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THE life of Charlotte Bronte has been written once 
for all by Mrs. Gaskell ; but as no criticism of 
Miss Bronte's novels is possible apart from the story of 
her life, I have attempted the biographical sketch the 
following pages will be found to contain. 

For any lengthened quotations from Mrs. GaskelPs 
book (which is throughout referred to as G., the paging 
being that of the popular edition in one volume), I have 
the kind permission of Messrs. Smith and Elder. 

Mr. Wemyss Reid's monograph on Charlotte Bronte 
(Macmillan, 1877), is well-known, though whether the 
author performs the task he somewhat unnecessarily laid 
upon himself of proving that Mrs. Gaskell's portrait re- 
quires re-touching, is a question which is best left open 
for the consideration of the judicious reader of both 
books. Mr. Leyland's two volumes, "The Bronte Family" 
(Sampson Low : 1886), deserve to be read by every one, 
though, so far as he busies himself with Branwell Bronte, 
he fails to interest those who, to employ an American 
figure, "have no use " for that young man. Miss Robin- 


son has also written in the " Eminent Women Series " 
(Allen), a most interesting account of Emily Bronte, and 
of her novel and poetry. To all these writers I express 
my obligations. 

Small as this book is it contains some new matter re- 
lating to the Rev. Patrick Bronte, and to a period of his 
life, concerning which nothing hitherto has been written 
namely, that which elapsed between his leaving Cam- 
bridge with his degree in 1806, and going into Yorkshire 
in 1811. 

For the interesting account I am able to furnish of 
Patrick Bronte's life at Wethersfield, in Essex, I am in- 
debted, in the first instance, to my friend the Rev. Henry 
Bonner of Handsworth, Birmingham, to whom I owe my 
introduction to Mrs. Lowe, a daughter of the heroine of 
the tale of true love, which will be found duly recorded 
in its place. Mrs. Lowe herself I have to thank for her 
great kindness in putting upon paper the story as she 
heard it from her mother, and for permitting me to make 
use of it. A. B. 




The Pruntys of County Down ; Patrick Prunty, the son of Hugh, 
born 1777; one of ten; schoolmaster and tutor; leaves 
Ireland for good and all ; St. John's College, Cambridge ; 
drills side by side with Lord Palmerston ; takes his degree 
and holy orders ; the curate of Wethersfield in the county 
of Essex ; Miss Mary Mildred Burder ; the incident of the 
" Roasting Jack ; " love and mystery ; an uncle ; treason 
against love ; intercepted letters ; the curate disappears ; a 
long subsequent proposal of marriage ; refusal ; Hartshead 
in Yorkshire ; Miss Maria Branwell ; marriage ; Thornton ; 
Haworth ; children ; Charlotte born April 21, 1816 ; death 
of Mrs. Bronte; violence of Mr. Bronte's temper ; Haworth 
Moors ; note relating to education when the century was 
young 15 


The Rev. Patrick Bronte an author, not to say a poet ; list of 
his works ; effect upon the household ; the Bronte children 
writers from the cradle ; Mr. Bronte a good promoter of 
talent ; Maria Bronte ; Miss Branwell comes from Penzance 
and retires to her bedroom ; the parsonage library ; the 



" Pilgrim's Progress " and an arrested flight to Bradford ; 
Mr. Bronte's account of the children, and their answers to 
his questions . 30 


A cheap school for the daughters of the poor pious clergy ; a 
much needed institution ; a sprout of the brain of the Rev. 
Carus Wilson ; Maria and Elizabeth go to Cowan's Bridge 
in July, 1824; change from the freedom of home to the 
slavery of school ; bad cooking ; Sundays ; Maria an untidy 
child and bullied by a teacher, " Miss Scatcherd " ; Maria 
Bronte is "Helen Burns"; old pupils now to be found 
who say they loved " Miss Scatcherd " who did not bully 
them ; "Miss Temple " praised the school after leaving it ; 
Charlotte and Emily go to it in September, 1824 ; Maria is 
taken home to die ; Elizabeth also dies ; Charlotte and 
Emily return to the school, but are taken away before 
Christmas, 1825 36 


The old life under new leadership ; the memorial tablet on the 
right-hand side of the communion table ; Tabitha ; Char- 
lotte Bronte commences author; her works many and 
minute ; the Duke of Wellington her hero ; the play of the 
" Islanders " ; a pleasant party prematurely broken up ; 
"The History of the year 1829 ; " the Catholic Question . 41 


Mrs. Gaskell's description of Charlotte Bronte in 1831 ; goes 
to school in a covered cart to Miss Wooler's at Roehead ; 
makes friends with Miss Ellen Nussey and the Rose, 



and Jessie Yorke of "Shirley ; " her arrival and appearance 
described ; astonishing ignorance, and still more astonishing 
knowledge ; confesses herself an author ; a nocturnal story- 
teller of great merit ; Miss Wooler's stories ; leaves school 
in 1831 and returns home; a great reader; Methodist 
magazines ; advises Miss Nussey about books and reading ; 
Miss Nussey's visit to London ; Branwell Bronte ; what is 
to be done ? ; Charlotte returns to Roehead as a teacher ; 
Emily goes with her as a pupil ; Emily Bronte breaks down 
and returns home ; Charlotte not fond of teaching or of 
children ; religious opinions ; Christmas of 1836 ; Plans for 
the future ; Dreams about literature ; correspondence with 
Southey; Anne Bronte; Christmas of 1837 ; the question 
of Tabitha settled by boycotting the baker ; Miss Wooler's 
school removed to Dewsbury Moor ; Charlotte breaks down 
and is sent home ; refuses a clergyman ; becomes a gover- 
ness in a vulgar family ; the Newfoundland dog in front and 
the governess behind ; comes home and refuses another 
clergyman ... ..... 48 


The year 1840 spent at home ; begins a story which was never 
finished ; writes to Wordsworth ; French novels ; goes out 
again as a governess ; pleasant people, but she is unhappy ; 
her way of talking of children not the right way ; longs to 
travel ; projects for a school of her own ; her letter to her 
aunt ; Brussels decided upon ; the dome of St. Paul's ; M. 
Heger's ; Brussels experiences recorded in " Villette " ; re- 
marks thereupon ; the Belgian pupils ; Charlotte and Emily 
taught by M. Heger ; they remain in Brussels all through 
the summer ; in October, 1842, their aunt dies and they go 
home ; Charlotte returns after Christmas against her con- 
science ; is unhappy and lonely ; the horrors of the long 
vacation ; solitude ; Madame Heger estranged ; Charlotte 
returns home in January, 1844 71 




1 844 spent at home ; Branwell at the parsonage ; Mr. Bronte's 
sight a cause of anxiety ; old Tabby and the potatoes ; Dr. 
Johnson and his cat " Hodge " ; how to behave in the pre- 
sence of bachelors ; Charlotte lights upon Emily's poems; 
Anne has compositions, also Charlotte ; a volume projected ; 
paid for and published by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell ; a 
difficult thing to be a poet ; superiority of poetry over pror.o ; 
specimens of the three sisters' poems . . . .84 


" Wuthering Heights," " Agnes Grey," and " The Professor" 
finished before the publication of the poems ; " The Pro- 
fessor " goes the rounds of the publishers and is rejected by 
all ; Mr. Bronte's eyes operated upon at Manchester success- 
fully ; "The Professor " turns up on the morning of the 
operation rejected once more; "Jane Eyre" begun; 
method of writing it ; Miss Bronte's idea for a heroine ; In- 
difference to curates ; makes tea for, and loses her temper 
with them ; Messrs. Smith and Elder reject "The Professor," 
but state any other work would be carefully considered if 
in three volumes ; "Jane Eyre " sent and accepted, August, 
1847; never refused as frequently stated ; "Jane Eyre" 
published in October, 1847, and a success from the first . 94 


"Jane Eyre ; " its vitality ; evidently a woman's book ; essen- 
tially a love story ; much of Charlotte Bronte herself in the 
heroine ; superb energy of the book ; its crudities ; the 
errors lie on the surface ; alarm created among the wor- 
shippers of propriety ; discreditable attack made by The 
Quarterly on the book and its author ; she is unruffled by 
it ; the reviewers' ruffianism 100 




Mr. Bronte is told about "Jane Eyre " but no one else ; 
anonymity a mistake ; " Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes 
Grey " published, but do not sell ; the public confused 
about Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell j Currer and Acton go 
to London and show themselves in Cornhill ; are taken 
about and known as the Miss Browns ; Branwell in a dis- 
tressing state ; Anne's health feeble ; Emily begins to cough ; 
Branwell dies September 14, 1848 ; Emily dies December 
19, 1848; Anne dies May 28, i8;Qj Charlotte and her 
father left alone 11 


As soon as "Jane Eyre " finished " Shirley " was begun j before 
the first volume concluded Branwell was dead, before the 
the third, Emily and Anne were dead ; great pains, but 
doubtful as to the result ; published in October, 1849 ; 
criticism . . .122 


" Shirley " let out the secret ; Miss Bronte's name first men- 
tioned in a Liverpool newspaper ; in November, 1849, Miss 
Bronte went to London as an authoress ; shy in society ; 
meets Mr. Thackeray ; sees Macready ; not a good critic of 
contemporary literature ; makes Miss Martineau's acquain- 
tance ; returns home in December ; in June, 1850, again 
visits London ; sees the Duke of Wellington, and scolds 
Mr. Thackeray j sudden visit to Edinburgh and great 
enjoyment there . . 132 




Mr. Bronte a man of fixed and unsocial habits ; Charlotte alone 
in the room once occupied by the sisters ; unfitted for soli- 
tude which robbed her of joy ; unshared happiness no taste ; 
what to do with Mr. X ? ; gloomy thoughts of a lonely 
future ; accumulated nothing since " Shirley " ; leaves the 
parsonage when possible ; visits the Lakes and meets Mrs. 
Gaskell, August, 1850 ; edits a new edition of " Wuthering 
Heights," and writes a short notice of her sisters ; heart- 
breaking work ; visits Miss Martineau at Ambleside in 
1851, and makes the acquaintance of Dr. Arnold's family ; 
goes to London for the Exhibition, and hears Thackeray 
lecture ; begins " Villette " 137 

" Villette " published January, 1853 ; general criticism thereon. 147 


The autumn of 1851 spent at home in ill -health ; reads 
"Esmond"; Mr. Nicholls, her father's curate, proposes 
marriage ; she is willing, but her father refuses his consent 
and becomes violent ; project has to be abandoned; painful 
situation ; visits London again ; the Bishop of Ripon stops 
a night at Haworth, and is pleased with the propriety of 
the arrangements ; a trip to Scotland spoilt by a baby ; Mr. 
Bronte suddenly withdraws all objections to Mr. Nicholls, 
and the marriage takes place in Haworth Church on the 
29th of June, 1854 ; honeymoon spent in the South of Ire- 
land ; father, daughter, and son-in-law live together in the 
parsonage ; Mrs. Nicholls begins another story ; is taken 
ill and dies March 31, 1855 > Mr - Bronte and Mr. Nicholls 
live together till the former's death on June 7, 1861 . 160 




Novels now received more coldly than of yore ; part taken by 
women in their production ; Lord Macaulay wrong in 
attacking Montgomery ; even small authorship has its 
uses, and popularity which is but for a moment does 
nobody any real harm ; Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, 
and George Eliot ; the novel of the future ; why should 
novelists speak scorn of their predecessors ? . . . 168 

INDEX 183 




A LTHOUGH there is not much, nay if Shakespeare 
Ji\. will have it so nothing in a name, lovers of English 
literature may yet be a little thankful that the father of 
the two women who were respectively to write "Jane 
Eyre " and " Wuthering Heights," took occasion, before 
exchanging the air of his native Ireland for that of St. 
John's College, Cambridge, to turn his paternal Prunty 
into the more euphonious surname which the genius of 
his daughters has made famous. 

x Patrick, the son of Hugh Prunty, was born in the 
parish of Ahaderg, County Down, on the day of the 
saint whose name he bore, 1777. He was one of ten 
children, all remarkable, so it said, for their strength and 
beauty ; but Patrick was the strongest and the most beau- 
tiful or so we are free to assert, for nobody has ever 
been at the pains to discover anything about Charlotte 
Bronte's nine Irish uncles and aunts. 

In the conventional language of respectable biography, 


the young Patrick attracted the attention of a neighbour- 
ing vicar, the Rev. Mr. Tighe, in whose family he was 
sometime tutor an honour, however, he did not attain 
until he had shown both courage and perseverance IP 
opening, at the early age of sixteen, and maintaining foi 
five years, some sort of a village school of his own. 
During this period he doubtless acquired some portion 
of that skill in the art of inspiring children with a passion 
for reading, and a lively enthusiasm for great men and 
great deeds, which it is black ingratitude to deny to the 
father of the Brontes. Here also in Protestant Ulster he 
imbibed that hostility to the Roman Church, which 
being transmitted to his daughter Charlotte, breaks forth 
so fiercely in "Villette." 

Patrick Bronte must have been about twenty when he 
became tutor in Mr. Tighe's family a position he 
occupied for some five years when, the vicar kindly en- 
couraging, he plucked up courage, left Ireland for good 
and all, and as Mrs. Gaskell puts it, presented himself at 
the gates of St. John's College, Cambridge, with the 
intent of qualifying himself for English orders. This 
flight from Ireland and Irish pedagogy to an English 
university and the English hierarchy was an act of 
courage, and prompted by an ambition which at all 
events approved itself to his daughters, for we find 
Charlotte Bronte familiarly referring to it, whilst trying 
to rouse her aunt's enthusiasm to the sticking- point of 
lending her some money to carry out an ambitious 
scheme of her own. 

It was in 1802 that Patrick Bronte went up to 
Cambridge. Of his university life but one tradition 


survives. France threatening an invasion, the patriotic 
flew to arms, and a corps of volunteers being formed 
amongst the undergraduates, Bronte of John's, used to 
find himself drilling side by side with another Irishman 
and Johnian, Temple, afterwards Lord Palmerston. Both 
these men, oddly enough, had faults ; but one thing may 
be asserted pretty positively, that such faults as they had 
were not of the kind likely to be displayed in the presence 
of the enemy. 

v In 1806 Mr. Bronte took his bachelor's degree. 
Where and how he spent his vacations those most 
striking features in the university career of most of 
us is not recorded. It would seem as if he never 
revisited his native land, or saw any of his own people 
again. Scotchmen have been known to cross the border 
to seek the lands which lie beyond Pentland, to sail 
the seas which tumble beyond Forth ; but deep in the 
hidden heart of each one of them lies the animus rever- 
tendi, and our law reports are full of cases which prove 
how hard it is for a Scotchman to lose, how easy for him 
to regain, his domicile of origin. But Irishmen too often 
give poor Erin the cut direct. Certainly Mr. Bronte did. 
After taking his degree, Mr. Bronte, in further pursuance 
of his original design, took orders, and in October, 
1806, appeared in the small village of Wethersfield, in 
the county of Essex, as the new curate. Wethersfield 
was, after its own agricultural fashion, as remote a place 
as Haworth ever proved to be, and what is more, remains 
remote to this day. The nearest railway station is seven 
miles off, and Braintree still is to Wethersfield what 
Bradford was to Haworth. The church stands high, for 



Wethersfield, it should be noted, is not in flat but in 
hilly Essex, a country of windmills and high-climbing 
roads. The Norman tower is crowned with a copper 
Bpire, which, after the fashion of that useful metal, has 
turned a bright green, and shines in the sun with an 
almost Eastern fervour. The Nonconformists of the 
neighbourhood have always taken an interest in the 
churchyard, where are said to lie under high grassy 
mounds, the dust and bones of godly ministers, ejected 
from the Establishment by the ecclesiastical legislation of 
King Charles the Second. A son of Rogers the Proto- 
martyr is buried here. Facing the pleasant village green 
stands not without a dignity of its own a capacious 
meeting-house, of no mean antiquity for a meeting-house, 
for it was rebuilt in 1822, the original foundation being 
much older. By the side of the chapel stands the 
minister's house. Mr. Bronte's vicar was the Rev. 
Joseph Jowett, Regius Professor of the Civil Law at 
Cambridge, and a member of Trinity Hall, in whose 
gift is the living. Dr. Jowett, although the author of a 
volume of Village Sermons, was non-resident. The first 
entry in Mr. Bronte's big hand-writing in the Church 
Books, which were most obligingly shown to me by the 
present vicar, the Rev. William Marsh, formerly Tutor of 
Trinity Hall, is a baptism on the 1 2th of October, 1806. 
,; The new curate found a home for himself opposite the 
church, in a house then occupied by an elderly maiden 
lady, Miss Mildred Davy. She was seventy years of age, 
and, having been lame from her youth, had led a life 
quiet even for Wethersfield. In the quaint old phrase 
of the countryside, a phrase redolent of a cosy past, "she. 


never went abroad," not thereby meaning the continent 
of Europe, far less Egypt and India, but the market-place 
of Braintree. She was a woman of education, reflection, 
and high repute. A more suitable home for a pious and 
impressionable curate could not have been discovered in 
any parish in the Eastern Counties. But Miss Davy had 
a sister who had married Mr. John Burder, of The 
Broad a large, many-windowed, comfortable farmhouse 
three miles across the fields from Wethersfield. Those 
were prosperous days for the farmer 

" When beef and mutton and other meat 
Were almost as dear as money to eat ; 
And farmers reaped golden harvests of wheat, 
At the Lord knows what per quarter " 

and Mr. John Burder was a prosperous man, loved and 
respected by all about him, pleasant to look upon and 
cheering to listen to. But shortly before Mr. Bronte's 
arrival the strong man had been struck down, in the very 
manhood of his days, by a cruel disease and an intolerable 
pain. The doctors of the district gave him their unavailing 
drugs, and witnessed his terrible sufferings. "He is still," 
exclaimed one of them, on leaving the torture-chamber, 
" the strongest and finest man in the whole parish." His 
struggles over, he died in his fortieth year, and was fol- 
lowed to his grave in Finchingfield church not only by 
his family in mourning-coaches, but by forty farmers on 

John Burder's widow and four children were left to 
bear their grief as human creatures learn to do. The task 
was beyond the capacity of the farmer's favourite dog, 


who, after three weeks of it, crept into a corner, and, like 
his master, died, and was buried. 

The eldest daughter of the family was named Mary 
Mildred Davy, and at the date of Mr. Bronte's appear- 
ance in the parish had attained the far from unattractive 
age of eighteen. She was a comely damsel, with her 
father's brown curls and her mother's blue eyes. 

She was not, however, a member of Mr. Bronte's con- 
gregation, for she " worshipped in the meeting-house ; " 
but and here I quote from her daughter's account 
"one day her mother sent her to Wethersfield with a 
present of game for her aunt. Eager that it should be 
prepared for dinner with as little delay as possible, she 
took it into the kitchen, and, rolling up her sleeve from 
her arm, was in act of winding up the roasting-jack, when " 
enters the Rev. Patrick Bronte, B.A. For him, as he 
afterwards assured her, it was a case of love at first sight. 

''Heaven bless thee ! 
Thou hast the sweetest face I ever look'd on ! " 

was his heart's greeting to Mary Burder. But to resume 
the narrative. " Henceforth " (that is, after the incident 
of the roasting-jack) "the errands and messages to 'Aunt 
Davy ' became more and more interesting to her young 
niece. She soon discovered the curate had no common 
mind. The books he lent her were choice, and all his 
conversation revealed a man who had read much, seen 
much, and observed more than most. She soon perceived 
he was also a man of the strongest purpose and an inflex- 
ible will. On two points Patrick Bronte and Mary Burder 


were alike : they were both inherently God-fearing, and 
each had a deep, strong nature, but with a difference : 
hers was calm in its depth, his subject to great tidal waves 
of passion. And then over all this pleasant, improving 
book-reading and talking came the glow and the freshness 
and the tenderness of the strong man's first love. It was 
sunshine to her young heart, and he had ' the dew of her 
youth ; ' and his passionate appeals for her love were not 
the most successful in winning her regard. She shrank 
from great demonstrations, and remembered he ivas an 
Irishman. He told her that, but would tell her little else. 
She wondered that he did not speak of his home and his 
people. He often showed her letters from titled friends 
and distinguished persons, but she would rather have seen 
the shortest, simplest home-letter. Was there any mystery 
about him ? " 

I ought to have mentioned that Mr. Burder's executor 
was his only brother, who lived at Yeldham, and who 
appears to have been a cold, heartless, and determined 
man. The widow, who was of a timid and shrinking 
nature, had great difficulty in ever opposing his will. The 
attention of this unamiable person, who accounted him- 
self properly enough as the guardian of his nieces and the 
moneys to which they would become entitled on attaining 
twenty-one or marriage, being called to the attachment 
which had sprung up between Mary and the new curate, 
he proceeded to make the usual inquiries in an even more 
than usually disagreeable fashion. " Who was this Patrick 
Bronte ? Where does he come from ? An Irishman is 
he ? Who are his connections, and what his chances of 
carrying his brogue into an English rectory?" These not 


wholly impertinent questions were never answered. Mr. 
Bronte was not the man to speak upon compulsion, and 
he was evidently determined to hold his tongue about the 
Pruntys in County Down. It was soon obvious to the 
executor that things had already gone too far to be stopped 
by mere avuncular exhortations, or even temper, and he 
therefore concocted and carried out a plan as dishonour- 
able as it was cruel. He invited his niece for a long visit 
to his house at Yeldham, where he lived alone with his 
wife, who trembled at his - nod ; and further, he insisted 
upon Mary accepting the invitation. The situation of 
this poor girl, a prisoner in her uncle's house, with no 
one to talk to, and waiting, waiting, waiting for love-letters 
which never came, was one to have been described by 
her lover's destined daughter. Alone amongst English 
women, Charlotte Bronte could have made that sorrow 

Her lover was not to blame. He wrote, not once, nor 
twice, but many times ; but his letters were intercepted 
and destroyed, and never feasted the eyes of the only 
person for whom they were intended. 

The visit over, poor Mary returned home one can 
fancy how ; but the Wethersfield curate had gone, none 
knew whither. Her letters to him had in her absence, it 
scarcely need be added, without her authority, been de- 
manded of him, and he had returned them ; and there 
they lay. " When the poor girl opened the little bundle, 
thinking there might be some explanatory word, there 
was none ; but she found a small card with her lover's 
face in profile, and under it the words, * Mary, you have 
torn the heart ; spare the face.' " 


The lovers never met again. 

The date of Mr. Bronte's leaving Wethersfield appears, 
so far as I can judge from the church books, to have been 
in January, 1809, the last entry in his hand-writing being 
of a burial on the ist of that month. 

Mary Burder had many suitors during the years that 
sped between her lover's departure and her own marriage 
in 1824; but she had no mind to be wed, and single she 
still was when, one day in her old home, she received a 
letter in a remembered hand from Haworth. It was from 
Patrick Bronte, and besought her to be his wife and the <y^~ 
mother of his six motherless infants. She answered, No ! /\ 

More than a year after this refusal she became the wife 
of the Rev. Peter Sibree, the minister of the Wethers- 
field meeting-house, and took up her abode in the vine- 
covered manse facing the village green. Four children 
were born to her, who loved her dearly. Twenty-five 
years after she received the well-known photograph of 
the old father of the now famous Bronte children, with 
his kindest regards. Mary Burder outlived her first lover, 
dying in 1866, in her seventy-seventh year. 

The "might have beens " of life are mostly futile 
things, but it is hard to help wondering how it would 
have fared with Charlotte Bronte, her brother and 
sisters, had Mary Burder said " Yes " and not " No" to 
her old lover. A loving and wise stepmother she cer- 
tainly would have made. Mindful of her own bitter 
school experiences, 1 she would, we may feel certain, 
have had nothing to do with Cowan's Bridge. The 
children would have lived wholly different lives, and^ 
1 See note at end of chapter. 


have had very different tales to tell. Perhaps they 
would have told no tales, and been happy instead. 

Where Mr. Bronte fled to after leaving Wethersfield I 
do not know, but in 1811 he went into the county so 
closely associated with his daughter's fame. 

It was to Hartshead, a small village to the east of 
Huddersfield, that Mr. Bronte went and here in 1812 he 
married being then of the mature age of thirty-three 
Miss Maria Branwell, the daughter of Mr. Thomas Bran- 
well, a trader, of Penzance, Cornwall. Of this lady little is 
known. She was twenty-nine years of age when she 
married, and is thus described, of course, from hearsay, 
by Mrs. Gaskell 

" Miss Branwell was 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, and of which some of the details call to mind 
the style of dress preferred by her daughter for her 
favourite heroines." 1 

One has it in one's heart to pity this poor lady. The 
tempestuous suitor made short work with her affections, 
wooing, winning, and carrying her off to his house all in 
the space of a few months. He did not leave her much 
time for sober reflection. She had left Cornwall in the 
early summer of 1812 on a visit to an uncle in Yorkshire, 
and before August was out she was engaged to marry 
Mr. Bronte, a contract she fulfilled in the cold winter of 
the same year. She never saw sunny Cornwall again, or 
heard waves break upon the shore. Thornton followed 
upon Hartshead, and Haworth upon Thornton. Child 
1 G., 31. 


followed child in quick succession. Maria in 1813, 
Elizabeth in 1814, Charlotte on the 2ist of April, 1816, 
Patrick Branwell in 1817, Emily in 1818, Anne in 1819, 
and then the poor tired wife, having done the world all 
the service she was destined to do, left the grim Haworth 
moors to be the stern nursing mother of her six children, 
and died on the i5th of September, 1821, aged thirty-nine- 
During her last illness she liked if possible to be raised 
in bed to see the nurse clean the grate, because she did it 
as it was done in Cornwall. 

Mrs. Gaskell tells some startling stories about Mr. 
Bronte's temper, how on one occasion he cut into shreds 
a silk gown which had been given to his wife, objecting 
to her even having a dress of so obnoxious a material in 
her possession, for wear it she never did, or proposed to 
do. Another day, so it is said, he burnt the hearth-rug. 
On a third occasion he sawed off the backs of chairs. 
These anecdotes no doubt establish the violence of Mr. 
Bronte's temper, but further they do not carry us. The / 
secret of his married life lay buried in his wife's grave \ 
and his own breast, nor did he ever, during the forty 
years remaining to him of life, seek to impart its history 
to another. And in thus keeping his own counsel he 
surely did well. 

The two elder children, Maria and Elizabeth, were 
born at Hartshead, where Mr. Bronte remained till 1816, 
when he was presented to the living of Thornton, in 
the parish of Bradford. The rest of the family were all 
born at Thornton, Charlotte heading the list in 1816, and 
Anne closing it in 1819. 

In February, 1820, the Bronte family, father, mother, 


and six children, the eldest six years, the youngest 
not so many months, took possession of their new 

Haworth has been terribly over-described, and familiar 
as I have long been with the place and its surroundings, 
I feel myself quite unequal to follow in the wake of so 
many picturesque pens. 

To southern eyes, fed on foliage and lovely hedge- 
rows, the bare up-hill road from Keighley to Haworth 
may have no charm, save that it was often traversed by 
the feet of those who have given the world pleasure, 
and Haworth itself, with its stone walls, stony street, 
and high houses on each side, may seem more like a 
dwindled town than a moorland village. But those for 
whom the words " the North " must ever remain 
amongst the most moving in the language, are not 
prepared to lavish pity on the six little creatures, so soon 
to be motherless, whom we have just left at the door 
of their house, because they have to make a home of 
Haworth. Somewhere they had to live, and cheaply 
too, and where would they have been better off than in 
a grim village and amongst a sturdy, hard-working manu- 
facturing race, which, well-acquainted though it was with 
hardship and distress, always held its own and went its 
own way. Behind them, too, lay the Haworth moors, of 
all kinds of scenery the most permanently impressive, 
though whether it is to the earth or to the sky, to the eye 
or the ear we are most indebted, who but a poet can 
say ? At all events, there the moors always were, with 
the purple of their summers, winter's trackless white, the 
cold promise of morning, and the glowing close of day, 


and at all times, now high, now low, sobbing, whispering, 

u Undescribed sounds 

That come a-swooning over hollow grounds, 

And wither drearily on barren moors. " 

Here, too, the children were effectually shielded from 
that insidious taint of snobbishness, that love of a 
patron and "the great house," so apt to cling through life 
to those born within the ivy-clad walls of southern 
parsonages. Haworth was much too steep and stony, 
rude and rough, to grow that kind of weed. 

Mrs. Bronte only came to Haworth to die, and a nurse 
was engaged to attend to her, and she it was who told 
Mrs. Gaskell how at this time " the six little creatures 
used to walk out hand in hand towards the glorious wild 
moors, which in after-life they loved so passionately, the 
elder ones taking thoughtful care for the toddling wee 


Miss Burder's account of her school-days has an 
interest of its own, telling us as it does of a state of 
mind as to the proper mode of bringing up children, now 
happily growing remote. I give it from Mrs. Lowe's 
written recollections : 

1 ' She was sent, when only five years old, with her little sister to 
a large boarding-school at Bocking, where all teaching was enforced 
with the birch rod. The sewing done there would have more than 
satisfied any Board School examiners of the present day. Any 


stitch passing below the thread drawn brought a sharp blow on the 
small fingers from the avenging rod of Madame Fowle. And the 
terrors of the schoolroom were less than the tortures of the play- 
ground, for female fagging was carried out in no mild measure, though 
with another name, for every poor little girl belonged to a big one, 
who was styled 'her Mamma.' It was the duty of these mammas 
to put their children to bed, an office they performed in the most ex- 
peditious way possible, hustling the little ones into their cots with- 
out ceremony, and with no evening prayer. The first night the two 
small Burders cried themselves to sleep because they had not said 
their ' Our Father,' but when their mammas came up to bed they 
were violently roused from their first deep slumber by shaking and 
exhortation to wake up and say their prayers, and as there was 
little alacrity it was found very stimulating to carry these small, 
limp, torpid sleepers to the large marble hearthstone on which the 
pater noster got nightly repeated with no want of speed. They 
remained in this house of correction for some years, living from 
week to week on the joy of seeing their father's genial face every 
Wednesday, when he called on his way to Braintree market." 

Nor do the boys of the family seem to have had a 
pleasant time at school. Here is a scene which occurred 
after John Border's death 

" It was one of these weekly visits when the widow and her 
daughters were dining with their executor in the usual stiff and 
silent style, that the door was violently burst open and the eldest 
lad, John, rushed in heated and breathless with running. Before a 
question was asked the jacket was off, the sleeve rolled up, and an 
arm exposed red and black with stripes. * Look here, mother, do 
you think I'll stand that.' ' Give him as much on the other arm, 
and send him back to his master,' cried the uncle. (' God be with 
his soul! a' was a merry man.') 'Oh, Mr. Burder," said the 
widow, appealingly, ' you have never been a parent, or you wouldn't 
say so.' John's story was that his younger brother was being 
thrashed so unmercifully that he could stand it no longer, and 
interfered. Whereupon he was thrashed, and his resentment 


becoming strong, he there and then rushed out of school and made 
his way home twenty miles as fast as he could, and his sister 
took care that he was not sent back." 

