. Wm. 
Weightman, known as Celia Amelia, who flirted with Anne 
Bronte, and was a general favourite, and the Rev. A. B. 
Nicholls, who came to Haworth in 1844. His father was a 
Scot, and his name is said to have been originally Nicoll. 
It is interesting that a brother Scot, Sir William Robertson 
Nicoll a devotee of the Brontes was the one who was mainly 
responsible for the revival of the Bronte cult. Fe it was who 
persuaded Mr. Clement Shorter to go to Ireland for further 
information, which led to the discovery of the small memoranda 
by Emily and Anne Bronte, and ultimately to the publication 
of the Bronte letters. In Haworth, the Rev. A. B. Nicholls 
was always looked upon as an Irishman, as he was born in 
County Antrim, and brought up in Banagher in King's County. 
Although he looked much older than Charlotte Bronte, he 
was a year younger. 

Mr. Bronte was probably rather partial to one hailing from 
his own country, his predecessor, the Rev. J.W. Smith, also 
being an Irishman. Mr. Nicholls went to Haworth before the 
deaths of Branwell, Emily, and Anne, and he attended the 
funeral of two of these, and saw Anne just before she left with 
Charlotte for Scarborough in 1849. 

Living at the sexton's house, just across the narrow lane by 
the old church, he heard much about the parsonage people from 




Martha Brown, the housemaid, and her sisters who were accus- 
tomed to help at the Bronte home from time to time. He 
appears to have been attracted to Charlotte Bronte from the 
first, for, before he had been at Haworth many months, Ellen 
Nussey wrote to ask if it was really true that Charlotte Bronte 
was engaged to Mr. Nicholls. Charlotte replied in the negative, 
stating that all the curates in the neighbourhood looked upon 
her as an old maid. This was eight years before Mr. Nicholls 
proposed to her, and before she had published anything or 
become known except as a studious parson's daughter, though 
the kindly reference to Mr. Nicholls in Shirley encouraged him. 

As the eldest, Charlotte took the head of the table, and made 
tea for the curates when they visited her father. At home 
she was not shy and nervous, so that she appeared to much 
greater advantage than in other people's houses. From this 
it is easy to understand that Mr. Nicholls was always in love 
with the woman rather than the authoress. It is possible 
that he did not look very favourably on her development as 
a writer, especially when she became famous and was visited 
by titled people. His small salary of a hundred pounds a 
year must have appeared quite insignificant, and made it 
increasingly difficult for him to approach her with any overtures 
of marriage. He was said to be reserved, brusque, and not 
too amiable even with the Browns, who, however, always 
spoke well of him, though they did not favour his marriage 
with Charlotte Bronte. Martha Brown did not hesitate to go 
to Ireland with Mr. Nicholls, after his wife's death, and she 
stayed at his home for many years after his marriage with his 
cousin, Miss Bell. This is surely a valuable testimony to Mr. 
Nicholls as a kind master. 

It is questionable if he would have declared his passion for 
Charlotte Bronte at the time, if he had not known what a 
hard struggle with her health she was having, whilst writing 
Villette, and he seems to have waited until she finished the 
novel, before he proposed marriage. It is an old story how he 
called on the vicar, and after leaving him in his study late 
one evening in December, 1852, he tapped on the parlour door. 
Charlotte Bronte opened it, and he made her feel what it meant 


to propose and fear a refusal. His earnestness appealed to her, 
but, though a woman of nearly forty, she did not dare to 
encourage him, without her father's knowledge. She half 
led him to the door and told him he should have an answer 
on the following day, which shows she was not reluctant to 
consider the offer. If her account of the matter is literally 
true, Mr. Bronte behaved in a most unseemly manner when 
he heard the news from his daughter. He almost threw him- 
self in a fit ; his eyes were bloodshot and he stormed at the 
very idea of his curate daring to declare love to his daughter. 
When his own early ministerial life is considered, his poverty 
and his rebuff on proposing to Mary Burder of Wether sfield, 
it is impossible to have much sympathy for him. The result 
of this interview with Charlotte was that she promised to 
carry out his wishes and refuse the offer which Mr. Nicholls 
had made. The letter giving Charlotte Bronte's graphic 
account of Mr. Nicholls' proposal was advertised for sale 
in London, and a nephew of Miss Wheelwright wrote to Mr. 
Nicholls who at once purchased it privately, blaming Miss 
Nussey for her indiscretion in allowing it to become public 
property, but Ellen Nussey always said that it was Mr. Nicholls 
who first wrote asking her to lend Charlotte's letters for 

More than forty years afterwards, Mr. Nicholls tried to 
excuse the conduct of his former vicar, on the ground that he 
was entitled to expect that someone in a wealthier position 
would have come forward to marry Charlotte Bronte. It is 
impossible, however, to justify his ungovernable temper and 
his conduct. Mrs. Gaskell has been blamed for giving to the 
public some illustrations of his hot temper, but in this matter 
she dealt very warily with his shortcomings, for she had seen 
the letters from Charlotte Bronte to Ellen Nussey, which 
described her father's conduct as unworthy of a man, and 
much less of a minister. Matters became so strained that 
Charlotte Bronte went to stay with her friend, Ellen Nussey, at 
Bir stall. She received several unkind letters from her father 
signed with the dog's name, Flossy. 

An attempt has been made to show that this was the only 


occasion when Mr. Bronte was angry and lost control of 
himself. But he was a proud, egotistical man, who would 
brook no interference with his plans. Charlotte Bronte, quiet 
and modest as was her manner, never crossed her father, and 
so she conformed to his wishes and declined the offer of marriage 
from Mr. Nicholls. 

