Skip to main content
PROFESSOR ERIC S. ROBERTSON, M.A,
1JFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
24 WARWICK LANE, PATERNOSTER ROW
(All rights reserved.}
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
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
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
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
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,
16 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 17
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
18 LIFE OF
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 19
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,
20 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 21
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
22 LIFE OF
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.' "
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 23
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.
24 LIFE OF
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 25
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,
26 LIFE OF
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,
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 27
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
28 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE 13RONTE. 29
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.
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 31
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-
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
32 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 33
'* 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.
" 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
34 LIFE OP
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 35
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
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 37
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
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.
38 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 39
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,
40 LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
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
42 LIFE OF
then content to be called) of Haworth church now
read as follows :
LIE THE REMAINS OF
MARIA BRONTE, WIFE
REV. P. BRONTE, A.B., MINISTER OF HAWORTH.
DEPARTED TO THE SAVIOUR, SEPTEMBER 15, l82I,
IN THE 39TH YEAR OF HER AGE.
" Be ye also ready : for in such an hour as ye think not the Son
of Man cometh." Mattheiv xxiv. 44.
ALSO HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF
MARIA BRONTE, DAUGHTER OF THE AFORESAID.
SHE DIED ON THE
6TH OF MAY, 1825, IN THE I2TH YEAR OF HER AGE.
ELIZABETH BRONTE, HER SISTER,
WHO DIED JUNE I5TH, 1825, IN THE IITH YEAR OF HER AGE.
" 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
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 43
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-
44 LIFE OF
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
" 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
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 45
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 :
THE HISTORY OF THE YEAR 1829.
" 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
46 LIFE OF
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 47
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.
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 49
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.
50 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 61
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
52 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 53
'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.
54 LIFE OF
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-
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 55
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
56 LIFE OP
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 57
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
58 LIFE OF
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
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 59
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
GO LIFE OP
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,
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 61
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,
62 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 63
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,
" C. BRONTE.
"P.S. Pray, sir, excuse me for writing to you a
second time. I could not help writing partly to tell
you how thankful I am for your kindness, and partly to
64 LIFE OF
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
" 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.
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 65
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
CO LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 67
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
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,
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 69
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
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
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
" 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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 73
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.
" DEAR AUNT,
" I have heard nothing of Miss Wooler yet, since
I wrote to her intimating that I would accept her offer.
I cannot conjecture the reason of this long silence, unless
some unforeseen impediment has occurred in concluding
the bargain. Meantime, a plan has been suggested and
approved by Mr. and Mrs. " (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.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 75
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.
76 LIFE OF
" 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
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.
CHARLOTTE &RONTE. 77
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
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 79
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 :
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 81
" 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
82 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 83
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
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 85
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONT& 87
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;
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 89
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.
90 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 91
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.
92 LIFE OF
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 :
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 93
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 "
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 95
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.
96 LIFE OF
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
CHARLOTTE B&ONTE. 97
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-
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 99
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
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 101
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 103
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-
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 105
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
" ' 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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 107
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 109
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. Ill
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
" 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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 113
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
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,
114 LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
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-
CHARLOTTE B&ONT&. 117
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
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 119
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
" 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."
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 121
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
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
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,
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 123
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.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 125
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 127
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-
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 129
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
"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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 131
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-
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 133
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 135
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.
136 LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
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
" 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 ?
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 139
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
CHARLOTTE SRONTE. 141
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
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 143
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
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 ! "
CHARLOTTE &RONTE. 145
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
146 LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 149
hand, and frostily touching my ear with the chill blue lips
"'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,'
" ( 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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 151
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 153
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 155
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 157
" 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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 159
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
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 161
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 163
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,
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 165
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 167
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
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 169
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 171
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
" 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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 173
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
" 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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 175
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 endurpnr.fi 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
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 177
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
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
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. ,
CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 179
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
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
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 181
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
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
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,
Burney, Miss, 169
Cowan's Bridge School, 36-40
Donne, Rev. Mr., 123, 124
Edgeworth, Miss, 169, 170
Edinburgh Review, 130
Eliot, George, 124, 169, 179
Ferrier, Miss, 170
Gaskell, Mrs., 5, 141
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
" Professor," The, 94, 95, 98
Quarterly Review on "Jane
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
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-
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
Wethersfield, 17, 18
Whately, Archbishop, on Miss
Wooler, Miss, 49, 51, 164
Wordsworth on bad poetry, 180
"Wuthering Heights," 94, 97,
JOHN P, ANDERSON
Biography, Criticism, etc.
III. CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF WORKS,
Life and Works of Charlotte
Bronte and her Sisters. (Life by
Mrs. Gaskell.) An illustrated
edition, in seven vols. London,
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,
Fifth edition. London, 1855,
Another edition. London,
Haworth Edition. [Illus-
trated]. 2 vols. Philadelphia,
Shirley, a Tale. 3 vols. Lon-
don, 1849, 8vo.
Another edition. London,
Another edition. London,
Another edition. London,
Villette. 3 vols. London, 1853,
Villette. Another edition. Lon-
don, 1855, 8vo.
Another edition. London,
Another edition. London,
Another edition. London,
Another edition. London,
The Professor, a Tale. 2 vols.
London, 1857, 8vo.
Another edition ( Tauchnitz
Collection, vol. 404). Leipzig,
Another edition. To which
are added poems by Currer,
Ellis, and Acton Bell. London,
Another edition. London,
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,"
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 ,
BIOGRAPHY, CIUTICISM, ETC.
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,
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 , 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,
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,
Another edition. London,
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.
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"),
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,
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,
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,
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 , 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,
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-
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
Magazine, by G. H. Lewes,
vol. 36, 1847, pp. 690-694.
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.
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.
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-
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,
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-
III. CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF WORKS.
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
In SHILLING Monthly Volumes, Square 8vo. Well printed on fine
toned paper, with Red-line Border, and strongly bound in Cloth. Each
Volume contains from joo to 350 pages. With Introductory Notices
by WILLIAM SHARP, MATHILDE BLIND, WALTER LEWIN, JOHN
HOGBEN, A. J. SYMINGTON, JOSEPH SKIPSEY, EVA HOPE, JOHN
RICHMOND, ERNEST RHYS, PERCY E. PINKERTON, MRS. GARDEN,
DEAN CARRINGTON, DR. J. BRADSHAW, FREDERICK COOPER, HON,
RODEN NOEL, J. ADDINGTON SYMONDS, G. WILLIS COOKE, ERIC
MACKAY, ERIC S. ROBERTSON, WILLIAM TIREBUCK, STUART
J. REID, MRS. FREILIGRATH KROEKER, J. LOGIE ROBERTSON, M.A.
SAMUEL WADDINGTON, etc., etc.
Cloth, Red Edges
Cloth, Uncut Edges
Is. I Red Roan, Gilt Edges 2s. 6d.
Is. Silk Plush, Gilt Edges 4s. 6d.
THE FOLLOWING VOLUMES ARE NOW READY.
By Rev. John Keble.
Edited by Joseph Skipsey.
Edited by Eva Hope.
Edited by . Hogben.
Edited by Joseph Skipsey.
Edited by A. J. Symington.
Edited by Joseph Skipsey.
Edited by Eva Hope.
Edited by Joseph Skipsey.
Edited by John Richmond.
Edited by Joseph Skipsey.
Edited by P. E. Pinkerton.
Edited by John Hogben.
Edited by Ernest Rhys.
Translated by Dean Carrington.
Edited by Eva Hope.
Songs, Poems, and Sonnets.
Edited by William Sharp.
EMERSON. Edited by W. Lewin.
SONNETS of this CENTURY.
Edited by William Sharp.
WHITMAN. Edited by E. Rhys.
SCOTT. Marmion, etc.
SCOTT. Lady of the Lake, etc.
Edited by William Sharp.
PRAED. Edited by Fred. Cooper.
By his Daughter, Mrs. Garden.