The savageries of the schoolroom which so moved the 
humane soul of old Montaigne have only just ceased to 
disgrace England. One may and ought to have sympathy 
with Board School teachers, who are certainly amongst 
the most hard-worked and tried of our public servants, 
but when they demand rods and ferules we are bound, 
remembering how recent are our traditions of humanity, 
to answer " Never ! " 


THE Rev. Patrick Bronte was an author, not to say 
a poet. My copy of his " Cottage Poems " rescued, 
not without emotion from a twopenny box, is bound in 
vellum, and from the inscription it bears on its flyleaf, was 
evidently thought a very suitable gift-book for Christmas 
1812. It had been published the previous year. These 
poems bear no traces of the author's quick temper. 
They are artless and pious, and marked by a straight- 
forwardness of language, not as a rule found compatible 
by minor poets with the exigencies of their art. Mr. 
Bronte made no attempt to sink the parson in the poet, 
but composed his poems as he wrote his sermons in the 
honest hope of doing good, and it may safely be said of 
them that very much worse advice has often been given 
in more melodious numbers. His other books are 
called "The Rural Ministry" published in 1813, a 
volume of poems ; " The Cottage in the Wood j or, The 
Art of becoming Rich and Happy," which is a prose 
story partaking of the nature of a tract, but includes a 
poetical piece ; and the " Maid of Killarney," published 
in 1818, which is poetry. He also wrote a pamphlet, if 
not pamphlets, on the Catholic Question. 


The writings of Mr. Bronte are certainly no great 
things, still a book is a book, " though there is nothing 
in it," and even a pamphlet published by the head of 
a house has been known to impart a distinct literary 
flavour to the entire establishment. That it is possible, 
nay, by no means difficult, to write a book is a fact 
mercifully concealed from a large, though unhappily a 
diminishing, number of people. The Brontes were born 
free of the mystery of authorship. Writers almost from 
the cradle, their nursery was early known as the " chil- 
dren's study." 

Mr. Bronte is, in my judgment, entitled to more credit 
in the matter of the education of his children than has 
been given him. One has only to consider what stocks 
and stones most fathers are to perceive this. The literary 
atmosphere of the house, the liberal cultivation, which, 
as Mr. Pattison remarks in his " Milton," "if not imbibed 
in the home neither school nor college ever confers," 
all proceeded from him. The eldest born, Maria, natu- 
rally became his first companion, and quickly picked up 
from him those sound Tory politics which she, in her 
turn, handed down the family from one little Reactionist 
to another, till they made a blaze brighter than the kitchen 
fire round which the children were wont to gather and 
to talk. Meanwhile the poor mother was dying upstairs. 

After Mrs. Bronte's death in September, 1821, an 
unmarried sister, Miss Branwell, took the long journey 
from Penzance to Haworth, and came to keep house for 
her brother-in-law and his six children, the eldest being 
eight and the youngest one. The cold, bleak place 
proved too much for her nerves, and drove her to her 


bedroom, where it is narrated she passed nearly all her 
time, not however as a place of illness, but merely as a 
harbour or shelter from an un-Cornish climate. She was 
a lady of character, and, despite her limited range of 
personal action, ruled the house and taught her nieces 
sewing and the household arts. With their intellectuals 
she does not appear to have interfered. What teaching 
the children got was from their father, and certainly no / 
man ever succeeded better than he did in making his ^A 
children hungry for the marrow and fatness of books. It 
is unfortunate we have no catalogue of the parsonage 
library. Mrs. Gaskell surmises that it contained no 
children's books, but proceeds cheerfully to endow it 
"with the wholesome pasturage of English literature," 
on which, quoting Charles Lamb, she fancies " their 
eager minds browsing." But the age of the Brontes' 
childhood was not the age of reprints or even of 
collected editions, and we may be certain that no such 
feast as Mrs. Gaskell hints at was ever spread be- 
fore them. Still, books there were some at home, 
others to be had for the walk at the Keighley Lending 
Library. At home, for example, was the "Pilgrim's 
Progress," whose pages, read with open-eyed wonder and 
implicit faith, unteazed by allegory, sent little Charlotte 
Bronte, aged six, off on her travels from that City of 
Destruction, Haworth, to the Heaven of unvisited 
Bradford. Fortunately, however, her little feet bore 
her no farther on her way to Heaven than a mile from 
Haworth, where the road, darkened by trees, bore so 
obvious a resemblance to the Valley of the Shadow of 
Death, and was therefore so certain to prove full of 


'* snares, traps, gins, and nets," that her heart failed her, 
and she turned back. 

The keen fancies of these children needed but to be 
set in motion to work out their own deliverance. It 
may be difficult to answer the poet's question, and say 
where fancy is bred, but it certainly does not spring from 
library shelves. Books may accumulate and wits decay. 
Then too the children were numerous enough to make 
a little company of their own. Mr. Bronte wrote to Mrs. 
Gaskell : 

" When mere children, as soon as they could read and 
write, Charlotte and her brothers and sisters used to 
invent and act little plays of their own, in which the 
Duke of Wellington, my daughter Charlotte's hero, was 
sure to come off conqueror j when a dispute would not 
un frequently arise amongst them regarding the compara- 
tive merits of him, Buonaparte, Hannibal, and Caesar. 
When the argument got warm, and rose to its height, as 
their mother was then dead, I had sometimes to come 
in as arbitrator, and settle the dispute according to the 
best of my judgment. Generally in the management of 
these concerns I frequently thought that I discovered 
signs of rising talent, which I had seldom or never 

before seen in any of their age A circumstance 

now occurs to my mind which I may as well mention. 
When my children were very young, when, as far as I 
can remember, the oldest was about ten years of age, 
ind the youngest about four, thinking that they knew 
more than I had yet discovered, in order to make them 
speak with less timidity, I deemed that if they were put 



under a sort of cover I might gain my end; and hap- 
pening to have a mask in the house, I told them all to 
stand and speak boldly from under cover of the 

" I began with the youngest (Anne, afterwards Acton 
Bell), and asked what a child like her most wanted ; she 
answered, ' Age and experience/ I asked the next 
(Emily, afterwards Ellis Bell), what I had best do with 
her brother Branwell, who was sometimes a naughty 
boy; she answered, 'Reason with him, and when he 
won't listen to reason, whip him.' I asked Branwell 
what was the best way of knowing the difference between 
the intellects of man and woman; he answered, 'By 
considering the difference between them as to their 
bodies.' I then asked Charlotte what was the best book 
in the world ; she answered, ' The Bible.' And what 
was the next best ; she answered, ' The Book of Nature.' 
I then asked the next what was the best mode of 
education for a woman; she answered, 'That which 
would make her rule her house well.' Lastly, I asked 
the oldest what was the best mode of spending time ; 
she answered, 'By laying it out in preparation for a 
happy eternity.' I may not have given precisely their 
words, but I have nearly done so, as they make a deep 
and lasting impression on my memory. The substance, 
however, was exactly as I have stated." x 

I am sorry that poor Maria Bronte, whom early death 
robbed of fame, should be here represented by a some- 
what professional reply, but the wise little creature is not 
1 G., pp. 41, 42. 


to be blamed for giving the very answer the question 
was evidently intended to elicit. But let me add what 
her father said of her, that long before she died, at the 
age of eleven, he could converse with her on any of the 
leading topics of the day with as much freedom and 
pleasure as with any grown-up person. 


THE eldest of the children, Maria, was eleven years 
old, and the intelligent, quick-witted child her 
father described her, when she and the second daughter, 
Elizabeth a year younger were sent for the first time 
to school at Cowan's Bridge, a tiny place by the side of 
a stream called the Leek, where it is crossed by the high 
road leading from Leeds to Kendal. It was a -cheap 
school, as, indeed, it needs must have been to be within 
the reach of the poor parson of Haworth, and was 
designed to provide what was called a suitable education 
for the numerous daughters of the poor pious clergy. 
The terms were certainly low 14 a year, including 
clothing, lodging, boarding, and educating. The pupils 
all appeared in the same dress white frocks on Sundays 
and nankeen on other days, and so on. A deficit being, 
of course, inevitable, the subscriptions of the charitable 
were invited to keep the place open. A school like 
this is always the sprout or fancy of some one man's brain, 
and Cowan Bridge proceeded from that of the .Rev. 
Cams Wilson, a wealthy clergyman, well known in York- 
shire, and highly respected for his energy and zeal. A 


cheap school for clergymen's daughters was an undoubted 
need, and a considerable number of girls though re- 
ports vary enormously as to what that number was 
were assembled together at the opening of the estab- 
lishment in 1823. When Mr. Bronte brought his two 
daughters there in July, 1824, there were some seventy or 
eighty pupils. 

To leave the freedom of the moors, and of their own 
" study," their talks and stories, politics and plays, for 
the confinement of this truly detestable place, and its 
sterile round of inane studies, the use of the globes, 
grammar, writing, and arithmetic, must, under any 
circumstances, have been a terrible trial for these 
"children of the heather and the wind." But in poor 
Maria Bronte's case it meant more than a trial, more , 
than sobs and tears ;Jrmeant^ torture and death. She 
was a delicate child, not, perhaps, made to live, and 
better fitted for the companionship of her elders, and 
for rational conversation and grown-up enthusiasms, than 
for the hideous details of a charity school life. She was, 
it appears, untidy and forgetful ; crimes of high magni- 
tude in such places. The school was ill-managed. The 
cook that most important estate of the realm of health 
was, says Mrs. Gaskell, careless, dirty, and wasteful. 
The oatmeal porridge was burnt, the beef was tainted, the 
milk was " bingy " and then the whole house smelt like 
the opening chapter of " Le Pere Goriot," of rancid fat. 
Sundays must have been horrible days with their long walk 
"more than two miles" through an unsheltered country 
to a church in the midst of fields where their reverend 
founder preached and expounded the gospel of gratitude. 


The poor things took their dinner with them and ate 
it between the services in a room over the porch. This 
went on in winter as well as summer. Maria Bronte 
began to cough. She was also the victim of one of the 
teachers. How far the almost savage picture drawn in 
" Jane Eyre " by a younger sister's terrible pen of Maria's 
sufferings is to be accepted as a literal representation is 
an idle question. When Charlotte Bronte was writing 
" Jane Eyre " she never thought that she was indicting 
her old school for barbarity or making it infamous before 
the world. She was but using her material, stiffening 
her fiction with the tragedy of her own sad memories. 
But, none the less, I am persuaded that, rightly or 
wrongly, Charlotte Bronte believed in the substantial 
accuracy of her sketch. That Helen Burns stands for 
Maria Bronte is certain. So, too, Miss Temple and 
Miss Scatcherd are from the life. Mr. Leslie Stephen, 
in his admirable sketch of the Bronte family in the 
" National Dictionary of Biography," says that old pupils 
have come to light who loved Miss Scatcherd. It is like 
enough. The characters of schoolmasters and mistresses 
like those of Henry VIII. and Mary Queen of Scots are 
always open questions. Some brutal fellow, who perhaps 
never opened his lips save to wound sensibility or jeer at 
infirmity, is often found years afterwards living in the 
easy memory of some plump pachyderm as an essen- 
tially good creature though perhaps with a bit of a 
tongue. But others there will be who still quiver at his 
name, as they remember how he poisoned their days and 
paralyzed the gaiety of childhood. It is not to be 
supposed that Miss Scatcherd bullied everybody. Cowan's 


Bridge School was not a hell upon earth it was only 
badly built and badly drained, and, for a time, badly 
cooked. The routine was not of exhilarating interest, 
and one of the teachers was angelical and another 
diabolical. The strong pulled through and the weak 
went to the wall. It was, in fact, very like a much larger 
place. The " angelical teacher's " testimony is all on the 
side of the school. "Often," so wrote her clerical 
husband, "often have I heard my late dear wife speak 
of her sojourn at Cowan's Bridge, always in terms of 
admiration of Mr. Carus Wilson, his parental love to his 
pupils and their love of him ; of the food and general 
treatment in terms of approval. I have heard her allude 
to an unfortunate cook, who used at times to spoil the 
porridge, but who, she said, was soon dismissed." 

But this picture is obviously overdrawn, and only 
proves that persons of Miss Temple's temperament do 
not make good inspectors of schools. It "is a pity we 
have not got Miss Scatcherd's account of her u sojourn " 
at Cowan's Bridge. I have small doubt it would have 
been more to the purpose. 

Anyhow, this was the place to which Maria and 
Elizabeth came in July, 1824, and where they were 
followed by Charlotte and Emily in September of the 
same year. In the spring of 1825, the low fever, spoken 
of in "Jane Eyre," broke out, and forty of the girls sick- 
ened. The Brontes did not have it, but Maria's debility 
was now so great that her father had to be sent for. He 
arrived, and took her home by the Leeds coach. In a 
few days she died. Shortly afterwards Elizabeth was 
sent home and she too died. Both in the same year, 


1825. Charlotte and Emily returned to Cowan's Bridge 
after the Midsummer holidays of that year, but were not 
kept there long. Before the Christmas they were once 
more at home at Haworth. 


THOUGH poor human creatures, feeling only a 
well-nigh infinite capacity for pain, may often 
wish to die with those they loved, and whose companion- 
ship but a short while back seemed absolutely essential 
to their very existence, it has been arranged that they 
should get over this, and be kept working away at the 
pattern of their lives not indeed the gay one of their 
own choice, but the sombre one destiny had previously 
selected as being, on the whole, far more suitable. 

The diminished household of the Brontes resumed 
possession of the old rooms, and began again its eager 
life under new leadership. 

Charlotte was now called upon to play the role (the 
importance of which is perhaps sometimes exaggerated) 
of " the eldest," and she certainly possessed many quali- 
fications for the part, such as an unselfishness which 
never wearied, a truthfulness which never flinched, and 
an unfaltering devotion. Dr. Johnson once said of some 
book that he would .sooner praise it than read it ; so of 
these qualities it may be said that it is easier to praise 
than to possess them. 

The mournful tablet on the right-hand side of the 
communion table (as Church of England altars were 


then content to be called) of Haworth church now 
read as follows : 







" Be ye also ready : for in such an hour as ye think not the Son 
of Man cometh." Mattheiv xxiv. 44. 






" Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as 
little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." 
Matthew xviii. 3. 

< Patrick, Emily, Anne, and Charlotte still played on in 
the parsonage. 

It was about this time that the redoubtable Tabitha 
joined the household, and soon made herself felt, ruling 
the kitchen as a cook should, and, as a Yorkshire cook 
is pretty sure to do, with a rod of iron. Miss Branwell 
was still in her bedroom, practising such household arts 
as need no larger sphere. Mr. Bronte had his parish, his 
politics, and also devoted several hours a day to teaching 


his only son his rudiments. And now it was that Char- 
lotte Bronte, in the language of the eighteenth century, 
commenced author. The list of her works, composed 
and written by her between her tenth and fifteenth years, 
is too long to be here inserted. It numbers twenty-two 
volumes, and would fill several of these pages. Paper 
was dear in those days, and this voluminous authoress 
certainly deserves the title, bestowed by Swift upon Pope, 
of "paper sparing," for anything more distressingly mi- 
nute than her manuscript can hardly be imagined. The 
Duke of Wellington was the god of her idolatry. This 
warrior, though he wrote despatches which excited the 
envious admiration of Lord Brougham, was not exactly 
a literary man, and, indeed, observed on one occasion, 
with much feeling and apt military language, that, owing 
to his being Chancellor of the University of Oxford, he 
occupied a position greatly exposed to authors. He was 
certainly, though he knew it not, for several years well 
under the guns of Charlotte Bronte. Amongst her com- 
pleted works are to be found "Lord Charles Wellesley 
and the Marquis of Douro's Adventures," " The Strange 
Incident in the Duke of Wellington's Life," "Tale to 
his Sons," " The Duke of Wellington's Adventure in the 
Cavern," and others of a like character. She must be 
congratulated upon her childhood's choice. She had never 
need to withdraw her homage from the great Duke. 

" Whatever record leap to light, 
He never shall be shamed." 

The extract given by Mrs. Gaskell, from an introduc- 


tion to "Tales of the Islanders," must be withheld from 
no single reader : 

"June the 3ist, 1829. 

"The play of the '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 the 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 Branwell saying, in a lazy manner, 
* I don't know what to do.' This was echoed by Emily 
and Anne. 

" Tabby. Wha ya may go t' bed. 

"Branwell. 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 

"Charlotte. And I would choose the Isle of Wight. 

"Emily. The Isle of Arran for me. 

"Anne. And mine shall 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" I 

It seems a pity to think of so bright a party broken up 
at so preposterously early an hour, when dull ones are 
allowed to go on till past midnight. 

The following "History of the Year 1829" is also a 
bit of contemporary writing : 


" Once Papa lent my sister Maria a book. It was an 
old geography-book ; she wrote on its blank leaf, ' Papa 
lent me this book.' This book 13 a hundred and twenty 
years old; it is at this moment lying before me. While I 
write this I am in the kitchen of the Parsonage, Ha worth; 
Tabby, the servant, is washing up the breakfast-things, 
and Anne, my youngest sister (Maria was my eldest), is 
kneeling on a chair, looking at some cakes which Tabby 
has been baking for us. Emily is in the parlour, brush- 
ing the carpet. Papa and Branwell are gone to Keighley. 
Aunt is upstairs in her room, and I am sitting by the 
table writing this in the kitchen. Keighley is a small 
town four miles from here. Papa and Branwell are gone 
for the newspaper, the Leeds Intelligencer, a most excel- 
lent Tory newspaper, edited by Mr. Wood, and the pro- 
prietor, Mr. Henneman. 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 like- 
wise BlackwootPs Magazine^ the most able periodical 
there is. The editor is Mr. Christopher North, an old 
man seventy-four years of age; the ist 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. Our plays were established ; 'Young 
Men,' June, 1826; 'Our Fellows/ July, 1827; 'Islanders/ 
December, 1827. These are our three great plays, that 
are not kept secret. Emily's and my best plays were 
established the ist of December, 1827 ; the others 
March, 1828. Best plays mean secret plays; they are 
very nice ones. All our plays are very strange ones. 
Their nature I need not write on paper, for I think I 
shall always remember them. The 'Young Men's' play 
took its rise from some wooden soldiers Branwell had ; 
' Our Fellows ' from '^Esop's Fables;' and the ' Islanders' */ 
from several events which happened. I will sketch out 
the origin of our plays more explicitly if I can. First, 
'Young Men.' Papa bought Branwell some wooden sol- 
diers at Leeds ; when Papa came home it was night, and 
we were in bed, so next morning Branwell came to our 
door with a box of soldiers. Emily and I jumped out of 
bed, and I snatched up one and exclaimed, 'This is the 
Duke of Wellington! This shall be the Duke.' When 
I had said this, Emily likewise took one up, and said it 
should be hers. When Anne came down she said one 
should be hers. Mine was the prettiest of the whole, 
and the tallest and the most perfect in every part." x 
1 G., 62-3. 


Politics ran high in Haworth Parsonage, as the follow- 
ing extract, written when Charlotte was about fourteen 
years old, sufficiently indicates : 

"Parliament was opened, and the great Catholic Ques- 
tion was brought forward, and the Duke's measures were 
disclosed, and all was slander, violence, party-spirit, and 
confusion. Oh, those six months, from the time of the 
King's speech to the end ! Nobody could write, think, 
or speak on any subject but the Catholic Question, and 
the Duke of Wellington, and Mr. Peel. I remember the 
day when the Intelligence Extraordinary came with Mr. 
Peel's speech in it, containing the terms on which the 
Catholics were to be let in ! With what eagerness papa 
tore off the cover, and how we all gathered round him, 
and with what breathless anxiety we listened, as one by 
one they were disclosed, and explained, and argued upon 
so ably, and so well 1 and then when it was all out, how 
aunt said that she thought it was excellent, and that the 
Catholics could do no harm with such good security ! I 
remember also the doubts as to whether it would pass 
the House of Lords, and the prophecies that it would 
not j and when the paper came which was to decide the 
question, the anxiety was almost dreadful with which we 
listened to the whole affair : the opening of the doors ; 
the hush; the royal dukes in their robes, and the great 
duke in green sash and waistcoat; the rising of all the 
peeresses when he rose; the reading of his speech papa 
saying that his words were like precious gold; and lastly, 
the majority of one to four (sic) in favour of the Bill. 
But this is a digression," &c., &c. x 
'G.,6 3 . 


MRS. GASKELL'S description of Miss Bronte in 
1831 though not from the life, for the friend- 
ship between the two noble women did not begin till 
1850 must be given. 

" This is perhaps a fitting time to give some personal 
description of Miss Bronte. 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 her- 
selfbut 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 wholesome 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. 


Ais for the rest of her features, they were plain, large, and 
ill( set; but, unless you began to catalogue them, you 
w:re hardly aware of the fact, for the eyes and power of 
the countenance over-balanced every physical defect ; 
thi? crooked mouth and the large nose were forgotten, 
antl 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 
ev^r 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 ringers 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." x 

Miss Bronte's second and last school was a happy one 
for her. In January, 1831, she went in a covered cart 
to Miss Wooler's school at Roehead, a cheerful country- 
house on the road from Leeds to Huddersfield. It was 
only twenty miles from Haworth, but in a different line 
of country. Charlotte found friends amongst the pupils, 
notably the E. ofJMrs. Gaskell's biography, now known\L 
to us as 1>TTssvEllen Nussey. The Rose and Jessie 
Yorke of " Shirley " were also at Roehead, and one of 
these it was who describes Charlotte's first arrival, looking 
very cold and miserable short-sighted, shy, and nervous, 
and speaking, when she did speak, with a strong Irish 
accent. This last item in the account seems somewhat 
singular, but County Down is not easily shaken off. 
' G., 68. 


However, as between an Irish and a Yorkshire accent, 
there can be no question which is the prettier. At fi rst 
the new pupil was thought very ignorant, for "she had 
never learnt grammar at all, and very little geography," 
but then suddenly she would confound her critics by 
proving herself acquainted with things they had never 
handled. She knew the poetry books off by heart, and 
could tell stories about the authors and what other poems 
they had written. She likewise confided to her astonished 
associates that she too was an author, and not only she, 
but her brother and her two sisters all three younger 
than herself. Play games was what she could not do, 
and to public scorn on that head she was totally in- 
different. She was, however, fond of drawing, and knew 
what seemed a great deal about celebrated painters and 
pictures. A furious politician she ever was. As a 
nocturnal story-teller she was unsurpassable, and on one 
occasion, at all events, had the supreme satisfaction of 
causing one of her auditors to " scream out loud," and 
be " seized with violent palpitations." She was an in- 
defatigable student and was soon recognized, despite her 
preliminary ignorances as the model scholar ; so much so, 
that once when she got a bad mark for not knowing her 
Blair's Lectures on " Belles Lettres," the whole school 
revolted at the injustice, and the stigma had to be re- 
moved, that is, the bad mark taken off. This act of 
reparation was, however, considered tardy and incomplete, 
by the impetuosity of Rose Yorke, who for the rest of 
the term treated herself as released from all vows of 
obedience to the powers that had so betrayed their trust. 
In her judgment the " social contract " was dissolved, and 


the girls restored to their primeval liberty. Fortunately 
for Miss Wooler the holidays were close at hand. 

These days at Roehead as a school-girl were happy 
ones, eagerly spent in the acquisition of knowledge, and 
amongst congenial companions. Miss Wooler had many 
tales to tell of the stirring times in Yorkshire through 
which she had lived, of the misery of the working popu- 
lation, of a country-side ripe for revolution, of midnight 
drillings on the moors, and the burning of mills and 
breaking of machinery. And for these stories, one of 
her pupils at all events, had ready ears. 

In 1832 Miss Bronte's schooldays came to an end, 
and she returned to the parsonage at Haworth. Here 
she and her sisters had drawing-lessons from a master, 
described by Mrs. Gaskell as being a man of talent, but 
very little principle, from which we are led to infer that 
his lack of principle in some way injured his pupils, or 
otherwise one hardly sees why so common a failing 
should be specially referred to. But upon what terms 
the girls were with their drawing-master I do not know. 
So far as his art was concerned, all readers of Charlotte's 
novels must recognize how powerfully imaginative land- 
scape affected her mind, and is described by her. Her 
drawings, like her books, dealt with the realities of her 
own feelings. She does not, however, ever seem to 
have attained any technical skill beyond the ordinary. 
Drawing, walking, and reading, were at this time the 
pleasures of a life which at no time forgot its duties. 

Miss Bronte must certainly be described as a voracious 
reader. Most things were grist that came to her mill, 
and this, notwithstanding that she always read with a sad 


sincerity, and does not appear to have had any of that 
pleasant trifling literary spirit which accustoms itself to 
look upon a book as something quite outside the realm 
of morality and actual practice. There were some queer 
old volumes in the parsonage, coming from distant 
Cornwall, and stained with salt water " mad Methodist 
magazines, full of miracles and apparitions, and pre- 
ternatural warnings, ominous dreams, and frenzied 
fanaticisms." But it was not for nothing they had 
escaped the perils of the sea and travelled so far north. 
They had once fostered piety to the pitch of fanaticism 
they were now to provoke genius and fever imagination. 
But Miss Bronte's taste always remained sane. She might 
sup on horrors, but no indigestion followed. Under date 
July 4, 1834, she wrote to Miss Nussey 

" You ask me to recommend you some books for your 
perusal. I will do so in as few words as I can. If you 
like poetry, let it be first-rate; Milton, Shakespeare, 
Thomson, Goldsmith, Pope (if you will, though I don't 
admire him), Scott, Byron, Campbell, Wordsworth, and 
Southey. Now don't be startled at the names of Shake- 
speare and Byron. Both these were great men, and 
their works are like themselves. You will know how to 
choose the good, and to avoid the evil ; the finest 
passages are always the purest, the bad are invariably 
revolting ; you will never wish to read them over twice- 
Omit the comedies of Shakespeare, and the c Don Juan/ 
perhaps the * Cain,' of Byron, though the latter is a 
magnificent poem, and read the rest fearlessly ; that must 
indeed be a depraved mind which can gather evil from 
* Henry VIII.,' from 'Richard) III.,' from Macbeth,' and 


'Hamlet,' and 'Julius Csesar.' Scott's sweet, wild, romantic 
poetry can do you no harm. Nor can Wordsworth's, nor 
Campbell's, nor Southey's the greatest part at least of 
his ; some is certainly objectionable. For history, read 
Hume, Rollin, and the * Universal History,' if you 
can ; I never did. For fiction, read Scott alone ; all 
novels after his are worthless. For biography, read 
Johnson's ' Lives of the Poets,' Boswell's ' Life of John- 
son,' Southey's ' Life of Nelson,' Lockhart's * Life of 
Burns,' Moore's ' Life of Sheridan,' Moore's c Life of 
Byron,' Wolfe's ' Remains.' For natural history, read 
Bewick and Audubon, and Goldsmith and White's 
* History of Selborne.' For divinity, your brother will 
advise you there. I can only say, adhere to standard 
authors, and avoid novelty." z 

It was all very well for Miss Bronte, writing ex 
cathedrd, to the " sensitive E.," to strike her pen through 
all the comedies of Shakespeare, but that she allowed her 
own more masculine self a greater latitude, and was well 
acquainted with the humours of the immortal knights 
Sir John, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew cannot be doubted. 

Miss Nussey's visit to London greatly excited Charlotte 
Bronte's imagination. London had ever loomed large 
in the family fancy. Was it not the seat of Government, 
the theatre of the actions of the Duke of Wellington, Sir 
Robert Peel, Earl Grey, Mr. Stanley, Lord Brougham, 
and Mr. O'Connell, of the gods of her idolatry and the 
demons of her fancy ? She writes : 

" I was greatly amused at the tone of nonchalance 
which you assumed while treating of London and its 
' G., 96. 


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 representations 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 per- 
sonages whom the sitting of Parliament now detains in 
London the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Earl 
Grey, Mr. Stanley, Mr. O'Connell ? " * 

But despite these raptures, how sound is the advice 
with which the letter concludes : 

" 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." 

When Miss Nussey returns from the " glare and glitter 
and dazzling display" of London with a disposition 
unchanged and a heart uncontaminated, her friend writes 
to her in the style of Julia Mannering to Matilda March- 
mont, and congratulates her on withdrawing from the 
world a heart as unsophisticated, as natural, and as true 
as six months previously she had carried thither. Charlotte 
Bronte was a plain old-fashioned kind of person to look 
at, an undeniable oddity, one of the sort which is sup- 
posed to be well content if provided with a back seat 
1 G., 93- 


from whence to witness the comedy of life ; but within 
her glowed a spirit, a love of .pomp and grandeur, 01 
state and magnificence, that would have beggared the 
imagination of any living princess. Her fancy was easily 
fired, so too was her heart. She had flame enough in 
her composition to consume whole bevies of well-placed 

The fondness for London was certainly promoted by 
the astonishing love her brother Branwell had for the 
great city, whose map he used so to study that he was 
able, years before his feet had ever trod her streets, to 
tell the bagmen he was accustomed to meet at the bar 
parlour of the Black Bull of Haworth, the shortest ways 
to their accustomed houses of call. 

As for this unhappy Branwell, he was now hard upon 
eighteen, and was confidently regarded as the genius of 
the family the man who was to make the name of 
Bronte famous. He had fiery red hair, and was full of 
Celtic glow and exuberance, and doubtless, had he been 
well bred and trained, and duly kicked and disciplined, 
he might have escaped a shocking fate and a disgraceful 
death. But it was not to be so, and his memory now 
craves that, of our charity, we leave it alone. When it 
has been once written that the Brontes had a brother 
who was their dream, their delusion, their despair, the 
rest may be forgotten, or, better still, never known. 
Moral discrimination is a thing rarely exercised, and 
people there still are unable to strike any important dis- 
tinction between the misdeeds of Lord Byron and those 
of Shelley, and who visit both those poets either with the 
same blame, or, more hateful still, raise them to the same 


pedestal. In the case of the men of achievement men 
who have done something memorable, and upon whom 
therefore some sort of judgment must be passed this 
state of things must continue until a day of enlighten- 
ment dawns ; but when we have only to deal with a poor 
creature who, whatever may have been his promise, never 
did anything but get drunk, commit petty defalcations, 
write poor verses and odious letters, tell the most 
atrocious and heartless lies, and wellnigh break the 
hearts of three of the most self-sacrificing women ever 
called even by the name of sister, we are surely entitled 
to close the account at once and for ever. 

At this time art was thought likely to provide Branwell 
with the necessary outlet for his genius, and that he had 
some talent in that direction may be easily believed. 
The question of ways and means arose, and took, as it 
generally does in families whose circumstances are 
straitened by the " eternal lack of pence," the shape of 
the inquiry, What sacrifices can the artist's sisters be 
called upon to make ? Emily and Anne were as yet too 
young to do much; they themselves needed education 
to fit them for their own struggles j so it was obviously, 
as children say, " Charlotte's turn." On the 6th of July, 
1835, she wrote from Haworth to say, that as it was 
proposed that Branwell should be placed at the Royal 
Aoademy, she was going to be a teacher at Roehead, 
Emily accompanying her as a pupil. 

