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Title: Life of Charlotte Brontë — Volume 1
Author: Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, 1810-1865
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Charlotte Brontë — Volume 1" ***

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VOLUME 1***



Transcribed from the 1906 Smith, Elder, and Co. edition by David Price,


THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE--VOLUME 1


CHAPTER I


The Leeds and Skipton railway runs along a deep valley of the Aire; a
slow and sluggish stream, compared to the neighbouring river of Wharfe.
Keighley station is on this line of railway, about a quarter of a mile
from the town of the same name.  The number of inhabitants and the
importance of Keighley have been very greatly increased during the last
twenty years, owing to the rapidly extended market for worsted
manufactures, a branch of industry that mainly employs the factory
population of this part of Yorkshire, which has Bradford for its centre
and metropolis.

Keighley is in process of transformation from a populous, old-fashioned
village, into a still more populous and flourishing town.  It is evident
to the stranger, that as the gable-ended houses, which obtrude themselves
corner-wise on the widening street, fall vacant, they are pulled down to
allow of greater space for traffic, and a more modern style of
architecture.  The quaint and narrow shop-windows of fifty years ago, are
giving way to large panes and plate-glass.  Nearly every dwelling seems
devoted to some branch of commerce.  In passing hastily through the town,
one hardly perceives where the necessary lawyer and doctor can live, so
little appearance is there of any dwellings of the professional middle-
class, such as abound in our old cathedral towns.  In fact, nothing can
be more opposed than the state of society, the modes of thinking, the
standards of reference on all points of morality, manners, and even
politics and religion, in such a new manufacturing place as Keighley in
the north, and any stately, sleepy, picturesque cathedral town in the
south.  Yet the aspect of Keighley promises well for future stateliness,
if not picturesqueness.  Grey stone abounds; and the rows of houses built
of it have a kind of solid grandeur connected with their uniform and
enduring lines.  The frame-work of the doors, and the lintels of the
windows, even in the smallest dwellings, are made of blocks of stone.
There is no painted wood to require continual beautifying, or else
present a shabby aspect; and the stone is kept scrupulously clean by the
notable Yorkshire housewives.  Such glimpses into the interior as a
passer-by obtains, reveal a rough abundance of the means of living, and
diligent and active habits in the women.  But the voices of the people
are hard, and their tones discordant, promising little of the musical
taste that distinguishes the district, and which has already furnished a
Carrodus to the musical world.  The names over the shops (of which the
one just given is a sample) seem strange even to an inhabitant of the
neighbouring county, and have a peculiar smack and flavour of the place.

The town of Keighley never quite melts into country on the road to
Haworth, although the houses become more sparse as the traveller journeys
upwards to the grey round hills that seem to bound his journey in a
westerly direction.  First come some villas; just sufficiently retired
from the road to show that they can scarcely belong to any one liable to
be summoned in a hurry, at the call of suffering or danger, from his
comfortable fireside; the lawyer, the doctor, and the clergyman, live at
hand, and hardly in the suburbs, with a screen of shrubs for concealment.

In a town one does not look for vivid colouring; what there may be of
this is furnished by the wares in the shops, not by foliage or
atmospheric effects; but in the country some brilliancy and vividness
seems to be instinctively expected, and there is consequently a slight
feeling of disappointment at the grey neutral tint of every object, near
or far off, on the way from Keighley to Haworth.  The distance is about
four miles; and, as I have said, what with villas, great worsted
factories, rows of workmen's houses, with here and there an old-fashioned
farmhouse and out-buildings, it can hardly be called "country" any part
of the way.  For two miles the road passes over tolerably level ground,
distant hills on the left, a "beck" flowing through meadows on the right,
and furnishing water power, at certain points, to the factories built on
its banks.  The air is dim and lightless with the smoke from all these
habitations and places of business.  The soil in the valley (or "bottom,"
to use the local term) is rich; but, as the road begins to ascend, the
vegetation becomes poorer; it does not flourish, it merely exists; and,
instead of trees, there are only bushes and shrubs about the dwellings.
Stone dykes are everywhere used in place of hedges; and what crops there
are, on the patches of arable land, consist of pale, hungry-looking, grey
green oats.  Right before the traveller on this road rises Haworth
village; he can see it for two miles before he arrives, for it is
situated on the side of a pretty steep hill, with a back-ground of dun
and purple moors, rising and sweeping away yet higher than the church,
which is built at the very summit of the long narrow street.  All round
the horizon there is this same line of sinuous wave-like hills; the
scoops into which they fall only revealing other hills beyond, of similar
colour and shape, crowned with wild, bleak moors--grand, from the ideas
of solitude and loneliness which they suggest, or oppressive from the
feeling which they give of being pent-up by some monotonous and
illimitable barrier, according to the mood of mind in which the spectator
may be.

For a short distance the road appears to turn away from Haworth, as it
winds round the base of the shoulder of a hill; but then it crosses a
bridge over the "beck," and the ascent through the village begins.  The
flag-stones with which it is paved are placed end-ways, in order to give
a better hold to the horses' feet; and, even with this help, they seem to
be in constant danger of slipping backwards.  The old stone houses are
high compared to the width of the street, which makes an abrupt turn
before reaching the more level ground at the head of the village, so that
the steep aspect of the place, in one part, is almost like that of a
wall.  But this surmounted, the church lies a little off the main road on
the left; a hundred yards, or so, and the driver relaxes his care, and
the horse breathes more easily, as they pass into the quite little by-
street that leads to Haworth Parsonage.  The churchyard is on one side of
this lane, the school-house and the sexton's dwelling (where the curates
formerly lodged) on the other.

The parsonage stands at right angles to the road, facing down upon the
church; so that, in fact, parsonage, church, and belfried school-house,
form three sides of an irregular oblong, of which the fourth is open to
the fields and moors that lie beyond.  The area of this oblong is filled
up by a crowded churchyard, and a small garden or court in front of the
clergyman's house.  As the entrance to this from the road is at the side,
the path goes round the corner into the little plot of ground.  Underneath
the windows is a narrow flower-border, carefully tended in days of yore,
although only the most hardy plants could be made to grow there.  Within
the stone wall, which keeps out the surrounding churchyard, are bushes of
elder and lilac; the rest of the ground is occupied by a square grass-
plot and a gravel walk.  The house is of grey stone, two stories high,
heavily roofed with flags, in order to resist the winds that might strip
off a lighter covering.  It appears to have been built about a hundred
years ago, and to consist of four rooms on each story; the two windows on
the right (as the visitor stands with his back to the church, ready to
enter in at the front door) belonging to Mr. Bronte's study, the two on
the left to the family sitting-room.  Everything about the place tells of
the most dainty order, the most exquisite cleanliness.  The door-steps
are spotless; the small old-fashioned window-panes glitter like looking-
glass.  Inside and outside of that house cleanliness goes up into its
essence, purity.

The little church lies, as I mentioned, above most of the houses in the
village; and the graveyard rises above the church, and is terribly full
of upright tombstones.  The chapel or church claims greater antiquity
than any other in that part of the kingdom; but there is no appearance of
this in the external aspect of the present edifice, unless it be in the
two eastern windows, which remain unmodernized, and in the lower part of
the steeple.  Inside, the character of the pillars shows that they were
constructed before the reign of Henry VII.  It is probable that there
existed on this ground, a "field-kirk," or oratory, in the earliest
times; and, from the Archbishop's registry at York, it is ascertained
that there was a chapel at Haworth in 1317.  The inhabitants refer
inquirers concerning the date to the following inscription on a stone in
the church tower:--

   "Hic fecit Caenobium Monachorum Auteste fundator.  A. D.
   sexcentissimo."

That is to say, before the preaching of Christianity in Northumbria.
Whitaker says that this mistake originated in the illiterate copying out,
by some modern stone-cutter, of an inscription in the character of Henry
the Eighth's time on an adjoining stone:--

   "Orate pro bono statu Eutest Tod."

   "Now every antiquary knows that the formula of prayer 'bono statu'
   always refers to the living.  I suspect this singular Christian name
   has been mistaken by the stone-cutter for Austet, a contraction of
   Eustatius, but the word Tod, which has been mis-read for the Arabic
   figures 600, is perfectly fair and legible.  On the presumption of
   this foolish claim to antiquity, the people would needs set up for
   independence, and contest the right of the Vicar of Bradford to
   nominate a curate at Haworth."

I have given this extract, in order to explain the imaginary groundwork
of a commotion which took place in Haworth about five and thirty years
ago, to which I shall have occasion to allude again more particularly.

The interior of the church is commonplace; it is neither old enough nor
modern enough to compel notice.  The pews are of black oak, with high
divisions; and the names of those to whom they belong are painted in
white letters on the doors.  There are neither brasses, nor altar-tombs,
nor monuments, but there is a mural tablet on the right-hand side of the
communion-table, bearing the following inscription:--

   HERE
   LIE THE REMAINS OF
   MARIA BRONTE, WIFE
   OF THE
   REV. P. BRONTE, A.B., MINISTER OF HAWORTH.
   HER SOUL
   DEPARTED TO THE SAVIOUR, SEPT. 15TH, 1821,
   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."  MATTHEW xxiv. 44.

   ALSO HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF
   MARIA BRONTE, DAUGHTER OF THE AFORESAID;
   SHE DIED ON THE
   6TH OF MAY, 1825, IN THE 12TH YEAR OF HER AGE;
   AND OF
   ELIZABETH BRONTE, HER SISTER,
   WHO DIED JUNE 15TH, 1825, IN THE 11TH 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.

   HERE ALSO LIE THE REMAINS OF
   PATRICK BRANWELL BRONTE,
   WHO DIED SEPT. 24TH, 1848, AGED 30 YEARS;
   AND OF
   EMILY JANE BRONTE,
   WHO DIED DEC. 19TH, 1848, AGED 29 YEARS,
   SON AND DAUGHTER OF THE
   REV. P. BRONTE, INCUMBENT.

   THIS STONE IS ALSO DEDICATED TO THE
   MEMORY OF ANNE BRONTE, {1}
   YOUNGEST DAUGHTER OF THE REV. P. BRONTE, A.B.
   SHE DIED, AGED 27 YEARS, MAY 28TH, 1849,
   AND WAS BURIED AT THE OLD CHURCH, SCARBORO.'

At the upper part of this tablet ample space is allowed between the lines
of the inscription; when the first memorials were written down, the
survivors, in their fond affection, thought little of the margin and
verge they were leaving for those who were still living.  But as one dead
member of the household follows another fast to the grave, the lines are
pressed together, and the letters become small and cramped.  After the
record of Anne's death, there is room for no other.

But one more of that generation--the last of that nursery of six little
motherless children--was yet to follow, before the survivor, the
childless and widowed father, found his rest.  On another tablet, below
the first, the following record has been added to that mournful list:--

   ADJOINING LIE THE REMAINS OF
   CHARLOTTE, WIFE
   OF THE
   REV. ARTHUR BELL NICHOLLS, A.B.,
   AND DAUGHTER OF THE REV. P.  BRONTE, A.B., INCUMBENT
   SHE DIED MARCH 31ST, 1855, IN THE 39TH
   YEAR OF HER AGE. {2}

This tablet, which corrects the error in the former tablet as to the age
of Anne Bronte, bears the following inscription in Roman letters; the
initials, however, being in old English.



CHAPTER II


For a right understanding of the life of my dear friend, Charlotte
Bronte, it appears to me more necessary in her case than in most others,
that the reader should be made acquainted with the peculiar forms of
population and society amidst which her earliest years were passed, and
from which both her own and her sisters' first impressions of human life
must have been received.  I shall endeavour, therefore, before proceeding
further with my work, to present some idea of the character of the people
of Haworth, and the surrounding districts.

Even an inhabitant of the neighbouring county of Lancaster is struck by
the peculiar force of character which the Yorkshiremen display.  This
makes them interesting as a race; while, at the same time, as
individuals, the remarkable degree of self-sufficiency they possess gives
them an air of independence rather apt to repel a stranger.  I use this
expression "self-sufficiency" in the largest sense.  Conscious of the
strong sagacity and the dogged power of will which seem almost the
birthright of the natives of the West Riding, each man relies upon
himself, and seeks no help at the hands of his neighbour.  From rarely
requiring the assistance of others, he comes to doubt the power of
bestowing it: from the general success of his efforts, he grows to depend
upon them, and to over-esteem his own energy and power.  He belongs to
that keen, yet short-sighted class, who consider suspicion of all whose
honesty is not proved as a sign of wisdom.  The practical qualities of a
man are held in great respect; but the want of faith in strangers and
untried modes of action, extends itself even to the manner in which the
virtues are regarded; and if they produce no immediate and tangible
result, they are rather put aside as unfit for this busy, striving world;
especially if they are more of a passive than an active character.  The
affections are strong and their foundations lie deep: but they are
not--such affections seldom are--wide-spreading; nor do they show
themselves on the surface.  Indeed, there is little display of any of the
amenities of life among this wild, rough population.  Their accost is
curt; their accent and tone of speech blunt and harsh.  Something of this
may, probably, be attributed to the freedom of mountain air and of
isolated hill-side life; something be derived from their rough Norse
ancestry.  They have a quick perception of character, and a keen sense of
humour; the dwellers among them must be prepared for certain
uncomplimentary, though most likely true, observations, pithily
expressed.  Their feelings are not easily roused, but their duration is
lasting.  Hence there is much close friendship and faithful service; and
for a correct exemplification of the form in which the latter frequently
appears, I need only refer the reader of "Wuthering Heights" to the
character of "Joseph."

From the same cause come also enduring grudges, in some cases amounting
to hatred, which occasionally has been bequeathed from generation to
generation.  I remember Miss Bronte once telling me that it was a saying
round about Haworth, "Keep a stone in thy pocket seven year; turn it, and
keep it seven year longer, that it may be ever ready to thine hand when
thine enemy draws near."

The West Riding men are sleuth-hounds in pursuit of money.  Miss Bronte
related to my husband a curious instance illustrative of this eager
desire for riches.  A man that she knew, who was a small manufacturer,
had engaged in many local speculations which had always turned out well,
and thereby rendered him a person of some wealth.  He was rather past
middle age, when he bethought him of insuring his life; and he had only
just taken out his policy, when he fell ill of an acute disease which was
certain to end fatally in a very few days.  The doctor,
half-hesitatingly, revealed to him his hopeless state.  "By jingo!" cried
he, rousing up at once into the old energy, "I shall _do_ the insurance
company!  I always was a lucky fellow!"

These men are keen and shrewd; faithful and persevering in following out
a good purpose, fell in tracking an evil one.  They are not emotional;
they are not easily made into either friends or enemies; but once lovers
or haters, it is difficult to change their feeling.  They are a powerful
race both in mind and body, both for good and for evil.

The woollen manufacture was introduced into this district in the days of
Edward III.  It is traditionally said that a colony of Flemings came over
and settled in the West Riding to teach the inhabitants what to do with
their wool.  The mixture of agricultural with manufacturing labour that
ensued and prevailed in the West Riding up to a very recent period,
sounds pleasant enough at this distance of time, when the classical
impression is left, and the details forgotten, or only brought to light
by those who explore the few remote parts of England where the custom
still lingers.  The idea of the mistress and her maidens spinning at the
great wheels while the master was abroad ploughing his fields, or seeing
after his flocks on the purple moors, is very poetical to look back upon;
but when such life actually touches on our own days, and we can hear
particulars from the lips of those now living, there come out details of
coarseness--of the uncouthness of the rustic mingled with the sharpness
of the tradesman--of irregularity and fierce lawlessness--that rather mar
the vision of pastoral innocence and simplicity.  Still, as it is the
exceptional and exaggerated characteristics of any period that leave the
most vivid memory behind them, it would be wrong, and in my opinion
faithless, to conclude that such and such forms of society and modes of
living were not best for the period when they prevailed, although the
abuses they may have led into, and the gradual progress of the world,
have made it well that such ways and manners should pass away for ever,
and as preposterous to attempt to return to them, as it would be for a
man to return to the clothes of his childhood.