The result was that the rejected curate sent in his resignation, 
and asked to be released as soon as a successor could be 
appointed. The Browns shared the vicar's opinion that Miss 
Bronte, the famous authoress, ought to marry someone in a 
higher social position than her father's curate. Martha Brown 
was indignant with the love-sick curate, and John Brown said 
he would like to shoot him. There was thus, at this time, 
trouble both at the vicarage and at the sexton's home, where 
Mr. Nicholls received very little consideration, and he annoyed 
his landlady by refusing his food. 

There was some difficulty in releasing Mr. Nicholls at once, 
and Charlotte Bronte anxious to get away from Haworth 
for a time suggested to Mr. George Smith that she would 
be pleased to go to London to correct her proofs of Villette. 
The result was that she went to London and afterwards to 
Mrs. Gaskell's home. 

She could not help feeling a certain amount of pity for Mr. 
Nicholls, which she expressed in a letter to him, with the 
result that he wished to withdraw his resignation. This, 
however, did not remove the strained feeling between the vicar 
and his curate. Charlotte Bronte returned to Haworth in 
March, 1853, feeling much better for her visit to London ; she 
was soon busy with the preparations for Easter and a visit 
from the Bishop of the diocese. In order that Mr. Nicholls 
should not appear conspicuous by his absence, Mr. Bronte 
invited him to tea with the other curates to meet the Bishop, 
but there was some unpleasantness, with the result that 
Mr. Nicholls obtained an appointment of a curacy at 
Kirk-Smeaton, and the vicar got a new curate. 

Fortunately Charlotte Bronte received an invitation to 
Plymouth Grove to be Mrs. Gaskell's guest. No home could 
have been more helpful at this juncture than the ideal home 

29 <2200) 


of the Unitarian minister and his accomplished wife. It gave 
Charlotte Bronte a glimpse of what a home should be, and it 
may have helped her unconsciously to consider a union with 
Mr. Nicholls as by no means unsuitable. She met also Mrs. 
Gaskell's children,who were, as she called them " little wonders." 
She found it difficult to realise that they were in no ways dif- 
ferent from other children in well-managed, middle-class homes. 

Mrs. Gaskell records this visit with great minuteness in her 
Life of Charlotte Bronte. 

The visit was the second that Charlotte Bronte paid to 
Mrs. Gaskell, and it was the longest. The first visit was for 
only two days ; the last one for three days. This visit in 
1853, lasting as it did for one week, was a real rest and holiday. 
Mrs. Gaskell's soothing friendship was just what Charlotte 
Bronte needed at this time, and she was glad to avail herself 
of it. The neighbours of Mrs. Gaskell two sisters who 
charmed Charlotte Bronte by their Scotch ballads, were pro- 
bably the Misses Winkworth. The Winkworths were great 
friends of the Gaskells ; one of the daughters had taken 
lessons in history and chemistry from Mr. Gaskell, and Miss 
Catherine Winkworth was the translator of the Lyra Germanica. 
She was an accomplished scholar, and Charlotte Bronte was 
much attracted by her. Emily Winkworth married Mr. 
William Shaen, a solicitor, who took charge of Mrs. GaskelPs 
affairs later, when she had trouble with the Robinson family 
over the Bran well Bronte scandal. 

It was during this visit that Charlotte Bronte objected to 
green tea ; she arrived at the Gaskells in the evening and, 
when asked if she would take tea or coffee, said she preferred 
tea so long as it did not contain a particle of green tea, which 
prevented her from sleeping. Mrs. Gaskell knew that her tea 
was a mixture of black and green, and as there was no means 
of obtaining a fresh supply she wisely said nothing. Charlotte 
Bronte partook of the tea, and when asked the next morning 
how she had slept, replied " Splendidly," which caused a smile 
to pass round the breakfast-table. This trifling incident was 
used by Mrs. Gaskell in Cranford, where Miss Matty objected 
to green tea. 


Another story which was associated with this visit has been 
told by Mrs. Gaskell's daughters. Mrs. Sidney Potter, author 
of Lancashire Memories, called at Plymouth Grove during 
Charlotte Bronte's stay. As she was announced, Mrs. Gaskell 
rose to welcome her friend, and turned round to the chair 
near the window to present Miss Bronte. To her astonishment 
the chair was vacant, and apparently Charlotte Bronte had 
fled by the door which led to the dining-room. Mrs. Gaskell 
apologised for her absence, hoping it would only be temporary, 
but Mrs. Potter left without seeing the famous writer. Imme- 
diately Mrs. Gaskell had said " Good-bye " to her visitor, 
Charlotte Bronte appeared from behind a heavy curtain, 
which hung from the window. Her explanation was that she 
was not able to face a stranger. 

Mrs. Gaskell was one of those people who are easy to enter- 
tain, for the reason that she thought of others rather than her- 
self. Charlotte Bronte was too self-conscious, and without 
being exactly egotistical she was always troubled by the 
thought of what strangers would think of her and how they 
must be disappointed in her. It was unfortunate that she 
found it difficult to cure herself of the habit as she became 
older, and got to know more people. Mrs. Gaskell arranged one 
or two small parties for her, and she was taken to the theatre 
to see Twelfth Night ; everything was done to make the 
visit as pleasant as possible for her. How successful these 
efforts were may be gathered from Charlotte Bronte's letter, 
" The week I spent in Manchester has impressed me as the very 
brightest and healthiest I have known for these five years past." 