As a matter of fact Branwell never went as a pupil to 
the Royal Academy, but in July, 1835, Miss Bronte, 
being then nineteen, went as. a teacher to Miss Wooler's, 
at Roehead, taking her sister Emily with her as a pupil. 


Emily Bronte was now seventeen years old, and has been 
described as tall and well formed, and with eyes of 
remarkable beauty. Her figure was somewhat lank, her 
complexion colourless, her ideas about dress odd, her 
habits strange. Her most obvious gift was silence, and 
her most marked aversion strangers, amongst whom she 
included all near neighbours and her father's curates. 
Her sisters loved her intensely, so did her dogs. She, in 
her turn, loved her sisters and her dogs, and at one time 
her brother, with a silent passion. She also loved the/j 
moors far too well to bear being removed from them, 
even so far as Roehead. After three months she came 
home. Her elder sister, sticking herself to her post, 
recognized, not grudgingly, but with the love that has 
"forward-reaching" thoughts, how impossible it was for 
Emily to live away from home. 

" My sister Emily loved the moors. Flowers brighter 
than the rose bloomed in the blackest of the heath for 
her ; out of a sullen hollow in a livid hillside her mind 
could make an Eden. She found in the bleak solitude 
many and dear delights ; and not the least and best-loved 
was liberty. Liberty was the breath of Emily's nostrils ; 
without it she perished. The change from her own home 
to a school, and from her own very noiseless, very secluded, 
but unrestricted and unartificial mode of life, to one of 
disciplined routine (though under the kindest auspices), 
was what she failed in enduring. Her nature proved 
here too strong for her fortitude. Every morning, when 
she woke, the vision of home and the moors rushed on 
her, and darkened and saddened the day that lay before 
her. Nobody knew what ailed her but me. I knew 


only too well. In this struggle her health was quickly 
broken: her white face, attenuated form, and failing 
strength, threatened rapid decline. I felt in my. heart she 
would die, if she did not go home, and with this convic- 
tion obtained her recall. She had only been three 
months at school ; and it was some years before the ex- 
periment of sending her from home was again ventured 
on." ' 

As we read this passage it is natural to be reminded of 
Macaulay's beautiful and, in so unsentimental a man, 
strangely pathetic lines describing the feelings of the 
Yorkshire Jacobite wearing his soul out in Italy, who 

" Heard on Lavernia, Scargill's whispering trees, 
And pined by Arno for his lovelier Tees ; 
Beheld each night his home in fevered sleep, 
Each morning started from the dream to weep : 
Till God, who saw him tried too sorely, gave 
The resting-place he asked, an early grave." 

When Emily returned to Haworth it was not to idle- 
ness. She took upon herself, so we are told, the prin- 
cipal part of the cooking and all the household ironing 
the most elegant of domestic employments and, later 
on, when Tabby became infirm, she made the bread ; 
and might have been seen " studying German out of an 
open book propped up before her, as she kneaded the 
dough " : but, whatever the German may have been, the 
dough was always light so, at least, Mrs. Gaskell assures 
us, I hope with authority. "No study, however interest- 

' G., loi. 


ing, interfered with the goodness of the bread, which was 
always light and excellent." 

Miss Bronte's days at Roehead as a teacher would 
have been agreeable enough but for the fact that they 
fell during what may be called the " yeasty " period of 
her genius, and that she never had any turn for teaching 
or pleasure in the society of young people, simply as 
such. Consequently her leisure was disturbed by the 
doubts and fears that infest those whose dream is of 
literary fame by the dread of what Keats called "the 
hell of failure " and by the uneasy hope of the heaven 
of success. " If you knew my thoughts, the dreams that 
absorb me, and the fiery imagination that at times eats 
me up and makes me feel society as it is, wretchedly 
insipid, you would pity and, I daresay, despise me." So 
she wrote in May, 1836. Neither did she find in her 
school work the labour that eases pain. None the less, 
she performed it bravely. But it was always so with 
Charlotte Bronte. Her reason looked on tempests, but 
was never shaken. Religious depression she appears 
occasionally to have experienced, although it is not easy 
to apprehend her position through life in the matter 
of religion. She certainly had none of the spirit of the 
devotee, and her mental atmosphere was altogether too 
bleak to admit of that "small-soul -culture" now so much 
recommended. Miss Bronte's religion seems to have 
consisted of a robust Church of Englandism, made up 
of cleanliness, good works, and hatred of humbug all 
admirable things certainly, but not specially religious. 

She was, however, acquainted partially with doctrinal 
differences, and was known, during the period now under 


view, to condemn Socinianism and Calvinism. She must 
be pronounced an Arminian, and was, I doubt not, an 
Erastian also. Her sister Emily was more reticent, and 
all that she was ever heard to say on religious subjects 
was (whilst lying at full length on the hearthrug) : 
"That's right." Nor does this single expression of 
opinion, emphatic though it be, tell us much; for the 
conduct it approved of was her friend's refusal to state 
what her own religious opinions were. 

During the Christmas holidays of 1836 the girls again 
met in their beloved Haworth. They had much to talk 
about. No need now to draw upon their fervent imagina- 
tions, no occasion "to make out" anything, or to fancy 
themselves inhabiting beautiful islands of the main, in 
company with the men, women, and books, they most 
admired or loved. There was no lack of matter to talk 

What were they to do ? Their father had the income, 
and the claims upon that income of a poor parson, and 
nothing else. Their aunt had an annuity of ^"50 a year. 
Something had to be done. There was teaching. Both 
Charlotte and Emily had tried this the former at Roe- 
head, the latter for a few months at Halifax. For Emily 
it was an impossible life ; for Charlotte a hateful, and also 
a hopeless one. To her friend " Mary " Miss Bronte had 
owned that, after clothing herself and her sister Anne, 
she had nothing left out of her Roehead salary. No 
wonder that, during these Christmas holidays, they paced 
up and down the room "making plans for the future." 
No wonder either that their thoughts flew to the "El 
Dorado " of literature, where, before their time as since, 


bold adventurers have carried their light fancies, and 
returned home laden with the precious metal. They had 
all, Branwell included, written verses, and they thought 
they could not be better introduced into literature than 
through that medium. Accordingly Charlotte, "as the 
eldest," wrote to Southey, on the 2 9th of December, 
1836, a letter, which as the writer was at that time under 
the detestable influence of her brother's style was not 
likely to avoid serious faults. The letter was accom- 
panied by some poems. Branwell, at the same time, 
despatched some of his poems to Wordsworth. No 
answer being received from Southey, who was away from 
home, and the Christmas holidays coming to an end, 
poor Miss Bronte had to pack her box and go back to 
Miss Wooler's school, no longer at pleasant Roehead, 
but at Dewsbury Moor. Here it was, in the month 
of March, that she received Southey's letter. He wrote 
as Southey always did write kindly, wisely, gravely, 
yet forbiddingly. It must be remembered in reading the 
letter, which has been printed both in Southey's " Life 
and Correspondence" and in Mrs. Gaskell's biography, 
that he had only before him specimens of his corre- 
spondent's poetry. " Do not suppose," he said, " that 
I disparage the gift you possess ; nor that I would dis- 
courage you from exercising it. ... Write poetry for its 
own sake, not in a spirit of emulation, and not with a 
view to celebrity; the less you aim at that, the more 
likely you will be to observe, and finally to obtain it." 
Miss Bronte replied : 

" SIR, I cannot rest till I have answered your letter, 


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

" At the first perusal of your letter, I felt only shame 
and regret that I had ever ventured to trouble you with 
my crude rhapsody ; I felt a painful heat rise to my face 
when I thought of the quires of paper I had covered 
with what once gave me so much delight, but which now 
was only a source of confusion : but after I had thought 
a little, and read it again and again, the prospect seemed 
to clear. You do not forbid me to write ; you do not say 
that what I write is utterly destitute of merit. You only 
warn me against the folly of neglecting real duties for the / 
sake of imaginative pleasures ; for the love of fame ; for Vir' 
the selfish excitement of emulation. You kindly allow J 
me to write poetry for its own sake, provided I leave 
undone nothing which I ought to do, in order to 
pursue that single, absorbing, exquisite gratification. I 
am afraid, sir, you think me very foolish. I know the 
first letter I wrote to you was all senseless trash from 
beginning to end ; but I am not altogether the idle 
dreaming being it would seem to denote. My father is 
a clergyman of limited, though competent, income, and 
I am the eldest of his children. He expended quite as 
much in my education as he could afford in justice to the 
rest. I thought it therefore my duty, when I left school, 
to become a governess. In that capacity I find enough 


to occupy my thoughts all day long, and my head and 
hands too, without having a moment's time for one 
dream of the imagination. In the evenings, I confess, 
I do think, but I never trouble any one else with my 
thoughts. I carefully avoid any appearance of pre- 
occupation and eccentricity, which might lead those I 
live amongst to suspect the nature of my pursuits. 
Following my father's advice who from my childhood 
has counselled me, just in the wise and friendly tone of 
your letter I have endeavoured not only attentively to 
observe all the duties a woman ought to fulfil, but to feel 
deeply interested in them. I don't always succeed, for 
sometimes when I'm teaching or sewing I would rather 
be reading or writing. But I try to deny myself, and my 
father's approbation amply rewarded me for the privation. 
Once more allow me to thank you with sincere gratitude. 
I trust I shall never more feel ambitious to see my name 
in print. If the wish should rise, I'll look at Southey's 
letter, and suppress it. It is honour enough for me 
that I have written to him, and received an answer. 
That letter is consecrated ; no one shall ever see it but 
papa and my brother and sisters. Again I thank you. 
This incident, I suppose, will be renewed no more ; if I 
live to be an old woman, I shall remember it thirty years 
hence as a bright dream. The signature which you 
suspected of being fictitious is my real name. Again, 
therefore, I must sign myself, 


"P.S. Pray, sir, excuse me for writing to you a 
second time. I could not help writing partly to tell 
you how thankful I am for your kindness, and partly to 


let you know that your advice shall not be wasted, 
however sorrowfully and reluctantly it may be at first 
followed. 1 "C. B." 

Southey's reply requires to be read : 

"KESWICK, March 22, 1837. 

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

" It is, by God's mercy, in our power to attain a degree 
of self-government, which is essential to our own happi- 
ness, and contributes greatly to that of those around us. 
Take care of over-excitement, and endeavour to keep a 
quiet mind (even for your health it is the best advice 
that can be given you). Your moral and spiritual im- 
provement will then keep pace with the culture of your 
intellectual powers. 

" And now, Madam, God bless you ! Farewell, and 
believe me to be, your sincere friend, 


This is indeed an admirable correspondence on both 
1 G., 116, 117. 


sides. It is full of the stern, almost ruthless, good sense 
and soberness, which Charlotte Bronte, despite her tem- 
pestuous soul, stormy imagination, and passionate writing, 
always loved, and took as her rule of living ; but when 
we remember she was but twenty-one when she wrote her 
second letter to Southey, we feel that the iron had 
entered somewhat too deeply into her soul. 

Literature being thus put aside, Miss Bronte continued, 
though with a heavy heart and failing health and spirits, 
to teach Miss Wooler's pupils, amongst whom was now 
her sister Anne. Anne Bronte can never be to any of 
us what her sisters are, her literary faculty being but 
slender, but whilst living she played an important part 
in the family life. She and Emily were the fastest 
friends. Alone amongst the sisters Anne had enough 
religion to give her pleasure, and her spirit grew devout. 
But in 1837 she was young, even for her years, and timid. 

The Christmas of 1837 saw them all again at Haworth, 
quiet, sadder even than before, but with wills unsub- 
dued, as the following pleasing incident most satis- 
factorily establishes. Poor Tabby fell down the steep 
slippery village street and broke her leg. She was nearly 
seventy years of age, past her work, and had a sister 
living in the village. Miss Branwell, a by no means 
superseded personage, decided that Tabby should go and 
live with this sister. Mr. Bronte was at first unwilling, 
but finally consented, and the girls were informed that 
the ancient Tabitha, once queen of the kitchen, and 
kindly tyrant of their early life, was to leave the parson- 
age. They remonstrated. Tabby had nursed them ; 
they would nurse Tabby. Their remonstrances being 



unheeded, their arguments left unanswered, they pro- 
ceeded, in the language of to-day, to boycott the baker, 
or, as Mrs. Gaskell puts it, they struck eating till the 
aghast authorities gave them their own way, and allowed 
Tabby to remain where she was. 

The holidays over, Miss Bronte went back to Dews- 
bury Moor alone, for Anne's health was too feeble to 
admit of her return. It must have been a cruel parting, 
but it was not for long, for Miss Bronte's health entirely 
broke down, and the doctor who was called in gave her 
the only prescription that could have done her the least 
good sent her home again. 

She soon became herself once more, paid one or two 
visits, and had friends at the parsonage. About this 
time it was that she encountered some one supposed to 
be the St. John of " Jane Eyre," and like him a clergy- 
man. He had the good sense to recognize the greatness r 
of Charlotte Bronte, and proposed marriage ; but she, a > 
poor hard-worked teacher, who hated her business, would 
have none of him, spick and span parson though he 
was. She writes thus : 

"Mardi 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 in that light of adoration that I will regard my 
husband. Ten to one I shall never have the chance 
again ; but rtimportt. 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 satirize, and say whatever came into 
my head first. And if he w.ere a clever man, and loved 
me, the whole world, weighed in the balance against his 
smallest wish, should be light as air." x 

The matrimonial profession thus rejected, another had 
to be adopted, and both Charlotte and Anne decided tc-A* 
be gnvprnesses__in families. It was a desperate choice, 
so far as the former was concerned, and simply meant 
that there was nothing else for her to be. The " El 
Dorado" of literature was jealously guarded by for- 
bidding angels she had Southey's stringent letter in her 
pocket, and though it is not to be supposed that she had 
really and as it were for ever abandoned the immortal 
hope of some day writing something the world would not 
willingly let die, still the hour had not come to conquer 
discouragement. Art was out of the question. Music 
was not one of Charlotte Bronte's accomplishments, 
Mrs. Gaskell even going so far as to give vent to a dis- 
tressing doubt whether " Charlotte could play at all." 
There was therefore nothing for it but plain teaching. 
Still it was an unhappy choice, for, as has been frequently 

remarked, Mkg p r ni-U^.dirl nn<- rntv* fnr rhilrtrpn. She 

had no eye for them. Hence it comes about that her 
novel-children are not good. Mr. Swinburne, in his de- 
lightful " Note on Charlotte Bronte," which should be 
read by everybody, has said pretty well all that need be 
said on the subject. Miss Bronte had not on her small 
' G., 125. 



but wonder-opening bunch the tiny key that unlocks the 
heart of childhood. As she glances upon children she 
seems to say : " Wait, little one, wait awhile ; till your 
eager heart has been bruised in the ceaseless strife of the 
affections ; till the garden of your soul is strewn with 
withered hopes ; till you have become familiar with dis- 
appointment, and know the face of sorrow ; and then, if 
you seek me out, we shall have much to say to one 
another ; not of foolish sentiment or Byronic gloom, but 
downright vigorous good sense, and pinching of each 
other's delusions." 

Miss Bronte's first place was in the family of a York- ^ 
shire manufacturer. She was very unhappy, but to record i\ 
the story of her captivity would be too sickening. One 
of the pleasantest afternoons she spent during the three 
months of her torment was when the father of the family 
took his children out for a walk, accompanied by his 
Newfoundland dog bounding in front, and his governess, 
who had orders to follow a little behind. Miss Bronte, 
however, does not seem to have minded, and indeed 
states that her employer " looked very like what a frank, 
wealthy Conservative gentleman ought to be." 

She left this place in July, having lost all her health 
and spirits, and came back to the parsonage, where she 
quickly regained both too much of the latter indeed for 
the peace of mind of an Irish curate, who was brought 
one day by his vicar to pay a call at Haworth Parsonage. 
After the manner of his kind he made himself at home; 
but Miss Bronte must tell her own tale : 

" 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 quickly appeared 
in his conversation ; witty, lively, ardent, clever too ; but 
deficient in the dignity and discretion of an Englishman. 
At home, you know, J talk with ease, and am never shy, 
never weighed down uid oppressed by that miserable 
mauvaise Jwnte which torments and constrains me else- 
where. So I conversed with this 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 correspon- 
dents. Having opened and read it, it proved to be a 
declaration of attachment^jmd proposaLof, 

expressed in^trre-^HelrETangiiage 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." 1 




This story has its biographical value, since it shows, 
what readers of Mrs. Gaskell's biography are sometimes 
tempted to forget, that Charlotte Bronte was, at con- 
venient times and in proper places, a lively and fascinating 
person, even in the eyes of strangers. 

But refusing the clergy, however inspiriting as a 
pastime, has no merits as a means of livelihood, and 
accordingly, after a visit to the sea at Easton, we find her 
writing : 

" I intend to force myself to take another situation 
when I can get one, though I hate and abhor the very 
thoughts of goy^rnss=ship. But I must do it ; and 
therefore I heartily wish I could hear of a family where 
they need such a commodity as a governess." J 

1 G., 136. 


r I ^HE year 1840 was spent at home the mornings in 
JL household pursuits and duties, and the evenings 
in reading and in planning and plotting over that myste- 
rious heap of disagreeable possibilities we are accustomed 
to call, compendiously, the Future. Charlotte Bronte dealt 
sternly with herself in this matter. Like her heroines, 
Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe, she had the habit of making 
an inventory of her charms and accomplishments, good 
looks and graces, powers of mind and body, and marking 
herself very low, She made no large demands upon the 
world, and expected nothing she did not first pay for in 
brains and work. She was not dandled and danced into 
literature like some of our sprightly young authors who 
try to make up for the native lightness of their hearts by 
the desperate character of their plots and the ferocity of 
their literary language. During this winter Miss Bronte 
began a story in her minutest hand, and writ in a style 
which afterwards became her aversion "the ornamental 
and redundant style." The beginning of this story she sent, 
with the extraordinary audacity of a young author an 
audacity able even to conquer the abnormal shyness 
and independence of her non-professional character to 



Wordsworth anonymously, and subsequently followed it 
up with a letter composed in a vein she had been taught 
by her brother to regard as manly and vigorous, but 
which is really only smart to vulgarity. Miss Bronte's 
notions of a man's style never got quite quit of this early 
taint. This story did not proceed very far. 

There was a good deal of reading done this year at the 
parsonage, forty French novels arriving in one batch. 
Unfortunately we are not told their names, but only that, 
"like the rest, they are clever, wicked, sophistical, and 
immoral." And then she adds : "The best of it is, they 
give one a thorough idea of France and Paris " a sweep- 
ing statement which may safely be met with a point-blank 
denial. There is more validity in her second reason for 
reading so many " clever, wicked, sophistical, and immoral 
books," namely, that they are the best substitute for 
French conversation that she had met with. 

All this time, however, she was looking out for a situa- 
tion, and answering advertisements without number. " A 

woman of the name of Mrs. B , it seems, wants a 

teacher. I wish she would have me." 

However, on investigation Mrs. B proved to be 

one of those persons who want their children taught music 
and singing, so nothing came of that; but in March, 1841, 
Miss Bronte went out again, and for the last time, as a 
governess. On this occasion she got into a pleasant 
house, though her duties were multifarious, and involved 
"needlework." Her salary was 20 nominally, really 
,16. Her pupils were two, a girl of eight and a boy of 
six. There is something half amusing, half distressing, 
in the way Miss Bronte talks of her young clients. They 


might be a superior kind of wild beast. " My pupils are 
wild and unbroken, but apparently well-disposed." A 
little boy of six is not, as a rule, spoken of quite so 
solemnly. " I find it so hard," she writes, " to repel the 
rude familiarity of children." "The children are over- 
indulged, and consequently hard to manage." " I have 
got on very well with the servants and children so far, yet 
it is dreary, solitary work." 

It was just as well this sort of thing came to an end 
once and for all at the Christmas of 1841. Her employers 
were fond of her, and felt the parting. Miss Bronte 
observed with her accustomed truthfulness and insight 
into her own character. " They only made too much of 
me. I did not deserve it." 

What led her to give up the situation was that she had 
obtained the necessary consents and assistance to enable 
her and her sister Emily to go abroad for a while to 
perfect themselves in French and to learn German, in 
the hope that so equipped they might, on their return, 
keep a school of their own. This project had been slowly 
maturing during the last half of 1841. 

On the 1 8th of July Miss Bronte wrote : " To come to 
the point. Papa and aunt talk by fits and starts of our 
id esf t Emily, Anne, and myself commencing a school." 

In August she was back at her situation, and received 
a letter from Brussels, written by her old friend Mary, 
the Rose Yorke of " Shirley." This set her imagination 
off upon its travels. 

"Mary's letters spoke of some of the pictures and 
cathedrals she had seen pictures the most exquisite, 
cathedrals the most venerable. I hardly know what 



swelled to my throat as I read her letter : such a vehe- 
ment impatience of restraint and steady work ; such a 
strong wish for wings wings such as wealth can furnish ; 
such an urgent thirst to see, to know, to learn. Something 
internal seemed to expand bodily for a minute. I was 
tantalized by the consciousness of faculties unexercised. 
Then all collapsed, and I despaired. My dear, I would 
hardly make that confession to any one but yourself; and 
to you, rather in a letter than vivd voce. These rebellious 
and absurd emotions were only momentary; I quelled 
them in five minutes. I hope they will not revive, for 
they were acutely painful." x 

Miss Wooler being at this time about to give up her 
school, it occurred to her that the Brontes might take 
it. Thereupon Charlotte addressed to Miss Branwell 
the following letter : 

"Sept. 29, 1841. 


" I have heard nothing of Miss Wooler yet, since 
I wrote to her intimating that I would accept her offer. 
I cannot conjecture the reason of this long silence, unless 
some unforeseen impediment has occurred in concluding 
the bargain. Meantime, a plan has been suggested and 

approved by Mr. and Mrs. " (the father and mother 

of her pupils) " and others, which I wish now to impart 
to you. My friends recommend me, if I desire to secure 
permanent success, to delay commencing the school for six 
months longer, and by all means to contrive, by hook or 
by crook, to spend the intervening time in some school 
on the Continent. They say schools in England are so 
1 G., 154. 


numerous, competition so great, that without some such 
step towards attaining superiority we shall probably have 
a very hard struggle, and may fail in the end. They say, 
moreover, that the loan of ^100, which you have been 
so kind as to offer us, will, perhaps, not be all required 
now, as Miss Wooler will lend us the furniture ; and that, 
if the speculation is intended to be a good and successful 
one, half the sum, at least, ought to be laid out in the 
manner I have mentioned, thereby insuring a more speedy 
repayment both of interest and principal. 

" I would not go to France or to Paris. I would go to 
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, t.e. t 
providing my health continued as good as it is now. 
Mary is now staying at Brussels, at a first-rate estab- 
lishment there. I should not think of going to the 
Chateau de Ilokleberg, where she is resident, as the 
terms are much too high ; but if I wrote to her, she, with 
the assistance of Mrs. Jenkins, the wife of the British 
chaplain, would be able to secure me a cheap, decent 
residence and respectable protection. I should have the 
opportunity of seeing her frequently ; she* would make 
me acquainted with the city ; and, with the assistance of 
her cousins, I should probably be introduced to connec- 
tions far more improving, polished, and cultivated than 
any I have yet known. 


" These are advantages which would turn to real 
account, when we actually commenced a school ; and, 
if Emily could share them with me, we could take a 
footing in the world afterwards which we can never do 
now. I say Emily instead of Anne ; for Anne might take 
her turn at some future period, if our school answered. 
I feel certain, while I am writing, that you will see the 
propriety of what I say. You always like to use your 
money to the best advantage. You are not fond of 
making shabby purchases. When you do confer a favour, 
it is often done in style ; and, depend upon it, ,50 or 
;ioo 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 ambitious 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 repent your 
kindness." 1 

Miss Branwell, who was a most sensible woman, took 
time to consider and finally consented, and after divers 
plans and prospects, it came about that early in 1842 
Mr. Bronte, Charlotte, and Emily, accompanied by Mary 
and her brother, arrived in London en route for M. 
Heger's pensionnat> in the Rue d'Isabelle, Brussels. 
' G ic6. 


This was Miss Bronte's first visit to London. They 
stayed at the Chapter Coffee House, Paternoster Row 
an old-fashioned house which, it appears, had been 
visited by Mr. Bronte in his old Cambridge and Essex 
days. Here they lay under the shadow of the great 

"I had just extinguished my candle and laid down, 
when a deep, low, mighty tone swung through the night. 
At first I knew it not \ but it was uttered twelve times 
and at the twelfth colossal hum and tumbling knell I 
said, ' I lie in the shadow of St. Paul's.' " z 

The journey to Brussels safely accomplished, Mr. 
Bronte, after the stay of a single night in the strange city, 
returned straight home to Yorkshire. 

In writing of this Brussels life of Charlotte Bronte, the 
biographer feels himself on enchanted ground. The 
prosy methods of plain narration the straightforward 
falsehoods of conventional biography, are more than 
usually repulsive for the fact is that the lady herself 
has taken the matter in hand, and he who would know 
as no biographer can tell him, the history of her life and 
read the record of her heart during this strange period 
of her existence must, laying aside all else, set himself 
to read "Villette." 

But though the student of Charlotte Bronte, and those 
who would know as much as is to be known of her life and 
history, will read " Villette " between the lines, and carry 
away what they cannot doubt to be true information con- 
cerning its author from the pages of this marvellous novel, 
none the less will they, if they are wise, nay, if they 
1 "Villette." 



are delicate, hold their tongues about their discoveries, 
real or supposed, and their surmises, however shrewd or 
keen. It is not admirable to seek to wrest the secrets 
of a woman's heart from the works of her genius. The 
great artists do not "abide our question." We can 
never put them into the box. They live their own lives 
quite independently of their works. We may be quite 
certain that there never was anybody more unlike 
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, than William Shakespeare, 
owner of the "trimmest house in Stratford town." But 
with those who, skilful or powerful as they may be in 
certain directions, have not attained to this rank, the 
case is different; and it is not always possible for 
them to maintain unbroken the barrier between their 
lives and their art. Still both biographers and critics, 
birds of prey though they be, ought to regard and 
respect the inherent distinctions that must exist between 
the actual facts and feelings of a person's life and the 
record of an imaginary, though it may be similar, life 
We may feel certain that Miss Bronte put her own life 
into her novels in fact, the conviction that she did so 
seriously interferes with the artistic merit of her writings. 
It sounds paradoxical, but is a familiar truism, that we do 
not want a story to be true. We dislike to think it has 
actually happened. Even Mr. W 7 ilkie Collins' method 
of telling his stories in a series of affidavits depends for 
its charm upon the reader's knowledge that no such 
affidavits were ever sworn, and that the deponents are 
jointly and severally dreams. A great novelist does not 
find, he brings. He invents, for our edification or delight, 
for our laughter or terror, characters who we know 


never existed scenes we know the earth never wit- 
nessed ; but which being constructed and composed in 
accordance with the rules and limitations of his art (and 
the greater the artist the more willingly does he submit 
to this sweet servitude) affect us far more than the 
history of events which, in Charles Reade's witty 
phrase, have gone through the formality of taking 

Had Miss Bronte been a greater novelist than she was, 
" Villette " would not have the biographical interest it 
has, but such biographical interest as it has may safely 
and properly be left to its readers to explore and 
expound for themselves. 

When Charlotte and Emily Bronte came into resi- 
dence at M. Heger's school, there were from eighty to a 
hundred pupils, for the most part Belgians, big, strapping 
girls with large appetites, boisterous ways, and a not 
unnatural attachment to that form of Christianity which 
is still most prevalent, but with which Charlotte Bronte 
nad never any patience. She always seems to be half 
resentful that Roman Catholic girls should be Roman 
Catholics. M. Heger's two English pupils were exiles 
in a far land, but unlike most exiles they were hard- 
workers and desperately bent on acquiring information, 
which in their case meant a decent knowledge of the 
French, and, if possible, of the German language. They 
were decidedly two queer young women. M. Heger 
was greatly struck with them, and devised a new method 
for teaching them. This he expounded, and paused for a 
reply. Emily was the first to speak. She said she saw 
no good in the plan, and evinced a desire to argue the 



subject at length, for though taciturn, she had a head for 
logic and dialectical gifts. But M. Heger had, he said, 
no time for argument, and invited Charlotte to express 
her opinion, which was that she also doubted the wisdom 
of the plan, but would follow it, because, being M. 
Heger's pupil, she was bound to obey him. An ordinary 
teacher would have been somewhat damped by this 
truly British way of meeting his proposals, but M. 
Heger was no ordinary teacher, and made even Emily 
Bronte, the most untamed of mortals, do his will. 
Under this fiery but delightful enthusiast both sisters 
made very considerable progress, nor were their imagi- 
nations ever allowed to slumber. Mrs. Gaskell gives a 
most interesting account of the methods M. Heger 

The original intention of the two sisters was to remain 
abroad six months, and consequently to return home 
before the autumn holidays, but they had made them- 
selves sufficiently useful to induce Madame Heger to 
offer to retain them for another half year, Charlotte 
teaching English, and Emily music. The offer was 
accepted, not apparently with much emotion, but because 
under the circumstances it was the wisest thing to do. 
The ugliest feature of the case was that it meant the 
sacrifice of their holidays and any sight of their home. 

" That little spot 
With grey walls compassed round," 

that was always so indescribably dear to them. But, as 
Miss Bronte observes in one of her downright poems : 


" There's no use in weeping : 
Though we are condemned to part, 
There's such a thing as keeping 
A remembrance in one's heart." 

The sisters remained together at M. Heger's until 
October, 1842, when they were hastily summoned home 
by news that their aunt was very ill, and before they had 
started they heard of her death. They went back to 
Haworth as quickly as they could. The good aunt had 
left her savings to be equally divided between her three 
Bronte nieces and another. Branwell is sometimes said 
to have been struck out of her will, but, in fact, he was 
never in it, save in what is called in legal phrase, " a gift 
over." Once more the three sisters spent the Christmas 
holidays together. Anne had a situation as a governess, 
to which she proposed to return. Emily had had enough 
of Brussels, and meant to be the " home-keeping " sister. 
What was Charlotte to do? For once forgetful or 
neglectful of her stern rule of life, that if ever you really 
want to do a thing you may be certain it is wrong, she 
did what she wanted to do, and returned to Brussels. 
" I returned to Brussels after aunt's death, against my 
conscience, prompted by what then seemed an irre- 
sistible impulse. I was punished for my selfish folly by 
a total withdrawal for more than two years of happiness 
,and peace of mind." 

The whole of the year 1843 was spent by Charlotte 
Bronte at M. Heger's, where she continued her duties as 
English teacher, at the same time improving her French 
and German. Her salary was 16 a year, out of which 
she had to pay for her German lessons. She also gave 



English lessons to M. Heger himself and his brother-in- 
law. The former was an especially apt pupil. 1 
A' The long vacation of 1843 was a terrible time for Miss 
Bronte. She spent it alone in the deserted school, with 
only one teacher, and she an uncongenial foreigner, for 
a companion. Heart-sick, home-sick, baffled in all 
directions, her youth leaving her and nothing done, the 
ruin of her brother an accomplished fact, weary all 
day yet sleepless at night, the heavy hours with clogged 
wheels went by. But here, as always during this 
Brussels period, we must turn to " Villette" for her true 
history. The visit to the Confessional, described in the 
sixteenth chapter, is taken direct from an experience of 
Miss Bronte's own. 