Edited by William Tirebuck.
LOVE LETTERS OF A
VIOLINIST. By Eric Mackay.
Edited by Hon. Roden Noel.
CHILDREN OF THE POETS.
Edited by Eric S. Robertson.
Edited by J. A. Symonds.
BYRON (2 Vols.)
Edited by Mathilde Blind.
THE SONNETS OF EUROPE.
Edited by S. Waddington.
Edited by J. Logie Robertson.
Edited by Mrs. Dobell.
POPE. Edited by John Hogben.
HEINE. Edited by Mrs. Kroeker.
BEAUMONT & FLETCHER.
Edited by J. S. Fletcher.
BOWLES, LAMB, AND
Edited by William Tirebuck.
London : WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.
THE CAMELOT SERIES,
VOLUMES ALREADY ISSUED.
ROMANCE OP KING ARTHUR.
Edited by Ernest Rhys.
WALDBN. Edited by Will H. Dircks.
CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM
EATER. Edited by William Sharp.
Edited by Havelock Ellis.
PLUTARCH'S LIVES. Edited by B. J. Snell, M.A.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE'S RELIGIO MEDICI, etc.
Edited by J. Addington Symonds.
SHELLEY'S ESSAYS AND LETTERS.
Edited by Ernest Rhys.
PROSE WRITINGS OF SWIFT.
Edited by W. Lewin.
MY STUDY WINDOWS.
Edited by Richard Garnett, LL.EH
GREAT ENGLISH PAINTERS.
Edited by William Sharp.
LORD BYRON'S LETTERS. Edited by M. Blind.
ESSAYS BY LEIGH HUNT. Edited by A. Symons.
LONGFELLOW'S PROSE WORKS.
Edited by William Tirebuck.
GREAT MUSICAL COMPOSERS.
Edited by Mrs. William Sharp.
MARCUS AURELIUS. Edited by Alice Zimmern.
SPECIMEN DAYS IN AMERICA. By Walt Whitman.
WHITE'S NATURAL HISTORY of SELBORNE.
Edited, with Introduction, by Richard Jefieries.
The Series is issued in two styles of Binding Red Cloth,
Cut Edges; and Dark Blue Cloth, Uncut Edges. Either
Style, PRICE ONE SHILLING.
MONTHLY SHILLING VOLUMES.
A New Series of Critical Biographies.
Edited by Professor ERIC S. ROBERTSON.
LIFE OF LONGFELLOW. BY PROFESSOR ERIC S.
"The story of the poet's life is well told. . . . The remarks on Longfellow as
a translator are excellent." Saturday Review.
11 No better life of Longfellow has been published." Glasgow Herald.
LIFE OF COLERIDGE. By HALL CAINE.
The Scotsman says "It is a capital book. . . . Written throughout with
spirit and great literary skill. The bibliography is unusually full, and adds to
the value of the work."
The Academy says" It is gracefully and sympathetically written, . . . and
it is no small praise to say that it is worthy of the memory which it enshrines."
The Birmingham Daily Post says "The book is a great gain, and cannot
be overlooked by any student of Coleridge."
LIFE OF DICKENS. BY FRANK T. MARZIALS.
"An interesting and well- written biography." Scotsman.
LIFE OF DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTL BY
LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON. BY COL. F. GRANT.
LIFE OF DARWIN. BY G. T. BETTANY.
Ready June 2$th.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE. By AUGUSTINE BIRRELL
To be followed on July 2$th by
LIFE OF THOMAS CARLYLE. BY RICHARD
Volumes in preparation by AUSTIN DOBSON, R. B. HALDANE,
M.P., WILLIAM ROSSETTI, WILLIAM SHARP, JAMES SIME, etc.
LIBRARY EDITION OF "GREAT WRITERS."
An Issue of all the Volumes in this Series will be published, printed
en large paper of extra quality, in handsome finding, Demy 8vo, price
2-. 6d. per volume.
London : WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.
NOW READY, CLOTH GILT, PRICE THREE SHILLINGS.