From Manchester she went to Birstall to stay with Ellen 
Nussey, and, judging from the letters, she must have had little 
faith in Mr. Nicholls' regard and affection. After her return 
to Haworth, she tells of taking the Sacrament at Church. 
Mr. Nicholls expected that this would be the last occasion on 
which he would administer the communion in the Haworth 
Parish Church. His love affair helped to make him popular, for 
some of the worshippers were quite affected, whilst some of 
the women sobbed, and Charlotte Bronte herself was unnerved. 
The Clerk, Joseph Redman, told Mr. Bronte of this sympathetic 


feeling for Mr. Nicholls, which greatly annoyed the old vicar, 
who made disparaging remarks about his curate. A letter, 
written by Charlotte Bronte to Ellen Nussey, gave a very 
graphic account of the service, and Mr. Nicholls was very much 
hurt years afterwards, when he found that Ellen Nussey had 
sold the letter and allowed it to be made public. 

It was apparently Mr. Nicholls' final service in the Ha worth 
Church that opened Charlotte Bronte's eyes to the depth 
of feeling behind his proposal of marriage, and she began to 
look upon him more favourably, though she kept silent. The 
parishioners subscribed for a testimonial, which took the form 
of a gold watch, and he left Haworth with the good wishes of 
practically all the people of the village, for they were very sorry 
for the curate's love affair. On the morning of his depar- 
ture, he called to say " Good-bye " to the vicar, and looked 
round for Charlotte Bronte, but not seeing her he went to the 
gate sobbing. This led her to go to him and speak words of 
comfort. The people of the village did not fail to express their 
sympathy for him, and Charlotte Bronte lamented that nobody 
appeared to have any pity for her ; all was reserved for 
Mr. Nicholls. 

After his departure, Mr. Nicholls wrote six times to Charlotte 
Bronte, and at last she replied in a short letter, which she sent 
with the intention of comforting him. This, as might be 
expected, led to a regular correspondence, which continued, 
unknown to Mr. Bronte, throughout the summer of 1853. 

In June she invited Mrs. Gaskell to stay at the vicarage, and, 
in order that she should not be disappointed with the locality, 
she drew a rather sombre picture of Haworth and the neigh- 
bourhood, comparing it with the backwoods of America, and 
warning Mrs. Gaskell that she was leaving behind husband, 
children, and civilisation in exchange for barbarism, loneliness, 
and liberty. Mrs. Gaskell has been blamed for despising 
Haworth and Haworth people, but she certainly learned to do 
that from Charlotte Bronte herself, who had little to say that 
was good for the district in which she lived for so manyjyears. 
Emily Bronte differed from her sister in this respect, and found 
an Eden in Haworth. This visit was deferred for a time 


until the autumn as Charlotte Bronte was suffering from a 

Charlotte Bronte, at this time, visited Scotland with Mr. and 
Mrs. Taylor, relatives of Mary Taylor. When they had 
reached Kirkcudbright they were forced to return to Yorkshire, 
owing to the illness of the baby which the Taylors had taken 
with them. They went from Scotland to Ilkley, which 
Charlotte Bronte liked very much, but, as she had lost her 
luggage, she only remained there three days, when she returned 
home, hoping to visit Ilkley later. 

Miss Nussey used to tell of a happy day that she had at 
Bolton Woods with Charlotte, Emily, and Branwell Bronte, 
but there is no record of a visit to Ilkley. 

Mrs. Gaskell had spent August in Normandy with her 
husband and two elder daughters, and in September Charlotte 
Bronte wrote, " 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 forerunner of your coming." Towards 
the end of September, Mrs. Gaskell paid her only visit to 
Haworth during Charlotte Bronte's lifetime. Her own 
account, written whilst staying at the parsonage, gives her 
first impression of Haworth and the surrounding neighbour- 
hood. If Charlotte Bronte had not painted the village and 
moorland scenery in such dark colours, it is possible that 
Mrs. Gaskell might have been more favourably impressed. 
Even at their first meeting at Briery Close, Windermere> 
Charlotte Bronte had described " the grey, square, cold, dead 
coloured parsonage," and the desolate moors, which caused 
Mrs. Gaskell to write of " poor Miss Bronte, whose books helped 
her to like her." 

It was well that Mrs. Gaskell had this brief holiday at 
Haworth, or she might not have been able to give so favourable 
an account of the quiet home life at the vicarage. The remi- 
niscences of her visit have interested many readers, and have 
helped to solve several questions which had puzzled other 
people besides Mrs. Gaskell herself. 

Although the old vicar was always pleased that his daughters 
should avail themselves of opportunities for change of scene, 


he never seems to have taken a holiday himself. No wonder 
that he sometimes was irritable ; even a day's visit to Thornton 
caused him to say that he should not go there again because it 
brought such painful recollections. An occasional walk to 
see some of his clerical friends seems to have been all the 
change that he got in his latter years at Ha worth. At this 
time, Mrs. Gaskell appears to have been the only literary person 
with whom Charlotte Bronte was intimate. There is no 
correspondence with Thackeray, and even Sir James K. Shuttle- 
worth and his wife do not figure in the letters. London and 
the Smiths had drifted somewhat from her horizon since the 
publication of Villette, possibly because of the disappointment 
at the price paid for the copyright, and the cutting of the 
manuscript, for Charlotte Bronte was very jealous of any 
tampering with her work. She appears to have clung at this 
time to her old friends Ellen Nussey, Miss Wooler, and Miss 
Laetitia Wheelwright, who are the only correspondents, except 
one solitary letter to Sydney Dobell on " Balder," and a short, 
curt note to Mr. W. S. Williams, asking that no more books 
may be sent as " the courtesies must cease some day." From 
this period the long literary letters, the best in fact that have 
been published, ceased to be sent to her publisher's reader. 