The end of the holidays was most welcome, and the 
return of the Belgian girls, "cold, selfish, animal, and 
inferior " though they were, was hailed with joy by their 
tortured English teacher, whose mind had been thus 
cruelly kept upon the rack. 

But both in holiday-time and school-time Brussels was 
a disappointing failure. It was not what it had been on 
the former occasion, nor what she hoped it would be 
when, against the voice of conscience, she returned 
alone after her aunt's death. Madame Heger became 
estranged. Miss Bronte got on better with the hus- 
band. In fact, though her shyness stood in the way 
of her wishes, Miss Bronte was one of those women 
whose sympathies go out easier to men than to those of 

1 Miss Bronte wrote to Miss Nusseyin April, 1843, a letter which 
should be read. It will be found on page 190 of Mrs. Gaskell's 


their own sex, and whose intellects work better and 
whose thoughts flash brighter in male than in female 
company. One remembers Martha, in Mrs. Gaskell's 
" Cranford," who found that usage of polite society which, 
as expounded to her by Miss Matty, required her, in her 
capacity of table-maid, to help the ladies before the 
gentlemen, both irksome and absurd, for as she frankly 
avowed, " I like the lads best ! " For reasons probably 
very different from Martha's, who, though she was a good, 
was not an intellectual girl, Miss Bronte arrived (so I 
suggest) at the same conclusion. 

Madame Heger was also, besides being a woman, as 
determined a Roman Catholic as was Charlotte a fierce 
Protestant. Sympathy between them was impossible. 
Madame Heger, in the opinion of her pupil-teacher, was an 
idolater ; and what Miss Bronte was in Madame Heger's 
" it is better only guessing." Under these conditions a 
parting was desirable, and happily inevitable. It came 
suddenly at the end of 1843. It cost a good deal when 
it came, but the price was paid, the deed done, and on 
the 2nd of January, 1844, Charlotte Bronte was once 
more under the sheltering roof of her old home. 


THE year 1844 was spent at home, planning for 
school-keeping at Haworth, and distributing cards 
of terms, but nothing came of either plans or cards. 
BranwelFs condition was now a chronic source of misery, 
and as the parsonage had to be his home as well as his 
sisters', its unfitness for a school became only too painfully 
obvious. It was a sad and weary time of waiting for the 
moving of the waters. We listen to the old cry, "Life wears 
away. I shall soon be thirty. I have done nothing yet." 
Meantime she read to her father, whose sight became 
bad, and performed her accustomed household duties. 
Poor Anne alone of the family was still away somewhere 
as a governess, x 

Old Tabby was now past her work, but unwilling to 
resign it, and possessed of " feelings " capable of indefinite 
suffering had it been so much as hinted to her that the 
peeling of potatoes was a pursuit requiring keener eyes 
than were now hers. And so, Mrs. Gaskell tells us, 
Charlotte Bronte was accustomed to bide her time, and 
when the cook's back was turned " steal into the kitchen," 
and carry off the bowl of vegetables, and re-peel the 
potatoes, all unbeknown to poor Tabitha. The subtle 


delicacy of this act of kindness is akin to the feeling 
which induced Dr. Johnson to do all the necessary 
shopping for his cat " Hodge " ; he fearing that were the 
task of buying oysters (not then at modern prices) for 
his friend's consumption imposed upon " Black Frank," 
that negro might learn to hate, and even (on the sly) to 
kick " Hodge " ; an intolerable thought that always drove 
the doctor into Fleet Street as far as the nearest fish- 
mongers. Happy Hodge and happy Tabitha to have 
respectively had such a master and such a mistress ! 

But this exquisite tenderness of heart was quite as 
compatible in Miss Bronte's case, as it was in that of our 
dearly beloved doctor's, with modes of expression ener- 
getic to roughness. The following passage is in Johnson's 
best style : 

..." Ten years ago I should have laughed at your 
account of the blunder you made in mistaking the 
bachelor doctor for a married man. I should have 
certainly thought you scrupulous over- much, and won- 
dered how you could possibly regret being civil to a 
decent individual, merely because he happened to be 
single instead of double. Now however I can perceive 
that your scruples are founded on common sense. I 
know that if women wish to escape the stigma of 
husband-seeking, they must act and look like marble or 
clay cold, expressionless, bloodless ; for every appear- 
ance of feeling, of joy, sorrow, friendliness, antipathy, 
admiration, disgust, are alike construed by the world 
into the attempt to hook a husband. Never mind ! well- 
meaning women have their own consciences to comfort 



them after all. Do not therefore be too much afraid of 
showing yourself as you are, affectionate and good- 
hearted ; do not too harshly repress sentiments and feel- 
ings excellent in themselves because you fear that some 
puppy may fancy that you are letting them come out to 
fascinate him ; do not condemn yourself to live only by 
halves, because if you showed too much animation some 
pragmatical thing in breeches might take it into his pate 
to imagine that you designed to dedicate your life to his 
inanity. Still, a composed, decent, equable deportment 
is a capital treasure to a woman, and that you possess. 
Write again soon, for I feel rather fierce, and want 
stroking down." x 

The year 1845 passed much as did its predecessor, 
save that the gloom thickened. Branwell Bronte was 
now permanently at home an opium-eater and a 
drunkard. Delirium tremens with its attendant horrors 
turned the beloved Haworth parsonage from a home 
into a hospital. Old Mr. Bronte maintained his 
courage/ though it has been hinted that he was once 
a source of anxiety, nor did either Charlotte or Emily 
lose their nerve. Fortitude, and a certain grim con- 
tempt for weakness, that teeming parent of misery, 
became now the very atmosphere of Miss Bronte's life. 
This discipline continued till September, 1848, when 
Branwell died, and it became possible, forgetting his 
vices, "to remember only his woes." 

It was in the autumn of 1845 that Charlotte Bronte 
accidentally lighted upon a volume of her sister Emily's 

1 G., 212. 


verses. She read them, as she read everything, with 
stern good sense, and became convinced that they were 
not at all like the poetry women generally write, but 
" condensed and terse, vigorous and genuine." Charlotte 
was the publishing genius of the family, and but for her 
honest determination to get into print we should probably 
never have had verse or prose of her sister's. It took 
days to persuade Emily Bronte that her verses ought to 
be printed and sold to that public she abhorred. Anne 
Bronte, who composed easily, and had a pleasant flow of 
pretty words and tender imagery, hearing the conversation 
turn on verses, " quickly produced some of her own com- 
positions." Charlotte herself had poems by her. It was f&fc 
indeed high time they became authors, even though they \\( 
had to pay for it. Now it was they hit upon the names \ 
of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell happy names, hiding 
the secret of sex, and telling the world nothing about its 
three new poets. 

Publisher-hunting is poor sport at all seasons, depres- 
sing to the spirits and irritating for the temper; but 
when the author comes with his literary wares in one 
hand and the expenses of publication in the other, his 
path is wonderfully smoothed, and he soon holds in his 
hand his heart's desire. 

After applying to Messrs. Chambers, of Edinburgh, for 
advice as to how to proceed in such a matter, and re- 
ceiving and acting upon it, Miss Bronte put herself into 
communication, in January, 1846, with Messrs. Aylott 
and Jones, 1 of Paternoster Row, who undertook for the 

1 The memory of this firm keeps a spot green in the minds of 
" the precious" of our acquaintance, as having been the publishers 
of The Germ." 



sum of $t i os. to bring out the slender volume, 
which they duly did about the merry month of May. 

The poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell make 
a pleasant-looking little book, a i2mo of 165 pages. 
It contains, so far as I have discovered, not more 
than half-a-dozen of those misprints so maddening to 
the young author. There are sixty-one poems, nine- 
teen of Currer Bell's and twenty-one each of Ellis and 
Acton Bell's. The sisters now awaited the voice of doom, 
as pronounced by the critical journals. These organs 
were in no hurry. Only two pounds had been spent in 
advertising, and authors who do not advertise must bide 
their time. The Athenaum^ of the 4th of July, 1846, 
however, having occasion to review a batch of what is 
now called " Minor Poetry," but was then called by an 
odd misnomer " Poetry for the Million," referred to the 
little volume in kind and discriminating language. Com- 
mercially the book was a failure that is to say, enough 
copies were not sold to recoup the authors the $* ios. 
they paid to have it printed but the present cash value 
of a poem or of a volume of poems is never any test of 
its real value. Poetry stays with us ; novels, essays, and 
wares of that kind soon drop out ; for the reason that it 
is next to impossible to keep alive their tradition. We 
may remember vaguely that early in the sixties we read 
a novel whose title we have forgotten, but which was not 
at all bad, and would certainly be popular were it 
republished ; but such memories are futile. Who now 
reads "The Bachelor of the Albany"? A favourite 
poem, on the other hand, enters into our being, and we 
become centres of contagion. Where we go it goes; 


those who know us, know it. A poem needs but a 
dozen missionaries to be spread from pole to pole. 

Did we want a judgment severely truthful upon this 
little volume we should find it in the words of the eldest 
contributor: "The book was printed; it is scarcely 
known ; and all of it that merits to be known are the 
poems of Ellis Bell." 

Charlotte Bronte probably never realized what a serious 
thing it is to be a poet, or even to write poetry. She 
regarded poetry as a mode of expressing herself always 
quite open to her whenever she chose to give it the 
preference over prose. Her verses therefore are articles 
of manufacture, the poetry of commerce, and must be 
classed accordingly. They are certainly made of good 
materials sound sense, fortitude, and affection. Occa- 
sionally a friendly reader will discern traces of a happier 
mood, when she ceases to be a manufacturer, and almost 
becomes a singer. One or two of the following stanzas 
are surely good : 


WE take from life our little share, 

And say that this shall be 
A space, redeemed from toil and care, 

From tears and sadness free. 

And, haply Death unstrings his bow, 

And sorrow stands apart ; 
And for a little while we know 

The sunshine of the heart. 

But Time, though viewlessly it flies 

And slowly, will not stay ; 
Alike, through clear and clouded skies, 

It cleaves its silent way. 


Alike the bitter cup of grief, 

Alike the draught of bliss, 
Its progress leaves but moment brier 

For baffled lips to kiss. 

The sparkling draught is dried away ; 

The hour of rest is gone ; 
And urgent voices round us say, 

" Ho ! lingerer, hasten on 1 " 

And has the soul then only gained, 
From this brief time of ease, 

A moment's rest, when overstrained, 
One hurried glimpse of peace ? 

An unseen work within was plying, 

Like honey-seeking bee ; 
From flower to flower, unwearied, flying, 

Laboured one faculty : 

Thoughtful for winter's future sorrow, 

In gloom and scarcity ; 
Prescient to-day of want to-morrow, 

Toiled quiet Memory. 

And when Youth's summer day is vanished, 
And Age brings winter's stress ; 

Her stores, with hoarded sweets replenished, 
Life's evening hours will bless. 

This is not the place to speak of the poetry of Emily 
Bronte ; she, too, scarcely recked how hardly the muses 
must be served ere they will take the stammer out of 
mortal tongues ; but though the language of her verse 
often falters and halts, none the less does she here speak 
her native dialect, and utter her soul in lines to be hailed 


from afar and joyfully lodged in the human memory. It 
is hard to believe that, amongst the few purchasers of 
this little volume, half-a-dozen righteous men were not to 
be found who would, even had Ellis Bell not otherwise 
become famous, have kept alive her memory in the quiet 
nooks and truly pleasant places of literature, by dint of 
frequent repetitions of such lines as the following : 

The linnet in the rocky dells, 

The moor-lark in the air, 
The bee among the heather bells, 

That hide my lady fair : 

The wild deer browse above her breast, 

The wild birds raise their brood, 
And they, her smiles of love caressed, 

Have left her solitude ! 

I ween that when the grave's dark wall 

Did first her form retain, 
They thought their hearts could ne'er recall 

The light of joy again. 

They thought the tide of grief would flow 

Unchecked through future years ; 
But where is all their anguish now ? 

And where are all their tears ? 

Well, let them fight for honour's breath, 

Or pleasure's shade pursue ; 
The dweller in the land of death 

Is changed and careless too. 

And if their eyes should watch and weep 

Till sorrow's source were dry, 
She would not in her tranquil sleep 

Return a single sigh. 


Blow, west-wind, by the lonely mound 
And murmur, summer streams ; 

There is no need of other sound 
To soothe my lady's dreams. 

The gifts of Anne Bronte were those of the hymn- 
writer, whose object is rather to stir and set in motion 
well-defined pre-existing ideas of the readers than to 
introduce new ones. Anne Bronte's is a pathetic 
figure ; much of her life was spent timidly, working hard 
amongst strangers; she never had the hard grip of either of 
her sisters ; she was fitted only for gentle things, and yet 
she had, in the strongest measure, the literary cravings 
and aspirations of her family, and was called upon, like 
poor Ophelia, to take part in a tragedy. She was thus 
tried beyond her strength. Her two novels are failures, 
but her verses have a tender pathos of their own. Her 
last composition, having found its way into popular hymn- 
books, is perhaps at this moment the widest-known work 
of the three sisters. I refer to the lines beginning 

" I hoped that with the brave and strong." 

But from amongst the poems contributed to the little 
volume we are speaking of might be selected several of 
interest. I give one 

O God ! if this indeed be all 
That Life can show to me ; 

If on my aching brow may fall 
No freshening dew from Thee : 


If with no brighter light than this 

The lamp of hope may glow ; 
And I may only dream of bliss 

And wake to weary woe : 

If friendship's solace must decay, 

When other joys are gone ; 
And love must keep so far away, 

While I go wandering on 

Wandering and toiling without gain, 

The slave of other's will ; 
With constant care and frequent pain, 

Despised, forgotten still ; 

Grieving to look on vice and sin, 

Yet powerless to quell 
The silent current from within, 

The outward torrent's swell. 

While all the good I would impart, 

The feelings I would share, 
Are driven backward to my heart, 

And turned to wormwood there. 

If clouds must ever keep from sight 

The glories of the sun ; 
And I must suffer winter's blight 

Ere summer is begun. 

If Life must be so full of care, 

Then call me soon to Thee, 
Or give me strength enough to bear 

My load of misery. 


CHARLOTTE BRONTE never regarded herself as 
a poet. It was as a novelist, or, as she would 
have put it, "a writer of tales," that she hoped for 
success. All three sisters had a story in manuscript 
before the publication of their poems, which latter they 
regarded but 'as a preliminary venture to see which way 
the wind blew. Emily Bronte had, by this time, written 
" Wuthering Heights"; Anne Bronte had finished "Agnes 
Grey"; and Charlotte " The Professor." Over these three 
very different stories the sisters had many discussions and 
talks in their old home robbed now of joy, and hard 
put to it as they were for hope. " The Professor " was 
despatched on his dreary rounds. It was rejected by 
publisher after publisher, and, hateful sight ! was wont to 
reappear at Haworth addressed to " Mr. Currer Bell, care 
of Miss Bronte" denied with another refusal. Miss 
Bronte was far too downright a person ever to adopt the 
surely not dishonest practice of the disappointed, but 
wily author, who is careful, before sending off the child 
of his brains on a fresh voyage of adventure, to obliterate 
all tokens of the disastrous trip from which it has but 
just returned. Not she, indeed ! The poor " Professor " 


carried with him to .every new place the record of his 
past failures. This surely was not to obey the injunction, 
" Be ye wise as serpents ! " 

Mr. Bronte's sight had now so suffered from cataract 
that he was nearly blind, and an operation was sug- 
gested. Charlotte and Emily took the matter up, with 
their accustomed good sense and vigour. They went to 
Manchester ; discovered an oculist ; took lodgings for 
their father, to which, under Charlotte's care, he was 
removed in August, 1846. The operation was per- 
formed, and successfully. On the very morning of it 
" The Professor " x turned up, rejected once more. Then 
it was that Charlotte Bronte began " Jane Eyre," not in 
haste or anger, as if to prove to the world that it was 
wrong in thus snubbing a daughter of genius, but slowly 
and clearly, waiting for the moments of true perception, 
and writing always to say something. She afterwards 
told Mrs. Gaskell that it was not every day she could 
write, and that sometimes months elapsed before she felt 
she had anything to add to that portion of her story 
which was already written. She was a true artist in 
words that is, careful in their selection ruthless in 
their rejection, and a constant student of their effect. 
She thus acquired style, and her sentences, strung 
together as on an electric chain, quiver under us as 
we hurry over them in pursuit of their story. The ways 
of authors vary. Miss Bronte is said never to have 

1 This tale remained in manuscript the rest of Miss Bronte's life, 
but was published after her death in two volumes. It has au 
interest, particularly as showing the restricted nature of its author's 
invention, but as a story it is ineffective and unpleasant. 


written down a sentence until she clearly understood 
what she wanted to say, had deliberately chosen the 
words and arranged them in right order. Then she 
wrote them down on scraps of paper held against a 
piece of pasteboard, close up to her short-sighted eyes. 
Her finished manuscript she copied from these pencilled 

The first glimpse we get of the green-eyed heroine of 
the famous novel is when we find her creator assuring 
Emily and Anne Bronte that they were wrong, even 
morally wrong, in making their heroines beautiful as a 
matter of course ; and, when they replied that it was im- 
possible to make a heroine acceptable to the public on 
any other terms, Charlotte's answer was ready : " I will 
prove 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." If Miss Eyre's ugliness was a little 
too much emphasized, we shall now know why. It is 
pleasant to think that during the same period Thackeray 
was working away at his green-eyed heroine the scan- 
dalous, delightful super-moral Becky. These two damsels, 
now lying perdue amongst their authors' papers, were 
destined to take the world by storm together, and to 
prove how willing that much-abused planet is to accept 
any heroine, though she be as ugly as Charles Lamb's 
Mrs. Conrady, with shout and song ; provided only she 
be not, at the same time, as insipid as barley-water and 
as tasteless as gelatine. 

Miss Bronte, in her determination to write something 
that should succeed, abated nothing of her household 
or parochial duties. She was a diligent Sunday-school 


teacher, and tolerably efficient female curate, sharing the 
labours of those male curates whom she handled so 
roughly in her second novel. Though a parson's 
daughter, and destined to be a parson's wife, she cer- 
tainly belonged to the small band of anti-clerical women. 
She was very unsympathetic towards curates. She cruelly 
writes to a friend : " I have no desire at all to see 
your curate." When three of them came in one day to 
the parsonage to have a friendly glass, or rather cup of 
tea, she describes them as " rushing in," and adds " If 
they had behaved quietly and decently, I would have 
served them out their tea in peace ; but they began 
glorifying themselves and abusing the Dissenters in such 
a manner that my temper lost its balance, and I pro- 
nounced a few sentences sharply and rapidly which struck 
them all dumb. Papa was greatly horrified also, but I 
don't regret it." 

In 1846 the clergyman who, eight years afterwards, 
became her husband, was a curate at Ha worth, and 
a report was then spread that the two were engaged 
to be married. Miss Bronte denied it as follows : " I 
need scarcely say that never was rumour more un- 
founded. They (the curates) regard me as an old maid ; 
and I regard them, one and all, as highly uninteresting, 
narrow, and unattractive specimens of the coarser sex." z 
Is it permissible to wonder whether Rachel ever took 
this view of Jacob during any period of his long court- 
ship ? 

In the meantime, "The Professor" was still on his 
travels. "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" had 
1 Reid, 72. 



found a publisher in the sense of finding a man who 
said he would publish them but no proofs had arrived. 
By the middle of 1847, "Jane Eyre" was nearly 
finished, and, as it happened, owed her introduction to 
the great publishing house of Smith and Elder to the 
unfortunate "Professor," who, just at this time, was 
rejected by that firm, but in terms of kindness and con- 
sideration. " The Professor " was only in two volumes, 
and the publishers said that any work in three volumes 
by the same author would receive careful attention. To 
some pampered children of literary fortune such a refusal 
might be accounted a blow, but to Charlotte Bronte it 
seemed like a caress. On the 24th of August she wrote 
to Messrs. Smith and Elder as follows : 

"I now send you per rail a MS. entitled, 'Jane Eyre,' 
a novel in three volumes, by Currer Bell. I find I can- 
not prepay the carriage of the parcel, as money for that 
purpose is not received at the small station-house where 
it is left. If, when you acknowledge the receipt of the 
MS., you would have the goodness to mention the 
amount charged on delivery, I will immediately transmit 
it in postage stamps. It is better in future to address, 
* Mr. Currer Bell, under cover to Miss Bronte, Haworth, 
Bradford, Yorkshire,' as there is a risk of letters otherwise 
directed not reaching me at present. To save trouble, 
I enclose an envelope." x 

The book was immediately accepted. It is a vulgar 
error, loosely circulated in conversation, . that "Jane 
1 G., 245. 


Eyre " went the round of the publishers, and was at last 
printed in despair by Messrs. Smith and Elder. That 
publishers are as puppies blind to real merit is an 
allegation I shall never be at the pains to dispute ; but 
in a biography, however meagre, of Charlotte Bronte, 
the truth must be told, even though it offends those who 
are totally indifferent to facts, except so far as they 
support theories such as the one above quoted about the 
eyesight of publishers. 

There was never any doubt at all about " Jane Eyre." 
Her debut was triumphant from the very first, and surely 
it was time the pale horizon of Miss Bronte's life was s 
flushed with the rosy tints of a first success. 

On October 16, 1847, "Jane Eyre" was published in 
three volumes. An early copy was sent to Thackeray, 
who at once read it, and heartily acknowledged its ex- 
traordinary merit. The reviews were not remarkable at 
first, but " Jane Eyre " needed no puffing. It went of 
itself, and, in Mrs. Gaskell's words, " early in December 
the rush began for copies." 


IT is now hard upon forty years since "Jane Eyre" 
was first published. It ought therefore to be possible 
to assign to her something like her proper place in the 
order of literary precedence, but " this Editor " declines 
so delicate a task. It is easy to understand the great 
interest and excitement such a tale at once created. 
Most books are born dead, and it is always a startling 
moment when you first discover that you are holding an 
exception in your hands. " Jane Eyre " was a live coal 
dropped by some unknown hand from some unknown 
quarter amongst the literary coteries and "log-rollers." 
There was no mistake about it, here was a book at first 
hand. " Reality, deep, significant, reality, is its character- 
istic" wrote Mr. Lewes in fraser. It is a book, cried 
a critic in The Atlas, " to make the pulses gallop and the 
heart beat." And so it was. The activity of a book of 
this description is at first always somewhat abnormal and 
ill-regulated. In a world of torpidities any rapid-moving 
thing is hailed somewhat extravagantly. Jane Eyre 
graces and Rochester rudenesses had an undesirable 
vogue, even as Byronisms and Wertherisms and other 
extinct nonsense had before them. This boisterous sort 


of life is not of long endurance. Mr. Rochester has 
long ceased to "thrill the girls" who, though they yet 
love a rake and like him middle-aged, require him to 
be dished up somewhat differently from Jane Eyre's 
"master." Jane herself has joined the pale ranks of 
discrowned heroines. We can now regard her very 
dispassionately indeed, even as she did herself when she 
painted her own picture, and wrote under it " Portrait of 
a Governess, disconnected, poor and plain." But the 
memories of a time when it was different with us, when, 
with The Atlas critic, the pulses galloped and the 
heart beat, greatly interfere with the exercise of a critical 
judgment upon this magnificent book. A certain for- 
lornness, a desertedness now seems distilled from its 
pages. Can it be that "Jane Eyre" is growing old? 
There is of course an alternative possibility. 

How anybody can have been in doubt as to the sex 
of Currer Bell seems surprising to us who know. If ever 
there was a woman's woman it was Jane Eyre, and as for 
Fairfax Rochester man though he be in every bone of 
his body he is yet man described by woman. However, 
the very intelligent critic who wrote for The Examiner 
felt no doubt that Currer Bell was a man. The detest- 
able hypocrite who wrote the review in The Quarterly^ 
to which further reference will have to be made, 
was too clever or too well-informed for this error of 
judgment, for although the base creature, quoting with 
an odious vulgarity the lady whom he said he always 
consulted on such matters, asserts that it is almost im- 
possible to believe that any woman, writing of another 
woman, called up hurriedly in the night, as Jane Eyre 



was when her master was set on fire, would have 
described her as putting on her " frock " instead of her 
dressing-gown, he only does so to give point, if point 
there be, to his libel, that if Currer Bell should turn out 
to be a woman she must be one of those who had for- 
feited all claim to the society of the respectable of her 
own sex. From which elaborate sneer, it would seem 
to have been the opinion of this critic that feminine 
substitutes for the diurnal frock were peculiarly the 
undress garb of the wives of Quarterly reviewers and 
that stamp of person, whereas, in reality, as one may safely 
assert without quoting any authority whatever, they are 
articles of general use. 

Mr. Rochester occasionally said very good things, and 
he never gave his "paid subordinate" better advice than 
when he said to her, " Keep to yourself, and don't venture 
on generalities of which you are intensely ignorant." Sc 
long as Jane Eyre keeps to herself and describes the 
passion of her own heart, she is great, inimitable, unsur- 
passable. When she goes out of herself and ventures on 
such generalities as "Baroness Ingram of Ingram Park" 
and her big daughter, the queenly Blanche, who, speak- 
ing to Sam the footman, says " Cease that chatter, Block- 
head, and do my bidding," she no doubt exhibits a far- 
reaching ignorance. But still Genius like Chanty should 
begin at home, and it is something to know the secrets of 
the human heart. Who so well as Charlotte Bronte has 
described the exquisite fitness and reciprocity of love ? 
When Rochester and Jane are talking together, how- 
ever much you may demur to the tone of their conversa- 
tion or object to the subjects they talk about you 


nevertheless feel throughout how keenly they are en- 
joying it, how every word is telling upon the sensitiveness 
of the heart to which it is addressed, and how all that 
they say and all that they do in each other's presence, 
is bringing them nearer one to the other, and thus 
involving the catastrophe of the story, which is not so 
much told as made to happen under your eyes. To 
compel the reader thus to share the emotions of the 
two characters and to be bandied backwards and for- 
wards from Jane to Rochester, from Rochester to Jane 
is very high art indeed, and entitles the novel to im- 
posing rank amongst the love stories of our language. 

The subject of love stories is one about which even 
good people (and for those alone I write) differ most 
lamentably. That admirable critic, Mr. Leslie Stephen, 
considers "Henrietta Temple" a good love story, and 
yet there are many who think that if " Henrietta Temple " 
be a good love story, the sooner truth and genuine 
feeling are left out of the comedy of life the better ; since 
they can discover no trace of either in Mr. Disraeli's 
worst novel. This difference between Mr. Stephen and 
some deserving persons is only mentioned to show how 
difficult the subject is, and how impossible it is to hope 
for any general consensus of opinion on a theme into 
which everybody insists upon importing his own trum- 
pery experience. 

That there is a great deal of Charlotte Bronte in Jane 

Eyre is certain. There is the same restless, imaginative, 
e, passionate nature imprisoned nn^ pr n plain 

and non-attractive exterioj; and put to hnrd s pr v 1>c ^ 
amongst meagre surroundings. There is the same 

104 LIFE OF 

ruthless handling of illusions, the almost savage stock- 
taking of merits and accomplishments. Miss Bronte was 
fond of putting on the black cap and sentencing herself 
to extermination. So was Jane. 

" I pronounced judgment to this effect That a 
greater fool than Jane Eyre never breathed the breath 
of life, that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited on 
sweet lies and swallowed poison as if it were nectar." 

And again : 

" Poor stupid dupe ! Could not self-interest make 
you wiser? You repeated to yourself this morning the 
brief scene of last night? Cover your face and be 
ashamed ! He said something in praise of your eyes 
did he? Blind puppy! Open these bleared eye-lids and 
look on your own accursed senselessness." 

This is a little too bad. Without going the length of 
the fine gentleman who never named his own name 
without raising his hat, there is surely an obligation to be 
decently polite even to yourself. 

J$Q- too in Janc'o way of-4alk-thre_Js_ much that resem- 
bles Charlotte Bronte's own experiences. A certain / 
fierceness underlyin^a^f^stminM-afid-^ven occasionally^*^ 
prim surface-manner. In fact, one feels all through the 
book that whatever Jane did, Charlotte would, or at 
least could, have done. 

Rochester was describing her as well as Adele's 
governess when he said 

"Precisely: I see you do. I see genuine content- 
ment in your gait and mien, your eye and face, when 


you are helping me and pleasing me working for me, 
and with me, in, as you characteristically say, ' all that is 
right'.'' for if I bid you do what you thought wrong, 
there would be no light-footed running, no neat-handed 
alacrity, no lively glance and animated complexion. My 
friend would then turn to me, quiet and pale, and would 
say, ' No, sir ; that is impossible : I cannot do it, 
because it is wrong ;' and would become immutable as 
a fixed star. Well, you too have power over me, and 
may injure me ; yet I dare not show you where I am 
vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you 
should transfix me at once." 

The crowning merit of " Jane Eyre " is its energy a 
delightful quality at any time, but perhaps especially so 
just now. Some of our novelists make their characters 
walk through their parts after the languid fashions lately 
prevailing in the ball-room, and this proving irritating to 
some others of robuster frame of mind, has caused these 
latter, out of sheer temper, to make their heroines skip 
about like so many Kitty Clovers on the village green. 
But Jane Eyre neither languishes in drawing-rooms nor 
sits dangling her ankles upon gates, but is always 
interesting, eloquent, vehement. 

s " 'I grieve to leave Thornfield: I love Thornfield : I 
love it because I have lived in it a full and delightful 
life, momentarily at least. I have not been trampled 
on. I have not been petrified. I have not been buried 
with inferior minds, and excluded from every glimpse of 
communion with what is bright and energetic and high. 
I have talked, face to face, with what I reverence \ with 



what I delight in, with an original, a vigorous, an 
expanded mind. I have known you, Mr. Rochester ; 
and it strikes me with terror and anguish to feel I 
absolutely must be torn from you for ever. I see the 
necessity of departure ; and it is like looking on the 
necessity of death.' 

"'Where do you see the necessity?' he asked, suddenly. 

" * Where ? You, sir, have placed it before me.' 

" c In what shape ? ' 

" ' In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful 
woman, your bride.' 

" ' My bride ! What bride ? I have no bride ! ' 

" ' But you will have.' 

" ' Yes ; I will ! I will ! ' He set his teeth. 

" * Then I must go : you have said it yourself.' 

" ' No : you must stay ! I swear it and the oath shall 
be kept.' 

" ' I tell you I must go ! ' I retorted, roused to some- 
thing like passion. ' Do you think I can stay to become 
nothing to you ? Do you think I am an automaton ? 
a machine without feelings ? and can bear to have my 
morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of 
living water dashed from my cup ? Do you think, 
because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am 
soulless and heartless ? You think wrong ! I have as 
much soul as you, and full as much heart ! And if 
God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, 
I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it 
is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you L/ 
now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, or 
even of mortal flesh : 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 ! ' 
11 ' As we are ! ' repeated Mr. Rochester." 