NEW VOLUME OF VERSE.
LAST YEAR'S LEAVES,
BY JOHN JERVIS BERESFORD, M.A.
OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.
11 Mr. Beresford's subjects are many and varied, and he displays a
ready versatility in adapting his strains to the most opposite themes.
His lines on ' Ireland ' are marked by an ardent patriotism that finds
vent in justly indignant and vigorous accents. In quite another key
the poem called ' Amor Vincit Oinnia ' is an example of tender and
pathetic verse, in which both idea and form deserve equal praise.
'The Poet's Crown' is another of the "charming poems contained in
this volume." Tlie Morning Post.
"Last Years Leaves is quite above the average of the numerous
books of verse which are poured in ever-increasing volume over an
unappreciative public. "We commend this volume to our readers.
" These poems and sonnets make a handsome little volume. The
poet finds inspiration in many subjects, and the events, domestic and
public, which touch the springs of the nation's life The, Christian.
" A collection of gracefully- written verse." Western Mail.
" Instinct with true poetry." The Malvern Advertiser.
" His descriptions of * Elsie Venner ' and Shorthouse's lovely book,
' Sir Perceval,' are full of point and poetic beauty, which all readers
of those books will fully appreciate." The Carmarthen Journal.
" ' The Legend of Myddfai,' and ' The Poet's Crown ' should live in
our literature." The Bayswater Chronicle.
" We commend this little volume very heartily to all true lovers of
poetry and nature." Malvern Looker-on.
" The fruits of a Muse graceful, sober, playful, stately, tender, or
strong, according to the theme." The Red Dragon.
"Altogether, there is much merit and promise in this handsome
little volume. We shall hope to extend our acquaintance with Mr.
Beresford." Oxford Review.
LONDON : WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.
Will be published early in May. Price (Cloth) 3/6.
THOROUGHLY REVISED, NEW ILLUSTRATIONS, STEAMER TIME
TABLES, SKELETON TOURS.
THE LAND OF THE VIKINGS,
GUIDE TO NORWAY,
Description of that Wonderful Country.
Constitution and Politics of Norway.
Hints to Tourists.
Railway and Steamboat Arrangements.
Popular Tourist Routes by Fjeld and Fjord.
Tables of Exchange.
Cost of Travelling in Norway.
Trips to the North Cape.
The Scenery of the Sogne, the Hardanger, the Hjorund, Norang,
and other famous Arms of the Sea.
Fishing and Shooting.
Modes of Travel.
Rates of Charges for Horse and Carriole, etc.
Tourist Tracks to all Parts.
Tables of Distances from Station to Station.
A new feature of this Season's Guide will be a detailed list of
over thirty different Tours, extending over five, twelve, and
Maps of the Principal Routes, and every other Information useful
to the Traveller.
London : WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.
Price 6d.; Post Free, ^d.
No. I. READY SEPTEMBER ist, 1887.
IP MORALISTS' MONTHLY:
A JOURNAL FOR NATURE-LOVERS AND
NA TURE- THINKERS.
EDITED BY Dr. J. W. WILLIAMS, M.A.
The Naturalists Monthly will contain
1. Original and Recreative Papers on Popular Scientific
subjects by well-known writers.
2. Articles on the Distribution of Animal and Plant Life in the
3. Monographs on groups generally looked over by the Field-
Naturalist, as the British Fresh-water Worms and Leeches
in Zoology, and the Lichens and Mosses in Botany.
4. Accounts of Scientific Voyages and Expeditions.
5. Biographical Lives of the Greatest Scientific Men
6. " The Editor's Easy Chair "a Monthly Chit-chat on the
most important Scientific Questions of the day.
7. Reports of the Learned Societies.
8. General Notes and Correspondence.
9. Reviews of the latest Works and Papers.
10. Answer and Query Column for Workers.
The Naturalists' Monthly will be issued on the 1st of each
Month. Annual Subscription, 7/- post free.
London : WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.
PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY
PR Birrell, Augustine
4168 Life of Charlotte Bronte