The correspondence between Mr. Nicholls and Charlotte 
Bronte after a time became more equal. Ellen Nussey was 
not very sympathetic to the engagement, although at first 
she had formed a more favourable opinion of Mr. Nicholls 
than Charlotte Bronte did. Her letter to Mary Taylor spoke 
of Charlotte Bronte " bearing her life so long and enduring 
to the end." Mary Taylor, always blunt and brusque even 
to a fault, considered that Charlotte Bronte was quite entitled 
to decide for herself, whatever Ellen Nussey might think. 

Miss Wooler was much interested in the matter, and she 
appears to have encouraged her old pupil to accept Mr. Nicholls, 
who in addition to writing to Charlotte Bronte had paid several 
visits to Haworth, from July, 1853, to January, 1854, staying 
with Mr. Grant, the master of the Haworth Grammar School. 
Mr. Bronte at length had to yield ; he was ill and worried since 
the new curate, Mr. de Renzi, did not suit him, and at the 


suggestion of his daughter he sent for his old curate, Mr. 
Nicholls, expressed his appreciation of his former services, 
and his regret for the trouble which had arisen between them. 
The result was that Mr. Nicholls and Charlotte Bronte, in the 
New Year of 1854, corresponded quite openly. 



CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S engagement to Mr. Nicholls Marriage Honey- 
moon in Wales and Ireland Mr. BrontS's strange conduct 
Mr. Nicholls is offered the living of Padiham He remains at 
Haworth Charlotte Bronte" as a clergyman's wife Visit to 
Gawthorpe Hall Illness and death Funeral at Haworth Church 
Thackeray's appreciation. 

WHEN Mrs. Gaskell wrote the Life of Charlotte Bronte she knew 
more than she gave to the world. A long, interesting letter, 
written by Miss Catherine Winkworth, on Charlotte Bronte's 
engagement and marriage, proved that she had no great love 
for Mr. Nicholls. The Dean of Manchester, speaking on 
" The Bronte Family in relation to Manchester," at the annual 
meeting of the Bronte Society, during the celebration of the 
Gaskell Centenary in February, 1910, was permitted by Miss 
Gaskell to read extracts from several unpublished letters written 
by Charlotte Bronte to Mrs. Gaskell. One was dated 15th 
April, 1854, and gave Mrs. Gaskell the interesting information 
that she was engaged to Mr. Nicholls. 

Mrs. Gaskell was always keenly interested in engagements, 
and some of her unpublished correspondence has led to her 
being looked upon as " a matchmaker to the core." Charlotte 
Bronte's letter announcing her engagement to Mr. Nicholls 
must have been considered very cool ; there was no enthu- 
siasm, no looking forward to great happiness, which, perhaps, 
could scarcely be expected. In the concluding part of the 
letter, Charlotte Bronte says 

" I could almost cry sometimes that in this important action 
in my life I cannot better satisfy papa's perhaps natural pride. 
My destiny will not be brilliant certainly, but Mr. Nicholls 
is conscientious, affectionate, pure in heart and life. He 
offers a most constant and tried attachment. I am very 
grateful to him ; I mean to try to make him happy and papa 
too." 1 

1 Bronte Transactions, Part XX. Letter to Mrs. Gaskell. 



The other people who received an intimation of Charlotte 
Bronte's engagement were Mr. George Smith, who had recently 
married, Miss Wooler, and Ellen Nussey. 

Writing to Miss Wooler, Charlotte Bronte conveyed the 
same impression that she did to Mrs. Gaskell. It seems strange 
that one who had written novels giving such passionate views 
of love should, in her turn, enter into her prospects of marriage 
in such a prosaic and calm manner. There is nothing of 
"Jane Eyre," " Caroline Helstone," or "Lucy Snowe's " 
experience. It has the appearance of expediency, in order to 
convenience her father, and also to save her from a lonely 

Miss Catherine Winkworth, who was one of Mrs. GaskelPs 
faithful friends, wrote a letter to her sister on 8th May, 1854, 
which was not published until 1908, in Memorials of Two 
Sisters, by Margaret J. Shaen, two years after Mr. Nicholls' 
death. This letter showed quite plainly that Charlotte Bronte 
had no real love for Mr. Nicholls, and the patronising tone in 
which she speaks of him is a revelation to those who thought 
that the author of Jane Eyre and Villette would never give her 
hand without her heart. It is pathetic to hear her say, " It 
has cost me a good deal to come to this,'* and " I cannot conceal 
from myself that he is not intellectual ; there are many places 
in which he could not follow me intellectually." This is 
scarcely fair to Mr. Nicholls, who had been educated by his 
uncle, Mr. Alan Bell, at the Royal High School, King's County, 
and had afterwards graduated at Trinity College, Dublin. 
Another remark which she made to her friends was, " He is a 
Puseyite, and very stiff." Miss Winkworth gives an account 
of her conversation with Charlotte Bronte, and also Mrs. 
GaskelPs opinion of Mr. Nicholls, which is all to the good, 
but the concluding remark shows that those who knew her 
were not satisfied, and thought of Lucy Snowe. " But I guess 
the true love was Paul Emanuel, after all, and it is dead ; but 
I don't know, and don't think that Lily (Mrs. Gaskell) knows." 