The dramatized version of " Jane Eyre " did not, I 
believe, find much public favour, but those who 
remember the late Mr. Kelly in the part of Rochester 
will probably agree in thinking that it was a manly part 
played after a manly fashion by a most manly actor. 

Characters in novels are f era natures, that is, anybody 
may always criticize them, and indeed everybody who 
reads about them cannot help criticizing them, whether 
he will or not. We like or we dislike, and we owe it to 
ourselves to have the courage of our opinions, and should 
never be afraid of making them known. For Rochester 
the lover I have an inordinate admiration. Rochester 
the man I am ready to hand over to the tormentors. 

The crudities of the book, both of plot and manner, 
will not surprise those who have been great readers of 
novels. It is astonishing how such things cling to and 
mar the work of men and women who have not the 
excuses Miss Bronte had. There was Mr. G. H. Lewes, 
who took upon himself, in a kindly spirit, to lecture Miss 
Bronte on her art, and received from her a reply, which 
he considered "cavalier," and who is always, whatever 
may be thought of his literary merits, reckoned to have 
been an airy and accomplished worldling. What does 
he do but write a novel in three volumes, called " Rose, 
Blanche, and Violet," and introduce into it a character 
whose sin of blasphemy might have been forgiven him, 
had not his favourite expletive, iterated and reiterated, 

108 LIFE OF 

not once nor twice, but dozens of times up and down the 
unhappy pages of all three volumes been, " Damn my 
whiskers ! " Is it possible to imagine an oath more 
agonizingly vulgar, or more mirthlessly absurd ? 

Miss Bronte's errors lie on the surface, and can be 
easily removed. Half-a-dozen deletions and as many 
wisely-tempered alterations, and the work of correction 
would be done in any one of her novels. I am far from 
saying they would then be faultless, but at least they 
would be free from those faults which make the fortunes 
of small critics and jokes for the evening papers. 

A novel like " Jane Eyre," fresh from the hands of its 
creator unmistakably alive speaking a bold, uncon- 
ventional language, recognizing love even in a woman's 
heart as something which does not always wait to be 
asked before springing into being, was sure to disturb, 
those who worship the goddess Propriety. Prim women, t 
living hardly on the interest of "a little hoard of 
maxims," men judiciously anxious to confine their own 
female folk to a diet of literary lentils, read "Jane 
Eyre " with undisguised alarm. There was an outrageous__ 
frankness about the bpok a. brushing away of phrases 
and formulas calculated to horrify those who, to do them 
justice, generally recognize an enemy when they see him. 
" Jane Eyre " created a most decided draught in certain 
stuffy quarters, and the fiat went forth that it must 
be crushed in the dread columns of The Quarterly 
Review. Who wrote the article in the December 
number for 1849 of that periodical is not publicly known, 
but the article itself is worthy of a little attention. The 
early part of it is devoted to a review of Vanity Fair of 


a laudatory character, Becky Sharp receiving her due 
meed of praise, being hailed as a charming creature, 
quite outside the invitation of the gospel or the lash of 
the law. Mr. Thackeray's efforts thus rewarded, the 
pious writer disentangles himself from the arms of Becky, 
and approaches Jane. His tone alters. He becomes as 
different from his former self as is a magistrate on the 
bench from his worship after dinner. He is not, however, 
without discrimination. He at once pronounces the 
book remarkable, nor as it proceeds is he impervious to 
its tragic power nay, he actually recognizes its moral 
sublimity, and grows almost enthusiastic over the trium- 
phant outcome of the struggle in Jane's soul when 
Rochester, whom she loves to the finest fibre of her 
nature, betrays no<- h*r love, b"t hpr trnsf. He knew 
well enough that hardly anywhere in English fiction has 
the dignity of womanhood been more nobly vindicated, 
upheld, and established, than in the book that lay before 
him ; yet mindful of his bargain, true to his guineas, 
he sought by circulating what he himself calls "the 
gossip of Mayfair," to destroy the reputation and fair 
fame of the author. The most striking feature of this tale- 
bearer and scandal-monger is his pleasing piety. Let us 
listen to him for awhile 

" We have said that this was a picture of a natural 
heart. This, to our view, is the great and crying mis- 
chief of the book. Jane Eyre is throughout the per- 
sonification of an unregenerate and undisciplined spirit 
the more dangerous to exhibit from that prestige of 
principle and self-control which is liable to dazzle the eye 



too much for it to observe the insufficient and unsound 
foundation on which it rests. It is true Jane does right, 
and exerts great moral strength, but it is the strength of 
a mere heathen mind, which is a law unto itself. No Chris- 
tian grace is perceptible upon her. She has inherited in 
fullest measure the worst sin of our fallen nature, the sin 
of pride. Jane Eyre is proud, and therefore she is 
ungrateful too. It pleased God to make her an orphan, 
friendless and penniless, and yet she thanks nobody, 
least of all the friends, companions, and instructors of 
her helpless youth, for the food and raiment, the care 
and education vouchsafed to her till she was capable in 
mind and fit to provide for herself. Altogether the auto- 
biography of Jane Eyre is pre-eminently an anti-Chris- 
tian composition. There is throughout it a murmuring 
against the comforts of the rich and the privations of the 
poor, which, so far as each individual is concerned, is a 
murmuring against God's appointment. There is a proud 
and perpetual asserting of the rights of man for which 
we find no authority in God's Word or in His providence. 
There is that pervading tone of ungodly discontent 
which is at once the most prominent and the most subtle 
evil which the law and the pulpit, which all civilized 
society has, in fact, at the present day to contend with. 
We do not hesitate to say that the tone of mind and 
thought which has overthrown authority and violated 
every code human and divine abroad, and fostered 
Chartism and rebellion at home, is the same which has 
written 'Jane Eyre.' " 

After reading this portentous diatribe, it is no longer 


difficult to believe in' the " black marble clergyman " in 
" Jane Eyre." Indeed of the two, Mr. Brocklehurst and 
the reviewer, the former is the more respectable. Hear 

" c Ladies/ said he, turning to his family ; ' Miss 
Temple, teachers, and children, you all see this 

" Of course they did ; for I felt their eyes directed like 
burning-glasses against my scorched skin. 

" ' You see she is yet young; you observe she possesses 
the ordinary form of childhood; God has graciously 
given her the shape that he has given to all of us ; no 
signal deformity points her out as a marked character. 
Who would think that the Evil One had already found a 
servant and agent in her ? Yet such, I grieve to say, is 
the case.' 

" A pause in which I began to steady the palsy of my 
nerves, and to feel that the Rubicon was passed ; and 
that the trial, no longer to be shirked, must be firmly 

" * My dear children,' pursued the black marble clergy- 
. man, with pathos, ' this is a sad, a melancholy occasion ; 
for it becomes my duty to warn you, that this girl, who 
might be one of God's own lambs, is a little castaway : 
not a member of the true flock, but evidently an 
interloper and an alien. You must be on your guard 
against her ; you must shun her example : if necessary, 
avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, and 
shut her out from your converse. Teachers, you must 
watch her : keep your eyes on her movements, weigh well 



her words, scrutinize her actions, punish her body to 
save her soul : if, indeed, such salvation be possible, for 
(my tongue falters while I tell it) this girl, this child, the 
native of a Christian land, worse than many a little 
heathen who says its prayers to Brahma and kneels 
before Juggernaut this girl is a liar ! ' 

" Now came a pause of ten minutes ; during which I, 
by this time in perfect possession of my wits, observed 
all the female Brocklehursts produce their pocket-hand- 
kerchiefs and apply them to their optics, while the elderly 
lady swayed herself to and fro, and the two younger 
ones whispered, ' How shocking ! ' 

" Mr. Brocklehurst resumed. 

" 'This I learned from her benefactress; from the pious 
and charitable lady who adopted her in her orphan state, 
reared her as her own daughter, and whose kindness, 
whose generosity the unhappy girl repaid by an ingratitude 
so bad, so dreadful, that at last her excellent patroness was 
obliged to separate her from her own young ones, fearful 
lest her vicious example should contaminate their purity ; 
she has sent her here to be healed, even as the Jews of old 
sent their diseased to the troubled Pool of Bethesda; 
and teachers, superintendent, I beg of you not to allow 
the waters to stagnate round her.' " 

If it be said that such nauseous and malignant 
hypocrisy as that of The Quarterly reviewer ought not 
to be republished, the answer is that it is impossible to 
rejoice with due fervour over exterminated monsters 
until we have gazed in museums upon their direful 
features. It is a matter of congratulation that such a 


review as the one we have quoted from is now impossible. 
It is also convenient that the name of the reviewer is 
unknown, so that no one can arise and say, "I loved 
that man." 

It was judgments like those of this reviewer that 
tempted people to foreswear respectability altogether 
to break up house and live in the tents of Bohemia 
since remaining respectable and keeping house exposed 
them to the risk of meeting, actually meeting, the reviewer 
himself and other members of his family. 

Miss Bronte was far too heroic a soul to be troubled 
by any such temptations. Her character was in no 
man's keeping. Sorely wounded as she was by male 
ruffianism and female ineptitude, she but withdrew 
within herself, confident of her own purity and rectitude. 
She was accustomed to judge herself with an almost 
terrible severity. Could she but satisfy herself, she 
was satisfied. To outrage decency, to disregard the 
rules of becoming behaviour, would have shocked Miss 
Bronte far more than ever it would her hypocritical 
reviewer, for whose morality I should have been sorry to 
have gone bail. When some one had once bad taste 
enough and ignorance enough to come up to Miss 
Bronte and say lightly, " You know we have both of us 
written naughty books," she sustained a shock from 
which she was long recovering. The judgments of the 
world in this matter are capricious and to be disregarded. 
Charlotte Bronte had strength enough of mind to do so. 
She could exclaim 

" 'Tis not the babbling of an idle world, 
Where praise and censure are at random hurled, 



That can the meanest of my thoughts control, 
Or shake one settled purpose of my soul. 
Free and at large might their wild curses roam, 
If all, if all alas ! were well at home." x 

Certainly self-control is the most majestic of the virtues, 
1 Churchill, " The Conference," 221-6, 



THE law of anonymity the sisters had laid down for 
themselves was scrupulously observed by Currer Bell, 
who was thus debarred from all outward and visible signs of 
her great success. She told her father, from whom she 
had but few secrets, that she had not only written a book 
any Bronte could do that but printed one, which 
had attained the honour of a flattering review. So 
saying, she gave Mr. Bronte a copy of " Jane Eyre " and 
left him alone to his reading and reflections. At tea 
time he observed, " Girls, do you know Charlotte has 
written a book, and it is much better than likely." But 
outside the family nobody was let into the secret. This 
policy, adopted in pursuance of mutual promises given 
by the sisters one to the other, was probably not a wise 
one. Charlotte Bronte, though a shy woman, was not by 
any means a shy author. Her courage was dauntless, 
and she had none of that diseased vanity which causes 
some writers to abstain from reading hostile criticisms 
and to live wrapped up in their own conceit of themselves, 
a garment objectionable indeed, but not on the score 
of scantiness. Miss Bronte would have been all the 
better for publicity, and for intercourse with the world in 



which she was ever interested. Such intercourse with it 
as she subsequently had did her nothing but good, for 
she was one of those rare spirits who can enjoy the, 
world and condemn it at the same time, which is tht 
true eclecticism. But her enjoyment, it must be admitted,\ 
was of a moderate and subdued character. However 
this may be, she remained shut up at Haworth, whilst 
everybody was wondering whether Currer Bell was man 
or woman, who and what. L . 

Her sisters' venture was published by Mr. Newby in 
December, 1847, at l ^e ti me when the second edition of 
"Jane Eyre" was passing through the press. Never 
were two tales more unequally yoked together than 
"Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey." The latter 
story is conceived and written in the pious plaintive vein 
proper to Anne Bronte and the columns of a religious 
newspaper ; but none the less its pages introduce us to 
a young lady who swears nearly as lustily as Hareton 
Earnshaw in the other tale. This mixture of the man- 
ners of a nursery governess, and the language of a groom 
must have proved puzzling to the reader. Of " Wuther- 
ing Heights " this is not the place to speak. Well might 
Douglas Jerrold assure the reading public they had never 
read anything like it before, and despite its imitators, we 
may safely add or since. The extraordinary charm of 
the book lies in its desperate sincerity. Emily Bronte 
seems never to have entertained the least doubt about 
her characters, horrible and unnatural though they are ; 
and the book is consequently free of the slightest taint 
of affectation or straining after effect. "Wuthering 
Heights " is certainly a book one is tempted to over- 


praise ; but as this has been frequently done of late by 
writers of considerable reputation, it is unnecessary to 
follow in their steps. 

But only one of the three sisters was destined to know 
success. "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" 
found no acceptance. The Quarterly reviewer already 
referred to spoke of Heathcliff and Catherine not 
without a hideous insight though all a-squint, as being 
Rochester and Jane in a purely animal state, and then 
proceeded to observe in his pleasant fashion, that it was 
quite unnecessary to warn his readers against a book never 
likely to find its way into a decent household. No 
days such a testimony proceeding from such a quarter 
would make the fortune of any book, but it was different 
in 1848. 

The public, muddle-headed at the best of times, and 
always pathetically anxious to be set right about trifles, 
grew puzzled over Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, and showed 
some disposition to believe that there were not three 
Bells, but only one, and that " Wuthering Heights " and 
"Agnes Grey" were earlier works of the author of 
" Jane Eyre." 

This view did not meet with favour at Haworth Par- 
sonage. No one of the three liked it. Charles Lamb 
did not like having Capel Lofft's letters, signed C.L., 
attributed to him; and I have no doubt Capel Lofft 
would have disowned the essay on " Roast Pig " with 
alacrity, and possibly warmth. When the sisters heard 
that business complications were actually arising in 
consequence of this confusion of identities, they deter- 
mined to prove their separate individualities by ocular 

118 LIFE OF 

demonstration, and accordingly Currer and Acton put 
themselves, one Friday night in July, 1848, into the 
London train, and Saturday morning found them break- 
fasting in the Chapter Coffee House, Paternoster Row, 
well known to Charlotte Bronte and all readers of 
"Villette," but now seen for the first time by Anne, who 
had never before been in London. 

After breakfast and what they called "a tidy," 
they set off on foot to Cornhill to prove their exist- 

Charlotte had with her Messrs. Smith and Elder's last 
letter addressed, " Mr. Currer Bell, care of Miss Bronte, 
Haworth." Mr. Smith received them, and bore the 
communication that Currer Bell was a woman, and a 
little one, with a publisher's equanimity, and besought the 
sisters to stop in London for awhile and be lionized. 
Charlotte Bronte had no desire to be looked at, but she 
would gladly have met two or three of her favourite 
authors. She stuck, however, to her bargain with her 
sisters, and during the few days Anne and she were in 
London they were known as the Miss Browns. They 
were introduced to the Smith family, went to the opera, 
to church, to the Royal Academy, and the National 
Gallery, and on the following Tuesday, laden with books 
tired and jaded they returned home. 

At the parsonage things wore the same gloomy, 
distressful aspect. Branwell was there, sleeping most of 
the day, wakeful and troublesome at night. Anne's 
health was so feeble as to mark her out for an early 
death. Emily's cough became a cause of great anxiety 
and dread, but, says her sister, " It is useless to question 


her, you get no answers. It is still more useless to 
recommend remedies, they are never adopted." 

On Sunday morning, September 14, 1848, Branwell \/^- 
died, standing, so it is said, to show his strength of will. ' 
He had been in the village two days before his death, so 
his end was sudden. His mind, wrote his eldest sister, 
" had undergone the peculiar change which frequently 
precedes death, the calm of better feelings rilled it, a 
return of natural affection marked his last moments." 

BranwelPs death could be nothing but a relief to the ,r\ 
home his habits had disgraced. Once dead it was J 
possible to remember what he had been, to think of / 
what he might have been, and to allow the affections to \ , 
cluster round the memories of a generous boyhood. 

Success had at last crowned the faithful efforts of at ~~ 
least one of the sisters. There was no need now to 
worry about the future, to drive up to a strange house 
and be introduced to half-a-dozen of other people's 
children as the " new governess." No ! The hobgoblins 
of poverty and dependence were at last driven from the 
door. The golden gates had swung open. 

But the Brontes were too full of sad experience and 
bitter forebodings to forget that there is a part cast for 
death in every play. They dreamt of no Indian summer 
at Haworth. Immediately after her brother's death 
Emily became very ill. Her sister's description is still 
heart rending 

" My sister Emily first declined. The details of her 
illness are deep-branded in my memory, but to dwell on 
them, either in thought or narrative, is not in my power. 



Never in all her life had she lingered over any task that 
lay before her, and she did not linger now. She sank 
rapidly. She made haste to leave us. Yet, while 
physically she perished, mentally she grew stronger than 
we had yet known her. Day by day, when I saw with 
what a front she met suffering, I looked on her with an 
anguish of wonder and love. I have seen nothing like 
it ; but, indeed, I have never seen her parallel in any- 
thing. Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her 
nature stood alone. The awful point was, that while full 
of ruth for others, on herself she had no pity ; the 
spirit was inexorable to the flesh ; from the trembling 
hand, the unnerved limbs, the faded eyes, the same 
service was exacted as they had rendered in health. To 
stand by and witness this, and not dare to remonstrate, 
was a pain no words can render. 

* ' Two cruel months of hope and fear passed pain- 
fully by, and the day came at last when the terrors and 
pains of death were to be undergone by this treasure, 
which had grown dearer and dearer to our hearts as it 
wasted before our eyes. Towards the decline of that 
day, we had nothing of Emily but her mortal remains as 
consumption left them. She died December 19, 1848." J 

Nor was it possible for either the father or elder 
daughter to disguise from themselves the fact that Anne 
Bronte must soon follow her favourite sister. Her fate 
indeed had been the earlier sealed of the two. Anne's 
illness lasted longer, and was borne with greater con- 
sideration for the feelings of others than marked her 

1 Preface to new edition of " Wuthering Heights." 


sister's, but with equal fortitude and brighter hope. She 
died at Scarborough on May 28, 1849. 

We have now nearly worked our way through the 
tablet on the right-hand side of the communion-table. 
Old Mr. Bronte and his daughter Charlotte were left 
alone. > 



ANE EYRE " was no sooner published in October, 
1847, than "Shirley" was begun. The events 
upon which the story turns had long been in her 
mind, and the stirring tales Miss Wooler had told her in 
the old Roehead days seemed to crave release from her 
memory. So with an ancient file of Leeds Mercuries 
before her, and her reputation as the author of " Jane 
Eyre" something "between a hindrance and a help" 
behind her, she began to write her second novel. 

A highly imaginative, and yet earnest and practical, 
person like Charlotte Bronte must find novel-writing and 
life-living an odd pair to drive side by side. Before she 
had finished the first volume of "Shirley" Branwell was 
dead. Before she had finished the third, Emily and 
Anne were dead. But she worked on, and "Shirley" 
was published in October, 1849, J ust two years after 
"Jane Eyre." 

She had taken great pains with it, but was far from 
satisfied with the result. " My expectations," she writes, 
" are very low and my anticipations somewhat sad and 

"Shirley" has, and deserves to have, many friends, 
and contains passages of great daring and beauty ; but, 


as a whole, it must be pronounced (by me) inferior alike to ^ 
its predecessor and its successor. It lacks the splendid \ 
unity of " Jane Eyre," the uniqueness of " Villette." It 
is a series of portraits and exteriors all good, some 
superb; but to pursue the metaphor, one walks through the 
book as through a picture gallery, always ready to go on, 
but never averse to turn back, since continuity of 
impression is of necessity impossible. 

But it would be very foolish to turn back all the 
same, for though the story as a story is not interesting, 
and the male creatures very Brontesque indeed, the 
book is full of scenery, atmosphere, and "Jane Eyre" 
philosophy of the usually bracing type. There is a 
roughness about the tone of the writing which re- 
pelled a good many decent people, Charles Kingsley 
amongst the number, though whether it was the man or 
the clergyman in him that " Shirley" offended is doubtful. 
The curates are certainly somewhat savagely depicted. 
A little kindness is never a dangerous thing. If it be 
true of the originals of Mr. Donne, Mr. Sweeting, and 
Mr. Malone, that, recognizing their own portraits, they 
were accustomed, during the remainder at all events of 
their unbeneficed days, to call each other playfully by the 
names their too critical neighbour had bestowed upon 
them, they cannot have been very far from the kingdom 
of heaven. But Miss Bronte was a ruthless being never "\ 
afraid to strike, or unwilling to^wound, what she disliked. )-T 
I confess I have no admiratJo~n~for the following passage 
which occurs in one of her letters : 

" The very curates, poor fellows, show no resentment : 


each characteristically finds solace for his own wounds in 
crowing over his brethren. Mr. Donne was, at first, a 
little disturbed ; for a week or two he was in disquietude, 
but he is now soothed down ; only yesterday I had the 
pleasure of making him a comfortable cup of tea, and 
seeing him sip it with revived complacency. It is a 
curious fact that, since he read * Shirley,' he has come 
to the house oftener than ever, and been remarkably 
meek and assiduous to please. Some people's natures 
are veritable enigmas : I quite expected to have had one 
good scene at least with him ; but as yet nothing of the 
sort has occurred." x 

If ever there was a book, which takes its readers out 
into the " fresh blowing airs " and treats them to what the 
Duchess of Malfi, calls the " wild benefit of nature," it 
is "Shirley." Its author's taste lies no doubt in the 
direction of storm, wind, and rain. Her glass seems 
generally to stand low. Such a steady "set fair" 
description of English scenery, as that with which George 
Eliot opens "Felix Holt," a magnificent opening, is not 
to be looked for from Charlotte Bronte, whose eye was 
quick for the gathering storm-cloud, and whose ear 
delighted to catch the distant moaning of the new-born 

" The evening was pitch-dark : star and moon were 
quenched in gray rain-clouds gray they would have 
been by day, by night they looked sable. Malone was 
not a man given to close observation of Nature; her 
changes passed, for the most part, unnoticed by him j he 
1 G., 328. 


could walk miles on the most varying April day, and 
never see the beautiful dallying of earth and heaven; 
never mark when a sunbeam kissed the hill-tops, making 
them smile clear in green light, or when a shower wept 
over them, hiding their crests with the low-hanging, 
dishevelled tresses of a cloud. He did not, therefore, 
care to contrast the sky as it now appeared a muffled, 
steaming vault, all black, save where, towards the east, 
the furnaces of Stilbro' iron-works threw a tremulous 
lurid shimmer on the horizon with the same sky on an 
unclouded frosty night. He did not trouble himself to 
ask where the constellations and the planets were gone, 
or to regret the ' black-blue ' serenity of the air-ocean 
which those white islets stud; and which another ocean, 
of heavier and denser element, now rolled below and 
concealed. He just doggedly pursued his way, leaning 
a little forward as he walked, and wearing his hat on the 
back of his head, as his Irish manner was. 'Tramp, 
tramp,' he went along the causeway, where the road 
boasted the privilege of such an accommodation; 
' splash, splash,' through the mire-filled cart-ruts, where 
the flags were exchanged for soft mud. He looked but 
for certain land-marks ; the spire of Briarfield church ; 
further on, the lights of Redhouse." 

And here's the rain : 

" ' I know how the heath would look on such a day,' 
said Caroline ; ' purple-black : a deeper shade of the 
sky-tint, and that would be livid.' 

'* 'Yes quite livid, with brassy edges to the clouds, 



and here and there a white gleam, more ghastly than the 
lurid tinge, which, as you looked at it, you momentarily 
expected would kindle into blinding lightning.'- 

"'Did it thunder?' 

'"It muttered distant peals, but the storm did not 
break till evening, after we had reached our inn ; that 
inn being an isolated house at the foot of a range of 

" ' Did you watch the clouds come down over the 

"'I did: I stood at the window an hour watching 
them. The hills seemed rolled in a sullen mist, and 
when the rain fell in whitening sheets, suddenly they 
were blotted from the prospect : they were washed from 
the world.' " 

The next passage is as eloquent as " Modern Painters " 
and as real as " Robinson Crusoe " : 

" ' I shall like to go, Shirley,' again said Miss Helstone. 
' I long to hear the sound of waves ocean-waves, and 
to see them as I have imagined them in dreams, like 
tossing banks of green light, strewed with vanishing and 
re-appearing wreaths of foam, whiter than lilies. I shall 
delight to pass the shores of those lone rock-islets where 
the sea-birds live and breed unmolested. We shall be 
on the track of the old Scandinavians of the Norse- 
man : we shall almost see the shores of Norway. This 
is a very vague delight that I feel, communicated by 
your proposal, but it is a delight.' 

" ' Will you think of Fitful Head now, when you lie 


awake at night ; of gulls shrieking round it, and waves 
tumbling in upon it, rather than of the graves under the 
Rectory back-kitchen ?' 

" ' I will try ; and instead of musing about remnants of 
shrouds, and fragments of coffins, and human bones and 
mould, I will fancy seals lying in the sunshine on solitary 
shores, where neither fisherman nor hunter ever come ; 
of rock crevices full of pearly eggs bedded in sea-weed \ 
of unscared birds covering white sands in happy flocks." 

The " Jane Eyre " philosophy of life finds vehement 
expression in " Shirley." Here is an excerpt : 

"A lover masculine so disappointed can speak and 
urge explanation j a lover feminine can say nothing ; if 
she did, the result would be shame and anguish, inward 
remorse for self-treachery. Nature would brand such 
demonstration as a rebellion against her instincts, and 
would vindictively repay it afterwards by the thunderbolt 
of self-contempt smiting suddenly in secret. Take the 
matter as you find it : ask no questions ; utter no remon- 
strances : it is your best wisdom. You expected bread, 
and you have got a stone ; break your teeth on it, and 
don't shriek because the nerves are martyrized j do not 
doubt that your mental stomach if you have such a 
thing is strong as an ostrich's the stone will digest. 
You held out your hand for an egg, and fate put into it 
a scorpion. Show no consternation ; close your fingers 
firmly upon the gift; let it sting through your palm. 
Never mind : in time, after your hand and arm have 
swelled and quivered long with torture, the squeezed 

128 LIFE OF 

scorpion will die, and you will have learned the great 
lesson how to endure without a sob. For the whole 
remnant of your life, if you survive the test some, it is 
said, die under it you will be stronger, wiser, less sensi- 
tive. This you are not aware of, perhaps, at the time, 
and so cannot borrow courage of that hope. Nature, 
however, as has been intimated, is an excellent friend 
in such cases; sealing the lips, interdicting utterance, 
commanding a placid dissimulation : a dissimulation 
often wearing an easy and gay mien at first, settling 
down to sorrow and paleness in time, then passing 
away, and leaving a convenient stoicism, not the less 
fortifying because it is half-bitter. 

" Half-bitter ! Is that wrong ? No it should be bitter : 
bitterness is strength it is a tonic. Sweet mild force 
following acute suffering, you find nowhere ; to talk of it 
is delusion. There may be apathetic exhaustion after 
the rack; if energy remains, it will be rather a dangerous 
energy deadly when confronted with injustice." 

We are indebted to The Quarterly reviewer for the 
passion lying beneath the following passage : 

" The daughters were an example to their sex. They 
were tall, with a Roman nose a-piece. They had been 
educated faultlessly. All they did was well done. 
History and the most solid books had cultivated their 
minds. Principles and opinions they possessed which 
could not be mended. More exactly-regulated lives, 
feelings, manners, habits, it would have been difficult to 
find anywhere. They knew by heart a certain young- 


ladies'-schoolroom code of laws on language, demeanour, 
&c. ; themselves never deviated from its curious little 
pragmatical provisions ; and they regarded with secret, 
whispered horror, all deviations in others. The Abomi- 
nation of Desolation was no mystery to them : they had 
discovered that unutterable Thing in the characteristic 
others called Originality. Quick were they to recognize 
the signs of this evil ; and wherever they saw its trace 
whether in look, word, or deed ; whether they read it in 
the fresh, vigorous style of a book, or listened to it in 
interesting, unhackneyed, pure, expressive language 
they shuddered they recoiled : danger was above their 
heads peril about their steps. What was this strange 
thing ? Being unintelligible, it must be bad. Let it be 
denounced and chained up." 

The splendid rhetorical repudiation of Milton's "Eve" 
as not being the true mother of mankind, also the passage 
about the mermaid, are too well known to justify quota- 
tion. There are, I know, people who object to quotations 
altogether, but it is hard to hold with those people. 
Many books, as many sermons, would have been wholly 
unendurable to us but for the quoted matter. 

In " Shirley " Charlotte Bronte hit upon the splendid 
device which and I have often wondered why has never 
become general, of putting the exact language of her 
hostile reviewer into the mouth of an odious character : 
" I fear, Miss Grey, you have inherited the worst sin of 
our fallen nature, the sin of pride ; " and there are other 
examples of this pleasing method which may be safely 
recommended to smarting authors. 


130 LIFE OF 

But Miss Bronte was still to be maltreated by the 
reviewers. The Times was acrimonious, and made her 
cry; but its review was not without discrimination, and 
she had no sort of objection to offer to criticism which 
approached her work with a sense of what treatment was 
due to a highly-laboured book. But what The Quarterly 
Review had been to " Jane Eyre " that The Edinburgh 
Review was to " Shirley " only worse, for of the article 
in the former it was easy to say " some enemy hath done 
this," but the review in the latter was written by Mr. 
Lewes. This critic was by way of being Charlotte 
Bronte's friend, and was certainly her correspondent. 
He knew her secret ; knew that she was an unmarried 
woman; knew that she was sensitive on the score of 
her sex, and especially anxious that her novels should 
be treated quite apart from it, and entirely on their 
artistic merits; and yet, knowing all this, Mr. Lewes 
founded his f ntir^ article upon Currer Eeirsjeminity. No 
doubt the temptation was great, for if there was one 
subject the reviewer flattered himself he understood, it 
was Woman in both her branches, Lovely Woman and 
Intellectual Woman. On this theme he discourses to his 
own almost infinite content with a bluntness that under 
the circumstances was within measurable distance of 
brutality, and a wit which, meaning to be pleasant, is 
decidedly disagreeable. 

"The grand function of woman," he reminds Miss 
Bronte, " is and must be maternity. And this we regard 
not only as her distinctive characteristic and most 
\ enduring charm, but a high and holy office." A little 
1 farther on he is' to be found clumsily joking at some of 


the incidents of this " high and holy office ; " and then, to 
crown his offences, he suddenly apostrophizes Currer 
Bell in a passage which has, at all events, the power of 
making the reader blush, for the writer six-and-thirty 
years after the deed was done. There is small wonder 
Charlotte Bronte was angry. The wonder is she ever 
forgave him, except as Rowena forgave De Bracy, as a 
Christian, which, as Wamba explained, is no forgiveness 
at all. His strange resemblance in feature to her sister ^ 
Emily was perhaps the real reason why she felt it hard \ \L. 
to be at enmity with him. 