The patent granted to Alderman Cockayne, and the further restrictions
imposed by James I. on the export of undyed woollen cloths (met by a
prohibition on the part of the States of Holland of the import of English-
dyed cloths), injured the trade of the West Riding manufacturers
considerably.  Their independence of character, their dislike of
authority, and their strong powers of thought, predisposed them to
rebellion against the religious dictation of such men as Laud, and the
arbitrary rule of the Stuarts; and the injury done by James and Charles
to the trade by which they gained their bread, made the great majority of
them Commonwealth men.  I shall have occasion afterwards to give one or
two instances of the warm feelings and extensive knowledge on subjects of
both home and foreign politics existing at the present day in the
villages lying west and east of the mountainous ridge that separates
Yorkshire and Lancashire; the inhabitants of which are of the same race
and possess the same quality of character.

The descendants of many who served under Cromwell at Dunbar, live on the
same lands as their ancestors occupied then; and perhaps there is no part
of England where the traditional and fond recollections of the
Commonwealth have lingered so long as in that inhabited by the woollen
manufacturing population of the West Riding, who had the restrictions
taken off their trade by the Protector's admirable commercial policy.  I
have it on good authority that, not thirty years ago, the phrase, "in
Oliver's days," was in common use to denote a time of unusual prosperity.
The class of Christian names prevalent in a district is one indication of
the direction in which its tide of hero-worship sets.  Grave enthusiasts
in politics or religion perceive not the ludicrous side of those which
they give to their children; and some are to be found, still in their
infancy, not a dozen miles from Haworth, that will have to go through
life as Lamartine, Kossuth, and Dembinsky.  And so there is a testimony
to what I have said, of the traditional feeling of the district, in the
fact that the Old Testament names in general use among the Puritans are
yet the prevalent appellations in most Yorkshire families of middle or
humble rank, whatever their religious persuasion may be.  There are
numerous records, too, that show the kindly way in which the ejected
ministers were received by the gentry, as well as by the poorer part of
the inhabitants, during the persecuting days of Charles II.  These little
facts all testify to the old hereditary spirit of independence, ready
ever to resist authority which was conceived to be unjustly exercised,
that distinguishes the people of the West Riding to the present day.

The parish of Halifax touches that of Bradford, in which the chapelry of
Haworth is included; and the nature of the ground in the two parishes is
much the of the same wild and hilly description.  The abundance of coal,
and the number of mountain streams in the district, make it highly
favourable to manufactures; and accordingly, as I stated, the inhabitants
have for centuries been engaged in making cloth, as well as in
agricultural pursuits.  But the intercourse of trade failed, for a long
time, to bring amenity and civilization into these outlying hamlets, or
widely scattered dwellings.  Mr. Hunter, in his "Life of Oliver Heywood,"
quotes a sentence out of a memorial of one James Rither, living in the
reign of Elizabeth, which is partially true to this day:--

"They have no superior to court, no civilities to practise: a sour and
sturdy humour is the consequence, so that a stranger is shocked by a tone
of defiance in every voice, and an air of fierceness in every
countenance."

Even now, a stranger can hardly ask a question without receiving some
crusty reply, if, indeed, he receive any at all.  Sometimes the sour
rudeness amounts to positive insult.  Yet, if the "foreigner" takes all
this churlishness good-humouredly, or as a matter of course, and makes
good any claim upon their latent kindliness and hospitality, they are
faithful and generous, and thoroughly to be relied upon.  As a slight
illustration of the roughness that pervades all classes in these out-of-
the-way villages, I may relate a little adventure which happened to my
husband and myself, three years ago, at Addingham--

   From Penigent to Pendle Hill,
   From Linton to Long-_Addingham_
   And all that Craven coasts did tell, &c.--

one of the places that sent forth its fighting men to the famous old
battle of Flodden Field, and a village not many miles from Haworth.

We were driving along the street, when one of those ne'er-do-weel lads
who seem to have a kind of magnetic power for misfortunes, having jumped
into the stream that runs through the place, just where all the broken
glass and bottles are thrown, staggered naked and nearly covered with
blood into a cottage before us.  Besides receiving another bad cut in the
arm, he had completely laid open the artery, and was in a fair way of
bleeding to death--which, one of his relations comforted him by saying,
would be likely to "save a deal o' trouble."

When my husband had checked the effusion of blood with a strap that one
of the bystanders unbuckled from his leg, he asked if a surgeon had been
sent for.

"Yoi," was the answer; "but we dunna think he'll come."

"Why not?"

"He's owd, yo seen, and asthmatic, and it's up-hill."

My husband taking a boy for his guide, drove as fast as he could to the
surgeon's house, which was about three-quarters of a mile off, and met
the aunt of the wounded lad leaving it.

"Is he coming?" inquired my husband.

"Well, he didna' say he wouldna' come."

"But, tell him the lad may bleed to death."

"I did."

"And what did he say?"

"Why, only, 'D-n him; what do I care?'"

It ended, however, in his sending one of his sons, who, though not
brought up to "the surgering trade," was able to do what was necessary in
the way of bandages and plasters.  The excuse made for the surgeon was,
that "he was near eighty, and getting a bit doited, and had had a matter
o' twenty childer."

Among the most unmoved of the lookers-on was the brother of the boy so
badly hurt; and while he was lying in a pool of blood on the flag floor,
and crying out how much his arm was "warching," his stoical relation
stood coolly smoking his bit of black pipe, and uttered not a single word
of either sympathy or sorrow.

Forest customs, existing in the fringes of dark wood, which clothed the
declivity of the hills on either side, tended to brutalize the population
until the middle of the seventeenth century.  Execution by beheading was
performed in a summary way upon either men or women who were guilty of
but very slight crimes; and a dogged, yet in some cases fine,
indifference to human life was thus generated.  The roads were so
notoriously bad, even up to the last thirty years, that there was little
communication between one village and another; if the produce of industry
could be conveyed at stated times to the cloth market of the district, it
was all that could be done; and, in lonely houses on the distant hill-
side, or by the small magnates of secluded hamlets, crimes might be
committed almost unknown, certainly without any great uprising of popular
indignation calculated to bring down the strong arm of the law.  It must
be remembered that in those days there was no rural constabulary; and the
few magistrates left to themselves, and generally related to one another,
were most of them inclined to tolerate eccentricity, and to wink at
faults too much like their own.

Men hardly past middle life talk of the days of their youth, spent in
this part of the country, when, during the winter months, they rode up to
the saddle-girths in mud; when absolute business was the only reason for
stirring beyond the precincts of home, and when that business was
conducted under a pressure of difficulties which they themselves, borne
along to Bradford market in a swift first-class carriage, can hardly
believe to have been possible.  For instance, one woollen manufacturer
says that, not five and twenty years ago, he had to rise betimes to set
off on a winter's-morning in order to be at Bradford with the great
waggon-load of goods manufactured by his father; this load was packed
over-night, but in the morning there was a great gathering around it, and
flashing of lanterns, and examination of horses' feet, before the
ponderous waggon got under way; and then some one had to go groping here
and there, on hands and knees, and always sounding with a staff down the
long, steep, slippery brow, to find where the horses might tread safely,
until they reached the comparative easy-going of the deep-rutted main
road.  People went on horseback over the upland moors, following the
tracks of the pack-horses that carried the parcels, baggage, or goods
from one town to another, between which there did not happen to be a
highway.

But in winter, all such communication was impossible, by reason of the
snow which lay long and late on the bleak high ground.  I have known
people who, travelling by the mail-coach over Blackstone Edge, had been
snowed up for a week or ten days at the little inn near the summit, and
obliged to spend both Christmas and New Year's Day there, till the store
of provisions laid in for the use of the landlord and his family falling
short before the inroads of the unexpected visitors, they had recourse to
the turkeys, geese, and Yorkshire pies with which the coach was laden;
and even these were beginning to fail, when a fortunate thaw released
them from their prison.

Isolated as the hill villages may be, they are in the world, compared
with the loneliness of the grey ancestral houses to be seen here and
there in the dense hollows of the moors.  These dwellings are not large,
yet they are solid and roomy enough for the accommodation of those who
live in them, and to whom the surrounding estates belong.  The land has
often been held by one family since the days of the Tudors; the owners
are, in fact, the remains of the old yeomanry--small squires--who are
rapidly becoming extinct as a class, from one of two causes.  Either the
possessor falls into idle, drinking habits, and so is obliged eventually
to sell his property: or he finds, if more shrewd and adventurous, that
the "beck" running down the mountain-side, or the minerals beneath his
feet, can be turned into a new source of wealth; and leaving the old
plodding life of a landowner with small capital, he turns manufacturer,
or digs for coal, or quarries for stone.

Still there are those remaining of this class--dwellers in the lonely
houses far away in the upland districts--even at the present day, who
sufficiently indicate what strange eccentricity--what wild strength of
will--nay, even what unnatural power of crime was fostered by a mode of
living in which a man seldom met his fellows, and where public opinion
was only a distant and inarticulate echo of some clearer voice sounding
behind the sweeping horizon.

A solitary life cherishes mere fancies until they become manias.  And the
powerful Yorkshire character, which was scarcely tamed into subjection by
all the contact it met with in "busy town or crowded mart," has before
now broken out into strange wilfulness in the remoter districts.  A
singular account was recently given me of a landowner (living, it is
true, on the Lancashire side of the hills, but of the same blood and
nature as the dwellers on the other,) who was supposed to be in the
receipt of seven or eight hundred a year, and whose house bore marks of
handsome antiquity, as if his forefathers had been for a long time people
of consideration.  My informant was struck with the appearance of the
place, and proposed to the countryman who was accompanying him, to go up
to it and take a nearer inspection.  The reply was, "Yo'd better not;
he'd threap yo' down th' loan.  He's let fly at some folk's legs, and let
shot lodge in 'em afore now, for going too near to his house."  And
finding, on closer inquiry, that such was really the inhospitable custom
of this moorland squire, the gentleman gave up his purpose.  I believe
that the savage yeoman is still living.

Another squire, of more distinguished family and larger property--one is
thence led to imagine of better education, but that does not always
follow--died at his house, not many miles from Haworth, only a few years
ago.  His great amusement and occupation had been cock-fighting.  When he
was confined to his chamber with what he knew would be his last illness,
he had his cocks brought up there, and watched the bloody battle from his
bed.  As his mortal disease increased, and it became impossible for him
to turn so as to follow the combat, he had looking-glasses arranged in
such a manner, around and above him, as he lay, that he could still see
the cocks fighting.  And in this manner he died.

These are merely instances of eccentricity compared to the tales of
positive violence and crime that have occurred in these isolated
dwellings, which still linger in the memories of the old people of the
district, and some of which were doubtless familiar to the authors of
"Wuthering Heights" and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall."

The amusements of the lower classes could hardly be expected to be more
humane than those of the wealthy and better educated.  The gentleman, who
has kindly furnished me with some of the particulars I have given,
remembers the bull-baitings at Rochdale, not thirty years ago.  The bull
was fastened by a chain or rope to a post in the river.  To increase the
amount of water, as well as to give their workpeople the opportunity of
savage delight, the masters were accustomed to stop their mills on the
day when the sport took place.  The bull would sometimes wheel suddenly
round, so that the rope by which he was fastened swept those who had been
careless enough to come within its range down into the water, and the
good people of Rochdale had the excitement of seeing one or two of their
neighbours drowned, as well as of witnessing the bull baited, and the
dogs torn and tossed.

The people of Haworth were not less strong and full of character than
their neighbours on either side of the hills.  The village lies embedded
in the moors, between the two counties, on the old road between Keighley
and Colne.  About the middle of the last century, it became famous in the
religious world as the scene of the ministrations of the Rev. William
Grimshaw, curate of Haworth for twenty years.  Before this time, it is
probable that the curates were of the same order as one Mr. Nicholls, a
Yorkshire clergyman, in the days immediately succeeding the Reformation,
who was "much addicted to drinking and company-keeping," and used to say
to his companions, "You must not heed me but when I am got three feet
above the earth," that was, into the pulpit.

Mr. Grimshaw's life was written by Newton, Cowper's friend; and from it
may be gathered some curious particulars of the manner in which a rough
population were swayed and governed by a man of deep convictions, and
strong earnestness of purpose.  It seems that he had not been in any way
remarkable for religious zeal, though he had led a moral life, and been
conscientious in fulfilling his parochial duties, until a certain Sunday
in September, 1744, when the servant, rising at five, found her master
already engaged in prayer; she stated that, after remaining in his
chamber for some time, he went to engage in religious exercises in the
house of a parishioner, then home again to pray; thence, still fasting,
to the church, where, as he was reading the second lesson, he fell down,
and, on his partial recovery, had to be led from the church.  As he went
out, he spoke to the congregation, and told them not to disperse, as he
had something to say to them, and would return presently.  He was taken
to the clerk's house, and again became insensible.  His servant rubbed
him, to restore the circulation; and when he was brought to himself "he
seemed in a great rapture," and the first words he uttered were, "I have
had a glorious vision from the third heaven."  He did not say what he had
seen, but returned into the church, and began the service again, at two
in the afternoon, and went on until seven.

From this time he devoted himself, with the fervour of a Wesley, and
something of the fanaticism of a Whitfield, to calling out a religious
life among his parishioners.  They had been in the habit of playing at
foot-ball on Sunday, using stones for this purpose; and giving and
receiving challenges from other parishes.  There were horse-races held on
the moors just above the village, which were periodical sources of
drunkenness and profligacy.  Scarcely a wedding took place without the
rough amusement of foot-races, where the half-naked runners were a
scandal to all decent strangers.  The old custom of "arvills," or funeral
feasts, led to frequent pitched battles between the drunken mourners.
Such customs were the outward signs of the kind of people with whom Mr.
Grimshaw had to deal.  But, by various means, some of the most practical
kind, he wrought a great change in his parish.  In his preaching he was
occasionally assisted by Wesley and Whitfield, and at such times the
little church proved much too small to hold the throng that poured in
from distant villages, or lonely moorland hamlets; and frequently they
were obliged to meet in the open air; indeed, there was not room enough
in the church even for the communicants.  Mr. Whitfield was once
preaching in Haworth, and made use of some such expression, as that he
hoped there was no need to say much to this congregation, as they had sat
under so pious and godly a minister for so many years; "whereupon Mr.
Grimshaw stood up in his place, and said with a loud voice, 'Oh, sir! for
God's sake do not speak so.  I pray you do not flatter them.  I fear the
greater part of them are going to hell with their eyes open.'"  But if
they were so bound, it was not for want of exertion on Mr. Grimshaw's
part to prevent them.  He used to preach twenty or thirty times a week in
private houses.  If he perceived any one inattentive to his prayers, he
would stop and rebuke the offender, and not go on till he saw every one
on their knees.  He was very earnest in enforcing the strict observance
of Sunday; and would not even allow his parishioners to walk in the
fields between services.  He sometimes gave out a very long Psalm
(tradition says the 119th), and while it was being sung, he left the
reading-desk, and taking a horsewhip went into the public-houses, and
flogged the loiterers into church.  They were swift who could escape the
lash of the parson by sneaking out the back way.  He had strong health
and an active body, and rode far and wide over the hills, "awakening"
those who had previously had no sense of religion.  To save time, and be
no charge to the families at whose houses he held his prayer-meetings, he
carried his provisions with him; all the food he took in the day on such
occasions consisting simply of a piece of bread and butter, or dry bread
and a raw onion.

The horse-races were justly objectionable to Mr. Grimshaw; they attracted
numbers of profligate people to Haworth, and brought a match to the
combustible materials of the place, only too ready to blaze out into
wickedness.  The story is, that he tried all means of persuasion, and
even intimidation, to have the races discontinued, but in vain.  At
length, in despair, he prayed with such fervour of earnestness that the
rain came down in torrents, and deluged the ground, so that there was no
footing for man or beast, even if the multitude had been willing to stand
such a flood let down from above.  And so Haworth races were stopped, and
have never been resumed to this day.  Even now the memory of this good
man is held in reverence, and his faithful ministrations and real virtues
are one of the boasts of the parish.