The only suggestion for guessing this, so far as the conversa- 
tion goes, is that Charlotte Bronte had given a very true 
account of Mr. Nicholls, of whom she said, " Such a character 


would be far less amusing and interesting than a more 
impulsive and fickle one, it might be dull ! " 

One cannot but pity Charlotte Bronte, shy and sensitive 
as she was, and anxious not to let even her name be known. 
Yet more than fifty years after her marriage, not only her 
letters, but even her private conversation is published, and 
her most sacred letters are in the British Museum for anyone 
to see. 

Mr. Nicholls was very angry when he knew that Ellen Nussey 
had shown letters relating to him, but this conversation, 
carried on in the privacy of the bedroom allotted to Charlotte 
Bronte at 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester, is more damaging 
to Mr. Nicholls even than the letters, and the saddest part is 
that Charlotte Bronte herself shows her poor opinion of him. 

It was in April, 1854, that the engagement was announced, 
and the wedding was fixed for July, in order to convenience 
old Mr. Bronte, who was ill and very feeble. It is most proba- 
ble that, if Mr. Nicholls had not promised to return to Haworth, 
he would not have been allowed to marry Charlotte Bronte. 
With better prospects elsewhere, he consented to be curate 
again at Haworth. There was some difficulty with the existing 
curate, who did not relish the arrangements being made with 
so little regard to his convenience. So troublesome did he 
become, that the vicar was glad to let him go before the 
wedding, Mr. Nicholls providing a substitute until his return 
from his honeymoon, and he did all he could for his future 

Charlotte Bronte spent what little time remained, in altering 
the rooms, and in making purchases at Leeds for her wedding 
trousseau, which has given rise to a joke about the woollen 
city. When two Americans had to change trains at Leeds, 
one said to the other, " Leeds ! Leeds ! What is it noted f or ? " 
" Oh ! " was the reply, " it is the place where Charlotte Bronte 
bought her trousseau." 

The material for the wedding dress, however, was purchased 
at Halifax, and the young man who served her was fond of 
telling how he had sold goods to the great author of Jane Eyre. 

Although the parsonage was small, Charlotte Bronte had to 


contrive to arrange for a separate room as a study for her 
future husband. The room behind her sitting-room was, in 
consequence, made ready. It was but small, with a tiny 
window overlooking the graveyard. It had been used as a 
store-room, and even at times as a peat-house. For want of 
a better name, Mrs. Gaskell calls it " a small, flagged, passage 
room " ; it has now reverted to its former use as a store-room, 
and it is amusing to think it could ever have served the purpose 
of a study. 

Charlotte Bronte did not make extensive preparations for 
her wedding. She bought a white, embroidered muslin for the 
ceremony, and a neat, striped silk, dove coloured and brown, 
for her travelling-dress which, with a cashmere shawl, looked 
very neat and becoming. Her purchases were not numerous, 
but everything was of good quality and in perfect taste. Her 
veil was white embroidered net, and is now in the possession 
of a member of the family of one of the old servants. A few 
years ago, it was lent to Messrs, Swan, Edgar & Co., of Regent 
Street, London, and was exhibited in one of their windows. 
Only a few months ago Charlotte Bronte's Bible was sold in 
London by public auction, and some of her letters, her writing- 
desk, work-box, and other personal effects are exhibited in the 
Ha worth Museum, whilst her own relatives do not possess a 
single relic. 

Instead of the wedding taking place in July, which Charlotte 
Bronte" thought too early, it took place in June to please old 
Mr. Bronte and her future husband. The only friends invited 
were Miss Wooler and Ellen Nussey, and the ceremony was 
conducted in the Haworth Church by the Rev. Sutcliffe 
Sowden. It was intended to be an exceedingly quiet affair ; 
the Haworth people were not to know until the bride and 
bridegroom had set out on their honeymoon. It is not a matter 
of surprise to find that the news leaked out ; the arrival of two 
of Charlotte Bronte's oldest friends, Miss Wooler and Ellen 
Nussey, in a coach on the afternoon of 28th June set the 
villagers guessing. The wedding was arranged for 8 o'clock 
the next morning, and as usual the old vicar conducted family 
prayer on the previous evening at 9 o'clock, and instead of 


retiring to rest he returned to his study. He had evidently 
become unnerved. Was the sacrifice too great that his daugh- 
ter was making in marrying the curate in order that the old 
vicar might have " faithful support," or was it that at the last 
moment his old pride returned and he regretted having con- 
sented to the marriage ? No satisfactory reason has ever 
been given in explanation of the circumstance that, when 
Charlotte Bronte went to the study to say " Good night " to 
her father for the last time before her marriage, he astonished 
her by saying that he did not intend to be present at the wed- 
ding on the following morning. Even to the last, Charlotte 
Bronte was harassed by her old father, who must have known 
how much it would upset the arrangements when he declined 
to give his daughter away at the marriage service. 

After all the arts of persuasion had been tried without suc- 
cess, the three women consulted the Prayer Book, and finding 
that it said, " The minister shall receive the woman from her 
father's or friend's hands," and that the sex of the friend was 
not mentioned, Charlotte Bronte asked her friend Miss Wooler 
to give her away, and she readily consented. 

Martha Brown, the housemaid at the parsonage, said she 
Was not surprised at the vicar's refusal, for he had got into the 
habit of speaking against marriages of any kind, and he had 
probably come to the conclusion that his daughter was not 
sufficiently strong to bear the burden of married life. 