"QHIRLEY," told the secret of the authorship of 
O "Jane Eyre." The district was too faithfully 
described to escape local recognition. Places and 
persons were there to the life, and it is would have been 
curious if the Yorkshire people, of whose quick wits we 
hear perhaps quite enough, had not been able to lay 
hands upon the author.,' As it was, the Haworth man 
who first named Miss Bronte had lived for many years 
in Liverpool, and it was in a Liverpool newspaper that 
Charlotte Bronte was first proclaimed orbi et urbiti\z 
author of " Jane Eyre " and " Shirley." The truth once 
told it was impossible to deny it. Nor was there any 
sort of reason for withholding it any longer. It was 
a pity it was not told from the beginning. Had Char- 
lotte Bronte's name been on the title-pages of "Jane 
Eyre " and " Shirley," her sex would not have been 
insulted by The Quarterly or outraged by The Edin- 
burgh reviewer. The former could hardly have told the 
daughter of a beneficed clergyman that she was a 
heathen living amongst heathens, and plainly no better 
than she should be, nor could the latter very well have 
indulged in his disquisition on maternity and medical- 
student-like jests. 


In November, 1849, Miss Bronte paid her first visit to 
London in her own proper person as a woman of dis- 
tinction and literary fame. She stayed with friends 
whose names are still hid in dashes. They were most 
kind and attentive, and if from the little she says of 
them we seem to be strangely reminded of characters in 
her yet unwritten novel, that cannot be helped. The 
letter which Mr. Reid prints on page 101 of his book 
should be read by the curious in these matters. 

Miss Bronte, we need not say, did not plunge head- 
long into society. She was far too nervous for any such 
a proceeding. Strange people were always strange 
people to her. Like her own " Caroline Helstone," she 
would enter a room supposed to contain strangers "wringing 
her hands." She had carefully to select her leonine diet. 
She declined Charles Dickens (which was a pity), Lady 
Morgan, Mesdames Trollope, Gore, and some others ; 
but she saw the man she most wanted to see, Thackeray, 
and was evidently greatly struck. His quiet, simple 
demeanour especially surprised her, and, it may well be 
believed, helped to modify some of her notions con- 
cerning males. Macready she saw twice once in 
" Macbeth " and once in " Othello." She did not like 
him at all, nor is this surprising; but that, not liking him, 
she should say so, in her quiet, positive way, seems to have 
created some consternation. Her literary criticisms on 
contemporary writers are not of any particular value. 
She was never intended to be a critic, and except an 
inveterate habit of telling the truth, had none of a critic's 
finer qualifications. It was at this time she made Miss 
Martineau's acquaintance, which was to be a mixed 

134 LIFE OF 

source of pleasure and pain. In December she returned 
home, and found perhaps as much pleasure in telling her 
father what she had seen and heard as she had done in 
seeing and hearing it. \ The old man was of an objective 
turn, and liked real things better than authors. The 

" Upright beams innumerable 
Of rigid spears, and helmets thronged, and shields 
Various, with boastful argument portrayed," 

were what he loved, and his daughter, mindful of his 
taste, had taken pains to visit places where such glittering 
things are stored, so that she might be able to tell him 
about them on her return. 

In the June of the following year, 1850, Miss Bronte 
again went up to London for a fortnight during the 
season, carefully bargaining beforehand that she was not 
to be made too much of. This time she saw the Duke 
of Wellington at the Chapel Royal, and visited the House 
of Commons, and had a long call of two hours from Mr. 
Thackeray. Miss Bronte, who, like all shy persons, had 
dauntless courage, was moved to give the giant a bit of 
her mind. She spoke to him of his literary shortcomings, 
and, one by one, brought out his faults, laid them before 
him, and besought an explanation. What queer ideas 
floated through the great man's brain as he sat before his 
odd little judge we cannot so much as guess. All that 
we are told is that he defended himself like a great Turk 
and heathen, and that his excuses were worse than his 
crimes. The speeches concluded, judgment, or at any 
rate sentence, was deferred, and in the meantime the 


criminal invited his judge to dine with him that same 
evening, which she did. 

The visit to London over, Miss Bronte was whisked off 
to Edinburgh at the bidding of a son of her hostess, 
who, she says, was always accustomed to have his will. 
She did not actually travel north with him, but after a 
short visit to Miss Nussey, joined his party in the Scottish 
capital. In the very style of her latest heroine she 
writes : " I should not in the least fear to go with him to 
China. I like to see him pleased. I dislike to ruffle or 
disappoint him, so he shall have his mind." 

Miss Bronte greatly enjoyed Edinburgh and its neigh- 
bourhood. It is to be feared nobody took her for a 
day's ramble on the Pentlands. Had they done so she 
must have owned Yorkshire defeated. Nor do we hear 
anything of a visit to Hopetoun, or Dalmeny, or New- 
battle Abbey. But for a first visit Melrose and Abbots- 
ford do well enough. 

Miss Bronte's raptures with all she saw were genuine, 
and were doubtless received by the Scotch folk, who 
made her acquaintance, with that clear sense of their 
being no more than the occasion obviously demanded, 
which sometimes vexes poor Southron bodies, who have 
been taught that people ought to hearken to their own 
advantages with blushes and wavings of a deprecating 

In the height of her pleasure Miss Bronte even turned 
her back on London, saying that, as compared with Edin- 
burgh, the former city was as prose to poetry, or as a 
great rumbling, rambling, heavy epic compared to a lyric, 
brief, bright, clear, and vital as a flash of lightning. 


Alas ! poor London. If only those who revile you would 
pack up their trunks and take single tickets to their 
favourite cities, lyrical or otherwise, how happy those of 
us who were left behind might be within thy spacious 
bounds ! 

" Romae vivimus ; ilia domus, 
Ilia mihi sedes, illic mea carpitur oetas." 

It is very pleasant to notice how greatly Miss Bronte 
enjoyed this sudden little visit to Edinburgh, and what 
an enormous capacity for enjoyment she had when in 
congenial company. The thing she liked even better 
than Princes Street was the "grand Scotch national 
character." She was in Scotland just five days. 


THE inmates of the parsonage were now Mr. 
Bronte, an old man of 70, Charlotte, Tabitha 
the aged, and Martha the infirm. We nurse the ideal, 
and are always eager to believe that somewhere it is to 
be found blended with the actual. Husband and wife, 
parents and children, brother and sister ought, doubtless, 
to complement each other's existence, and satisfy one 
another to the finest fibres of their respective natures. 
Sometimes it so happens, and the blessed tradition takes 
fresh root amongst us, but it is not always so, nor often. 
Charlotte Bronte loved her father with the tenacity 
and depth of her character. For him, as we know, she 
made sacrifices without end and without murmur, and 
never so much as thinking to inquire whether they were 
sacrifices she ought to have been called upon to make or 
was right in making. It is well to accept the facts 
of life without seeking to get behind them, and 
fathers, it cannot be denied, are facts. In this spirit true 
blessedness lies. Of people who have a grudge against 
their parents the world does well to be suspicious. 
They may have good explanations to offer, but it is 

138 LIFE OF 

weary work listening to explanations. Mr. Bronte in 
his turn loved his daughter, as indeed he well might; 
but he had no notion of putting himself out for her. 
The only thing of hers he was anxious about was 
her health, as it existed at the moment he was in- 
quiring after it. - Satisfied on his point he went on 
his way never dreaming that perhaps that way was 
not conducive to an only daughter's happiness. It is 
very hard to change life-long habits. He had his way 
of doing things long before his daughter was thought 
of. He was a solitary man. He gave his company 
as Mrs. Gamp took her spirits, when he felt so dis- 
posed, but it must be his free gift. He took long walks, 
but he took them alone, as he had done for forty 
years, pursuing his own thoughts, possibly even dandling 
his own delusions for who can unravel the web of 
men's follies? He would get home tired with the 
drooping tiredness of age, and, tongue-tied, go early to 
bed. His meals he always had by himself, even in the 
old days when the small house was full of children 
and service was scanty. His daughter was thus left 
alone night after night in that grim house by the church 
which rose amidst its wet tomb-stones, and there she 
had to sit listening to the wind wailing over the moors, 
and sobbing at her door like the ghost of Catherine 
Earnshaw at the windows of " Wuthering Heights." 

" Still ailing, Wind? Wilt be appeased or no? 
Which needs the other's office, thou or I ? 
Dost want to be disburthened of a woe, 
And can in truth my voice untie 
Its links and let it go ? 


Art thou a dumb, wronged thing that would be righted, 

Entrusting thus, thy cause to me ? Forbear, 

No tongue can mend such pleadings ; faith requited 

With falsehood, love, at last aware 

Of scorn, hopes early blighted. 

We have them ; but I know not any tone 

So fit as thine to falter forth a sorrow ; 

Dost think men would go mad without a moan, 

If they knew any way to borrow 

A pathos like thy own ? " x 

Charlotte Bronte borrowed a good deal of pathos from 
the wild winds which blew about Haworth. 
~* It was a sad and lonely life. We do not need to be 
tolcT by any inend, biographer, or critic what the author 
of "Villette" thought of solitude, or how little she was 
fitted to cope with its terrors, or to repulse its creeping 
advances. Shy as she was; dreading as she did what 
she called " meeting people ; " nervously susceptible as we 
are told she was to remarks about her personal appear- 
ance, which appearance she condemned with her accus- 
tomed unnecessary severity none the less internally 
she craved, demanded, companionship. She wanted a 
full life and she had an empty one empty, that is, of 
human beings ; for the earth and sky, the moor and the 
glen, unpeopled of those she loved, were no longer for 
her a bright theatre for action, but a hot prison of dreary 
pain. Happiness quite unshared, she cries, has no taste. 
The word is a significant one. The moors once so 
friendly, so satisfying, so invigorating were so no longer. 
The heather and the bracken whispered Emily in the 
faint blue lines of the horizon she discerned Anne. Like 
1 "James Lee's Wife," by Mr. Browning. 

140 LIFE OF 

many another memory-tortured sufferer, she thirsted for 
the cup of oblivion, that she might drink, forget, and be 
at peace. The last will and testament of a true lover, 
would (were it possible) be according to Shakespeare's 

" No longer mourn for me when I am dead, 
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell 
Give warning to the world that I am fled 
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell. 
Nay, if you read this line, remember not 
The hand that writ it ; for I love you so 
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot 
If thinking on me then should make you woe. 
O 1 if (I say) you look upon this verse 
When I perhaps compounded am with clay, 
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse, 
But let your love even with my life decay : 

Lest the wise world should look into your moan 
And mock you with me after I have gone." 

Then there was Mr. X (" the little man ") what was to 
be done with him ? He wanted her to marry him. He 
was a good man, and kind and substantial withal. She 
did not altogether like his manners and his customs, or 
his "dreadful determined nose in the middle of his 
face." When he came near her, her veins ran ice ; but 
no sooner did he go away than she felt more gently 
towards him. Men are slow in their conceit to recognize 
what a valuable ally in their love-making they might make 
of distance. Mr. X visited Haworth, and Mr. Bronte 
took to him. " Papa has penetration." But it was not 
possible. " No ! if X be the only husband fate offers 


me, single I must always remain. But yet at times I 
grieve for him." 

On being reproached for silence she sadly replies, " I 
am silent, because I have literally nothing to say. I 
might indeed repeat over and over again that my life is / 
a pale blank and often a very weary burden, and that 
the future sometimes appals me ; but what end could be 
answered by such repetition, except to weary you and 
enervate myself. The evils that now and then wring a 
groan from my heart lie in my position not that I am a 
single woman and likely to remain a single woman but 
because I am a lonely woman and likely to be lonely." 

"I have not accumulated," she once said, "since I 
published ' Shirley ' what makes it needful for me to 
speak again, and, till I do, may God give me grace to be 
dumb." She was, however, accumulating whole stores 
of bitter herbs out of which was to be extracted her 
masterpiece, " Villette." 

' Whenever Charlotte Bronte could avail herself of the 
frequent opportunities that offered themselves to escape 
from Haworth for a time, she was glad to do so, or at 
all events, if glad be too strong a word, she was less 
averse to go than to stay. To be able to live at home 
was long her dream. It was now within her power, but 
under hard conditions. We often, perhaps generally, 
get the thing we want, but seldom in the way we wanted 
it, and herein lies the difference. 

In the August of 1850 she first met her biographer, 
Mrs. Gaskell, herself a novelist of rare excellence and 
rich in the quality Currer Bell was most deficient in, 
true humour and playfulness. The meeting occurred at 

142 LIFE OF 

Briery Close, a house high above Lowood, on Winder- 
mere, then occupied by Sir James Kay Shuttleworth. 
Mrs. Gaskell, writing a.t the time to a friend, describes 
Miss Bronte as " thin, and more than half a head shorter 
than I am, soft brown hair, not very dark, eyes (very 
good and expressive, looking straight and open at you) 
of the same colour as her hair, a large mouth, the fore- 
head square, broad, and rather overhanging. She has a 
very sweet voice, rather hesitates in choosing her expres- 
sions, but when chosen they seem without an effort 
admirable, and just befitting the occasion ; there is 
nothing overstrained, but perfectly simple. She told me 
about Father Newman's lectures at the Oratory in a very 
quiet, concise, graphic way." . Had Miss Bronte heard 
one of these lectures? They were not published till the 
following year. The observations of so sound a Pro- 
testant on these seductive and charming utterances of 
the most humane of theologians would have great interest. 
Cardinal Newman, like all good men, is a novel reader, 
and has given evidence of his familiarity with the works 
of Mrs. Gaskell, but I should fear his judgment upon 
the author of "Jane Eyre," "Shirley," and "Villette," 
though I doubt not it would be tempered with mercy. 

She was taken drives about the Lake district, and saw 
what can be seen of it from a carriage, but she was far 
too true a daughter of the moors not to know that this 
was not much, and she was ever longing to run away 
unseen and wander by herself on the hills and up the 

During this same year she edited a new edition of 
" Wuthering Heights " and " Agnes Grey," and introduced 


them to a larger circle of readers, with the short 
biographical sketch of her two sisters so widely known. 
It is indeed a beautiful bit of writing sincere, grave, 
controlled, yet tingling with emotion. 

It must have been, we know it was, heart-rending 
work revising, transcribing, correcting the tales of her 
dead sisters in the room in which she had- first heard 
them read by their authors. Old Saunders Muckle- 
backit in Sir Walter's " Antiquary," trying hard with his 
dim eyes and quivering hands to repair the old boat which 
had just drowned his son Steenie, is perhaps as pathetic 
a figure as is to be found even amongst the works of that 
great master ; and somehow it has turned up in my mind 
as I think of Charlotte Bronte fixing her short-sighted 
gaze upon the pages of " Wuthering Heights." We have 
her own word for it that the labour left her " prostrate 
and entombed." 

Her publishers generously kept her well supplied with 
books, which she read and criticised in her serious 
fashion. Dr. Arnold's Life was a fountain of pleasure to 
her. A life so unlike her own could hardly fail to please. 
His happiness most struck her. " One feels thankful," 
she wrote, " to know that it has been permitted to any 
man to live such a life." 

f Early in 1851 she paid a visit to Miss Martineau, at 
Ambleside, and seems to have enjoyed herself. She 
relished her tyrannical little hostess inexpressibly, and 
described her most admirably. , " She is a great and good 
woman, of course not without peculiarities, but I have 
seen none as yet that annoy me. She is both hard and 
warm-hearted, abrupt and affectionate, liberal and des- 

144 LIFE Of 

potic. I believe she is not at all conscious of her own 
absolutism. When I tell her of it she denies the charge 
warmly ; then I laugh at her." 

It was during this visit that she made the acquaintance 
of Dr. Arnold's family, one of whom has left a record of 
their meeting in the lines called " Haworth Churchyard," 
written in April, 1855. Miss Bronte, we may be sure, 
remembering with what undying gratitude she repaid 
Sydney Dobell his appreciation of " Wuthering Heights," 
would most have thanked the poet for the tribute he took 
occasion to pay to the memory of her sister Emily. 

" And she 

(How shall I sing her ?) whose soul 
Knew no fellow for might, 
Passion, vehemence, grief, 
Daring, since Byron died, 
That world-famed son of fire she, who sank 
Baffled, unknown, self-consumed ; 
Whose loo bold dying song 
Shook, like a clarion blast, my soul. 

Sleep, O cluster of friends, 

Sleep ! or only when May, 

Brought by the west wind, returns 

Back to your native heaths, 

And the plover is heard on the moors, 

Yearly awake to behold 

The opening summer, the sky, 

The shining moorland to hear 

The drowsy bee, as of old, 

Hum o'er the thyme ; the grouse 

Call from the heather in bloom ! 

Sleep, or only for this 

Break your united repose ! " 


This year saw the publication of the work of Miss 
Martineau and her fidus Achates^ Mr. Atkinson, which 
so fluttered the orthodox dovecotes, and was thought by 
the authors to be a deadly thrust at men's silly hanker- 
ings after Immortality. No one could possibly have less 
intellectual sympathy with the letters on the "Nature 
and Development of Man " than Miss Bronte, who had 
no turn for such speculations even had they been more 
worthy of consideration than these particular ones. The 
world was dim and dark enough for her without blowing 
any more lights out. Still she was not one to be bullied 
out of her friendships by the world's harsh cries, and she 
was faithful to the little despot of Ambleside, recognizing 
her entire sincerity. They were to quarrel afterwards, 
but not about the nature of man. 

-t 1851 was, and will, I suppose, always remain the Great 
Exhibition Year, when to come to London assumed the 
familiar aspect of a plain duty. Miss Bronte accordingly 
came with a black satin dress, a white mantle, and a 
bonnet, about which she had "grave doubts." "Tabby, 
Martha, and Papa " for on such a subject this was the 
order of precedence all thought she was going to be 
married, and the last-named observed one day, in the 
tones of a man who had pondered the matter, that did 
she do so he would give up housekeeping and go into 
lodgings. To London she went, but not to be married. 
Haworth, after all, contained her destined lord. 

Thackeray's lectures on the English Humourists were 
then to be heard. She went to the second, on Con- 
greve and Addison, in Willis's Rooms, " a great painted 
and gilded saloon with long sofas for benches." She was 



the observed of all observers. Those two eminent York- 
shiremen, Lord Carlisle and Mr. Milnes the latter, the 
" incomparable Richard " of Carlyle and the Lord Hough- 
ton of the peerage besought introductions to their famous 
countrywoman. Mr. Reid tells us they were neither 
of them particularly impressed. They thought her a 
decided oddity. It was probably Lord Houghton who 
urged Mr. Reid not to forget this, and to have the 
courage to state it. But Charlotte Bronte was not a 
woman to be studied at bay. She was no stalwart 
Amazon, no Madame de Stae'l, to knock down folly as it 
stands, or throw epigrams across a dinner table ; but 
behind cover she was no mean markswoman, and in a 
tete-a-tete could thrust a dart better than many a more 
formidable looking person. The lecture over Mr. 
Thackeray descended from his platform, and making his 
way up to her, asked her straight out how she liked it ? 
This charming little trait of character, and the reflections 
it gave rise to, are suitably recorded in " Villette," where, 
as Mrs. Gaskell reminds us, a similar action of M. Paul 
Emanuel's is related. But Miss Bronte understood M. 
Paul Emanuel better than she did Mr. Thackeray. 

The day after the lecture she went to the Crystal 
Palace, and on Sunday she heard D'Aubigne' preach. 
"It was pleasant," she said, "half sweet, half sad, and 
strangely suggestive to hear the French language once 

By the end of June she was back at Haworth, and busy 
with her new story, which was to be her last. 


BY the end of November, 1852, "Villette" was finished. 
It was published on the 24th of January, 1853, 
being held back a short while in order to give Mrs. 
Gaskell's "Ruth," a very different damsel, a good start, 

Miss Martmeau made it a matter of objection to 
" Villette," and indeed to all Miss Bronte's writings, that 
she represented love as the whole concern of women's 
lives. Her heroines, said Miss Martineau, love too readily, A. 
too vehemently, and sometimes after a fashion their 7x1 
female readers may resent. She further observes that 
passion occupies too prominent a place in Miss Bronte's 
pictures of life. There may be truth in these objections. 
Life is a tangled skein, and who is to say what colour of 
thread predominates? Outside novels, people do not 
wear their hearts upon their sleeves, and it is therefore 
impossible to tell what precise part love has played in the 
lives of our contemporaries. Sometimes she appears as 
" leading lady," and sometimes as only " second waiting 
woman " ; but in one capacity or another, she is seldom 
long off the stage. 

All Miss Bronte's heroines start with the most valour- 

148 LIFE OF 

ous resolutions to forswear love and all her works. With 
the fore-doomed hero in " Maud," they exclaim 

And most of all would I flee from the cruel madness of love, 
The honey of poison-flowers, and all the measureless ill." 

To support them in this stern resolve, this self-deny- 
ing ordinance, they are for ever invoking the aid of a 
heartless philosophy peculiar to themselves, and pulling, 
most unflinchingly, the string of a veritable shower- 
bath of unwelcome and half-frozen truths. Lucy Snowe, 
or Frost as her creator first called her, subjects herself 
to this treatment until she becomes "a faded hollow- 
eyed vision." Does hope ever revive within her shiver- 
ing breast, she bids it jump down as one might a muddy 

" ' And will Graham really write ? ' I questioned, as I 
sank tired on the edge of the bed. 

" Reason, coming stealthily up to me through the twi- 
light of that long, dim chamber, whispered sedately 

" ' He may write once. So kind is his nature, it may 
stimulate him for once to make the effort. But it cannot 
be continued it may not be repeated. Great were that 
folly which should build on such a promise insane that 
credulity which should mistake the transitory rain-pool, 
holding in its hollow one draught, for the perennial spring 
yielding the supply of seasons.' 

"I bent my head : I sat thinking an hour longer. Reason 
still whispered me, laying on my shoulder a withered 


hand, and frostily touching my ear with the chill blue lips 
of eld. 

"'If,' muttered she, ' if he should write, what then ? 
Do you meditate pleasure in replying ? Ah, fool ! I 
warn you I Brief be your answer. Hope no delight of 
heart no indulgence of intellect: grant no expansion 
of feeling give holiday to no single faculty: dally 
with no friendly exchange : foster no genial intercom- 
munion . . . .' 

" 'But I have talked to Graham and you did not chide,' 
I pleaded. 

" ( No,' said she, ' I needed not. Talk for you is good 
discipline. You converse imperfectly. While you speak, 
there can be no oblivion of inferiority no encourage- 
ment to delusion : pain, privation, penury stamp your 
language . . . . ' 

" ' But,' I again broke in, ' where the bodily presence 
is weak and the speech contemptible, surely there cannot 
be error in making written language the medium of better 
utterance than faltering lips can achieve ? ' 

" Reason only answered : ' At your peril you cherish 
that idea, or suffer its influence to animate any writing of 
yours ! ' 

" ' But if I feel, may I never express ? ' 

" 'IVever/' declared Reason." 

But the treatment fails, and Lucy, following in the 
footsteps of Jane and Caroline, falls madly in love with 
the first gentleman she meets. In Lucy's case this happens 
to be the redoubtable and excellent Dr. John. Upon 
this surgeon are lavished pages of gorgeous hue. Hardly 

150 LIFE OF 

before, and never since, has that featherless biped that 
forked radish man, been so shone upon. He positively 
glitters like the golden prince in Kensington Gardens 
when the sun is shining. He is quite unconscious of it, 
and does not so much as blink. The magic spell of Miss 
Bronte's writing, here seen at its very best, is so strongly 
upon us whilst we read, we live so completely in Lucy's 
life, and so ardently share her feelings, are so swept away 
by her impetuous rhetoric, and dazzled by her splendid 
imagery in which the author shows herself a true 
countrywoman of Burke's that we are scarcely able to 
stop to cast so much as a glance of our own upon the 
causa causans of all this commotion and tossing of the 
mind. When we do, it is difficult not to have a little 
sympathy with Miss Martineau. Fancy that admirable 
lady reading, perhaps at six o'clock in the morning, for 
she was, as became a political economist, an early riser, 
the following passage : 

"' Child as I was,' remarked Paulina, 'I wonder how 
I dared be so venturous. To me he seems now all 
sacred, his locks are inaccessible, and, Lucy, I feel a sort 
of fear when I look at his firm, marble chin, at his straight 
Greek features. Women are called beautiful, Lucy ; he 
is not like a woman, therefore I suppose he is not beauti- 
ful, but what is he, then ? Do other people see him with 
my eyes ? Do you admire him ? ' 

" Til tell you what I do, Paulina/ was once my answer 
to her many questions. " I 'never see him. I looked at 
him twice or thrice about a year ago, before he recognized 
me, and then I shut my eyes ; and if he were to cross 


their balls twelve times between each day's sunset and 
sunrise, except from memory, I should hardly know what 
shape had gone by.' 

" ' Lucy, what do you mean ? ' said she, under her 

" ' I mean that I value vision, and dread being struck 
stone blind.' It was best to answer her strongly at once, 
and to silence for ever the tender, passionate confidences 
which left her lips sweet honey, and sometimes dropped 
in my ear molten lead. To me, she commented no 
more on her lover's beauty." 

And indeed it was time she stopped. It is only fair to 
add that, a few pages later on, the sober-minded reader 
is comforted out of the mouth of Paulina's father, who, 
speaking of Dr. John, exclaims: "Off with him to Siberia, 
red whiskers and all. I say, I don't like him, Polly, and 
I wonder that you should." 

"Villette"is, in the judgment of some good critics, the 
best of the three novels. It is certainly not so unprac- 
tised as " Jane Eyre," and it has none of the roughness 
and scrappiness of "Shirley." From first to last the 
reader feels himself in the hands of a mistress of her 

On the other hand, there are those who find the juxta- 
position of Dr. John and Paul Emanuel, in Lucy's 
mind, distasteful, and who shrink from such a passage as 
the following, which occurs at the very end of the novel, 
and is written of Dr. John 

" I kept a place for him, too ; a place of which I never 

152 LIFE OF 

took the measure either by rule or compass. I think it 
was like the tent of Peri Banou. All my life-long I 
carried it folded in the hollow of my hand, yet released 
from that hold and constriction, I know not but its 
innate capacity for expanse might have magnified it into 
a tabernacle for a host." 

There is doubtless something morbid about this. It 
is the language of unfulfilled desire of a celibate. We 
may Jeel tolerably certain that had Paul Emanuel 
returned home again as anywhere out of a novel he 
would have done and married Lucy Snowe, in a short 
time the doctor's tent would have shrunk into very 
small proportions, and after a couple of years have dis- 
appeared altogether. Nor is there anything in this view 
necessarily flattering to Paul Emanuel. 

Miss Bronte's style is certainly seen at its best in 
"Villette." Pruned of some of its earlier excrescences, 
it has yet lost nothing, in the process, of its glorious 
vigour or of its strange power of forcing the reader's 
mind into the bidden mood. 

Lucy draws near Villette 

" Of an artistic temperament, I deny that I am ; yet I 
must possess something of the artist's faculty of making 
the most of present pleasure : that is to say, when it is 
of the kind to my taste. I enjoyed that day, though we 
travelled slowly, though it was cold, though it rained. 
Somewhat bare, flat, and treeless was the route along 
which our journey lay ; and slimy canals crept, like half- 
torpi4 green snakes, beside the road; and formal pollard 


willows edged level fields, tilled like kitchen-garden beds. 
The sky, too, was monotonously gray ; the atmosphere 
was stagnant and humid ; yet amidst all these deadening 
influences, my fancy budded fresh and my heart basked 
in sunshine. These feelings, however, were well kept in 
check by the secret but ceaseless consciousness of anxiety 
lying in wait on enjoyment, like a tiger crouched in a 
jungle. The breathing of that beast of prey was in my 
ear always ; his fierce heart panted close against mine ; 
he never stirred in his lair, but I felt him : I knew he 
waited only for sun-down to bound ravenous from his 

She describes Madame Beck 

" As Madame Beck ruled by espionage, she of course 
had her staff of spies : she perfectly knew the quality of 
the tools she used, and while she would not scruple to 
handle the dirtiest for a dirty occasion flinging this sort 
from her like refuse rind, after the orange has been duly 
squeezed I have known her fastidious in seeking pure 
metal for clean uses ; and when once a bloodless and 
rustless instrument was found, she was careful of the 
prize, keeping it in silk and cotton-wool. Yet, woe be to 
that man or woman who relied on her one inch beyond 
the point where it was her interest to be trustworthy : 
interest was the master-key of Madame's nature the 
mainspring of her motives the alpha and omega of her 
life. I have seen her feelings appealed to, and I have 
smiled in half-pity, half-scorn at the appellants. None 
ever gained her ear through that channel, or swayed her 

154 LIFE OF 

purpose by that means. On the contrary, to attempt to 
touch her heart was the surest way to rouse her antipathy, 
and to make of her a secret foe. It proved to her that 
she had no heart to be touched : it reminded her where 
she was impotent and dead. Never was the distinction 
between charity and mercy better exemplified than in 
her. While devoid of sympathy, she had a sufficiency 
of rational benevolence : she would give in the readiest 
manner to people she had never seen rather, however, 
to classes than to individuals. Pour les pauvres, she 
opened her purse freely against the poor man^ as a rule, 
she kept it closed. In philanthropic schemes for the 
benefit of society at large she took a cheerful part ; 
no private sorrow touched her : no force or mass of 
suffering concentrated in one heart had power to pierce 
hers. Not the agony in Gethsemane, not the death on 
Calvary, could have wrung from her eyes one tear." 

In the next quotation she might be speaking of Char- 
lotte Bronte as truly as of herself 

" Could I but have spoken in my own tongue, I felt 
as if I might have gained a hearing; for, in the first 
place, though I knew I looked a poor creature, and in 
many respects actually was so, yet nature had given me 
a voice that could make itself heard, if lifted in excite- 
ment or deepened by emotion. In the second place, 
while I had no flow, only a hesitating trickle of language, 
in ordinary circumstances, yet under stimulus such as 
was now rife through the mutinous mass I could, in 
English, have rolled out readily phrases stigmatizing 


their proceedings as such proceedings deserved to be 
stigmatized ; and then with some sarcasm, flavoured with 
contemptuous bitterness for the ringleaders, and relieved 
with easy banter for the weaker but less knavish followers, 
it seemed to me that one might possibly get command 
over this wild herd and bring them into training, at least. 
All I could now do was to walk up to Blanche Made- 
moiselle de Melcy, a young baronne the eldest, tallest, 
handsomest, and most vicious stand before her desk, 
take from under her hand her exercise book, remount the 
estrade, deliberately read the composition, which I found 
very stupid, and, as deliberately, and in the face of the 
whole school, tear the blotted page in two." 