But after his time, I fear there was a falling back into the wild rough
heathen ways, from which he had pulled them up, as it were, by the
passionate force of his individual character.  He had built a chapel for
the Wesleyan Methodists, and not very long after the Baptists established
themselves in a place of worship.  Indeed, as Dr. Whitaker says, the
people of this district are "strong religionists;" only, fifty years ago,
their religion did not work down into their lives.  Half that length of
time back, the code of morals seemed to be formed upon that of their
Norse ancestors.  Revenge was handed down from father to son as an
hereditary duty; and a great capability for drinking without the head
being affected was considered as one of the manly virtues.  The games of
foot-ball on Sundays, with the challenges to the neighbouring parishes,
were resumed, bringing in an influx of riotous strangers to fill the
public-houses, and make the more sober-minded inhabitants long for good
Mr. Grimshaw's stout arm, and ready horsewhip.  The old custom of
"arvills" was as prevalent as ever.  The sexton, standing at the foot of
the open grave, announced that the "arvill" would be held at the Black
Bull, or whatever public-house might be fixed upon by the friends of the
dead; and thither the mourners and their acquaintances repaired.  The
origin of the custom had been the necessity of furnishing some
refreshment for those who came from a distance, to pay the last mark of
respect to a friend.  In the life of Oliver Heywood there are two
quotations, which show what sort of food was provided for "arvills" in
quiet Nonconformist connections in the seventeenth century; the first
(from Thoresby) tells of "cold possets, stewed prunes, cake, and cheese,"
as being the arvill after Oliver Heywood's funeral.  The second gives, as
rather shabby, according to the notion of the times (1673), "nothing but
a bit of cake, draught of wine, piece of rosemary, and pair of gloves."

But the arvills at Haworth were often far more jovial doings.  Among the
poor, the mourners were only expected to provide a kind of spiced roll
for each person; and the expense of the liquors--rum, or ale, or a
mixture of both called "dog's nose"--was generally defrayed by each guest
placing some money on a plate, set in the middle of the table.  Richer
people would order a dinner for their friends.  At the funeral of Mr.
Charnock (the next successor but one to Mr. Grimshaw in the incumbency),
above eighty people were bid to the arvill, and the price of the feast
was 4s. 6d. per head, all of which was defrayed by the friends of the
deceased.  As few "shirked their liquor," there were very frequently "up-
and-down fights" before the close of the day; sometimes with the horrid
additions of "pawsing" and "gouging," and biting.

Although I have dwelt on the exceptional traits in the characteristics of
these stalwart West-Ridingers, such as they were in the first quarter of
this century, if not a few years later, I have little doubt that in the
everyday life of the people so independent, wilful, and full of grim
humour, there would be much found even at present that would shock those
accustomed only to the local manners of the south; and, in return, I
suspect the shrewd, sagacious, energetic Yorkshireman would hold such
"foreigners" in no small contempt.

I have said, it is most probable that where Haworth Church now stands,
there was once an ancient "field-kirk," or oratory.  It occupied the
third or lowest class of ecclesiastical structures, according to the
Saxon law, and had no right of sepulture, or administration of
sacraments.  It was so called because it was built without enclosure, and
open to the adjoining fields or moors.  The founder, according to the
laws of Edgar, was bound, without subtracting from his tithes, to
maintain the ministering priest out of the remaining nine parts of his
income.  After the Reformation, the right of choosing their clergyman, at
any of those chapels of ease which had formerly been field-kirks, was
vested in the freeholders and trustees, subject to the approval of the
vicar of the parish.  But owing to some negligence, this right has been
lost to the freeholders and trustees at Haworth, ever since the days of
Archbishop Sharp; and the power of choosing a minister has lapsed into
the hands of the Vicar of Bradford.  So runs the account, according to
one authority.

Mr. Bronte says,--"This living has for its patrons the Vicar of Bradford
and certain trustees.  My predecessor took the living with the consent of
the Vicar of Bradford, but in opposition to the trustees; in consequence
of which he was so opposed that, after only three weeks' possession, he
was compelled to resign."  A Yorkshire gentleman, who has kindly sent me
some additional information on this subject since the second edition of
my work was published, write, thus:--

   "The sole right of presentation to the incumbency of Haworth is vested
   in the Vicar of Bradford.  He only can present.  The funds, however,
   from which the clergyman's stipend mainly proceeds, are vested in the
   hands of trustees, who have the power to withhold them, if a nominee
   is sent of whom they disapprove.  On the decease of Mr. Charnock, the
   Vicar first tendered the preferment to Mr. Bronte, and he went over to
   his expected cure.  He was told that towards himself they had no
   personal objection; but as a nominee of the Vicar he would not be
   received.  He therefore retired, with the declaration that if he could
   not come with the approval of the parish, his ministry could not be
   useful.  Upon this the attempt was made to introduce Mr. Redhead.

   "When Mr. Redhead was repelled, a fresh difficulty arose.  Some one
   must first move towards a settlement, but a spirit being evoked which
   could not be allayed, action became perplexing.  The matter had to be
   referred to some independent arbitrator, and my father was the
   gentleman to whom each party turned its eye.  A meeting was convened,
   and the business settled by the Vicar's conceding the choice to the
   trustees, and the acceptance of the Vicar's presentation.  That choice
   forthwith fell on Mr. Bronte, whose promptness and prudence had won
   their hearts."

In conversing on the character of the inhabitants of the West Riding with
Dr. Scoresby, who had been for some time Vicar of Bradford, he alluded to
certain riotous transactions which had taken place at Haworth on the
presentation of the living to Mr. Redhead, and said that there had been
so much in the particulars indicative of the character of the people,
that he advised me to inquire into them.  I have accordingly done so,
and, from the lips of some of the survivors among the actors and
spectators, I have learnt the means taken to eject the nominee of the
Vicar.

The previous incumbent had been the Mr. Charnock whom I have mentioned as
next but one in succession to Mr. Grimshaw.  He had a long illness which
rendered him unable to discharge his duties without assistance, and Mr.
Redhead gave him occasional help, to the great satisfaction of the
parishioners, and was highly respected by them during Mr. Charnock's
lifetime.  But the case was entirely altered when, at Mr. Charnock's
death in 1819, they conceived that the trustees had been unjustly
deprived of their rights by the Vicar of Bradford, who appointed Mr.
Redhead as perpetual curate.

The first Sunday he officiated, Haworth Church was filled even to the
aisles; most of the people wearing the wooden clogs of the district.  But
while Mr. Redhead was reading the second lesson, the whole congregation,
as by one impulse, began to leave the church, making all the noise they
could with clattering and clumping of clogs, till, at length, Mr. Redhead
and the clerk were the only two left to continue the service.  This was
bad enough, but the next Sunday the proceedings were far worse.  Then, as
before, the church was well filled, but the aisles were left clear; not a
creature, not an obstacle was in the way.  The reason for this was made
evident about the same time in the reading of the service as the
disturbances had begun the previous week.  A man rode into the church
upon an ass, with his face turned towards the tail, and as many old hats
piled on his head as he could possibly carry.  He began urging his beast
round the aisles, and the screams, and cries, and laughter of the
congregation entirely drowned all sound of Mr. Redhead's voice, and, I
believe, he was obliged to desist.

Hitherto they had not proceeded to anything like personal violence; but
on the third Sunday they must have been greatly irritated at seeing Mr.
Redhead, determined to brave their will, ride up the village street,
accompanied by several gentlemen from Bradford.  They put up their horses
at the Black Bull--the little inn close upon the churchyard, for the
convenience of arvills as well as for other purposes--and went into
church.  On this the people followed, with a chimney-sweeper, whom they
had employed to clean the chimneys of some out-buildings belonging to the
church that very morning, and afterward plied with drink till he was in a
state of solemn intoxication.  They placed him right before the reading-
desk, where his blackened face nodded a drunken, stupid assent to all
that Mr. Redhead said.  At last, either prompted by some mischief-maker,
or from some tipsy impulse, he clambered up the pulpit stairs, and
attempted to embrace Mr. Redhead.  Then the profane fun grew fast and
furious.  Some of the more riotous, pushed the soot-covered
chimney-sweeper against Mr. Redhead, as he tried to escape.  They threw
both him and his tormentor down on the ground in the churchyard where the
soot-bag had been emptied, and, though, at last, Mr. Redhead escaped into
the Black Bull, the doors of which were immediately barred, the people
raged without, threatening to stone him and his friends.  One of my
informants is an old man, who was the landlord of the inn at the time,
and he stands to it that such was the temper of the irritated mob, that
Mr. Redhead was in real danger of his life.  This man, however, planned
an escape for his unpopular inmates.  The Black Bull is near the top of
the long, steep Haworth street, and at the bottom, close by the bridge,
on the road to Keighley, is a turnpike.  Giving directions to his hunted
guests to steal out at the back door (through which, probably, many a
ne'er-do-weel has escaped from good Mr. Grimshaw's horsewhip), the
landlord and some of the stable-boys rode the horses belonging to the
party from Bradford backwards and forwards before his front door, among
the fiercely-expectant crowd.  Through some opening between the houses,
those on the horses saw Mr. Redhead and his friends creeping along behind
the street; and then, striking spurs, they dashed quickly down to the
turnpike; the obnoxious clergyman and his friends mounted in haste, and
had sped some distance before the people found out that their prey had
escaped, and came running to the closed turnpike gate.

This was Mr. Redhead's last appearance at Haworth for many years.  Long
afterwards, he came to preach, and in his sermon to a large and attentive
congregation he good-humouredly reminded them of the circumstances which
I have described.  They gave him a hearty welcome, for they owed him no
grudge; although before they had been ready enough to stone him, in order
to maintain what they considered to be their rights.

The foregoing account, which I heard from two of the survivors, in the
presence of a friend who can vouch for the accuracy of my repetition, has
to a certain degree been confirmed by a letter from the Yorkshire
gentleman, whose words I have already quoted.

"I am not surprised at your difficulty in authenticating matter-of-fact.
I find this in recalling what I have heard, and the authority on which I
have heard anything.  As to the donkey tale, I believe you are right.  Mr.
Redhead and Dr. Ramsbotham, his son-in-law, are no strangers to me.  Each
of them has a niche in my affections.

"I have asked, this day, two persons who lived in Haworth at the time to
which you allude, the son and daughter of an acting trustee, and each of
them between sixty and seventy years of age, and they assure me that the
donkey was introduced.  One of them says it was mounted by a half-witted
man, seated with his face towards the tail of the beast, and having
several hats piled on his head.  Neither of my informants was, however,
present at these edifying services.  I believe that no movement was made
in the church on either Sunday, until the whole of the authorised reading-
service was gone through, and I am sure that nothing was more remote from
the more respectable party than any personal antagonism toward Mr.
Redhead.  He was one of the most amiable and worthy of men, a man to
myself endeared by many ties and obligations.  I never heard before your
book that the sweep ascended the pulpit steps.  He was present, however,
in the clerical habiliments of his order . . . I may also add that among
the many who were present at those sad Sunday orgies the majority were
non-residents, and came from those moorland fastnesses on the outskirts
of the parish locally designated as 'ovver th' steyres,' one stage more
remote than Haworth from modern civilization.

"To an instance or two more of the rusticity of the inhabitants of the
chapelry of Haworth, I may introduce you.

"A Haworth carrier called at the office of a friend of mine to deliver a
parcel on a cold winter's day, and stood with the door open.  'Robin!
shut the door!' said the recipient.  'Have you no doors in your country?'
'Yoi,' responded Robin, 'we hev, but we nivver steik 'em.'  I have
frequently remarked the number of doors open even in winter.

"When well directed, the indomitable and independent energies of the
natives of this part of the country are invaluable; dangerous when
perverted.  I shall never forget the fierce actions and utterances of one
suffering from delirium tremens.  Whether in its wrath, disdain, or its
dismay, the countenance was infernal.  I called once upon a time on a
most respectable yeoman, and I was, in language earnest and homely,
pressed to accept the hospitality of the house.  I consented.  The word
to me was, 'Nah, Maister, yah mun stop an hev sum te-ah, yah mun, eah,
yah mun.'  A bountiful table was soon spread; at all events, time soon
went while I scaled the hills to see 't' maire at wor thretty year owd,
an't' feil at wor fewer.'  On sitting down to the table, a venerable
woman officiated, and after filling the cups, she thus addressed me:
'Nah, Maister, yah mun loawze th'taible' (loose the table).  The master
said, 'Shah meeans yah mun sey t' greyce.'  I took the hint, and uttered
the blessing.

"I spoke with an aged and tried woman at one time, who, after recording
her mercies, stated, among others, her powers of speech, by asserting
'Thank the Lord, ah nivver wor a meilly-meouthed wumman.'  I feel
particularly at fault in attempting the orthography of the dialect, but
must excuse myself by telling you that I once saw a letter in which the
word I have just now used (excuse) was written 'ecksqueaize!'

"There are some things, however, which rather tend to soften the idea of
the rudeness of Haworth.  No rural district has been more markedly the
abode of musical taste and acquirement, and this at a period when it was
difficult to find them to the same extent apart from towns in advance of
their times.  I have gone to Haworth and found an orchestra to meet me,
filled with local performers, vocal and instrumental, to whom the best
works of Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Marcello, &c. &c., were familiar as
household words.  By knowledge, taste, and voice, they were markedly
separate from ordinary village choirs, and have been put in extensive
requisition for the solo and chorus of many an imposing festival.  One
man still survives, who, for fifty years, has had one of the finest tenor
voices I ever heard, and with it a refined and cultivated taste.  To him
and to others many inducements have been offered to migrate; but the
loom, the association, the mountain air have had charms enow to secure
their continuance at home.  I love the recollection of their performance;
that recollection extends over more than sixty years.  The attachments,
the antipathies and the hospitalities of the district are ardent, hearty,
and homely.  Cordiality in each is the prominent characteristic.  As a
people, these mountaineers have ever been accessible to gentleness and
truth, so far as I have known them; but excite suspicion or resentment,
and they give emphatic and not impotent resistance.  Compulsion they
defy.

"I accompanied Mr. Heap on his first visit to Haworth after his accession
to the vicarage of Bradford.  It was on Easter day, either 1816 or 1817.
His predecessor, the venerable John Crosse, known as the 'blind vicar,'
had been inattentive to the vicarial claims.  A searching investigation
had to be made and enforced, and as it proceeded stout and sturdy
utterances were not lacking on the part of the parishioners.  To a
spectator, though rude, they were amusing, and significant, foretelling
what might be expected, and what was afterwards realised, on the advent
of a new incumbent, if they deemed him an intruder.

"From their peculiar parochial position and circumstances, the
inhabitants of the chapelry have been prompt, earnest, and persevering in
their opposition to church-rates.  Although ten miles from the mother-
church, they were called upon to defray a large proportion of this
obnoxious tax,--I believe one fifth.

"Besides this, they had to maintain their own edifice, &c., &c.  They
resisted, therefore, with energy, that which they deemed to be oppression
and injustice.  By scores would they wend their way from the hills to
attend a vestry meeting at Bradford, and in such service failed not to
show less of the _suaviter in modo_ than the _fortiter in re_.  Happily
such occasion for their action has not occurred for many years.

"The use of patronymics has been common in this locality.  Inquire for a
man by his Christian name and surname, and you may have some difficulty
in finding him: ask, however, for 'George o' Ned's,' or 'Dick o' Bob's,'
or 'Tom o' Jack's,' as the case may be, and your difficulty is at an end.
In many instances the person is designated by his residence.  In my early
years I had occasion to inquire for Jonathan Whitaker, who owned a
considerable farm in the township.  I was sent hither and thither, until
it occurred to me to ask for 'Jonathan o' th' Gate.'  My difficulties
were then at an end.  Such circumstances arise out of the settled
character and isolation of the natives.

"Those who have witnessed a Haworth wedding when the parties were above
the rank of labourers, will not easily forget the scene.  A levy was made
on the horses of the neighbourhood, and a merry cavalcade of mounted men
and women, single or double, traversed the way to Bradford church.  The
inn and church appeared to be in natural connection, and as the labours
of the Temperance Society had then to begin, the interests of sobriety
were not always consulted.  On remounting their steeds they commenced
with a race, and not unfrequently an inebriate or unskilful horseman or
woman was put _hors de combat_.  A race also was frequent at the end. of
these wedding expeditions, from the bridge to the toll-bar at Haworth.
The race-course you will know to be anything but level."

Into the midst of this lawless, yet not unkindly population, Mr. Bronte
brought his wife and six little children, in February, 1820.  There are
those yet alive who remember seven heavily-laden carts lumbering slowly
up the long stone street, bearing the "new parson's" household goods to
his future abode.