The wedding day, Thursday, 29th June, 1854, is referred to 
later by Charlotte Bronte as " a dim, quiet June morning." 
The three women one on each side of the bride walked the 
fifty yards from the parsonage, through the narrow lane to the 
front entrance of the church. The bride, tiny and neat in her 
white embroidered muslin, white lace cape, and white chip 
straw bonnet, with a simple wreath of ivy leaves around 
the crown, and white silk ribbon strings, was said by one 
who saw her to look like a snow-drop. Another of the 
sexton's family, who saw her leave the church, said, " She 
looked like a girl of sixteen, coming from her first communion 
service." Mr. Nicholls was not a tall man, but he seemed 
almost like a giant with the girlish little bride on his arm. 


As the little wedding party left the church there was quite 
a group of the villagers anxious to see the wedding proces- 
sion, and the remembrance of it was a life-long satisfaction 
to those privileged to see it. Mr. and Mrs. Grant, from 
the Ha worth Grammar School, joined them at breakfast. 
There was a party of eight present, including the old vicar. 
Martha Brown, in a simple black and white cotton gown 
a present from her mistress waited at the table, and her 
recollection was of a very happy time. Mr. Nicholls and his 
friends kept the conversation going, and old Mr. Bronte behaved 
well in his grandiloquent manner, so that there was no hitch, 
and when the carriage arrived at the parsonage gate the village 
was all astir to see the bride and bridegroom drive away, amid 
the good wishes of their friends. They drove the four miles 
to Keighley Station en route for Conway and North Wales, 
afterwards crossing to Ireland. 

The bride's travelling dress was made with a plain skirt 
and a simple bodice fastened at the back, and trimmed with 
a narrow galloon trimming, which somewhat spoilt the effect. 
Having the opportunity some years ago of examining the bodice 
of the silk dress, then in the possession of a member of the 
sexton's family, I took the measurements, which were : from 
neck to waist, 10 in. : round the waist, 24 in. : the sleeve 
10 in. long : and the skirt measured 35 in. from the waist. l 

This gives some idea of the small figure of Charlotte Bronte. 
She already had a plain grey silk dress, which she had been 
wearing as a best dress, and she had also a black satin one. 
She added a plain merino dress and a pink cotton dress, with 
a pattern of white flowers ; this was simply a house dress for 
the summer. She had consulted Mrs. Gaskell about her trous- 
seau, and, as an expert in choosing her own and her daughter's 
dresses, she was of great assistance to Charlotte Bronte, who 
never enjoyed shopping, or choosing her own clothes. This 
was the day of cottage bonnets and shawls, as the mid- Victorian 
pictures prove. She had a fine grey cashmere shawl for going- 
away, and on Sundays she wore a white one. Her bonnet 

1 Miss Martineau described Charlotte Bronte as the smallest 
woman she had ever seen out of a fair. 


was grey drawn silk, with very small pink roses. She had 
also a black Spanish lace veil, and she also wore a jet necklace, 
a gift from her sister Anne, which I obtained from the Browns. 
As a necktie she wore a length of a beautiful pink gauze ribbon, 
secured by a small pebble brooch over a fine lawn collar, which 
Ellen Nussey had given her. She had also dainty white cuffs 
to match. Those who saw her set off on that June morning 
have all passed away. Ellen Nussey said that she had a beau- 
tiful look, almost childish in its wistfulness, on her wedding 
morning. Mr. Nicholls appeared to be radiantly happy, and 
he and his wife drove down the steep hill of Haworth amidst 
the blessings and good wishes of those who had known Char- 
lotte Bronte since she was a little girl of four, when she first 
saw Haworth from the farmer's cart, which brought her with 
her parents, four sisters and a brother, nearly forty years before. 

The bride had made a short list of those to whom she wished 
wedding cards to be sent, and these included her mother's 
cousin, the Rev. William Morgan ; her uncle, Mr. Joseph 
Bran well, of Launceston, Cornwall ; Dr. Wheelwright, of 
Kensington (the wedding card is still in the family) ; Mr. George 
Smith, Mrs. and the Misses Smith, to whom separate cards were 
sent, in each case directed to 65 Cornhill, which is accounted for 
by the fact that Mrs. Smith and her daughters had left 112 
Gloucester Place, and Mrs. George Smith had retained posses- 
sion of the house after her son's marriage. Evidently Charlotte 
Bronte* did not know Mrs. Smith's new address. 

Mr. W. S. Williams' card was also sent to Cornhill, but, as 
Charlotte Bronte was accustomed to direct her letters to him 
to Cornhill, it is not strange that the wedding card was also 
sent there. Mr. Monckton Milnes also had his name included, 
although no address was given ; he was thus honoured, because 
he used his influence with Mr. Bronte to sanction his daughter's 
engagement to Mr. Nicholls. Then came Mrs. Gaskell and the 
Taylors of Stanbury (Mr. Taylor was a trustee and church- 
warden of Haworth) ; Mr. H. Merrall of Lea Sykes, Haworth ; 
Messrs. Butterfield, Thomas, and Pickles, all well known in 
Haworth, and last but not least in estimation, the Wooler 
family and the Nusseys of Brookroyd eighteen in all. Surely 


there never was a smaller wedding list for a great and 
distinguished authoress. 

Mr. Nicholls' list mainly concerned his own family connec- 
tions and his clerical friends. There were several omissions 
in the bride's list, which are very noticeable. Thackeray seems 
to have quite dropped out of Charlotte Bronte s remembrance ; 
her quarrels with him in London seem to have severed the 
friendship, which on Charlotte Bronte's side, once amounted 
almost to idolatry. Harriet Martineau also was left out ; her 
review of Villette had broken a very charming literary friend- 
ship. Sir James Kay Shuttle worth and his wife do not 
appear in the list, though it is possible Mr. Nicholls included 
them in his list. Then there is no mention of the Taylors 
of Gomersal ; it is possible that Mary Taylor received a 
card later in New Zealand, though the Hunsworth Taylors 
are not mentioned. Altogether, Charlotte Bronte gives sixty 
as the number of cards, and says, " There is no end to the string 
of Mr. Nicholls' parson-friends." 