The horrors of solitude are nowhere depicted with 
greater fidelity than in " Villette " 

" One evening and I was not delirious : I was in my 
sane mind, I got up I dressed myself, weak and shaking. 
The solitude and the stillness of the long dormitory could 
not be borne any longer ; the ghastly white beds were 
turning into spectres the coronal of each became a 
death's head, huge and sun-bleached dead dreams of 
an elder world and mightier race lay frozen in their wide 
gaping eye-holes. That evening more firmly than ever 
fastened into my soul the conviction that Fate was of 
stone, and Hope a false idol blind, bloodless, and of 
granite core. I felt, too, that the trial God had appointed 
me was gaining its climax, and must now be turned by 
my own hands, hot, feeble, trembling as they were. It 

156 LIFE OF 

rained still, and blew ; but with more clemency, I 
thought, than it had poured and raged all day. Twilight 
was falling, and I deemed its influence pitiful ; from the 
lattice I saw coining night-clouds trailing low like banners 
drooping. It seemed to me that at this hour there was 
affection and sorrow in Heaven above for all pain suffered 
on earth beneath ; the weight of my dreadful dream 
became alleviated that insufferable thought of being no 
more loved no more owned, half-yielded to hope of the 
contrary I was sure this hope would shine clearer if I 
got out from under this house-roof, which was crushing 
as the slab of a tomb, and went outside the city to a 
certain quiet hill, a long way distant in the fields. Covered 
with a cloak (I could not be delirious, for I had sense and 
recollection to put on warm clothing), forth I set. The 
bells of a church arrested me in passing ; they seemed 
to call me in to the salut, and I went in. Any solemn rite, 
any spectacle of sincere worship, any opening for appeal 
to God was as welcome to me then as bread to one in 
extremity of want. I knelt down with others on the 
stone pavement. It was an old solemn church, its per- 
vading gloom not gilded, but purpled by light shed 
through stained glass." 

Passages, too, there are of splendid rhetoric De Quincey 
might father without shame. Impassioned prose is not 
for all markets. Mr. Swinburne says he does not like it ; 
but then, Mr. Swinburne, with his poetical wares to 
dispose of, is not quite a disinterested party. Those of 
us who are only buyers of pleasure are glad to encounter 
in our pursuit such writing as the following 


" Oh, lovers of power ! Oh, mitred aspirants for this 
world's kingdoms ! an hour will come, even to you, when 
it will be well for your hearts pausing faint at each 
broken beat that there is a Mercy beyond human com- 
passions, a Love stronger than this strong death which 
even you must face, and before it, fall ; a Charity more 
potent than any sin, even yours ; a Pity which redeems 
worlds nay, absolves Priests." 

Lucy Snowe is a dubious heroine over whom raptures 
are happily not demanded; but, like her whole sister- 
hood, she has a noble courage and a true English heart, 
which in these superfine days when it is thought vulgar 
to care about your country and foolish to suppose it 
better than anybody else's, goes for something. What a 
charming incident it is, when she, tortured by M. Paul's 
diatribe, " Sullying the shield of Britannia and dabbling 
the Union Jack in the mud," at last struck a sharp stroke 
on the desk, opened her lips and let loose this cry 

" Vive 1'Angleterre, 1'Histoire et les He'ros ! A bas la 
France, la Fiction et les Faquins." 

But of course, M. Paul is to " Villette " what the 
Madonna di San Sisto is to the Dresden Gallery its 
pride, its joy, its unique possession. The fierce little 
man ! the " sallow tiger " ! Well has he been compared 
with Don Quixote and my Uncle Toby. Doubtless when 
so compared he can make no pretence to terms of 
equality. Indeed, it was a bold comparison. The 
Knight of La Mancha and Mr. Shandy's brother are part 
and parcel of humanity. Great achievements which 
must ever count on our side. You may dig holes in them, 

158 LIFE OF 

if you are so minded, but it will make no difference. 
Were half-a-dozen tourists to perish to-morrow on Ben 
Mac Dhui, the mountain air would be none the less 
sweet next long vacation. Charlotte Bronte's hero is not 
of their calibre, but he is one of the next of kin. Mr. Leslie 
Stephen, in his remarks about M. Paul, points out the 
limitations of Miss Bronte's art. He says we all know and 
love Uncle Toby (would it were so ! ), but he adds, we feel 
quite sure no such man ever existed save in Sterne's 
brain ! Whereas of Paul Emanuel, " We feel that he is a 
real human being, who gave lectures at a particular date 
in a pension at Brussels." It is impossible to quarrel 
with this criticism, but though M. Paul may have had 
an actual counterfeit, the original was a long way back in 
Miss Bronte's life experience. It is a memory picture 
hence in its mellowness, its idealization, it approaches 
a true creation. When we compare it with Dr. John, 
whose counterfeit was close at hand, we perceive the 
advantages of distance. M. Paul rises mysteriously 
from the depths of his author's mind, and brings with him 
tokens of what had so long been his romantic resting- 
place, whereas the doctor apart from Lucy Snowe's 
rhapsodies about him, does but bob up and down the 
surface like a painted cork. This perhaps explains how 
Lucy, the beloved of Paul, could still cherish as she so 
undoubtedly does the image of him whom Ginevra, in her 
pique, styled " ^Esculapius." In reality, the doctor and 
the professor were never on the stage together and the 
former was the later of the two, and in possession of the 
boards at the time of writing. 

On the whole, the actuality of M. Paul is not very 


obtrusive, and perhaps were we in that state of igno- 
rance which we ought to be about artists' lives we 
should not be so astute, as we are, to perceive that it 
must be a portrait. Indeed, some good critics there are 
who stick to it that in his heart of hearts Paul Emanuel 
was a woman. 

Miss Bronte though no humourist was, as her intimate 
friends well knew, a capital "quiz," and in "Villette" 
we have some fair specimens of her skill. Ginevra and 
her lover with his " engaging titter " are made excellent 
fun of, and the former is a first-rate study. 

And yet Mr. Reid tells us people have left off reading 
" Villette." If so they must surely have access to some 
fairy library whose shelves contain all the novels that 
might have been but never were written. Mr. Mudie's 
young men can offer them nothing better. 


MANY writing women have had literary fallowings 
of greater or less brilliance if not their Mussets 
and Chopins, their salons and slaves, after French fashions, 
at all events Sunday afternoons and the chatter of their 
coteries. But Charlotte Bronte had none of these things. 
>jf;Her days were mostly spent at Haworth, with, or rather 
by, her father, attending to the house and the parish, 
teaching, visiting, and so on. Her evenings were passed 
alone in the room whose floor her sisters had restlessly 
paced in the days when the future was still to them " a 
dark seed-plot." Here she sat, and wrote late, or what 
seemed late, into the night, till the wild winds, moaning 
with memories, drove her to bed. Then, after or before 
the publication of a book, which to her meant so much, 
but was to the world but one book more, she would 
come up to London for a week or a fortnight to be taken 
about to see men and women and other sights. For 
these last-mentioned things she had a quick eye, though 
how far they gave her actual pleasure it is hard to say, so 
prompt were her feelings, so fierce her self-restraint ; but 
that she always carried back with her into the West 
Riding much matter for reflection and treatment is 


certain. When, for example, we read that on such and 
such a day she visited the Crystal Palace, and remember 
what use she has made in " Villette " of the theatre, the 
picture-gallery, and the fete, it is not difficult to imagine 
how the familiar words, usually evoking but the huge 
cylinders hated of Ruskin might have stood as the 
title of a fascinating chapter in the novel that was never 
written by the author of " Jane Eyre." 

The autumn of 1851 was spent, as has been already 
mentioned, at home and in ill-health. She was in- 
deed very ill and low-spirited. Early in 1852 she was 
favoured with a copy of " Esmond," which she read with 
that mixture of love and rage our great satirist so fre- 
quently inspires in his gentle readers. " As usual," she 
exclaims, "he is unjust to women, quite unjust. There 
is hardly any punishment he does not deserve for making 
Lady Castlewood peep through a keyhole, listen at a 
door, and be jealous of a boy and a milkmaid. Many 
other things I noticed that for my part grieved and exas- 
perated me as I read ; but then again came passages so 
true, so deeply thought, so tenderly felt, one could not 
help forgiving and admiring." x Poor Lady Castlewood ! 
it takes a man to forgive her. 

Certainly one would have thought that the storms of 
Miss Bronte's life were over that though the future 
might, and probably would, hold hours of depression, 
sadness, ill-health, yet that it would not actively try her 
by the strife of contending duties and unfulfilled desires. 
But it is never wise to underrate the capacity of the future 
to be disagreeable. Miss Bronte had a lover in the village, 

1 G., 385- 

162 LIFE OF 

Mr. ^Jichojls, her father's curate, J-hfi Mfi McCarthy men- 
tioned at the very end of " Shirley " " a grave, reserved, 
conscientious man, with a deep sense of religion." He 
loved her deeply not as the author of three of the most 
striking novels ever written, for he was no judge of these 
things, and knew nothing of the artist's life, but as the 
clergyman's daughter, the most helpful, the most sensible, 
the most dignified woman in the parish. Miss Bronte's 
feelings towards curates had doubtless undergone much 
abatement since the days of her youth ; besides which, 
Mr. Nicholls was gravity itself, and, Irishman though he 
was, not in the least like the Reverend Peter Malone. 
She was well-disposed towards him, and though he had 
een in love with her for years before the possibility of 
such a thing occurred to her, yet, when he made his 
wishes known, she so far consented as to tell him he 
should have her answer on the morrow. This occurred 
one evening in December, 1852. But they were both 
reckoning without their host. Old Mr. Bronte would 
have none of it, and behaved, indeed, as only old men 
who have never learnt their lessons can behave. His age 
and manifold infirmities alike forbad argument, remon- 
strance, or disobedience. There was nothing for it but to 
give in. Poor Mr. Nicholls had to go away, and the 
incumbent of Haworth openly exulted thereat, and never 
mentioned his name in his daughter's hearing save in 
terms of insult. Miss Bronte took refuge for awhile in 
London, where she visited Newgate and Pentonville 
Prisons, the Bank, the Exchange, the Foundling and 
Bethlehem Hospitals, and other sombre places round 
which her powerful imagination could play. She ha4 


other troubles, too, at this time. " Villette " was pub- 
lished, and Miss Martineau took occasion to give expres- 
sion to the opinions already referred to. They led to 
something like a rupture. 

Haworth must on her return have been indeed distaste- 
ful to her the man who loved her, and whom she was 
willing to love, driven out of the place by her father 
whose welfare she had now alone to consider. The old 
room must have been lonelier than ever. 

"How dreary 'tis for women to sit still 
On winter nights by solitary fires 
And hear the nations praising them far off, 
Too far ! ay, praising our quick sense of love, 
Our very heart of passionate womanhood 
Which could not beat so in the verse unless 
Being present also in the unkissed lips, 
And eyes undried because there's none to ask 
The reason they grew moist." J 

However, in the month of March of this drear year 
(1853), their bishop visited them, and slept under the 
parsonage roof. His lordship, so Mrs. Gaskell was 
assured, "was agreeably impressed with the gentle, un- 
assuming manners of his hostess, and with the perfect 
propriety and consistency of the arrangements of the 
modest household." Dr. Longley, that oft-translated man, 
who passed Ripon, Durham, and York on his way to Can- 
terbury and Heaven, was evidently, like most bishops, 
a diligent reader of The Quarterly Review, and would 
seem, to judge from his solemn assurances, to have gone 
1 " Aurora Leigh." 

164 LIFE OF 

to Haworth with some misgivings lest his tea should be 
poured out for him by a cross-legged virago who would 
attempt to bully him in his own diocese and in the house 
of one of his inferior clergy. 

In August Miss Bronte suffered a keen disappointment. 
Her heart was ever drawn to Scotland, and she actually, 
in company with friends, had crossed the border, and was 
in the country of the "great magician," when, owing to 
the illness, real or imaginary, of one of the party, a baby, 
they all had to come back again, and leave unvisited 
scenes whose images, shrined in the faithful memory, 

"Heighten joy 
And cheer the mind in sorrow." 

And all on account of a baby. 

Miss Bronte, writing on the subject to her old friend, 
Miss Wooler, feeling sure, I suppose, of sympathy, has 
something to say about that baby, and about babies in 
general, which may be read in Mr. Reid's book, but not 
in these pages. 

Suddenly Mr. Bronte withdrew all objection to his 
daughter's marriage with Mr. Nicholls, and became 
anxious to hurry it on; and accordingly it took place 
at Haworth Church on the 2Qth of June, 1854. The 
old gentleman would not himself go to the church, for 
some unaccountable, and doubtless bad, reason, so his 
daughter was given away by Miss Wooler, Miss Nussey 
being the only bridesmaid, and a neighbouring divine 
(who, I hope, was not in any of the novels) the officiating 
clergyman. The ceremony over, the bride and bride- 
groom set off for Ireland, not, however, to County Down 


to find out about the Pruntys, but to the more romantic 
south Killarney and so forth. 

After their return they took up their abode along with 
Mr. Bronte in the old parsonage, which once again 
seemed as if it might be a true home. The remaining 
months of the life of her whom we have no longer any 
business to call Miss Bronte were, until illness destroyed 
enjoyment, peaceful and happy. She found herself wanted, 
and, like the true woman she ever was, she liked being 
wanted. Her husband was a clergyman before every- 
thing else, and expected his wife to be a clergyman's 
wife ; and she took her place accordingly. " My dear 
Arthur is a very practical as well as a very punctual, 
methodical man. Every morning he is in the National 
School by nine o'clock." The evenings were no longer 
solitary, and though Mrs. Nicholls did begin another 
story, bearing surely only provisionally the already 
appropriated title of "Emma," it is not very easy to 
see where the time was to be found to be absorbed in 
novel-writing. But this difficulty was not destined to 
press upon Charlotte Bronte. Before the year 1855 had 
advanced far she fell ill, became weaker and weaker, 
and on the_3_ist of March she died at Hawortru the last 
surviving child of Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell. 

The old parsonage had seen many changes since the 
day, in February, 1820, when the new incumbent, his 
ailing wife, and six young children, had taken posses- 
sion of it, and for the next six years it was to be the 
home of the two clergymen the father who had lost his 
children and the husbaru^who had lost his wife. Curious 
as was the tie ~t>eT; ween them, stormy as had been their 

166 LIFE OF 

relations, and different as were their tempers and habits 
of mind and body, they got on very well, and continued 
to live together till Mr. Bronte's death, which happened 
on the 7th of June, 1861, he being then eighty-four years 
old. After this, Mr. Nicholls, being disappointed of the 
incumbency of Haworth, returned to his native Treland 

Charlotte Bronte died in the plenitude of her literary 
powers. Those three periods so inevitable in long-lived 
authors, the early, the middle, and the later, are not 
noticeable in her case. In fact, her style was but full- 
grown when the pen was snatched from her hand. Styles 
unfortunately wear out. Even Thackeray's, easy and 
delightful as it ever is, had grown somewhat dilapidated 
by the time he wrote " Lovel the Widower." That, had 
she lived, she would, husband or no husband, have written 
other novels cannot be doubted, but what sort of novels 
they would have been, and how they would have com- 
pared with "Jane Eyre" and " Villette," are problems 
best solved in our dreams or when we lie betwixt sleeping 
and waking, and should not be attempted in sober earnest 
on the dull printed page. 

Sorrowfully sudden as her end was, perhaps it was not 
unkind. Her life had been a sad one. It is idle to pre- 
tend otherwise. One hardly knows at what entrance 
sorrow was shut out. She never knew her mother ; 
her father_Sas far-. .more a trial than a ..comfort j all 
her life through she must have been full of dread for 

her only brother 

died a drunkard and disgraced; her sistersMives were 
tortured by poverty and dependence, and they died 
young, joyless, and disappointed. Nor did Love ever 


smile upon her life ; its agitations she knew and all " its 
thwarting currents of desire," but never was she allowed 
to dwell in the 

" Fair house of joy and bliss 
Where truest pleasure is." 

For those who have led the lives of Charlotte, Emily, \j~ 
and Anne Bronte rest is best. 

"They are at rest: 

We may not stir the heaven of their repose 
By rude invoking voice, or prayer addrest 

In waywardness to those 
Who in the mountain grots of Eden lie 
And hear the fourfold river as it murmurs by. 

They hear it sweep 

In distance down the dark and savage vale ; 
But they at rocky bed, or current deep, 

Shall never more grow pale ; 
They hear, and meekly muse, as fain to know 
How long, untired, unspent, that giant stream shall flow." * 

1 "Lyra Apostolica," J. II. Newman. 


SIR WALTER SCOTT, in his preface to the col- 
lected tales of Mrs. Ann Radcliffe the good 
lady who curdled our grandmothers and made them 
creep assures us that so great was the excitement 
created by the publication of the " Mysteries of Udolpho " 
that " when a family was numerous the volumes flew, 
and were sometimes torn, from hand to hand, and the 
complaints of those whose studies were thus interrupted 
were a general tribute to the genius of the author." 

Novels now-a-days are received somewhat more coldly 
even in circles of sensibility, and though it would be 
rash to assert that never again will the earth witness the 
shameful sight of the members of one family righting for 
the physical possession of what Mr. Mudie calls " Works 
of Fiction," it is not likely to be one of frequent oc- 
currence. The most popular author must now be 
content with the applause r of his readers, and dispense 
with the "general tribute" Sir Walter refers to, which 
was paid in the sighs and groans of those whose studies 
were interrupted by rapine and violence. 

Familiarity with the article has bred some measure of 
contempt. In simpler times novels were to the general 


reader what the red-coats were to Miss Lydia Bennet, 
rare and stimulating things, worth walking miles to catch 
sight of; but now, when they weekly take the field in 
squadrons, it cannot be expected that anybody should 
turn out to see them march past. 

The part played by women in this great manufactory 
is an interesting subject, and by no means an unpleasant 
one. In most provinces of work women have been, and 
in many they still are, very badly treated, but here they 
have nothing to complain of, save, of course, the pro- 
verbial stupidity of the "gentle reader." Male authors 
have not combined against them, or boycotted publishers 
who publish for them. The publishers themselves have 
never sought to beat them down on account of their 
womanhood. It was never suggested that George Eliot 
ought to be paid less than Mr. Wilkie Collins because 
she was a woman. Their literary path has really been 
made easy for them, and the few unkind things that have 
been said about them have mostly proceeded from their . / 
old cronies, the clergy, who did not like seeing them setting V^* 
up for themselves. How pleasantly Miss Burney made 
her deb&t ; how almost hilariously was her advent hailed ! 
With what chivalrous enthusiasm did Johnson and Burke 
and Gibbon crown her with laurel from their own brows. 
Miss Edgeworth and Miss Austen had no professional 
jealousies to contend with, and never felt the creeping 
paralysis born of a sneer. The generous Sir Walter 
lavished praises upon them and their works. Himself, 
jure divino, the king of the craft, he adopted them into 
his race, and sealed them of his tribe. He always 
talks to us, said one of his poor neighbours, "as if we 

170 LIFE OF 

were his blood relations," and what the man was that was 
the author. Jealousy, subtlest of human infirmities 

" It's always ringing in your ears 
They call this man as good as me," 

never entered the manly habitation of Sir Walter's mine 
He writes in his diary : 

"Also read again, for the third time at least, Miss 
Austen's very finely written novel of 'Pride and 
Prejudice.' That young lady had a talent for describing 
the involvements, feelings, and characters of ordinary 
life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. 
The Big Bow Wow strain I can do myself, like any now 
going, but the exquisite touch which renders ordinary 
commonplace things and characters, interesting from the 
truth of the sentiments is denied to me." 

And again : 

" Edgeworth, Ferrier, Austen, have all given portraits 
of real society far superior to anything man, vain man, 
has produced of the like nature." 

I wonder whether woman, vain woman, would, under 
similar circumstances, have written with equal cordiality 
of her rivals. Miss Ferrier, who was a great favourite of 
Scott, had an easy time of it, and her three novels, 
"Destiny," "Marriage," and "The Inheritance," still 
number good intellects, and have recently been repub- 
lished in almost too handsome a guise, i Nothing 


certainly ever interfered with George Eliot's novel- 
writing career. Like the Roman Empire, she ran her 
course. Charlotte Bronte, perhaps, fared the worst, and 
yet her literary life, as compared with her individual life, 
was bright and happy. 

The respective values of the goods turned out from 
their rival manufactories will be best determined by 
Time. Anything like an uniformity of taste is to be 
deprecated, and it is to be hoped that free and inde- 
pendent readers will never pay respect to any chair of 
criticism, however well endowed, save so far as its canons 
are of a constructive character, and teach them, not how 
to sneer at small authors, but how to admire great ones. 
Intense as is my affection for the memory of Lord 
Macaulay, I think he did wrong to make such cruel fun 
of " Satan " Montgomery. Poor Satan ! 

" I'm wae to think upon yon den 
E'en for your sake." 

Why should the thousands of decent people who liked 
Montgomery's " Turkey-carpet style of writing," and who 
read his poetry because they liked it, have been fright- 
ened out of their likings by the stormy ridicule of a 
mighty rhetorician ? When they laid down the " Omni- 
presence of the Deity " they did not take up u Paradise 
Lost." They simply read no more that day, or perhaps 
for many days, and became duller and stupider in 
consequence. It is idle to talk about the duty of 
detecting literary impostors. We need be under no 
apprehension on that score. Old Father Time does his 

172 LIFE OP 

own weeding, and does it more effectually, though with 
less obvious ferocity, than did Lord Macaulay the hoeing 
up of dandelions on the lawn at Holly Lodge. Macaulay 
writes : 

" I thought that I was rid of the villains, but the day 
before yesterday, when I got up and looked out of my 
window, I could see five or six of their great, impudent, 
flaring, yellow faces turned up at me. ' Only you wait till 
I come down,' I said. How I grubbed them up ! How 
I enjoyed their destruction ! " 

But why should poor poets and bad authors be pre- 
maturely grubbed up, and grudged any little fame they 
can scrape together during their lives ? It was not their 
fault people liked them better than their betters. Who 
now reads Cleaveland? and yet he was once dubbed 
" Prince of Poets," and so great was his fame, even 
worse poetry than his was palmed off upon a greedy 
public as the production of his exquisite wit. He gave 
pleasure in his own day, and harms nobody now, for the 
last of the very numerous editions of his verse bears date 
1699. He certainly is not "equalled in renown" with 
" blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides," or yet with his 
contemporary, blind John Milton. The fact is, Time 
has grubbed up John Cleaveland, Prince of Poets, and 
cast him into the ash-bin. But he was a good man 
most bad poets are (see Johnson's " Lives ") and a tutor 
of St. John's College, Cambridge. 

It is never pleasant to hear some cowardly fellow 
joining in a laugh at Mr. Tupper when you know quite 


well he would much prefer the "Proverbial Philosophy" 
to " Sordello," or " In Memoriam," or " Empedocles on 
Etna," or " Atalanta in Calydon." These latter poems 
indeed he will never read; the former he would have 
read in the copy his maiden aunt gave him, only he is 
ashamed to open it. Extol the great authors if you will, 
but leave the small ones alone. It is easier to teach the 
mob to throw a brick-bat at a fool than to worship at 
the shrine of a saint, but it is a lesson not worth the 

The only excuse for this plea for the prevention of y 
cruelty to the lower authors is its obvious sincerity. I ry 
have ajersopal ohjef;ti on tO frrjck-hat.s. 

Charlotte Bronte had no fancy for Miss Austen's 
novels, which Mr. Lewes somewhat dictatorially told her 
she must like. With proper spirit she replied, Why? 
and as good as said, " I won't." 

Reading Miss Austen's novels would not be so 
delightful as it is to her sworn followers were every one 
bound under penalties to profess an equal pleasure in 
them. When a devotee t&kes up " Mansfield Park " and 
reads : 

" About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Hun- 
tingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good 
luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield 
Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby 
raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the com- 
forts and consequences of a large house and a large 
income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of 
the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself allowed 

174 LIFE OF 

her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any 
equitable claim to it ; " 

or opens " Pride and Prejudice " at the place where Mr. 
Collins is telling Elizabeth Bennet his reasons for pro- 
posing to her : 

" First, I think it a right thing for every clergyman in 
easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of 
matrimony in his parish; secondly, I am convinced it 
will add very greatly to my happiness ; and thirdly 
which, perhaps, I ought to have mentioned earlier it is 
the particular advice and recommendation of the very 
noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness. 
Twice has she condescended to give me her opinion 
(unasked too !) on the subject, and it was but the very 
Saturday night before I left Hunsford, between our 
pools at quadrille, while Mrs. Jenkinson was arranging 
Miss De Bourgh's footstool, that she said, ' Mr. Collins, 
you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry. 
Choose properly; choose a gentlewoman, for my sake 
and for your own ; let her be an active, useful sort of 
person, not brought up high, but able to make a small 
income go a good way. This is my advice. Find such 
a woman as soon as you can ; bring her to Hunsford, 
and I will visit her.' " 

When I say the lover of Miss Austen reads these 
well-known passages the smile of satisfaction, betraying 
the deep inward peace they never fail to beget, widens, 
like "a circle in the water," as he remembers (and he is 


careful always to remember) how his dearest friend, who 
has been so successful in life, can no more read Miss 
Austen than he can the Moabitish Stone. Literature would 
be a poor thing did we all love alike. 

Some people can only read the novels of a very limited 
number of authors, others can read almost anything. 
The late Bishop Thirlwall, who was an enormous novel 
reader, only once got stuck " The Wide, Wide World " 
beat him; he could not get through it. He was 
greatly annoyed, but the fact was so. And yet " The 
Wide, Wide World " had many readers, and is certainly 
better than " Queechy." 

It would hardly be safe to name Miss Austen, Miss 
Bronte, and George Eliot as the three greatest women 
novelists the United Kingdom can boast, and were one 
to go on and say that the alphabetical order of their 
names is also the order of merit, it would be necessary 
to seek police protection, and yet surely it is so. 

The test of merit for a novel can be nothing else than 
the strength and probable nf its pleasure- 
giving capacity. As M. Guizot once observed, unless a 
book is readable it will not be read. To be read always, 
everywhere, and by all is the impossible ideal. Who 
fails least is the greatest novelist. A member of the 
craft may fairly enough pray in aid of his immortality, 
his learning, his philosophy, his width of range, his depth 
of passion, his height of feeling, his humour, his style, or 
any mortal thing he can think of; but unless his novels 
give pleasure, and are likely to go on giving pleasure, his 
grave is dug, and sooner or later, probably sooner, will 
be occupied by another dead novelist. 

176 LIFE OF 

Applying this test, we ask What pleasure-giving 
ments do Miss Austen's novels now possess which they 
will not possess a century hence ? None ! If they 
please now, they will please then, unless in the meantime 
some catastrophe occurs to human nature, which shall 
rob the poor thing of the satisfaction she has always 
hitherto found in contemplating her own visage. Faiths, 
fashions, thrones, parliaments, late dinners, may all fade 
away ; we may go forward, we may go back ; recall 
political economy from Saturn, or Mr. Henry George 
from New York ; crown Mr. Parnell King of Ireland, or 
hang him high as Haman ; but fat Mary Bennet, the 
elder Miss Bates, Mr. Rushworth, and Mr. John Thorpe 
must always remain within call, being not accidental, but 
essential figures. 

Lord Macaulay's eulogy in The Edinburgh Review on 
Miss Austen in general, and her clergy in particular, is 
well known : 

" They are all specimens of the upper part of the 
middle class. They have all been liberally educated. 
They all lie under the restraints of the same sacred pro- 
fession. They are all young. They are all in love. Not 
one of them has any hobby-horse, to use the phrase of 
Sterne. Not one has a ruling passion such as we read 
of in Pope. Who would not have expected them to be 
insipid likenesses of each other ? No such thing ! 
Harpagon is not more unlike to Jourdain j Joseph 
Surface is not more unlike to Sir Lucius O'Trigger, than 
every one of Miss Austen's young divines to all his 
reverend brethren." 


It is not, however, so well known that Archbishop 
Whately had twenty years earlier in The Quarterly 
Review paid just the same compliment in much the 
same style to Miss Austen's fools. Macaulay found 
himself compelled to compare the lady with Shakespeare, 
and to say that none had approached nearer to the 
manner of the great master ; but the prelate's praise was 
not only prior in point of time, but more discriminating 
when he said, that Miss Austen conducts her conversa- 
tions with a regard to character hardly exceeded even by 
Shakespeare himself. He then proceeds : " Like him 
she shows as admirable a discrimination in the character 
of fools as of people of sense ; a merit which is far from 
common. . . . Slender and Shallow and Ague-cheek as 
Shakespeare has painted them, though equally fools, 
resemble one another no more than Richard and Mac- 
beth, and Julius Caesar ; and Miss Austen's Mrs. Bennet, 
Mr. Rushworth and Miss Bates are no more alike than 
her Darcy, Knightley and Edward Bertram." 

It is, however, a grave mistake to confine the range of 
Miss Austen's powers to exquisite discrimination of 
character and the revelation of character through casual 
and unforced conversation. She, too, can portray the 
passions of the human breast. She does not exactly 
make them surge, but they flutter very nicely. The love 
of poor little Fanny Price for Edward Bertram is beau- 
tifully depicted. The before-quoted archbishop is elo- 
quent on the tale of this love so long unrequited, and 
employs a language not inapplicable to " Villette " : 

11 The silence in which this passion is cherished, the 


178 LH 

slender hopes and enjoyments by which it is fed, the 
restlessness and jealousy with which it fills a mind 
naturally active, contented, and unsuspicious, the manner 
in which it tinges every event and every reflection, are 
painted with a vividness and a detail of which we can 
scarcely conceive any one but a female, and, we should 
add, a female writing from recollection, capable." J 

It is a little unexpected to find Miss Austen, now 
accounted somewhat cold, supposed to have written of 
love with a vividness that must be autobiographical. 
But the critic's surmise was not a fair one. When "a 
male " writes a novel with love in it, as males not unfre- 
quently do, it is not customary for a critic to say that the 
author writes as no one but a male, and a male writing 
from recollection was capable of doing, and why should 
women be treated differently in this respect ? There is 
nothing finer even in Thackeray than the passion of 
Pendennis for the Fotheringay, but the criticism would 
have been as bad as the manners which asserted that the 
author must have written it from memory. Anyhow, it 
is surprising to find an archbishop, or one who at all 
events was to become an archbishop, countenancing so 
vile a phrase as "a female," and repeating it twice in a 
v line. 

It is not possible in the case of Charlotte Bronte's 
novels to feel the same confidence as about Miss Austen's. 
In fact, time has already told upon them. Yet being love- 
stories at once truthful and passionate, why should they 

1 For the whole article see Walter Scott's Prose Works, vol. xviii., 
where it is included by mistake. See Lockhart's Life, vol. v. , 
p. 158. 


not share the immortality of "Clarissa Harlowe " ? If they 
do ever cease to give pleasure it can only be by reason of 
something repellent, or at least non-communicative, in 
their tone. They have a marked tone, and it is a tone of 
some asperity. Sir Philip Sidney says in one of his sonnets 
that his mouth was too tender for the hard bit of virtue ; 
Charlotte Bronte's disciplined spirit rejoiced in the 
stern rigour of the bit, but perhaps the harsh training 
deprived her literary workmanship of some of those 
graces and charms which the world, always fond of a 
light touch, does not willingly let die. This severity and 
occasional harshness of tone and even temper are 
elements of danger, and compel us to give the elder 
novelist precedence over the younger. Miss Austen's 
^temper is perfect. 