One wonders how the bleak aspect of her new home--the low, oblong, stone
parsonage, high up, yet with a still higher back-ground of sweeping
moors--struck on the gentle, delicate wife, whose health even then was
failing.



CHAPTER III


The Rev. Patrick Bronte is a native of the County Down in Ireland.  His
father Hugh Bronte, was left an orphan at an early age.  He came from the
south to the north of the island, and settled in the parish of Ahaderg,
near Loughbrickland.  There was some family tradition that, humble as
Hugh Bronte's circumstances were, he was the descendant of an ancient
family.  But about this neither he nor his descendants have cared to
inquire.  He made an early marriage, and reared and educated ten children
on the proceeds of the few acres of land which he farmed.  This large
family were remarkable for great physical strength, and much personal
beauty.  Even in his old age, Mr. Bronte is a striking-looking man, above
the common height, with a nobly-shaped head, and erect carriage.  In his
youth he must have been unusually handsome.

He was born on Patrickmas day (March 17), 1777, and early gave tokens of
extraordinary quickness and intelligence.  He had also his full share of
ambition; and of his strong sense and forethought there is a proof in the
fact, that, knowing that his father could afford him no pecuniary aid,
and that he must depend upon his own exertions, he opened a public school
at the early age of sixteen; and this mode of living he continued to
follow for five or six years.  He then became a tutor in the family of
the Rev. Mr. Tighe, rector of Drumgooland parish.  Thence he proceeded to
St. John's College, Cambridge, where he was entered in July, 1802, being
at the time five-and-twenty years of age.  After nearly four years'
residence, he obtained his B.A. degree, and was ordained to a curacy in
Essex, whence he removed into Yorkshire.  The course of life of which
this is the outline, shows a powerful and remarkable character,
originating and pursuing a purpose in a resolute and independent manner.
Here is a youth--a boy of sixteen--separating himself from his family,
and determining to maintain himself; and that, not in the hereditary
manner by agricultural pursuits, but by the labour of his brain.

I suppose, from what I have heard, that Mr. Tighe became strongly
interested in his children's tutor, and may have aided him, not only in
the direction of his studies, but in the suggestion of an English
university education, and in advice as to the mode in which he should
obtain entrance there.  Mr. Bronte has now no trace of his Irish origin
remaining in his speech; he never could have shown his Celtic descent in
the straight Greek lines and long oval of his face; but at
five-and-twenty, fresh from the only life he had ever known, to present
himself at the gates of St. John's proved no little determination of
will, and scorn of ridicule.

While at Cambridge, he became one of a corps of volunteers, who were then
being called out all over the country to resist the apprehended invasion
by the French.  I have heard him allude, in late years, to Lord
Palmerston as one who had often been associated with him then in the
mimic military duties which they had to perform.

We take him up now settled as a curate at Hartshead, in Yorkshire--far
removed from his birth-place and all his Irish connections; with whom,
indeed, he cared little to keep up any intercourse, and whom he never, I
believe, revisited after becoming a student at Cambridge.

Hartshead is a very small village, lying to the east of Huddersfield and
Halifax; and, from its high situation--on a mound, as it were, surrounded
by a circular basin--commanding a magnificent view.  Mr. Bronte resided
here for five years; and, while the incumbent of Hartshead, he wooed and
married Maria Branwell.

She was the third daughter of Mr. Thomas Branwell, merchant, of Penzance.
Her mother's maiden name was Carne: and, both on father's and mother's
side, the Branwell family were sufficiently well descended to enable them
to mix in the best society that Penzance then afforded.  Mr. and Mrs.
Branwell would be living--their family of four daughters and one son,
still children--during the existence of that primitive state of society
which is well described by Dr. Davy in the life of his brother.

"In the same town, when the population was about 2,000 persons, there was
only one carpet, the floors of rooms were sprinkled with sea-sand, and
there was not a single silver fork.

"At that time, when our colonial possessions were very limited, our army
and navy on a small scale, and there was comparatively little demand for
intellect, the younger sons of gentlemen were often of necessity brought
up to some trade or mechanical art, to which no discredit, or loss of
caste, as it were, was attached.  The eldest son, if not allowed to
remain an idle country squire, was sent to Oxford or Cambridge,
preparatory to his engaging in one of the three liberal professions of
divinity, law, or physic; the second son was perhaps apprenticed to a
surgeon or apothecary, or a solicitor; the third to a pewterer or
watchmaker; the fourth to a packer or mercer, and so on, were there more
to be provided for.

"After their apprenticeships were finished, the young men almost
invariably went to London to perfect themselves in their respective trade
or art: and on their return into the country, when settled in business,
they were not excluded from what would now be considered genteel society.
Visiting then was conducted differently from what it is at present.
Dinner-parties were almost unknown, excepting at the annual feast-time.
Christmas, too, was then a season of peculiar indulgence and
conviviality, and a round of entertainments was given, consisting of tea
and supper.  Excepting at these two periods, visiting was almost entirely
confined to tea-parties, which assembled at three o'clock, broke up at
nine, and the amusement of the evening was commonly some round game at
cards, as Pope Joan, or Commerce.  The lower class was then extremely
ignorant, and all classes were very superstitious; even the belief in
witches maintained its ground, and there was an almost unbounded
credulity respecting the supernatural and monstrous.  There was scarcely
a parish in the Mount's Bay that was without a haunted house, or a spot
to which some story of supernatural horror was not attached.  Even when I
was a boy, I remember a house in the best street of Penzance which was
uninhabited because it was believed to be haunted, and which young people
walked by at night at a quickened pace, and with a beating heart.  Amongst
the middle and higher classes there was little taste for literature, and
still less for science, and their pursuits were rarely of a dignified or
intellectual kind.  Hunting, shooting, wrestling, cock-fighting,
generally ending in drunkenness, were what they most delighted in.
Smuggling was carried on to a great extent; and drunkenness, and a low
state of morals, were naturally associated with it.  Whilst smuggling was
the means of acquiring wealth to bold and reckless adventurers,
drunkenness and dissipation occasioned the ruin of many respectable
families."

I have given this extract because I conceive it bears some reference to
the life of Miss Bronte, whose strong mind and vivid imagination must
have received their first impressions either from the servants (in that
simple household, almost friendly companions during the greater part of
the day,) retailing the traditions or the news of Haworth village; or
from Mr. Bronte, whose intercourse with his children appears to have been
considerably restrained, and whose life, both in Ireland and at
Cambridge, had been spent under peculiar circumstances; or from her aunt,
Miss Branwell, who came to the parsonage, when Charlotte was only six or
seven years old, to take charge of her dead sister's family.  This aunt
was older than Mrs. Bronte, and had lived longer among the Penzance
society, which Dr. Davy describes.  But in the Branwell family itself,
the violence and irregularity of nature did not exist.  They were
Methodists, and, as far as I can gather, a gentle and sincere piety gave
refinement and purity of character.  Mr. Branwell, the father, according
to his descendants' account, was a man of musical talent.  He and his
wife lived to see all their children grown up, and died within a year of
each other--he in 1808, she in 1809, when their daughter Maria was twenty-
five or twenty-six years of age.  I have been permitted to look over a
series of nine letters, which were addressed by her to Mr. Bronte, during
the brief term of their engagement in 1812.  They are full of tender
grace of expression and feminine modesty; pervaded by the deep piety to
which I have alluded as a family characteristic.  I shall make one or two
extracts from them, to show what sort of a person was the mother of
Charlotte Bronte: but first, I must state the circumstances under which
this Cornish lady met the scholar from Ahaderg, near Loughbrickland.  In
the early summer of 1812, when she would be twenty-nine, she came to
visit her uncle, the Reverend John Fennel, who was at that time a
clergyman of the Church of England, living near Leeds, but who had
previously been a Methodist minister.  Mr. Bronte was the incumbent of
Hartshead; and had the reputation in the neighbourhood of being a very
handsome fellow, full of Irish enthusiasm, and with something of an
Irishman's capability of falling easily in love.  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.  Mr.
Bronte was soon captivated by the little, gentle creature, and this time
declared that it was for life.  In her first letter to him, dated August
26th, she seems almost surprised to find herself engaged, and alludes to
the short time which she has known him.  In the rest there are touches
reminding one of Juliet's--

   "But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true,
   Than those that have more cunning to be strange."

There are plans for happy pic-nic parties to Kirkstall Abbey, in the
glowing September days, when "Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin Jane,"--the last
engaged to a Mr. Morgan, another clergyman--were of the party; all since
dead, except Mr. Bronte.  There was no opposition on the part of any of
her friends to her engagement.  Mr. and Mrs. Fennel sanctioned it, and
her brother and sisters in far-away Penzance appear fully to have
approved of it.  In a letter dated September 18th, she says:--

"For some years I have been perfectly my own mistress, subject to no
control whatever; so far from it, that my sisters, who are many years
older than myself, and even my dear mother, used to consult me on every
occasion of importance, and scarcely ever doubted the propriety of my
opinions and actions: perhaps you will be ready to accuse me of vanity in
mentioning this, but you must consider that I do not boast of it.  I have
many times felt it a disadvantage, and although, I thank God, it has
never led me into error, yet, in circumstances of uncertainty and doubt,
I have deeply felt the want of a guide and instructor."  In the same
letter she tells Mr. Bronte, that she has informed her sisters of her
engagement, and that she should not see them again so soon as she had
intended.  Mr. Fennel, her uncle, also writes to them by the same post in
praise of Mr. Bronte.

The journey from Penzance to Leeds in those days was both very long and
very expensive; the lovers had not much money to spend in unnecessary
travelling, and, as Miss Branwell had neither father nor mother living,
it appeared both a discreet and seemly arrangement that the marriage
should take place from her uncle's house.  There was no reason either why
the engagement should be prolonged.  They were past their first youth;
they had means sufficient for their unambitious wants; the living of
Hartshead is rated in the Clergy List at 202_l_. per annum, and she was
in the receipt of a small annuity (50_l_. I have been told) by the will
of her father.  So, at the end of September, the lovers began to talk
about taking a house, for I suppose that Mr. Bronte up to that time had
been in lodgings; and all went smoothly and successfully with a view to
their marriage in the ensuing winter, until November, when a misfortune
happened, which she thus patiently and prettily describes:--

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

The last of these letters is dated December the 5th.  Miss Branwell and
her cousin intended to set about making the wedding-cake in the following
week, so the marriage could not be far off.  She had been learning by
heart a "pretty little hymn" of Mr. Bronte's composing; and reading Lord
Lyttelton's "Advice to a Lady," on which she makes some pertinent and
just remarks, showing that she thought as well as read.  And so Maria
Branwell fades out of sight; we have no more direct intercourse with her;
we hear of her as Mrs. Bronte, but it is as an invalid, not far from
death; still patient, cheerful, and pious.  The writing of these letters
is elegant and neat; while there are allusions to household
occupations--such as making the wedding-cake; there are also allusions to
the books she has read, or is reading, showing a well-cultivated mind.
Without having anything of her daughter's rare talents, Mrs. Bronte must
have been, I imagine, that unusual character, a well-balanced and
consistent woman.  The style of the letters is easy and good; as is also
that of a paper from the same hand, entitled "The Advantages of Poverty
in Religious Concerns," which was written rather later, with a view to
publication in some periodical.

She was married from her uncle's house in Yorkshire, on the 29th of
December, 1812; the same day was also the wedding-day of her younger
sister, Charlotte Branwell, in distant Penzance.  I do not think that
Mrs. Bronte ever revisited Cornwall, but she has left a very pleasant
impression on the minds of those relations who yet survive; they speak of
her as "their favourite aunt, and one to whom they, as well as all the
family, looked up, as a person of talent and great amiability of
disposition;" and, again, as "meek and retiring, while possessing more
than ordinary talents, which she inherited from her father, and her piety
was genuine and unobtrusive."

Mr. Bronte remained for five years at Hartshead, in the parish of
Dewsbury.  There he was married, and his two children, Maria and
Elizabeth, were born.  At the expiration of that period, he had the
living of Thornton, in Bradford Parish.  Some of those great West Riding
parishes are almost like bishoprics for their amount of population and
number of churches.  Thornton church is a little episcopal chapel of
ease, rich in Nonconformist monuments, as of Accepted Lister and his
friend Dr. Hall.  The neighbourhood is desolate and wild; great tracts of
bleak land, enclosed by stone dykes, sweeping up Clayton heights.  The
church itself looks ancient and solitary, and as if left behind by the
great stone mills of a flourishing Independent firm, and the solid square
chapel built by the members of that denomination.  Altogether not so
pleasant a place as Hartshead, with its ample outlook over
cloud-shadowed, sun-flecked plain, and hill rising beyond hill to form
the distant horizon.

Here, at Thornton, Charlotte Bronte was born, on the 21st of April, 1816.
Fast on her heels followed Patrick Branwell, Emily Jane, and Anne.  After
the birth of this last daughter, Mrs. Bronte's health began to decline.
It is hard work to provide for the little tender wants of many young
children where the means are but limited.  The necessaries of food and
clothing are much more easily supplied than the almost equal necessaries
of attendance, care, soothing, amusement, and sympathy.  Maria Bronte,
the eldest of six, could only have been a few months more than six years
old, when Mr. Bronte removed to Haworth, on February the 25th, 1820.
Those who knew her then, describe her as grave, thoughtful, and quiet, to
a degree far beyond her years.  Her childhood was no childhood; the cases
are rare in which the possessors of great gifts have known the blessings
of that careless happy time; _their_ unusual powers stir within them,
and, instead of the natural life of perception--the objective, as the
Germans call it--they begin the deeper life of reflection--the
subjective.

Little Maria Bronte was delicate and small in appearance, which seemed to
give greater effect to her wonderful precocity of intellect.  She must
have been her mother's companion and helpmate in many a household and
nursery experience, for Mr. Bronte was, of course, much engaged in his
study; and besides, he was not naturally fond of children, and felt their
frequent appearance on the scene as a drag both on his wife's strength,
and as an interruption to the comfort of the household.

Haworth Parsonage is--as I mentioned in the first chapter--an oblong
stone house, facing down the hill on which the village stands, and with
the front door right opposite to the western door of the church, distant
about a hundred yards.  Of this space twenty yards or so in depth are
occupied by the grassy garden, which is scarcely wider than the house.
The graveyard lies on two sides of the house and garden.  The house
consists of four rooms on each floor, and is two stories high.  When the
Brontes took possession, they made the larger parlour, to the left of the
entrance, the family sitting-room, while that on the right was
appropriated to Mr. Bronte as a study.  Behind this was the kitchen;
behind the former, a sort of flagged store-room.  Upstairs were four bed-
chambers of similar size, with the addition of a small apartment over the
passage, or "lobby" as we call it in the north.  This was to the front,
the staircase going up right opposite to the entrance.  There is the
pleasant old fashion of window seats all through the house; and one can
see that the parsonage was built in the days when wood was plentiful, as
the massive stair-banisters, and the wainscots, and the heavy
window-frames testify.

This little extra upstairs room was appropriated to the children.  Small
as it was, it was not called a nursery; indeed, it had not the comfort of
a fire-place in it; the servants--two affectionate, warm-hearted sisters,
who cannot now speak of the family without tears--called the room the
"children's study."  The age of the eldest student was perhaps by this
time seven.

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

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

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

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

Mr. Bronte was faithful in visiting the sick and all those who sent for
him, and diligent in attendance at the schools; and so was his daughter
Charlotte too; but, cherishing and valuing privacy themselves, they were
perhaps over-delicate in not intruding upon the privacy of others.

From their first going to Haworth, their walks were directed rather out
towards the heathery moors, sloping upwards behind the parsonage, than
towards the long descending village street.  A good old woman, who came
to nurse Mrs. Bronte in the illness--an internal cancer--which grew and
gathered upon her, not many months after her arrival at Haworth, tells me
that at that time the six little creatures used to walk out, hand in
hand, towards the glorious wild moors, which in after days they loved so
passionately; the elder ones taking thoughtful care for the toddling wee
things.