The honeymoon was spent in North Wales and Ireland. 
Charlotte Bronte, or Mrs. Nicholls, as she ought to be called 
(though her married life was so short that she has always been 
known as Charlotte Bronte), had once almost accepted a situa- 
tion in Ireland, and she seems to have somewhat reluctantly 
given it up. Though all her father's relations were in Ireland, 
neither he nor his children seem to have had an opportunity 
of visiting them, and so Ireland was quite unknown to the 
Bronte sisters of Haworth. 

Mr. Nicholls evidently chose Ireland for his honeymoon 
because his old home was there, and he was anxious to take 
his bride the most distinguished authoress of the day to 
make the acquaintance of some members of his family. The 
tour included Con way, where the couple stayed at " a comfort- 
able inn " for the first night, and from which the bride wrote 
to Ellen Nussey, wishing to know how she and Miss Wooler 
got home. It was evening when Mr. and Mrs. Nicholls arrived 
at Conway, and they would not see much of the district except 
the old castle. Wales was an entirely new country to the bride, 
and its historic associations were sure to interest her. On the 


Friday morning they started for Bangor, and spent the week- 
end there. Neither Bangor nor Menai was the popular holiday 
resort each has since become. They were essentially Welsh, 
and Welsh was the language spoken. This beautiful spot in 
North Wales must have appealed to Charlotte Bronte, and it 
is pleasant to think of the novelist having so complete a holiday, 
for the honeymoon lasted for more than a month. 

In a letter to Ellen Nussey, written on her wedding-day, she 
mentions that her " cold " is no worse, which suggests that 
she was not well on the eventful day. Seldom in her letters to 
Ellen Nussey does she refrain from mentioning her health, not 
even on her wedding day. 

On the following Monday morning the pair started for Holy- 
head, and then took boat for Dublin, staying long enough in 
that city to see the sights. Charlotte Bronte would have heard 
of the interesting places in Dublin from her father, and she 
would naturally wish to see for herself. Moreover, was not 
Dublin the birthplace of Charlotte Bronte's first hero, the 
Duke of Wellington, whom she had seen in London shortly 
before his death in 1852 ? Trinity College would be one of the 
first places visited, for it was Mr. Nicholls' Alma Mater, and it 
was from Trinity College that he took up his appointment 
as curate of Haworth. 

After seeing the sights of Dublin, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholls 
travelled across the country to the shores of the Atlantic 
" such a wild- rock-bound coast, with such an open view as 
I had not yet seen, and such battling of waves with rocks as 
I had never imagined." This was probably at Tralee, which 
was one of the places visited on the west coast of Ireland. 
Charlotte Bronte tells in her letter to Miss CatherineWinkworth 1 
of her " grand doubts about congenital tastes," and how her 
husband, not being either a poet or a poetical man, would 
probably think her too emotional when viewing the great 
Atlantic " coming in all white with foam " ; but she asks her 
husband (as she asked Ellen Nussey at Bridlington years before) 
to leave her alone whilst she sat and watched the mighty ocean, 
and took in the scene in her own way, Mr. Nicholls only 

1 Memorials of Two Sisters, edited by M. J. Shaen. 


interfering when she went too near the edge of the cliff. The 
Lakes of Killarney naturally proved to be the place of greatest 
interest to them in this part of Ireland. The novelist had 
described it in imagination, and her father, too, had a story 
connected with this district, entitled " The Maid of Killarney," 
which was his most ambitious effort in prose. 

Beautiful Glengariff, Tralee, Cork, and probably Blarney 
Castle, were visited, and Charlotte Bronte says, " The scenery 
in some parts of Ireland exceeded all I had ever imagined." 
It was whilst visiting Killarney that she had a narrow escape 
of losing her life an incident not mentioned by Mrs. Gaskell 
in the Life, either because she decided not to pierce the " sacred 
doors " after the marriage, or else that Mr. Nicholls did not 
wish an account of his honeymoon to appear. 

Charlotte Bronte tells, in a letter to Miss Winkworth, how 
they went through the gap of Dunloe, she on horseback. 
Finding that the horse was nervous and trembled when 
it came to a dangerous part, her husband asked her to 
alight, but as she did not feel afraid she declined. Mr. 
Nicholls was at the horse's head when suddenly it reared 
and Charlotte Bronte was thrown beneath it. Mr. Nicholls 
did not see that his wife had fallen off, and the horse kicked 
and trampled around her. In the few seconds that she was 
on the ground she says she thought of the consequences to her 
husband and father if anything should happen to her. When 
her plight was seen, the horse was let loose and sprang over her. 
She was neither bruised by the fall, nor touched by the horse's 
hoofs, and she was grateful for more reasons than one. 1 Whe- 
ther she decided not to tell the story after her return, even to 
Ellen Nussey, her life-long friend, is not known. It is probable 
that, if she had done so, Ellen Nussey would in turn have related 
it to some of those who interviewed her for stories of the 
Brontes. Mr. Nicholls had a horror of publicity, and was 
determined when he married Charlotte Bronte that the curiosity 
which had followed her since the publication of Jane Eyre 
should cease. He detested the attempts that were made to 
pry into his private life, and now that Charlotte Bronte was 