The splendid achievements of George Eliot, the 
pictures she has drawn of social life, her Aunt Gleggs 
and Pullets, her parish clerks and veterinary surgeons, 
her local auctioneers and country attorneys, her old men 
and young children, are too fresh in our memories to 
enable us to form any opinion as to how her novels are 
likely to make good their demand upon the attention of 
an entirely new generation of readers, 

" Thundering and bursting 
In torrents and waves, 
Carolling and shouting 
Over tombs, amid graves." 

If these hasty and impetuous persons could only be 
persuaded to begin at the beginning instead of the end, 

180 LIFE OF 

and read about Shepperton and little Dicky Hacketf 
and that charming parson Mr. Ely, " who threw himself 
with a sense of relief into his easiest chair, and in this 
attitude of bachelor enjoyment began to read Bishop 
Jebbs' Memoirs," we might bid our fears begone. What 
the effect of " Deronda " may be upon " Amos Barton," 
or of " Middlemarch " upon " Silas Marner " it is im- 
possible to say. Certainly one cannot feel hopeful about 
these later works. What St. Ambrose said about men's 
salvation may also be said about their pleasures it did 
not please God to provide them /;/ dialectic^. Novels are 
supposed to treat of life, and life refuses to be jargonized. 
However, with these rocks ahead, it seems impossible 
but to adhere to the classification I am not bold enough 
to repeat. 

Mr. Swinburne in his delightful Note on Charlotte 
Bronte exhibits a little of what I may call the "grubbing 
up " spirit of Lord Macaulay, and looks forward to the 
good time when " darkness everlasting " shall have fallen 
upon some popular favourites whom he names. I have 
not the spirits to join in this exultation. For, after all, 
these popular favourites who have served us a good turn 
before now, will be trodden under foot only to make 
room for writers no whit their superiors, but for the 
possession of what Wordsworth called the " irritation of 
novelty." The last-named great poet in his supple- 
mentary preface had the courage to point out that bad 
poetry is as immortal as good, the difference between the 
two being that the immortality of the good is the 
immortality of the individual, whilst in the other case it 
is only the species that is immortal. We do not, for 


example, to-day read Cleaveland and Flatman, bad poets 
of old, but we do read Herbert and Milton good poets of 
the same date. None the less do we read the Cleavelands 
and Flatmen of our own time. One may surely avow a 
kindly preference for the bad authors one knows and 
sees basking in their prosperity, over those who will make 
their fortunes " far on in summers that we shall not see." 

The future of the novel cannot be predicted and had 
better not be attempted. There is a ridiculous fashion 
nowadays for persons who have written books which 
happen to have interested a certain number of idle 
readers, gravely to sit down and write either an account 
of how they came to write such invaluable works, or a 
disquisition upon the art which they practice. Such 
proceedings lead these worthy authors to exaggerate 
their own importance by causing them to dwell too 
exclusively upon their own productions. 

M. Zola has written some books of which the critics 
of the future will have to take account ; but he has not 
made his position better, but worse, by attempting to 
publish the philosophy of his method. It became quite 
hard for an Englishman, who cannot fancy what his life 
would have been without " Pickwick " and " Pendennis," 
to do justice to Mr. W. D. Ho wells, after that author 
had made public his banalities about Dickens and 
Thackeray. And now it appears from a recent number 
of The Contemporary Review that the author of " She " 
has ideas about fiction. It is a wide world, my 
masters, and you had better be writing what you write 
best and leave us, your readers, alone to seek our pleasure 
where we can find it. The world will certainly not 



reject the work of any writer because his book ought 
not to have been written according to the theory of 

The office of 1i^r flf " rfi 1>fi *" please and to attain a 
place amongst the pleasure-givers is no small reward for 
hard^work_or even bitter sorrow. High amongst those 
to whom we owe gratitude, and happily can pay respect, 
stands the name of Charlotte Bronte. 





Ahaderg, County Down, Birth- 
place of Patrick Prunty, 15 

Arnold, Dr., Life of, 143 

Arnold, Mr. Matthew, Lines on 
the Brontes, 144 

Austen, Jane. 169, 173-8 


Bachelors, How to behave in the 
presence of, 85 

Branwell, Miss Maria, marries 
Patrick Bronte, 24 ; dies, 25 

Branwell, Miss, sister of the above, 
comes to Haworth, 31 ; Char- 
lotte Bronte's letter to, 74 ; dies, 

Bronte, Anne, 65, 67, 8r, 84, 87 ; 
her writings, 92 ; her death, 120 

Bronte, Branwell, 55, 86, 119 

Bronte, Charlotte, born at Thorn- 
ton, 25 ; is taken to Haworth, 
26 ; expresses an opinion about 
the Bible, 34 ; goes to Cowan's 

Bridge School, 39 ; is removed, 
40 ; commences author, 43 ; 
chooses the Isle of Wight, 44 ; 
writes the history of the year 
1829, 45 ; the Catholic Ques- 
tion and the Duke, 47 ; per- 
sonally described, 48, 49 ; goes 
to Roehead School, 49 ; her 
gifts and acquirements, 50 ; 
listens to Miss Wooler's stories, 
51 ; schooldays end, 51 ; her 
reading and her advice to Miss 
Nussey on books, 52, 53 ; the 
passion for London, 53 ; be- 
comes a teacher at Roehead, 56 ; 
writes to Southey, 61 ; corres- 
pondence with him, 62-4; "St. 
John" proposes marriage and 
is refused, 66, 67 ; becomes a 
governess, 68 ; returns home 
and refuses an Irish curate, 69 ; 
begins a story, 71 ; reads forty 
French novels, 72 ; becomes a 
governess again, 72 ; unhappy in 
her remarks about children, 73 ; 



school-keeping projects, 73-7 ; 
goes to M. Heger's at Brussels, 
77; remarks about "Villette," 
78 ; returns to Brussels against 
her conscience, 81 ; unhappy, 
82 ; returns to Haworth, 83 ; 
poems by Currer, Ellis, and 
Acton Bell, 87 ; "The Professor" 
goes its rounds, 94 ; first glimpse 
of "Jane Eyre," 96 ; is unsym- 
pathetic towards curates, 97 ; 
"Jane Eyre" accepted and 
published, 98-9 ; goes to Lon- 
don with Anne, 118 ; "Shirley" 
begun and published, 122 ; 
" Shirley " lets out the secret of 
authorship, 132 ; visits London 
and meets Thackeray, 133 ; 
again visits London, 134 ; visits 
Edinburgh, 135 ; lonely life at 
Haworth, 138 ; Mr. X wants 
to marry her, 140 ; meets 
Mrs. Gaskell, 141 ; edits 
"Wuthering Heights" and 
"Agnes Grey, "142, 143; goes to 
London, 145 ; hears Thackeray 
lecture, 146 ; reads " Esmond," 

161 ; Mr. Nicholls proposes 
marriage, but her father refuses, 

162 ; again visits London, 162 ; 
receives a visit from the Bishop 
of Ripon, 163 ; journey to Scot- 
land spoilt by a baby, 164 ; 
marriage, 164 ; death, 165 

Bronte, Elizabeth, born, 25 ; an- 
swers a question, 34 ; goes to 
school, dies, 39 

Bronte, Emily, born, 25 ; answers 
a question, 34 ; goes to school, 
39 ; chooses the Isle of Arran, 
44 ; goes to Roehead, 56 ; re- 
turns home, 57 ; her love of the 

moors uia of liberty, 57 ; studies 
German and kneads dough, 58 ; 
reticence about religion, 60 ; 
goes to M. Heger's, 76 ; love of 
argument, 79 ; poems, 90 ; 
"Wuthering Heights," 116; 
dies, 119, 120 

Bronte, Maria, born, 25 ; answers 
a question, 34 ; conversational 
powers, 35 ; unhappy at Cowan's 
Bridge, 37 ; dies, 39 

Bronte, Patrick, born, 15 ; keeps 
a school, 16 ; tutor to Mr. 
Tighe's family, goes to Cam- 
bridge, 16 ; drills side by side 
with Lord Palmerston, takes 
his degree and holy orders, be- 
comes a curate at Wethersfield, 
17 ; falls in love with Miss 
Burder, 20 ; is secret about his 
parentage, 21 ; leaves Wethers- 
field, 22 ; after death of his wife 
proposes again to Miss Burder 
but is refused, 23 ; marries Miss 
Branwell, 24 ; his temper, 25 ; 
an author and a poet, 30 ; his 
talents, 31 ; his account of 
his children, 33 ; suffers from 
cataract, 95 ; left alone with 
Charlotte, 137 ; his violence, 
162 ; his death, 166 

Brussels, Life at, 79-83 

Burder, Miss Mary Mildred, 20, 

22, 23 

Burney, Miss, 169 


Cowan's Bridge School, 36-40 


Donne, Rev. Mr., 123, 124 




Edgeworth, Miss, 169, 170 
Edinburgh, 135 
Edinburgh Review, 130 
Eliot, George, 124, 169, 179 


Ferrier, Miss, 170 


Gaskell, Mrs., 5, 141 


Hartshead, 24 
Haworth moors, 26 
Heger, M., 76, 79, 80, 82 


"Islanders," The, 44 


"Jane Eyre," First glimpse of, 96 ; 
published, 99 ; significance of, 
100 ; sex of author doubted, 
101 ; The Quarterly Reviewer, 
102, 108-114 ; a great deal of 
Charlotte Bronte in Jane, 103-4 ; 
energy the crowning merit of, 
105 ; quotations from, 105-111 

Johnson, Dr., 85 

Lewes, Mr. G. H., 100, 107, 130, 


London, Love for, 53, 54, 135 
Longley, Dr., 163 


Macaulay, Lord, 171, 176 
Martineau, Miss, 143, 145, 147 


Newman, Cardinal, 142, 167 
Nicholls, Mr., 97, 162, 164, 166 
Nussey, Miss, 49, 52, 53, 135, 164 


Palmerston, Lord, 17 

Poems, 87-93 

" Professor," The, 94, 95, 98 


Quarterly Review on "Jane 
Eyre," 108-114 


Radcliffe, Mrs. Ann, 168 
Rochester, Mr., 102, 107 
Roehead, 49, 56 


Scott, Sir Walter, 143, 168-170 
"Shirley," published, 123; an 
open-air book, 124 ; quotations 
from, 125-8 ; reviewed in The 
Times and in The Edinburgh 
Review, 130 ; told the secret of 
its authorship, 132 
Southey, 61-5 

Stephen, Mr. Leslie, 38, 103, 158 
Swinburne, Mr., 67, 156, 180 


Tabitha, 42, 65, 137, 145 
Tighe, Rev. Mr., i 



Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte 
meets, 133 ; scolds, 134, 135 ; 
hears lecture, 145; reads "Es- 
mond," 161 

Thirlwall, Bishop, could not read 
" The Wide Wide World," 175 

Thornton, 24, 25 


"Villette" published, 147; Miss 
Martineau's objections, 147 ; 
quotations from, 148-157 ; M. 
Paul Emanuel, 157 ; Dr. John, 

150 ; how far autobiographical, 


Wellington, Duke of, Charlotte 

Bronte's hero, 43, 46 ; she sees 

him, 134 

Wethersfield, 17, 18 
Whately, Archbishop, on Miss 

Austen, 177 

Wooler, Miss, 49, 51, 164 
Wordsworth on bad poetry, 180 
"Wuthering Heights," 94, 97, 

116, 143 



(British Museum.) 


Biography, Criticism, etc. 
Magazine Articles. 


Life and Works of Charlotte 
Bronte and her Sisters. (Life by 
Mrs. Gaskell.) An illustrated 
edition, in seven vols. London, 
1872-3, 8vo. 

Vol. i., Jane Eyre; vol. ii., 
Shirley; vol. iii., Villette ; vol. iv., 
The Professor and Poems which 
include the Cottage Poems by the 
Rev. Patrick Bronte ; vol. v., 
Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey ; 
vol. vi., The Tenant of Wildfell 
Hall; vol. vii., The Life of Char- 
lotte Bronte, by Mrs. Gaskell. 

Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton 
Bell [i.e. Charlotte, Emily, and 
Anne Bronte], London, 1846, 

Another edition. Philadel- 
phia, 1848, 16mo. 

Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. 
By Currer Bell. 3 vols. Lon- 
don, 1847, 8vo. 

Jane Eyre. Second edition. Svola. 
London, 1848, 8vo. 

Third edition. 3 vols. Lon- 
don, 1848, 8vo. 

Fourth edition. London, 

1850, 8vo. 

Fifth edition. London, 1855, 


Another edition. London, 

1857, 8vo. 

Haworth Edition. [Illus- 
trated]. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 
1884, 8vo. 

Shirley, a Tale. 3 vols. Lon- 
don, 1849, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1853, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1860, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1862, 8vo. 

Villette. 3 vols. London, 1853, 



Villette. Another edition. Lon- 
don, 1855, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1858, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1860, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1362, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1879, 12mo. 

The Professor, a Tale. 2 vols. 
London, 1857, 8vo. 

Another edition ( Tauchnitz 

Collection, vol. 404). Leipzig, 
1857, 16rao. 

Another edition. To which 

are added poems by Currer, 
Ellis, and Acton Bell. London, 
1860, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1862, 8vo. 

Wuthering Heights, and Agnes 
Grey, by Ellis and Acton Bell. 
A new edition revised, with a 
biographical notice of the 
authors, a selection from their 
literary remains, and a preface, 
by Currer Bell [i.e. Charlotte 
Bronte]. London, 1850, 12mo. 

Emma (a fragment of a Story 
by the late C. B. Preceded 
by a short notice by W. M. T. 
i.e., W. M. Thackeray, entitled 
The Last Sketch, in vol. i., 1860, 
of the "Cornhill Magazine," 
pp. 485-498). 

An hour with C. B. ; or flowers 
from a Yorkshire moor. [Selec- 
tions from C. B.'s writings and 
correspondence, with a bio- 
graphical sketch.] By Laura C. 
Holloway. New York [1883], 



Adams, W. H. Davenport. 
Women of Fashion and Repre- 
sentative Women in Letters and 
Society. 2 vols. London, 1878, 

Charlotte Bronte, vol. ii., pp. 265- 

Celebrated Englishwomen of 

the Victorian Era. 2 vols. 
London, 18S4, 8vo. 

Charlotte Bronte, vol. i., pp. 119- 

Child-life and Girlhood of 

Remarkable Women. Second 
edition. London, 1885, 8vo. 
Charlotte Bronte, pp. 57-77. 

Arnold, Matthew Poems of 
Matthew Arnold. Lyric and 
Elegiac Poems. London, 1885, 

Ha worth Churchyard : April, 1855. 
Originally appeared in Fraser's 
Magazine, vol. Ii., 1855, pp. 527-530. 

Bayne, Peter. Essays in Bio- 
graphy and Criticism. Boston, 
1857, 8vo. 

Ellis, Acton, and Currer Bell, 
First Series, pp. 392-426. 

Two Great Englishwomen, 

Mrs. Browning and Charlotte 
Bronte, etc. London, 1881, 

Charlotte Bronte and her Sisters, 
pp. 157-340 ; originally appeared in 
the Literary World. 

Bronte, C. The Parting. Ballad 
written by Currer Bell \i. e. C. 
Bronte]. Begins "There's no 
use in weeping." Music by J. 
E. Field. London, 1853, fol. 

Love and Friendship. Song, 

the poetry by C. Bronte. The 
music by Einna. London, 1879, 

Brougham, John. Jane Eyre. A 
drama in five acts, adapted from 
C. Bronte's novel. (French's 



American Drama, No. 136.) 
New York [1869], 12rno. 
Chambers, Robert. Chambers's 
Cyclopsedia of English Litera- 
ture, etc. Third edition. 2vols. 
London, 1876, 8vo. 

Charlotte Bronte, vol. ii., pp. 531- 

Clark, F. L. Golden Friendships, 
etc. London, 1884, 8vo. 

The Brontes and tfaeir Friends, 
pp. 128-159. 

Dobell, Sydney The Life and 
Letters of Sydney Dobell. 2 
vols. London, 1878, 8vo. 

Correspondence with Miss Bronte, 
1851, vol. i., pp. 209-222. 

Eyre, Jane. Et Yaisenhuusbarn. 
Flqkecomedie med Sang i 4 
Akter [and in prose]. Efter en 
fri Bearbeidelse af Romanen 
" Jane Eyre " [by C. Bronte]. 
Kjijbenhavn, 1859, 8vo. 

Essays. English Essays. Ham- 
burg, 1869, 12mo. 

Charlotte Bronte, vol. i., pp. 137- 
168. Reprinted from the North 
American Review, October 1857. 

Gaskell, E. C. The Life of 
Charlotte Bronte. 2 vols. 
London, 1857, 12mo. 

Second edition. 2 vols. 

London, 1857, 8vo. 

Third edition, revised and 

corrected. 2 vols. London, 

1857, 8vo. 

Another edition. London, 

1858, 8vo. 

Another edition. (Tauchnitz 

Collection of British Authors, 
vols. 384, 385.) Leipzig, 1859, 

Grundy, Francis H, Pictures of 
the Past. London, 1879, 8vo. 
Patrick Bramvell Bronte, pp. 73- 

Holroyd, Abraham. A Garland 
of Poetry by Yorkshire Authors, 

or relating to Yorkshire. Salt- 

aire, 1873, 16mo. 
"On the Death of Currer Bell" 

(three verses), by Benjamin Preston, 

1857, p. 23. 
Kinsley, William W. Views on 

Yexed Questions. Philadelphia. 

1881, 8vo, 

The Bronte Sisters, pp. 303-380. 
Leyland, Francis A. The Bronte 

Family, with special reference 

to Patrick Branwell Bronte. 

2 vols. London, 1886, 8vo. 
McCarthy, Justin A History of 

Our Own Times. 4 vols. Lon- 
don, 1882, 8vo. 
Charlotte Bronte, vol. ii., pp. 259- 


Martineau, Harriet. Biograph- 
ical Sketches, 1852-1875, Fourth 

edition. London, 1876, 8vo. 
Charlotte Bronte (" Currer Bell"), 

pp. 360-366. 
Men. Eminent Men and Popular 

Books. From "The Times." 

London, 1859, 8vo. 

Charlotte Bronte, pp. 185-206. 
Michely, R. L'Orfanella di 

Lowood. Dramma,etc. [Founded 

on "Jane Eyre," by C. B.] 

Napoli, 1874, 8vo. 
Montegut, Emile. Ecrivains 

Modernes de PAngleterre. 

Premiere Serie. Paris, 1885, 

Charlotte Bronte. Portrait G6ne- 

ral. First Series, pp. 183-354. 
Morley, Henry. Of English 

Literature in the reign of 

Yictoria, etc. (Tauchnitz 

edition, vol. 2000.) Leipzig, 

1881, 12mo. 

The Brontes, pp. 386-389. 
P., W. P. Jottings on Currer, 

Ellis, and Acton Bell [i.e. , C. , E. , 

and A. Bronte]. By W. P. P. 

London, 1856, 8vo. 
Reid, T. Wemyss. Chailotte 

Bronte. A Monograph, by T. 



W. R. With illustrations. 

London, 1877, 8vo. 
Robinson, A. Mary F. Emily 

Bronte (Eminent Wcmien Series}. 

London, 1883, 8vo. 
Roscoe, William Caldvvell. 

Poems and Essays by the late 

William C. Roscoe. 2 vols. 

London, 1860, 8vo. 
The Miss Brontes, vol. ii. [July, 

1857], pp. 309-353. 
Selden, Camille, pseud. L'Espiit 

des Femmes de notre temps. 

Paris, 1865, 12mo. 
Charlotte Bronte et la Vie Morale 

en Angleterre, pp. 83-218. 
Shepheard, Henry. A Vindica- 
tion of the Clergy Daughters' 

School and of the Rev. W. 

Carus Wilson, from the Remarks 

in the " Life of Charlotte 

Bronte" [by Mrs. E. C. Gaskell]. 

Kirkby Lonsdale, 1857, 8vo. 
Skelton, John. Essays in history 

and biography, etc. Edinburgh, 

1883, 8vo. 
Charlotte Bronte, pp. 296-311; 

appeared originally in Fraser's 


Smith, George Barnett. Poets 
and Novelists. A series of 
literary studies. London, 1875, 

The Brontes, pp. 209-250. Re- 
printed from the Cornhill Magazine. 

Stephen, Leslie. Hours in a 
Library. London, 1879, 8vo. 

Charlotte Bronte, third series, 
pp. 325-364. 

Dictionary of National 

Biography. London, 1886, 8vo. 
Charlotte Bronte, by Leslie 

Stephen, vol. vi., pp. 406-413. 
Swinburne, Algernon Charles. 

A Note on Charlotte Bronte. 

London, 1877, 8vo. 
Turner, Joseph Horsfall. 

Haworth, Past and Present. 

Brighouse, 1879, 8vo. 

Women. Fifty Famous Women, 
etc. London, 1879, 8vo. 
Charlotte Bronte, pp. 249-255. 

Ward and Lock. Ward and 
Lock's Penny Books for the 
People. The life of Charlotte 
Bronte. London [1882], 8vo. 


Bronte, Charlotte. Catholic 
World, by G. Cerny, vol. 3, 
1866, pp. 836-841. Hours at 
Home, by R. W. Gilder, vol. 
11, 1870, pp. 183-187. Galaxy, 
by A. B. Harris, vol. 24, p. 41, 
etc. Macmillan's Magazine, by 
T. W. Reid, vol. 34, 1876, pp. 
385-401 and 481-499 ; same 
article, LittelPs Living Age, 
vol. 130, 1876, pp. 801-816, and 
vol. 131, pp. 289 306, 611-627, 
also Eclectic Magazine, vol. 24, 
N.S., pp. 699-715, and vol. 25, 
N.S., pp. 83-97, 192-212. 
Fraser's Magazine, by J. 
Skelton, vol. 55, 1857, pp. 
569-582; same article, Eclectic 
Magazine, vol. 41, pp. 532-545. 
Cornhill Magazine, by Leslie 
Stephen, vol. 36, 1877, pp. 723- 
739 ; same article, Eclectic 
Magazine, vol. 90, pp, 178-189, 
and Littell's Living Age, vol. 
136, pp. 23-34. Cornhill 
Magazine, by W. M. Thackeray 
(a short paper signed W. M. T. f 
prefixed to Emma, a fragment 
of a story by the late Charlotte 
Bronte), vol. 1, 1860, pp. 485- 
498. American Presbyterian 
Review, by B. J. Wallace, vol. 
6, p. 285, etc: Black wood's 
Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 82, 
1857, pp: 77-94. British 
Quarterly Review, vol. 26, 


Bronte, Charlotte. 

1857, pp.' 218-231 ; same article, 
with portrait after Richmond, 
Eclectic Magazine, vol. 42, pp.' 
145-1 f>3. Littell's Living Age, 
vol: 45, 1855, pp. 396-397. 
National Review, vol. 5, 1857, 
pp. 127-164 ; same article, 
Littell's Living Age, vol. 54, 
1857, pp. 577-598. Literary 
World, by Peter Bayne, vol. 21, 
N.S., 1880, pp. 232-234, 248- 
250, 264-266, 281-283, 296-298, 
312-314, 328-330, 344-346, 360. 
362, 376-378, 392-394, 406-408 - 
vol. 22, N.S., 1880, pp. 8-10; 
24-26. Saturday Review, vol, 
3, 1857, pp. 313, 314. Mirror, 
on Brauwell Bronte, by January 
Searle (G. S. Phillips), Dec 
28, 1872, pp. 27 8, 279. -English- 
women's Domestic Magazine, 
vol. 2, 3rd series, pp. 136-140, 
165-169; vol; 26, 3rd series, 
pp. 159-164 and 214-217. 
National Magazine, voi 13, p. 
548, etc. Harper's New 
Monthly Magazine, vol. 11, 
1855, p. 128. Unsere Zeit, by 
Leopold Katscher, Bd. 2, 1880, 
pp. 734-752. Palladium, by 
Sydney Dobell Sept. 1850, pp. 
161-175; afterwards reprinted in 
his Life and Letters, vol. i,1878. 

and Jane Austen. Modern 

Review, by A. Aruitt, vol. 3, 
1882, pp. 384-396. 

and Thackeray. Oxford and 

Cambridge Magazine, 1856, pp. 

Birthplace of. Canadian 

Monthly, by Georgiana M. 
Craik, vol. 9, 1876, pp. 264- 
267 ; same article, Eclectic 
Magazine, vol. 23, N.S., pp. 

The Brontes. Cornhill Maga- 

Bronte, Charlotte, 
zine, by George B. Smith, 
vol. 28, 1873, pp. . 54-71 ; 
same article, Eclectic Magazine, 
vol. 18, N.S., pp. 287-299; 
Littell's Living Age, vol. 118, 
pp. 307-318, and Every Satur- 
day, vol. 15, p. 97, etc. 

The Brontes and their Home. 

Broadway, vol. 3, 3rd series, 
1871, pp. 23-30 ; same article, 
Putnam's Magazine, vol. 6, 
N.S., pp. 278-286. 

The Bronte Sisters. Lakeside, 

by W. W. Kinsley, vol. 1, 
1869, pp. 154-157. 

Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. 

Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, 
vol. 22, 2nd series, 1855, pp. 
416-423. Ladies' Edinburgh 
Magazine, vol. 4, N.S., pp. 

GaskeUs Life of. American 

Church Monthly, vol. 2, p. 113, 
etc. Christian Observer, vol. 
57, 1857, pp. 487-490. New 
Monthly Magazine, vol. 110, 
1857, pp. 317-335. Littell's 
Living Age, vol. 53, 1857, pp. 
385-402 and 777-780 ; vol. 55, 
pp. 385-421. Tait's Edinburgh 
Magazine, vol. 24, N.S., 1857, 
pp. 292-295. Eraser's Maga- 
zine, by J. Skelton, vol. 55, 
1857, pp. 569-582, reprinted in 
1883 ; same article, Eclectic 
Magazine, vol. 41, pp. 532-545. 

Her Lucy Snoive. Harper's 

New Monthly Magazine, by 
Susan M. Waring, vol. 32, 
1865, pp. 368-371. 

Jane Eyre. North American 

Review, vol. 67, 1848, pp. 354- 
357. North British Review, 
vol. 11, 1849, pp. 475-493. 
Westminster Review, vol. 48, 
1848, pp. 581-584. Eraser's 


Bronte, Charlotte. 
Magazine, by G. H. Lewes, 
vol. 36, 1847, pp. 690-694. 
Christian Remembrancer, 
vol. 15, N.S., 1848, pp. 
396-409 ; same article, Littell's 
Living Age, vol. 17, 1848, pp. 
481-487. Dublin Review, vol. 
28, 1850, pp. 209-233. Dublin 
University Magazine, vol. 31, 

1848, pp. 608-614. Tait's 
Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 15, 
N.S., 1848, pp. 346-348. 
Revue des Deux Mondes, by 
Eugene Forcade, torn. 24, 
Serie 5, 1848, pp. 470-494. 
Spectator, Nov. 6. 1847, pp. 
1074, 1075. 

Jane Eyre and the Rev. F. 

W. Robinson. American Church 
Review, by G. G. Hepburne, 
vol. 28, 1876, pp. 252-260. 

Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair. 

Quarterly Review, vol. 84, 

1849, pp. 153-185; same article, 
Littell's Living Age, vol. 20, pp. 

Life of. Christian Remem- 
brancer, vol. 34, N.S., 1857, 
pp. 87-145. New Quarterly 
Review, vol. 6, 1857, pp. 222- 
228. Eclectic Review, vol. 1, 
N.S., 1857, pp. 630-642. 
Westminster Review, vol. 53, 
N.S., 1878, pp. 34-56. 

On the Yorkshire Hills about 

Haworth. Temple Bar, vol. 19, 
1867, pp. 428-432. 

Poems by Currer, Ellis, and 

Acton Bell. Spectator, Nov. 11, 
pp. 1094, 1095. 

The Professor. Dublin Uni- 
versity Magazine, vol. 50, 1857, 
pp. 88-100. Littell's Living 
Age, vol. 54, pp. 630-683. 

Bronte, Charlotte, 

Reminiscences of. Illustrated. 

Scribner's Monthly, vol. 2, 
1871, pp. 18-31. 

Shirley. Edinburgh Review, 

vol. 91, 1850, pp. 153-173; 
same article, Littell's Living 
Age, vol. 24, pp. 481-489. 
Littell's Living Age, vol. 23, 
1849, pp. 535, 536, (reprinted 
from the Examiner. ) West- 
minster Review, vol. 52, 1850, 
p. 418, 419. Eclectic Review, 
vol. 26, N.S., 1849, pp. 739- 
749. Dublin University Maga- 
zine, vol. 34, 1849, pp. 680-689. 
Dublin Review, vol. 28, 1850, 
pp, 209-233, Athenaeum, Nov. 
3, 1849, pp. 1107-1109. Spec- 
tator, Nov. 3, 1849, pp, 1043- 

Unpublished Letters of. Hours 

at Home, vol. 11, 1870, pp. 

Villette. Putnam's Monthly 

Magazine, vol. 1, 1853, pp. 535- 
539. University Quarterly, by 
W. W. Kinsley, vol. 2. p. 233, 
etc. Edinburgh Review, vol. 
97, 1853, pp. 380-390. Christ- 
ian Remembrancer, vol. 25, 
N.S., 1853, pp. 401-443. 
Eclectic Review, vol. 5, N.S., 
1853, pp. 305-320. West- 
minster Review, vol. 3, N.S. , 
1853, pp. 474-491. New Quar- 
terly Review, vol. 2, 1853, pp. 
237-240. Littell's Living Age, 
vol. 36, 1853, pp. 588-592. 
Athenaeum, Feb. 12, 1853, pp. 
186-188. Spectator, Feb. 12, 
1853, pp. 155, 156. 

Visit to Home of. Monthly 

Religious Magazine, vol. 31, p. 
41, etc. Hours at Home, by J. 
D. Sherwood, vol. 5, pp. 243- 



Bronte, Charlotte. 

Visit to her School at Brussels. 

Scribner's Monthly, vol. 3, 

1871, pp. 186-188. 

Winter's Day at Haworth- 

St. James's Magazine, by W- 
H. Cooke, vol. 21, 1868, pp. 
161-171. Chambers's Journal, 
1868, fourth series, pp. 124-128. 

Writings. North American 

Review, by Mrs. M. J. Sweat, 

Bronte, Charlotte, 
vol. 85, 1857, pp. 293-329. 
New Monthly Magazine, vol. 
95, 1852, pp. 295-305 ; same 
article, Littell's Living Age, 
vol. 34, pp. 417-422. Hog<?'s 
Instructor, vol. 4, N.S., 1855, 
pp. 425-436 ; same article, 
Eclectic Magazine, vol. 35, 
1855, pp. 407-418, and Littell's 
Living Age, vol. 45, pp. 723- 


Poems by C., E., and A. 

Bell , 1846 

Jane Eyre , . . ,1847 
Shirley .... 1849 
Biographical Notice of her 
Sisters, and Preface pre- 
fixed to "Wuthering 
Heights," with u Selec- 
tion from their Works . 1850 



The Professor . . . 1857 
Emma : a fragment (Corn- 
hill Magazine, April 
1860) . 1860 


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PR Birrell, Augustine 

4168 Life of Charlotte Bronte