They were grave and silent beyond their years; subdued, probably, by the
presence of serious illness in the house; for, at the time which my
informant speaks of, Mrs. Bronte was confined to the bedroom from which
she never came forth alive.  "You would not have known there was a child
in the house, they were such still, noiseless, good little creatures.
Maria would shut herself up" (Maria, but seven!) "in the children's study
with a newspaper, and be able to tell one everything when she came out;
debates in Parliament, and I don't know what all.  She was as good as a
mother to her sisters and brother.  But there never were such good
children.  I used to think them spiritless, they were so different to any
children I had ever seen.  They were good little creatures.  Emily was
the prettiest."

Mrs. Bronte was the same patient, cheerful person as we have seen her
formerly; very ill, suffering great pain, but seldom if ever complaining;
at her better times begging her nurse to raise her in bed to let her see
her clean the grate, "because she did it as it was done in Cornwall;"
devotedly fond of her husband, who warmly repaid her affection, and
suffered no one else to take the night-nursing; but, according to my
informant, the mother was not very anxious to see much of her children,
probably because the sight of them, knowing how soon they were to be left
motherless, would have agitated her too much.  So the little things clung
quietly together, for their father was busy in his study and in his
parish, or with their mother, and they took their meals alone; sat
reading, or whispering low, in the "children's study," or wandered out on
the hill-side, hand in hand.

The ideas of Rousseau and Mr. Day on education had filtered down through
many classes, and spread themselves widely out.  I imagine, Mr. Bronte
must have formed some of his opinions on the management of children from
these two theorists.  His practice was not half so wild or extraordinary
as that to which an aunt of mine was subjected by a disciple of Mr.
Day's.  She had been taken by this gentleman and his wife, to live with
them as their adopted child, perhaps about five-and-twenty years before
the time of which I am writing.  They were wealthy people and kind
hearted, but her food and clothing were of the very simplest and rudest
description, on Spartan principles.  A healthy, merry child, she did not
much care for dress or eating; but the treatment which she felt as a real
cruelty was this.  They had a carriage, in which she and the favourite
dog were taken an airing on alternate days; the creature whose turn it
was to be left at home being tossed in a blanket--an operation which my
aunt especially dreaded.  Her affright at the tossing was probably the
reason why it was persevered in.  Dressed-up ghosts had become common,
and she did not care for them, so the blanket exercise was to be the next
mode of hardening her nerves.  It is well known that Mr. Day broke off
his intention of marrying Sabrina, the girl whom he had educated for this
purpose, because, within a few weeks of the time fixed for the wedding,
she was guilty of the frivolity, while on a visit from home, of wearing
thin sleeves.  Yet Mr. Day and my aunt's relations were benevolent
people, only strongly imbued with the crotchet that by a system of
training might be educed the hardihood and simplicity of the ideal
savage, forgetting the terrible isolation of feelings and habits which
their pupils would experience in the future life which they must pass
among the corruptions and refinements of civilization.

Mr. Bronte wished to make his children hardy, and indifferent to the
pleasures of eating and dress.  In the latter he succeeded, as far as
regarded his daughters.

His strong, passionate, Irish nature was, in general, compressed down
with resolute stoicism; but it was there notwithstanding all his
philosophic calm and dignity of demeanour; though he did not speak when
he was annoyed or displeased.  Mrs. Bronte, whose sweet nature thought
invariably of the bright side, would say, "Ought I not to be thankful
that he never gave me an angry word?"

Mr. Bronte was an active walker, stretching away over the moors for many
miles, noting in his mind all natural signs of wind and weather, and
keenly observing all the wild creatures that came and went in the
loneliest sweeps of the hills.  He has seen eagles stooping low in search
of food for their young; no eagle is ever seen on those mountain slopes
now.

He fearlessly took whatever side in local or national politics appeared
to him right.  In the days of the Luddites, he had been for the
peremptory interference of the law, at a time when no magistrate could be
found to act, and all the property of the West Riding was in terrible
danger.  He became unpopular then among the millworkers, and he esteemed
his life unsafe if he took his long and lonely walks unarmed; so he began
the habit, which has continued to this day, of invariably carrying a
loaded pistol about with him.  It lay on his dressing-table with his
watch; with his watch it was put on in the morning; with his watch it was
taken off at night.

Many years later, during his residence at Haworth, there was a strike;
the hands in the neighbourhood felt themselves aggrieved by the masters,
and refused to work: Mr. Bronte thought that they had been unjustly and
unfairly treated, and he assisted them by all the means in his power to
"keep the wolf from their doors," and avoid the incubus of debt.  Several
of the more influential inhabitants of Haworth and the neighbourhood were
mill-owners; they remonstrated pretty sharply with him, but he believed
that his conduct was right and persevered in it.

His opinions might be often both wild and erroneous, his principles of
action eccentric and strange, his views of life partial, and almost
misanthropical; but not one opinion that he held could be stirred or
modified by any worldly motive: he acted up to his principles of action;
and, if any touch of misanthropy mingled with his view of mankind in
general, his conduct to the individuals who came in personal contact with
him did not agree with such view.  It is true that he had strong and
vehement prejudices, and was obstinate in maintaining them, and that he
was not dramatic enough in his perceptions to see how miserable others
might be in a life that to him was all-sufficient.  But I do not pretend
to be able to harmonize points of character, and account for them, and
bring them all into one consistent and intelligible whole.  The family
with whom I have now to do shot their roots down deeper than I can
penetrate.  I cannot measure them, much less is it for me to judge them.
I have named these instances of eccentricity in the father because I hold
the knowledge of them to be necessary for a right understanding of the
life of his daughter.

Mrs. Bronte died in September, 1821, and the lives of those quiet
children must have become quieter and lonelier still.  Charlotte tried
hard, in after years, to recall the remembrance of her mother, and could
bring back two or three pictures of her.  One was when, sometime in the
evening light, she had been playing with her little boy, Patrick
Branwell, in the parlour of Haworth Parsonage.  But the recollections of
four or five years old are of a very fragmentary character.

Owing to some illness of the digestive organs, Mr. Bronte was obliged to
be very careful about his diet; and, in order to avoid temptation, and
possibly to have the quiet necessary for digestion, he had begun, before
his wife's death, to take his dinner alone--a habit which he always
retained.  He did not require companionship, therefore he did not seek
it, either in his walks, or in his daily life.  The quiet regularity of
his domestic hours was only broken in upon by church-wardens, and
visitors on parochial business; and sometimes by a neighbouring
clergyman, who came down the hills, across the moors, to mount up again
to Haworth Parsonage, and spend an evening there.  But, owing to Mrs.
Bronte's death so soon after her husband had removed into the district,
and also to the distances, and the bleak country to be traversed, the
wives of these clerical friends did not accompany their husbands; and the
daughters grew up out of childhood into girlhood bereft, in a singular
manner, of all such society as would have been natural to their age, sex,
and station.

But the children did not want society.  To small infantine gaieties they
were unaccustomed.  They were all in all to each other.  I do not suppose
that there ever was a family more tenderly bound to each other.  Maria
read the newspapers, and reported intelligence to her younger sisters
which it is wonderful they could take an interest in.  But I suspect that
they had no "children's books," and that their eager minds "browzed
undisturbed among the wholesome pasturage of English literature," as
Charles Lamb expresses it.  The servants of the household appear to have
been much impressed with the little Brontes' extraordinary cleverness.  In
a letter which I had from him on this subject, their father writes:--"The
servants often said that they had never seen such a clever little child"
(as Charlotte), "and that they were obliged to be on their guard as to
what they said and did before her.  Yet she and the servants always lived
on good terms with each other."

These servants are yet alive; elderly women residing in Bradford.  They
retain a faithful and fond recollection of Charlotte, and speak of her
unvarying kindness from the "time when she was ever such a little child!"
when she would not rest till she had got the old disused cradle sent from
the parsonage to the house where the parents of one of them lived, to
serve for a little infant sister.  They tell of one long series of kind
and thoughtful actions from this early period to the last weeks of
Charlotte Bronte's life; and, though she had left her place many years
ago, one of these former servants went over from Bradford to Haworth on
purpose to see Mr. Bronte, and offer him her true sympathy, when his last
child died.  I may add a little anecdote as a testimony to the admirable
character of the likeness of Miss Bronte prefixed to this volume.  A
gentleman who had kindly interested himself in the preparation of this
memoir took the first volume, shortly after the publication, to the house
of this old servant, in order to show her the portrait.  The moment she
caught a glimpse of the frontispiece, "There she is," in a minute she
exclaimed.  "Come, John, look!" (to her husband); and her daughter was
equally struck by the resemblance.  There might not be many to regard the
Brontes with affection, but those who once loved them, loved them long
and well.

I return to the father's letter.  He says:--

"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; when a dispute would not unfrequently arise
amongst them regarding the comparative 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, and the youngest
about four, thinking that they knew more than I had yet discovered, in
order to make them speak with less timidity, I deemed that if they were
put under a sort of cover I might gain my end; and happening to have a
mask in the house, I told them all to stand and speak boldly from under
cover of the mask.

"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 made a deep and lasting
impression on my memory.  The substance, however, was exactly what I have
stated."

The strange and quaint simplicity of the mode taken by the father to
ascertain the hidden characters of his children, and the tone and
character of these questions and answers, show the curious education
which was made by the circumstances surrounding the Brontes.  They knew
no other children.  They knew no other modes of thought than what were
suggested to them by the fragments of clerical conversation which they
overheard in the parlour, or the subjects of village and local interest
which they heard discussed in the kitchen.  Each had their own strong
characteristic flavour.

They took a vivid interest in the public characters, and the local and
the foreign as well as home politics discussed in the newspapers.  Long
before Maria Bronte died, at the age of eleven, her father used to say 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.



CHAPTER IV


About a year after Mrs. Bronte's death, an elder sister, as I have before
mentioned, came from Penzance to superintend her brother-in-law's
household, and look after his children.  Miss Branwell was, I believe, a
kindly and conscientious woman, with a good deal of character, but with
the somewhat narrow ideas natural to one who had spent nearly all her
life in the same place.  She had strong prejudices, and soon took a
distaste to Yorkshire.  From Penzance, where plants which we in the north
call greenhouse flowers grow in great profusion, and without any shelter
even in the winter, and where the soft warm climate allows the
inhabitants, if so disposed, to live pretty constantly in the open air,
it was a great change for a lady considerably past forty to come and take
up her abode in a place where neither flowers nor vegetables would
flourish, and where a tree of even moderate dimensions might be hunted
for far and wide; where the snow lay long and late on the moors,
stretching bleakly and barely far up from the dwelling which was
henceforward to be her home; and where often, on autumnal or winter
nights, the four winds of heaven seemed to meet and rage together,
tearing round the house as if they were wild beasts striving to find an
entrance.  She missed the small round of cheerful, social visiting
perpetually going on in a country town; she missed the friends she had
known from her childhood, some of whom had been her parents' friends
before they were hers; she disliked many of the customs of the place, and
particularly dreaded the cold damp arising from the flag floors in the
passages and parlours of Haworth Parsonage.  The stairs, too, I believe,
are made of stone; and no wonder, when stone quarries are near, and trees
are far to seek.  I have heard that Miss Branwell always went about the
house in pattens, clicking up and down the stairs, from her dread of
catching cold.  For the same reason, in the latter years of her life, she
passed nearly all her time, and took most of her meals, in her bedroom.
The children respected her, and had that sort of affection for her which
is generated by esteem; but I do not think they ever freely loved her.  It
was a severe trial for any one at her time of life to change
neighbourhood and habitation so entirely as she did; and the greater her
merit.

I do not know whether Miss Branwell taught her nieces anything besides
sewing, and the household arts in which Charlotte afterwards was such an
adept.  Their regular lessons were said to their father; and they were
always in the habit of picking up an immense amount of miscellaneous
information for themselves.  But a year or so before this time, a school
had been begun in the North of England for the daughters of clergymen.
The place was Cowan Bridge, a small hamlet on the coach-road between
Leeds and Kendal, and thus easy of access from Haworth, as the coach ran
daily, and one of its stages was at Keighley.  The yearly expense for
each pupil (according to the entrance-rules given in the Report for 1842,
and I believe they had not been increased since the establishment of the
schools in 1823) was as follows:

"Rule 11.  The terms for clothing, lodging, boarding, and educating, are
14_l_. a year; half to be paid in advance, when the pupils are sent; and
also 1_l_. entrance-money, for the use of books, &c.  The system of
education comprehends history, geography, the use of the globes, grammar,
writing and arithmetic, all kinds of needlework, and the nicer kinds of
household work--such as getting up fine linen, ironing, &c.  If
accomplishments are required, an additional charge of 3_l_. a year is
made for music or drawing, each."

Rule 3rd requests that the friends will state the line of education
desired in the case of every pupil, having a regard to her future
prospects.

Rule 4th states the clothing and toilette articles which a girl is
expected to bring with her; and thus concludes: "The pupils all appear in
the same dress.  They wear plain straw cottage bonnets; in summer white
frocks on Sundays, and nankeen on other days; in winter, purple stuff
frocks, and purple cloth cloaks.  For the sake of uniformity, therefore,
they are required to bring 3_l_. in lieu of frocks, pelisse, bonnet,
tippet, and frills; making the whole sum which each pupil brings with her
to the school--

   7_l_. half-year in advance.
   1_l_. entrance for books.
   1_l_. entrance for clothes.

The 8th rule is,--"All letters and parcels are inspected by the
superintendent;" but this is a very prevalent regulation in all young
ladies' schools, where I think it is generally understood that the
schoolmistress may exercise this privilege, although it is certainly
unwise in her to insist too frequently upon it.

There is nothing at all remarkable in any of the other regulations, a
copy of which was doubtless in Mr. Bronte's hands when he formed the
determination to send his daughters to Cowan Bridge School; and he
accordingly took Maria and Elizabeth thither in July, 1824.

I now come to a part of my subject which I find great difficulty in
treating, because the evidence relating to it on each side is so
conflicting that it seems almost impossible to arrive at the truth.  Miss
Bronte more than once said to me, that she should not have written what
she did of Lowood in "Jane Eyre," if she had thought the place would have
been so immediately identified with Cowan Bridge, although there was not
a word in her account of the institution but what was true at the time
when she knew it; she also said that she had not considered it necessary,
in a work of fiction, to state every particular with the impartiality
that might be required in a court of justice, nor to seek out motives,
and make allowances for human failings, as she might have done, if
dispassionately analysing the conduct of those who had the
superintendence of the institution.  I believe she herself would have
been glad of an opportunity to correct the over-strong impression which
was made upon the public mind by her vivid picture, though even she,
suffering her whole life long, both in heart and body, from the
consequences of what happened there, might have been apt, to the last, to
take her deep belief in facts for the facts themselves--her conception of
truth for the absolute truth.

In some of the notices of the previous editions of this work, it is
assumed that I derived the greater part of my information with regard to
her sojourn at Cowan Bridge from Charlotte Bronte herself.  I never heard
her speak of the place but once, and that was on the second day of my
acquaintance with her.  A little child on that occasion expressed some
reluctance to finish eating his piece of bread at dinner; and she,
stooping down, and addressing him in a low voice, told him how thankful
she should have been at his age for a piece of bread; and when we--though
I am not sure if I myself spoke--asked her some question as to the
occasion she alluded to, she replied with reserve and hesitation,
evidently shying away from what she imagined might lead to too much
conversation on one of her books.  She spoke of the oat-cake at Cowan
Bridge (the clap-bread of Westmorland) as being different to the leaven-
raised oat-cake of Yorkshire, and of her childish distaste for it.  Some
one present made an allusion to a similar childish dislike in the true
tale of "The terrible knitters o' Dent" given in Southey's "Common-place
Book:" and she smiled faintly, but said that the mere difference in food
was not all: that the food itself was spoilt by the dirty carelessness of
the cook, so that she and her sisters disliked their meals exceedingly;
and she named her relief and gladness when the doctor condemned the meat,
and spoke of having seen him spit it out.  These are all the details I
ever heard from her.  She so avoided particularizing, that I think Mr.
Carus Wilson's name never passed between us.

I do not doubt the general accuracy of my informants,--of those who have
given, and solemnly repeated, the details that follow,--but it is only
just to Miss Bronte to say that I have stated above pretty nearly all
that I ever heard on the subject from her.