1 Memorials of Two Sisters, edited by M. J. Shaen. 

30 (2200) 


his wife he meant to shield her. All efforts to pierce the 
veil of their married life was thwarted as far as possible, for 
he had a morbid detestation of any form of notoriety. 
He even managed to keep his wife from visiting Ellen 
Nussey, for he did not approve of their tete-d-tete, and Mrs. 
Nicholls never paid a visit to her old friend after her 

The South of Ireland seems to have been an ideal place for 
the novelist and her husband, but there is no mention of a 
visit to her father's birthplace in County Down. Only lately 
a granddaughter of Dr. Gibson, of New York, told me that her 
grandfather, William Gibson, was a boy at school at the 
same time as Patrick Bronte* and the same good minister, 
Mr. Harshaw, helped him with his studies. Mr. Gibson went 
to Edinburgh University, as a medical student when Patrick 
Bronte went to Cambridge. When he received Jane Eyre in 
1848 he exclaimed, " To think that that devil of a Pat Bronte 
should have a girl to write like this." 

The last few days of the honeymoon were spent in Mr. 
Nicholls' old home at Banagher, where his uncle's family had 
resided for a long time. Banagher appears to be noted for 
exaggerated reports and tales, which has given rise to the 
expression, " That beats Banagher, and Banagher beats the 

Mr. Nicholls' uncle, Mr. Alan Bell, who had the rearing and 
early education of Mr. Nicholls, was the head master of The 
Royal High School at Banagher. Evidently the bride was 
heartily welcomed into the family, and she was pleased with 
her husband's people 

" 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 gentlemen 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," 


One of the new relations that Charlotte Bronte met was her 
husband's cousin, Miss Mary Bell. She is still living, and well 
remembers the interest and excitement of meeting the author 
of Jane Eyre as her cousin Arthur's bride. Little did the bride 
think that her place was to be taken a few years later by this 
very lady, for nine years after his first wife's death Mr. Nicholls 
married his cousin on 25th August, 1864, and the honeymoon 
was spent in North Wales, where the first part of Charlotte 
Bronte's honeymoon was spent, and they settled in the very 
farm at Banagher, where the second Mrs. Nicholls still lives. In 
her drawing-room may be seen the sketches of Wellington and 
Thackeray, which were presented to Charlotte Bronte by 
Mr. George Smith. Many of the Bronte relics were bought by 
the Bronte Society in 1906 for the Museum at Haworth, but 
she still has a few mementos of her husband's first wife. 

She is an amiable, ladylike woman, and never shows 
the slightest jealousy of her late husband's first wife, but tells 
with charming disinterestedness that Mr. Nicholls said that he 
buried his heart with his first wife, and that he was devotedly 
attached to her, jealously guarding her fair fame as far as he 

From Banagher the happy pair (for there seems to be no 
doubt that Charlotte Bronte was very happy, whilst on her 
honeymoon) travelled to Dublin, took boat for Holy head, and 
then journeyed to Haworth. The novelist tells us more than 
once that her husband gained more than twelve pounds during 
the month, and later he began to be alarmed at his increasing 

On their return to Haworth, they found the old vicar far 
from well, but Mr. Nicholls was soon able to put matters right, 
by taking the full service on his shoulders. " Papa has taken 
no service since he returned, and each time I see Mr. Nicholls 
put on gown and surplice, I feel comforted to think that this 
marriage has secured papa good aid in his old age." 

It is pleasant to remember that she did get real happiness 
in her marriage, though she found it sometimes difficult to 
acquiesce in all her husband's arrangements. There were 
living in Haworth not long ago those who knew Charlotte 


Bronte, and who said that she was just a bit afraid of her 
husband, as she had always been of her father. Her attitude 
to both was one of submission, which was never a difficult role 
for her to accept. 

The people of Haworth welcomed in a loyal manner the 
return of the newly-married couple, and in return Mr. Nicholls 
and his wife gave a tea and supper to five hundred of the day 
and Sunday scholars, teachers, bell-ringers, and choristers, etc. 
This gathering was a great success, and the votes of thanks 
touched Charlotte Bronte very deeply 

" One of the villagers, in proposing my husband's health, 
described him as a ' consistent Christian, and a kind gentle- 
man.' I own the words touched me deeply, and I thought 
. . . that to merit and win such a character was better than 
to earn either wealth, or fame, or power." 

The curate's wife had to drop the mantle of a novelist, as 
she was kept very busy in various ways. Visitors called at the 
old vicarage, and return calls had to be made. All the clergy 
in the neighbourhood and their wives made a point of calling 
and offering their congratulations, and the parsonage put 
on a new life, for it had been a lonely and desolate place for a 
long time. Mr. Nicholls was practical and methodical, a lover 
of fresh air and exercise, and he intended in his masculine way 
to make his wife as practical and strong as himself. He was 
a believer in hygiene rather than medicine, and deplored the 
number of closed windows in Haworth, especially in bedrooms, 
for fortunately the doors of the houses were often left open. 
Charlotte Bronte was sensitive to draughts and easily took cold ; 
indeed, she was seldom without a cold. 

Mr. Nicholls' one ailment was rheumatism, and he set himself 
to cure it by fresh air and exercise. The village carpenter's 
son, William Wood, remembers how he would go out for a sharp 
walk on the moors in the early mornings, running to get up the 
circulation, swinging his arms, and in the winter beating them 
across his chest until he got himself into a glow. Then he 
would hurry into the schoolroom at 9 o'clock to take the 
Scripture, and would insist on all the windows being open, 


forgetting that the teachers and scholars had not had his 
experience, and were not in such an excellent condition to 
stand the draughts and cold morning air. He was a hard 
worker, and made others work, and for various reasons was 
never so popular as Mr.