A clergyman, living near Kirby Lonsdale, the Reverend William Carus
Wilson, was the prime mover in the establishment of this school.  He was
an energetic man, sparing no labour for the accomplishment of his ends.
He saw that it was an extremely difficult task for clergymen with limited
incomes to provide for the education of their children; and he devised a
scheme, by which a certain sum was raised annually by subscription, to
complete the amount required to furnish a solid and sufficient English
education, for which the parent's payment of 14_l_. a year would not have
been sufficient.  Indeed, that made by the parents was considered to be
exclusively appropriated to the expenses of lodging and boarding, and the
education provided for by the subscriptions.  Twelve trustees were
appointed; Mr. Wilson being not only a trustee, but the treasurer and
secretary; in fact, taking most of the business arrangements upon
himself; a responsibility which appropriately fell to him, as he lived
nearer the school than any one else who was interested in it.  So his
character for prudence and judgment was to a certain degree implicated in
the success or failure of Cowan Bridge School; and the working of it was
for many years the great object and interest of his life.  But he was
apparently unacquainted with the prime element in good
administration--seeking out thoroughly competent persons to fill each
department, and then making them responsible for, and judging them by,
the result, without perpetual interference with the details.

So great was the amount of good which Mr. Wilson did, by his constant,
unwearied superintendence, that I cannot help feeling sorry that, in his
old age and declining health, the errors which he was believed to have
committed, should have been brought up against him in a form which
received such wonderful force from the touch of Miss Bronte's great
genius.  No doubt whatever can be entertained of the deep interest which
he felt in the success of the school.  As I write, I have before me his
last words on giving up the secretaryship in 1850: he speaks of the
"withdrawal, from declining health, of an eye, which, at all events, has
loved to watch over the schools with an honest and anxious interest;"--and
again he adds, "that he resigns, therefore, with a desire to be thankful
for all that God has been pleased to accomplish through his
instrumentality (the infirmities and unworthinesses of which he deeply
feels and deplores)."

Cowan Bridge is a cluster of some six or seven cottages, gathered
together at both ends of a bridge, over which the high road from Leeds to
Kendal crosses a little stream, called the Leck.  This high road is
nearly disused now; but formerly, when the buyers from the West Riding
manufacturing districts had frequent occasion to go up into the North to
purchase the wool of the Westmorland and Cumberland farmers, it was
doubtless much travelled; and perhaps the hamlet of Cowan Bridge had a
more prosperous look than it bears at present.  It is prettily situated;
just where the Leck-fells swoop into the plain; and by the course of the
beck alder-trees and willows and hazel bushes grow.  The current of the
stream is interrupted by broken pieces of grey rock; and the waters flow
over a bed of large round white pebbles, which a flood heaves up and
moves on either side out of its impetuous way till in some parts they
almost form a wall.  By the side of the little, shallow, sparkling,
vigorous Leck, run long pasture fields, of the fine short grass common in
high land; for though Cowan Bridge is situated on a plain, it is a plain
from which there is many a fall and long descent before you and the Leck
reach the valley of the Lune.  I can hardly understand how the school
there came to be so unhealthy, the air all round about was so sweet and
thyme-scented, when I visited it last summer.  But at this day, every one
knows that the site of a building intended for numbers should be chosen
with far greater care than that of a private dwelling, from the tendency
to illness, both infectious and otherwise, produced by the congregation
of people in close proximity.

The house is still remaining that formed part of that occupied by the
school.  It is a long, bow-windowed cottage, now divided into two
dwellings.  It stands facing the Leck, between which and it intervenes a
space, about seventy yards deep, that was once the school garden.  This
original house was an old dwelling of the Picard family, which they had
inhabited for two generations.  They sold it for school purposes, and an
additional building was erected, running at right angles from the older
part.  This new part was devoted expressly to schoolrooms, dormitories,
&c.; and after the school was removed to Casterton, it was used for a
bobbin-mill connected with the stream, where wooden reels were made out
of the alders, which grow profusely in such ground as that surrounding
Cowan Bridge.  This mill is now destroyed.  The present cottage was, at
the time of which I write, occupied by the teachers' rooms, the dinner-
room and kitchens, and some smaller bedrooms.  On going into this
building, I found one part, that nearest to the high road, converted into
a poor kind of public-house, then to let, and having all the squalid
appearance of a deserted place, which rendered it difficult to judge what
it would look like when neatly kept up, the broken panes replaced in the
windows, and the rough-cast (now cracked and discoloured) made white and
whole.  The other end forms a cottage, with the low ceilings and stone
floors of a hundred years ago; the windows do not open freely and widely;
and the passage upstairs, leading to the bedrooms, is narrow and
tortuous: altogether, smells would linger about the house, and damp cling
to it.  But sanitary matters were little understood thirty years ago; and
it was a great thing to get a roomy building close to the high road, and
not too far from the habitation of Mr. Wilson, the originator of the
educational scheme.  There was much need of such an institution; numbers
of ill-paid clergymen hailed the prospect with joy, and eagerly put down
the names of their children as pupils when the establishment should be
ready to receive them.  Mr. Wilson was, no doubt, pleased by the
impatience with which the realisation of his idea was anticipated, and
opened the school with less than a hundred pounds in hand, and with
pupils, the number of whom varies according to different accounts; Mr. W.
W. Carus Wilson, the son of the founder, giving it as seventy; while Mr.
Shepheard, the son-in-law, states it to have been only sixteen.

Mr. Wilson felt, most probably, that the responsibility of the whole plan
rested upon him.  The payment made by the parents was barely enough for
food and lodging; the subscriptions did not flow very freely into an
untried scheme; and great economy was necessary in all the domestic
arrangements.  He determined to enforce this by frequent personal
inspection; carried perhaps to an unnecessary extent, and leading
occasionally to a meddling with little matters, which had sometimes the
effect of producing irritation of feeling.  Yet, although there was
economy in providing for the household, there does not appear to have
been any parsimony.  The meat, flour, milk, &c., were contracted for, but
were of very fair quality; and the dietary, which has been shown to me in
manuscript, was neither bad nor unwholesome; nor, on the whole, was it
wanting in variety.  Oatmeal porridge for breakfast; a piece of oat-cake
for those who required luncheon; baked and boiled beef, and mutton,
potato-pie, and plain homely puddings of different kinds for dinner.  At
five o'clock, bread and milk for the younger ones; and one piece of bread
(this was the only time at which the food was limited) for the elder
pupils, who sat up till a later meal of the same description.

Mr. Wilson himself ordered in the food, and was anxious that it should be
of good quality.  But the cook, who had much of his confidence, and
against whom for a long time no one durst utter a complaint, was
careless, dirty, and wasteful.  To some children oatmeal porridge is
distasteful, and consequently unwholesome, even when properly made; at
Cowan Bridge School it was too often sent up, not merely burnt, but with
offensive fragments of other substances discoverable in it.  The beef,
that should have been carefully salted before it was dressed, had often
become tainted from neglect; and girls, who were school-fellows with the
Brontes, during the reign of the cook of whom I am speaking, tell me that
the house seemed to be pervaded, morning, noon, and night, by the odour
of rancid fat that steamed out of the oven in which much of their food
was prepared.  There was the same carelessness in making the puddings;
one of those ordered was rice boiled in water, and eaten with a sauce of
treacle and sugar; but it was often uneatable, because the water had been
taken out of the rain tub, and was strongly impregnated with the dust
lodging on the roof, whence it had trickled down into the old wooden
cask, which also added its own flavour to that of the original rain
water.  The milk, too, was often "bingy," to use a country expression for
a kind of taint that is far worse than sourness, and suggests the idea
that it is caused by want of cleanliness about the milk pans, rather than
by the heat of the weather.  On Saturdays, a kind of pie, or mixture of
potatoes and meat, was served up, which was made of all the fragments
accumulated during the week.  Scraps of meat from a dirty and disorderly
larder, could never be very appetizing; and, I believe, that this dinner
was more loathed than any in the early days of Cowan Bridge School.  One
may fancy how repulsive such fare would be to children whose appetites
were small, and who had been accustomed to food, far simpler perhaps, but
prepared with a delicate cleanliness that made it both tempting and
wholesome.  At many a meal the little Brontes went without food, although
craving with hunger.  They were not strong when they came, having only
just recovered from a complication of measles and hooping-cough: indeed,
I suspect they had scarcely recovered; for there was some consultation on
the part of the school authorities whether Maria and Elizabeth should be
received or not, in July 1824.  Mr. Bronte came again, in the September
of that year, bringing with him Charlotte and Emily to be admitted as
pupils.

It appears strange that Mr. Wilson should not have been informed by the
teachers of the way in which the food was served up; but we must remember
that the cook had been known for some time to the Wilson family, while
the teachers were brought together for an entirely different work--that
of education.  They were expressly given to understand that such was
their department; the buying in and management of the provisions rested
with Mr. Wilson and the cook.  The teachers would, of course, be
unwilling to lay any complaints on the subject before him.

There was another trial of health common to all the girls.  The path from
Cowan Bridge to Tunstall Church, where Mr. Wilson preached, and where
they all attended on the Sunday, is more than two miles in length, and
goes sweeping along the rise and fall of the unsheltered country, in a
way to make it a fresh and exhilarating walk in summer, but a bitter cold
one in winter, especially to children like the delicate little Brontes,
whose thin blood flowed languidly in consequence of their feeble
appetites rejecting the food prepared for them, and thus inducing a half-
starved condition.  The church was not warmed, there being no means for
this purpose.  It stands in the midst of fields, and the damp mist must
have gathered round the walls, and crept in at the windows.  The girls
took their cold dinner with them, and ate it between the services, in a
chamber over the entrance, opening out of the former galleries.  The
arrangements for this day were peculiarly trying to delicate children,
particularly to those who were spiritless and longing for home, as poor
Maria Bronte must have been; for her ill health was increasing, and the
old cough, the remains of the hooping-cough, lingered about her.

She was far superior in mind to any of her play-fellows and companions,
and was lonely amongst them from that very cause; and yet she had faults
so annoying that she was in constant disgrace with her teachers, and an
object of merciless dislike to one of them, who is depicted as "Miss
Scatcherd" in "Jane Eyre," and whose real name I will be merciful enough
not to disclose.  I need hardly say, that Helen Burns is as exact a
transcript of Maria Bronte as Charlotte's wonderful power of reproducing
character could give.  Her heart, to the latest day on which we met,
still beat with unavailing indignation at the worrying and the cruelty to
which her gentle, patient, dying sister had been subjected by this woman.
Not a word of that part of "Jane Eyre" but is a literal repetition of
scenes between the pupil and the teacher.  Those who had been pupils at
the same time knew who must have written the book from the force with
which Helen Burns' sufferings are described.  They had, before that,
recognised the description of the sweet dignity and benevolence of Miss
Temple as only a just tribute to the merits of one whom all that knew her
appear to hold in honour; but when Miss Scatcherd was held up to
opprobrium they also recognised in the writer of "Jane Eyre" an
unconsciously avenging sister of the sufferer.

One of their fellow-pupils, among other statements even worse, gives me
the following:--The dormitory in which Maria slept was a long room,
holding a row of narrow little beds on each side, occupied by the pupils;
and at the end of this dormitory there was a small bed-chamber opening
out of it, appropriated to the use of Miss Scatcherd.  Maria's bed stood
nearest to the door of this room.  One morning, after she had become so
seriously unwell as to have had a blister applied to her side (the sore
from which was not perfectly healed), when the getting-up bell was heard,
poor Maria moaned out that she was so ill, so very ill, she wished she
might stop in bed; and some of the girls urged her to do so, and said
they would explain it all to Miss Temple, the superintendent.  But Miss
Scatcherd was close at hand, and her anger would have to be faced before
Miss Temple's kind thoughtfulness could interfere; so the sick child
began to dress, shivering with cold, as, without leaving her bed, she
slowly put on her black worsted stockings over her thin white legs (my
informant spoke as if she saw it yet, and her whole face flushed out
undying indignation).  Just then Miss Scatcherd issued from her room,
and, without asking for a word of explanation from the sick and
frightened girl, she took her by the arm, on the side to which the
blister had been applied, and by one vigorous movement whirled her out
into the middle of the floor, abusing her all the time for dirty and
untidy habits.  There she left her.  My informant says, Maria hardly
spoke, except to beg some of the more indignant girls to be calm; but, in
slow, trembling movements, with many a pause, she went down-stairs at
last,--and was punished for being late.

Any one may fancy how such an event as this would rankle in Charlotte's
mind.  I only wonder that she did not remonstrate against her father's
decision to send her and Emily back to Cowan Bridge, after Maria's and
Elizabeth's deaths.  But frequently children are unconscious of the
effect which some of their simple revelations would have in altering the
opinions entertained by their friends of the persons placed around them.
Besides, Charlotte's earnest vigorous mind saw, at an unusually early
age, the immense importance of education, as furnishing her with tools
which she had the strength and the will to wield, and she would be aware
that the Cowan Bridge education was, in many points, the best that her
father could provide for her.

Before Maria Bronte's death, that low fever broke out, in the spring of
1825, which is spoken of in "Jane Eyre."  Mr. Wilson was extremely
alarmed at the first symptoms of this.  He went to a kind motherly woman,
who had had some connection with the school--as laundress, I believe--and
asked her to come and tell him what was the matter with them.  She made
herself ready, and drove with him in his gig.  When she entered the
schoolroom, she saw from twelve to fifteen girls lying about; some
resting their aching heads on the table, others on the ground; all heavy-
eyed, flushed, indifferent, and weary, with pains in every limb.  Some
peculiar odour, she says, made her recognise that they were sickening for
"the fever;" and she told Mr. Wilson so, and that she could not stay
there for fear of conveying the infection to her own children; but he
half commanded, and half entreated her to remain and nurse them; and
finally mounted his gig and drove away, while she was still urging that
she must return to her own house, and to her domestic duties, for which
she had provided no substitute.  However, when she was left in this
unceremonious manner, she determined to make the best of it; and a most
efficient nurse she proved: although, as she says, it was a dreary time.

Mr. Wilson supplied everything ordered by the doctors, of the best
quality and in the most liberal manner; the invalids were attended by Dr.
Batty, a very clever surgeon in Kirby, who had had the medical
superintendence of the establishment from the beginning, and who
afterwards became Mr. Wilson's brother-in-law.  I have heard from two
witnesses besides Charlotte Bronte, that Dr. Batty condemned the
preparation of the food by the expressive action of spitting out a
portion of it.  He himself, it is but fair to say, does not remember this
circumstance, nor does he speak of the fever itself as either alarming or
dangerous.  About forty of the girls suffered from this, but none of them
died at Cowan Bridge; though one died at her own home, sinking under the
state of health which followed it.  None of the Brontes had the fever.
But the same causes, which affected the health of the other pupils
through typhus, told more slowly, but not less surely, upon their
constitutions.  The principal of these causes was the food.

The bad management of the cook was chiefly to be blamed for this; she was
dismissed, and the woman who had been forced against her will to serve as
head nurse, took the place of housekeeper; and henceforward the food was
so well prepared that no one could ever reasonably complain of it.  Of
course it cannot be expected that a new institution, comprising domestic
and educational arrangements for nearly a hundred persons, should work
quite smoothly at the beginning.

All this occurred during the first two years of the establishment, and in
estimating its effect upon the character of Charlotte Bronte, we must
remember that she was a sensitive thoughtful child, capable of reflecting
deeply, if not of analyzing truly; and peculiarly susceptible, as are all
delicate and sickly children, to painful impressions.  What the healthy
suffer from but momentarily and then forget, those who are ailing brood
over involuntarily and remember long,--perhaps with no resentment, but
simply as a piece of suffering that has been stamped into their very
life.  The pictures, ideas, and conceptions of character received into
the mind of the child of eight years old, were destined to be reproduced
in fiery words a quarter of a century afterwards.  She saw but one side
of Mr. Wilson's character; and many of those who knew him at that time
assure me of the fidelity with which this is represented, while at the
same time they regret that the delineation should have obliterated, as it
were, nearly all that was noble or conscientious.  And that there were
grand and fine qualities in Mr. Wilson, I have received abundant
evidence.  Indeed for several weeks past I have received letters almost
daily, bearing on the subject of this chapter; some vague, some definite;
many full of love and admiration for Mr. Wilson, some as full of dislike
and indignation; few containing positive facts.  After giving careful
consideration to this mass of conflicting evidence, I have made such
alterations and omissions in this chapter as seem to me to be required.
It is but just to state that the major part of the testimony with which I
have been favoured from old pupils is in high praise of Mr. Wilson.  Among
the letters that I have read, there is one whose evidence ought to be
highly respected.  It is from the husband of "Miss Temple."  She died in
1856, but he, a clergyman, thus wrote in reply to a letter addressed to
him on the subject by one of Mr. Wilson's friends:--"Often have I heard
my late dear wife speak of her sojourn at Cowan Bridge; always in terms
of admiration of Mr. Carus Wilson, his parental love to his pupils, and
their love for 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."

The recollections left of the four Bronte sisters at this period of their
lives, on the minds of those who associated with them, are not very
distinct.  Wild, strong hearts, and powerful minds, were hidden under an
enforced propriety and regularity of demeanour and expression, just as
their faces had been concealed by their father, under his stiff,
unchanging mask.  Maria was delicate, unusually clever and thoughtful for
her age, gentle, and untidy.  Of her frequent disgrace from this last
fault--of her sufferings, so patiently borne--I have already spoken.  The
only glimpse we get of Elizabeth, through the few years of her short
life, is contained in a letter which I have received from "Miss Temple."
"The second, Elizabeth, is the only one of the family of whom I have a
vivid recollection, from her meeting with a somewhat alarming accident,
in consequence of which I had her for some days and nights in my bedroom,
not only for the sake of greater quiet, but that I might watch over her
myself.  Her head was severely cut, but she bore all the consequent
suffering with exemplary patience, and by it won much upon my esteem.  Of
the two younger ones (if two there were) I have very slight
recollections, save that one, a darling child, under five years of age,
was quite the pet nursling of the school."  This last would be Emily.
Charlotte was considered the most talkative of the sisters--a "bright,
clever, little child."  Her great friend was a certain "Mellany Hane" (so
Mr. Bronte spells the name), whose brother paid for her schooling, and
who had no remarkable talent except for music, which her brother's
circumstances forbade her to cultivate.  She was "a hungry, good-natured,
ordinary girl;" older than Charlotte, and ever ready to protect her from
any petty tyranny or encroachments on the part of the elder girls.
Charlotte always remembered her with affection and gratitude.

I have quoted the word "bright" in the account of Charlotte.  I suspect
that this year of 1825 was the last time it could ever be applied to her.
In the spring of it, Maria became so rapidly worse that Mr. Bronte was
sent for.  He had not previously been aware of her illness, and the
condition in which he found her was a terrible shock to him.  He took her
home by the Leeds coach, the girls crowding out into the road to follow
her with their eyes over the bridge, past the cottages, and then out of
sight for ever.  She died a very few days after her arrival at home.
Perhaps the news of her death falling suddenly into the life of which her
patient existence had formed a part, only a little week or so before,
made those who remained at Cowan Bridge look with more anxiety on
Elizabeth's symptoms, which also turned out to be consumptive.  She was
sent home in charge of a confidential servant of the establishment; and
she, too, died in the early summer of that year.  Charlotte was thus
suddenly called into the responsibilities of eldest sister in a
motherless family.  She remembered how anxiously her dear sister Maria
had striven, in her grave earnest way, to be a tender helper and a
counsellor to them all; and the duties that now fell upon her seemed
almost like a legacy from the gentle little sufferer so lately dead.

Both Charlotte and Emily returned to school after the Midsummer holidays
in this fatal year.  But before the next winter it was thought desirable
to advise their removal, as it was evident that the damp situation of the
house at Cowan Bridge did not suit their health. {3}



CHAPTER V


For the reason just stated, the little girls were sent home in the autumn
of 1825, when Charlotte was little more than nine years old.

About this time, an elderly woman of the village came to live as servant
at the parsonage.  She remained there, as a member of the household, for
thirty years; and from the length of her faithful service, and the
attachment and respect which she inspired, is deserving of mention.  Tabby
was a thorough specimen of a Yorkshire woman of her class, in dialect, in
appearance, and in character.  She abounded in strong practical sense and
shrewdness.  Her words were far from flattery; but she would spare no
deeds in the cause of those whom she kindly regarded.  She ruled the
children pretty sharply; and yet never grudged a little extra trouble to
provide them with such small treats as came within her power.  In return,
she claimed to be looked upon as a humble friend; and, many years later,
Miss Bronte told me that she found it somewhat difficult to manage, as
Tabby expected to be informed of all the family concerns, and yet had
grown so deaf that what was repeated to her became known to whoever might
be in or about the house.  To obviate this publication of what it might
be desirable to keep secret, Miss Bronte used to take her out for a walk
on the solitary moors; where, when both were seated on a tuft of heather,
in some high lonely place, she could acquaint the old woman, at leisure,
with all that she wanted to hear.

Tabby had lived in Haworth in the days when the pack-horses went through
once a week, with their tinkling bells and gay worsted adornment,
carrying the produce of the country from Keighley over the hills to Colne
and Burnley.  What is more, she had known the "bottom," or valley, in
those primitive days when the fairies frequented the margin of the "beck"
on moonlight nights, and had known folk who had seen them.  But that was
when there were no mills in the valleys; and when all the wool-spinning
was done by hand in the farm-houses round.  "It wur the factories as had
driven 'em away," she said.  No doubt she had many a tale to tell of by-
gone days of the country-side; old ways of living, former inhabitants,
decayed gentry, who had melted away, and whose places knew them no more;
family tragedies, and dark superstitious dooms; and in telling these
things, without the least consciousness that there might ever be anything
requiring to be softened down, would give at full length the bare and
simple details.

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

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

Still, he was associated in many of his sisters' plays and amusements.
These were mostly of a sedentary and intellectual nature.  I have had a
curious packet confided to me, containing an immense amount of
manuscript, in an inconceivably small space; tales, dramas, poems,
romances, written principally by Charlotte, in a hand which it is almost
impossible to decipher without the aid of a magnifying glass.  No
description will give so good an idea of the extreme minuteness of the
writing as the annexed facsimile of a page.

Among these papers there is a list of her works, which I copy, as a
curious proof how early the rage for literary composition had seized upon
her:--

   CATALOGUE OF MY BOOKS, WITH THE PERIOD OF THEIR COMPLETION, UP TO
   AUGUST 3RD, 1830.

   Two romantic tales in one volume; viz., The Twelve Adventurers and the
   Adventures in Ireland, April 2nd, 1829.

   The Search after Happiness, a Tale, Aug. 1st, 1829.

   Leisure Hours, a Tale, and two Fragments, July 6th 1829.

   The Adventures of Edward de Crack, a Tale, Feb. 2nd, 1830.

   The Adventures of Ernest Alembert, a Tale, May 26th, 1830.

   An interesting Incident in the Lives of some of the most eminent
   Persons of the Age, a Tale, June 10th, 1830.

   Tales of the Islanders, in four volumes.  Contents of the 1st Vol.:--l.
   An Account of their Origin; 2.  A Description of Vision Island; 3.
   Ratten's Attempt; 4.  Lord Charles Wellesley and the Marquis of
   Douro's Adventure; completed June 31st, 1829.  2nd Vol.:--1.  The
   School-rebellion; 2.  The strange Incident in the Duke of Wellington's
   Life; 3.  Tale to his Sons; 4.  The Marquis of Douro and Lord Charles
   Wellesley's Tale to his little King and Queen; completed Dec. 2nd,
   1829.  3rd Vol.:--1.  The Duke of Wellington's Adventure in the
   Cavern; 2.  The Duke of Wellington and the little King's and Queen's
   visit to the Horse-Guards; completed May 8th, 1830.  4th Vol.:--1.  The
   three old Washer-women of Strathfieldsaye; 2.  Lord C. Wellesley's
   Tale to his Brother; completed July 30th, 1830.

   Characters of Great Men of the Present Age, Dec. 17th 1829.

   The Young Men's Magazines, in Six Numbers, from August to December,
   the latter months double number, completed December the 12th, 1829.
   General index to their contents:--1.  A True Story; 2.  Causes of the
   War; 3.  A Song; 4.  Conversations; 5.  A True Story continued; 6.  The
   Spirit of Cawdor; 7.  Interior of a Pothouse, a Poem; 8.  The Glass
   Town, a Song; 9.  The Silver Cup, a Tale; 10.  The Table and Vase in
   the Desert, a Song; 11.  Conversations; 12.  Scene on the Great
   Bridge; 13.  Song of the Ancient Britons; 14.  Scene in my Tun, a
   Tale; 15.  An American Tale; 16.  Lines written on seeing the Garden
   of a Genius; 17.  The Lay of the Glass Town; 18.  The Swiss Artist, a
   Tale; 19.  Lines on the Transfer of this Magazine; 20.  On the Same,
   by a different hand; 21.  Chief Genii in Council; 22.  Harvest in
   Spain; 23.  The Swiss Artists continued; 24.  Conversations.

   The Poetaster, a Drama, in 2 volumes, July 12th, 1830.

   A Book of Rhymes, finished December 17th, 1829.  Contents:--1.  The
   Beauty of Nature; 2.  A Short Poem; 3.  Meditations while Journeying
   in a Canadian Forest; 4.  Song of an Exile; 5.  On Seeing the Ruins of
   the Tower of Babel; 6.  _A Thing of_ 14 _lines_;  7.  Lines written on
   the Bank of a River one fine Summer Evening; 8.  Spring, a Song; 9.
   Autumn, a Song.

   Miscellaneous Poems, finished May 30th, 1830.  Contents:--1.  The
   Churchyard; 2.  Description of the Duke of Wellington's Palace on the
   Pleasant Banks of the Lusiva; this article is a small prose tale or
   incident; 3.  Pleasure;  4.  Lines written on the Summit of a high
   Mountain of the North of England; 5.  Winter; 6.  Two Fragments,
   namely, 1st, The Vision; 2nd, A Short untitled Poem; the Evening Walk,
   a Poem, June 23rd, 1830.

   Making in the whole twenty-two volumes.

   C. BRONTE, _August_ 3, 1830

As each volume contains from sixty to a hundred pages, and the size of
the page lithographed is rather less than the average, the amount of the
whole seems very great, if we remember that it was all written in about
fifteen months.  So much for the quantity; the quality strikes me as of
singular merit for a girl of thirteen or fourteen.  Both as a specimen of
her prose style at this time, and also as revealing something of the
quiet domestic life led by these children, I take an extract from the
introduction to "Tales of the Islanders," the title of one of their
"Little Magazines:"--

   "June the 31st, 1829.

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

   "_Tabby_.  'Wha ya may go t' bed.'

   "_Branwell_.  'I'd rather do anything than that.'

   "_Charlotte_.  'Why are you so glum to-night, Tabby?  Oh! suppose we
   had each an island of our own.'

   "_Branwell_.  'If we had I would choose the Island of Man.'

   "_Charlotte_.  'And I would choose the Isle of Wight.'

   "_Emily_.  'The Isle of Arran for me.'

   "_Anne_.  'And mine shall be Guernsey.'

   "We then chose who should be chief men in our islands.  Branwell chose
   John Bull, Astley Cooper, and Leigh Hunt; Emily, Walter Scott, Mr.
   Lockhart, Johnny Lockhart; Anne, Michael Sadler, Lord Bentinck, Sir
   Henry Halford.  I chose the Duke of Wellington and two sons,
   Christopher North and Co., and Mr. Abernethy.  Here our conversation
   was interrupted by the, to us, dismal sound of the clock striking
   seven, and we were summoned off to bed.  The next day we added many
   others to our list of men, till we got almost all the chief men of the
   kingdom.  After this, for a long time, nothing worth noticing
   occurred.  In June, 1828, we erected a school on a fictitious island,
   which was to contain 1,000 children.  The manner of the building was
   as follows.  The Island was fifty miles in circumference, and
   certainly appeared more like the work of enchantment than anything
   real," &c.

Two or three things strike me much in this fragment; one is the graphic
vividness with which the time of the year, the hour of the evening, the
feeling of cold and darkness outside, the sound of the night-winds
sweeping over the desolate snow-covered moors, coming nearer and nearer,
and at last shaking the very door of the room where they were sitting--for
it opened out directly on that bleak, wide expanse--is contrasted with
the glow, and busy brightness of the cheerful kitchen where these
remarkable children are grouped.  Tabby moves about in her quaint country-
dress, frugal, peremptory, prone to find fault pretty sharply, yet
allowing no one else to blame her children, we may feel sure.  Another
noticeable fact is the intelligent partisanship with which they choose
their great men, who are almost all stanch Tories of the time.  Moreover,
they do not confine themselves to local heroes; their range of choice has
been widened by hearing much of what is not usually considered to
interest children.  Little Anne, aged scarcely eight, picks out the
politicians of the day for her chief men.

There is another scrap of paper, in this all but illegible handwriting,
written about this time, and which gives some idea of the sources of
their opinions.



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 is 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, Haworth; 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, brushing
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 excellent Tory
newspaper, edited by Mr. Wood, and the proprietor, Mr. Henneman.  We take
two and see three newspapers a week.  We take the 'Leeds Intelligencer,'
Tory, and the 'Leeds Mercury,' Whig, edited by Mr. Baines, and his
brother, son-in-law, and his two sons, Edward and Talbot.  We see the
'John Bull;' it is a high Tory, very violent.  Mr. Driver lends us it, as
likewise 'Blackwood's Magazine,' the most able periodical there is.  The
Editor is Mr. Christopher North, an old man seventy-four years of age;
the 1st of April is his birth-day; 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 1st 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 'AEsop'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 soldiers 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 up one 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.  Emily's was a grave-looking fellow, and we called him 'Gravey.'
Anne's was a queer little thing, much like herself, and we called him
'Waiting-Boy.'  Branwell chose his, and called him 'Buonaparte.'"

The foregoing extract shows something of the kind of reading in which the
little Brontes were interested; but their desire for knowledge must have
been excited in many directions, for I find a "list of painters whose
works I wish to see," drawn up by Charlotte when she was scarcely
thirteen:--

"Guido Reni, Julio Romano, Titian, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Correggio,
Annibal Caracci, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolomeo, Carlo Cignani,
Vandyke, Rubens, Bartolomeo Ramerghi."

Here is this little girl, in a remote Yorkshire parsonage, who has
probably never seen anything worthy the name of a painting in her life,
studying the names and characteristics of the great old Italian and
Flemish masters, whose works she longs to see some time, in the dim
future that lies before her!  There is a paper remaining which contains
minute studies of, and criticisms upon, the engravings in "Friendship's
Offering for 1829;" showing how she had early formed those habits of
close observation, and patient analysis of cause and effect, which served
so well in after-life as handmaids to her genius.

The way in which Mr. Bronte made his children sympathise with him in his
great interest in politics, must have done much to lift them above the
chances of their minds being limited or tainted by petty local gossip.  I
take the only other remaining personal fragment out of "Tales of the
Islanders;" it is a sort of apology, contained in the introduction to the
second volume, for their not having been continued before; the writers
had been for a long time too busy, and latterly too much absorbed in
politics.

"Parliament was opened, and the great Catholic question 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! 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; 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.

This must have been written when she was between thirteen and fourteen.

It will be interesting to some of my readers to know what was the
character of her purely imaginative writing at this period.  While her
description of any real occurrence is, as we have seen, homely, graphic,
and forcible, when she gives way to her powers of creation, her fancy and
her language alike run riot, sometimes to the very borders of apparent
delirium.  Of this wild weird writing, a single example will suffice.  It
is a letter to the editor of one of the "Little Magazines."

   "Sir,--It is well known that the Genii have declared that unless they
   perform certain arduous duties every year, of a mysterious nature, all
   the worlds in the firmament will be burnt up, and gathered together in
   one mighty globe, which will roll in solitary grandeur through the
   vast wilderness of space, inhabited only by the four high princes of
   the Genii, till time shall be succeeded by Eternity; and the impudence
   of this is only to be paralleled by another of their assertions,
   namely, that by their magic might they can reduce the world to a
   desert, the purest waters to streams of livid poison, and the clearest
   lakes to stagnant waters, the pestilential vapours of which shall slay
   all living creatures, except the blood-thirsty beast of the forest,
   and the ravenous bird of the rock.  But that in the midst of this
   desolation the palace of the Chief Genii shall rise sparkling in the
   wilderness, and the horrible howl of their war-cry shall spread over
   the land at morning, at noontide and night; but that they shall have
   their annual feast over the bones of the dead, and shall yearly
   rejoice with the joy of victors.  I think, sir, that the horrible
   wickedness of this needs no remark, and therefore I haste to subscribe
   myself, &c.

   "July 14, 1829."

It is not unlikely that the foregoing letter may have had some
allegorical or political reference, invisible to our eyes, but very clear
to the bright little minds for whom it was intended.  Politics were
evidently their grand interest; the Duke of Wellington their demi-god.
All that related to him belonged to the heroic age.  Did Charlotte want a
knight-errant, or a devoted lover, the Marquis of Douro, or Lord Charles
Wellesley, came ready to her hand.  There is hardly one of her
prose-writings at this time in which they are not the principal
personages, and in which their "august father" does not appear as a sort
of Jupiter Tonans, or Deus ex Machina.

As one evidence how Wellesley haunted her imagination, I copy out a few
of the titles to her papers in the various magazines.

"Liffey Castle," a Tale by Lord C. Wellesley.

"Lines to the River Aragua," by the Marquis of Douro.

"An Extraordinary Dream," by Lord C. Wellesley.

"The Green Dwarf, a Tale of the Perfect Tense," by the Lord Charles
Albert Florian Wellesley.

"Strange Events," by Lord C. A. F. Wellesley.

Life in an isolated village, or a lonely country-house, presents many
little occurrences which sink into the mind of childhood, there to be
brooded over.  No other event may have happened, or be likely to happen,
for days, to push one of these aside, before it has assumed a vague and
mysterious importance.  Thus, children leading a secluded life are often
thoughtful and dreamy: the impressions made upon them by the world
without--the unusual sights of earth and sky--the accidental meetings
with strange faces and figures (rare occurrences in those out-of-the-way
places)--are sometimes magnified by them into things so deeply
significant as to be almost supernatural.  This peculiarity I perceive
very strongly in Charlotte's writings at this time.  Indeed, under the
circumstances, it is no peculiarity.  It has been common to all, from the
Chaldean shepherds--"the lonely herdsman stretched on the soft grass
through half a summer's day"--the solitary monk--to all whose impressions
from without have had time to grow and vivify in the imagination, till
they have been received as actual personifications, or supernatural
visions, to doubt which would be blasphemy.

To counterbalance this tendency in Charlotte, was the strong common sense
natural to her, and daily called into exercise by the requirements of her
practical life.  Her duties were not merely to learn her lessons, to read
a certain quantity, to gain certain ideas; she had, besides, to brush
rooms, to run errands up and down stairs, to help in the simpler forms of
cooking, to be by turns play-fellow and monitress to her younger sisters
and brother, to make and to mend, and to study economy under her careful
aunt.  Thus we see that, while her imagination received vivid
impressions, her excellent understanding had full power to rectify them
before her fancies became realities.  On a scrap of paper, she has
written down the following relation:--

   "June 22, 1830, 6 o'clock p.m.
   "Haworth, near Bradford.

   "The following strange occurrence happened on the 22nd of June,
   1830:--At the time Papa was very ill, confined to his bed, and so weak
   that he could not rise without assistance.  Tabby and I were alone in
   the kitchen, about half-past nine ante-meridian.  Suddenly we heard a
   knock at the door; Tabby rose and opened it.  An old man appeared,
   standing without, who accosted her thus:--

   "_Old Man_.--'Does the parson live here?'

   "_Tabby_.--'Yes.'

   "_Old Man_.--'I wish to see him.'

   "_Tabby_.--'He is poorly in bed.'

   "_Old Man_.--'I have a message for him.'

   "_Tabby_.--'Who from?'

   "_Old Man_.--'From the Lord.'

   "_Tabby_.--'Who?'

   "_Old Man_.--'The Lord.  He desires me to say that the Bridegroom is
   coming, and that we must prepare to meet him; that the cords are about
   to be loosed, and the golden bowl broken; the pitcher broken at the
   fountain.'

   "Here he concluded his discourse, and abruptly went his way.  As Tabby
   closed the door, I asked her if she knew him.  Her reply was, that she
   had never seen him before, nor any one like him.  Though I am fully
   persuaded that he was some fanatical enthusiast, well meaning perhaps,
   but utterly ignorant of true piety; yet I could not forbear weeping at
   his words, spoken so unexpectedly at that particular period."

Though the date of the following poem is a little uncertain, it may be
most convenient to introduce it here.  It must have been written before
1833, but how much earlier there are no means of determining.  I give it
as a specimen of the remarkable poetical talent shown in the various
diminutive writings of this time; at least, in all of them which I have
been able to read.



THE WOUNDED STAG.


Passing amid the deepest shade
   Of the wood's sombre heart,
Last night I saw a wounded deer
   Laid lonely and apart.

Such light as pierced the crowded boughs
   (Light scattered, scant and dim,)
Passed through the fern that formed his couch
   And centred full on him.

Pain trembled in his weary limbs,
   Pain filled his patient eye,
Pain-crushed amid the shadowy fern
   His branchy crown did lie.

Where were his comrades? where his mate?
   All from his death-bed gone!
And he, thus struck and desolate,
   Suffered and bled alone.

Did he feel what a man might feel,
   Friend-left, and sore distrest?
Did Pain's keen dart, and Grief's sharp sting
   Strive in his mangled breast?

Did longing for affection lost
   Barb every deadly dart;
Love unrepaid, and Faith betrayed,
   Did these torment his heart?

No! leave to man his proper doom!
   These are the pangs that rise
Around the bed of state and gloom,
   Where Adam's offspring dies!



CHAPTER VI


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
herself,--but as her limbs and head were in just proportion to the
slight, fragile body, no word in ever so slight a degree suggestive of
deformity could properly be applied to her; with soft, thick, brown hair,
and peculiar eyes, of which I find it difficult to give a description, as
they appeared to me in her later life.  They were large and well shaped;
their colour a reddish brown; but if the iris was closely examined, it
appeared to be composed of a great variety of tints.  The usual
expression was of quiet, listening intelligence; but now and then, on
some just occasion for vivid interest or 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.  As for the rest of her features, they were plain, large, and
ill set; but, unless you began to catalogue them, you were hardly aware
of the fact, for the eyes and power of the countenance over-balanced
every physical defect; the crooked mouth and the large nose were
forgotten, and the whole face arrested the attention, and presently
attracted all those whom she herself would have cared to attract.  Her
hands and feet were the smallest I ever saw; when one of the former was
placed in mine, it was like the soft touch of a bird in the middle of my
palm.  The delicate long fingers had a peculiar fineness of sensation,
which was one reason why all her handiwork, of whatever kind--writing,
sewing, knitting--was so clear in its minuteness.  She was remarkably
neat in her whole personal attire; but she was dainty as to the fit of
her shoes and gloves.

I can well imagine that the grave serious composure, which, when I knew
her, gave her face the dignity of an old Venetian portrait, was no
acquisition of later years, but dated from that early age when she found
herself in the position of an elder sister to motherless children.  But
in a girl only just entered on her teens, such an expression would be
called (to use a country phrase) "old-fashioned;" and in 1831, the period
of which I now write, we must think of her as a little, set, antiquated
girl, very quiet in manners, and very quaint in dress; for besides the
influence exerted by her father's ideas concerning the simplicity of
attire befitting the wife and daughters of a country clergyman, her aunt,
on whom the duty of dressing her nieces principally devolved, had never
been in society since she left Penzance, eight or nine years before, and
the Penzance fashions of that day were still dear to her heart.

In January, 1831, Charlotte was sent to school again.  This time she went
as a pupil to Miss W---, who lived at Roe Head, a cheerful roomy country
house, standing a little apart in a field, on the right of the road from
Leeds to Huddersfield.  Three tiers of old-fashioned semicircular bow
windows run from basement to roof; and look down upon a long green slope
of pasture-land, ending in the pleasant woods of Kirklees, Sir George
Armitage's park.  Although Roe Head and Haworth are not twenty miles
apart, the aspect of the country is as totally dissimilar as if they
enjoyed a different climate.  The soft curving and heaving landscape
round the former gives a stranger the idea of cheerful airiness on the
heights, and of sunny warmth in the broad green valleys below.  It is
just such a neighbourhood as the monks loved, and traces of the old
Plantagenet times are to be met with everywhere, side by side with the
manufacturing interests of the West Riding of to-day.  There is the park
of Kirklees, full of sunny glades, speckled with black shadows of
immemorial yew-trees; the grey pile of building, formerly a "House of
professed Ladies;" the mouldering stone in the depth of the wood, under
which Robin Hood is said to lie; close outside the park, an old stone-
gabled house, now a roadside inn, but which bears the name of the "Three
Nuns," and has a pictured sign to correspond.  And this quaint old inn is
frequented by fustian-dressed mill-hands from the neighbouring worsted
factories, which strew the high road from Leeds to Huddersfield, and form
the centres round which future villages gather.  Such are the contrasts
of modes of living, and of times and seasons, brought before the
traveller on the great roads that traverse the West Riding.  In no other
part of England, I fancy, are the centuries brought into such close,
strange contact as in the district in which Roe Head is situated.  Within
six miles of Miss W---'s house--on the left of the road, coming from
Leeds--lie the remains of Howley Hall, now the property of Lord Cardigan,
but formerly belonging to a branch of the Saviles.  Near to it is Lady
Anne's well; "Lady Anne," according to tradition, having been worried and
eaten by wolves as she sat at the well, to which the indigo-dyed factory
people from Birstall and Batley woollen mills would formerly repair on
Palm Sunday, when the waters possess remarkable medicinal efficacy; and
it is still believed by some that they assume a strange variety of
colours at six o'clock on the morning of that day.

All round the lands held by the farmer who lives in the remains of Howley
Hall are stone houses of to-day, occupied by the people who are making
their living and their fortunes by the woollen mills that encroach upon
and shoulder out the proprietors of the ancient halls.  These are to be
seen in every direction, picturesque, many-gabled, with heavy stone
carvings of coats of arms for heraldic ornament; belonging to decayed
families, from whose ancestral lands field after field has been shorn
away, by the urgency of rich manufacturers pressing hard upon necessity.

A smoky atmosphere surrounds these old dwellings of former Yorkshire
squires, and blights and blackens the ancient trees that overshadow them;
cinder-paths lead up to them; the ground round about is sold for building
upon; but still the neighbours, though they subsist by a different state
of things, remember that their forefathers lived in agricultural
dependence upon the owners of these halls; and treasure up the traditions
connected with the stately households that existed centuries ago.  Take
Oakwell Hall, for instance.  It stands in a pasture-field, about a
quarter of a mile from the high road.  It is but that distance from the
busy whirr of the steam-engines employed in the woollen mills at
Birstall; and if you walk to it from Birstall Station about meal-time,
you encounter strings of mill-hands, blue with woollen dye, and cranching
in hungry haste over the cinder-paths bordering the high road.  Turning
off from this to the right, you ascend through an old pasture-field, and
enter a short by-road, called the "Bloody Lane"--a walk haunted by the
ghost of a certain Captain Batt, the reprobate proprietor of an old hall
close by, in the days of the Stuarts.  From the "Bloody Lane,"
overshadowed by trees, you come into the field in which Oakwell Hall is
situated.  It is known in the neighbourhood to be the place described as
"Field Head," Shirley's residence.  The enclosure in front, half court,
half garden; the panelled hall, with the gallery opening into the bed-
chambers running round; the barbarous peach-coloured drawing-room; the
bright look-out through the garden-door upon the grassy lawns and
terraces behind, where the soft-hued pigeons still love to coo and strut
in the sun,--are described in "Shirley."  The scenery of that fiction
lies close around; the real events which suggested it took place in the
immediate neighbourhood.

They show a bloody footprint in a bed-chamber of Oakwell Hall, and tell a
story connected with it, and with the lane by which the house is
approached.  Captain Batt was believed to be far away; his family was at
Oakwell; when in the dusk, one winter evening, he came stalking along the
lane, and through the hall, and up the stairs, into his own room, where
he vanished.  He had been killed in a duel in London that very same
afternoon of December 9th, 1684.

The stones of the Hall formed part of the more ancient vicarage, which an
ancestor of Captain Batt's had seized in the troublous times for property
which succeeded the Reformation.  This Henry Batt possessed himself of
houses and money without scruple; and, at last, stole the great bell of
Birstall Church, for which sacrilegious theft a fine was imposed on the
land, and has to be paid by the owner of the Hall to this day.

But the Oakwell property passed out of the hands of the Batts at the
beginning of the last century; collateral descendants succeeded, and left
this picturesque trace of their having been.  In the great hall hangs a
mighty pair of stag's horns, and dependent from them a printed card,
recording the fact that, on the 1st of September, 1763, there was a great
hunting-match, when this stag was slain; and that fourteen gentlemen
shared in the chase, and dined on the spoil in that hall, along with
Fairfax Fearneley, Esq., the owner.  The fourteen names are given,
doubtless "mighty men of yore;" but, among them all, Sir Fletcher Norton,
Attorney-General, and Major-General Birch were the only ones with which I
had any association in 1855.  Passing on from Oakwell there lie houses
right and left, which were well known to Miss Bronte when she lived at
Roe Head, as the hospitable homes of some of her school-fellows.  Lanes
branch off for three or four miles to heaths and commons on the higher
ground, which formed pleasant walks on holidays, and then comes the white
gate into the field-path leading to Roe Head itself.

One of the bow-windowed rooms on the ground floor with the pleasant look-
out I have described was the drawing-room; the other was the schoolroom.
The dining-room was on one side of the door, and faced the road.

The number of pupils, during the year and a half Miss Bronte was there,
ranged from seven to ten; and as they did not require the whole of the
house for their accommodation, the third story was unoccupied, except by
the ghostly idea of a lady, whose rustling silk gown was sometimes heard
by the listeners at the foot of the second flight of stairs.

The kind motherly nature of Miss W---, and the small number of the girls,
made the establishment more like a private family than a school.
Moreover, she was a native of the district immediately surrounding Roe
Head, as were the majority of her pupils.  Most likely Charlotte Bronte,
in coming from Haworth, came the greatest distance of all.  "E.'s" home
was five miles away; two other dear friends (the Rose and Jessie Yorke of
"Shirley") lived still nearer; two or three came from Huddersfield; one
or two from Leeds.

I shall now quote from a valuable letter which I have received from
"Mary," one of these early friends; distinct and graphic in expression,
as becomes a cherished associate of Charlotte Bronte's.  The time
referred to is her first appearance at Roe Head, on January 19th, 1831.

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

This was the first impression she made upon one of those whose dear and
valued friend she was to become in after-life.  Another of the girls
recalls her first sight of Charlotte, on the day she came, standing by
the schoolroom window, looking out on the snowy landscape, and crying,
while all the rest were at play.  "E." was younger than she, and her
tender heart was touched by the apparently desolate condition in which
she found the oddly-dressed, odd-looking little girl that winter morning,
as "sick for home she stood in tears," in a new strange place, among new
strange people.  Any over-demonstrative kindness would have scared the
wild little maiden from Haworth; but "E." (who is shadowed forth in the
Caroline Helstone of "Shirley") managed to win confidence, and was
allowed to give sympathy.

To quote again from "Mary's" letter:--

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

This account of her partial ignorance is confirmed by her other school-
fellows.  But Miss W--- was a lady of remarkable intelligence and of
delicate tender sympathy.  She gave a proof of this in her first
treatment of Charlotte.  The little girl was well-read, but not
well-grounded.  Miss W--- took her aside and told her she was afraid that
she must place her in the second class for some time till she could
overtake the girls of her own age in the knowledge of grammar, &c.; but
poor Charlotte received this announcement with so sad a fit of crying,
that Miss W---'s kind heart was softened, and she wisely perceived that,
with such a girl, it would be better to place her in the first class, and
allow her to make up by private study in those branches where she was
deficient.

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

To feel the full force of this last sentence--to show how steady and
vivid was the impression which Miss Bronte made on those fitted to
appreciate her--I must mention that the writer of this letter, dated
January 18th, 1856, in which she thus speaks of constantly referring to
Charlotte's opinion has never seen her for eleven years, nearly all of
which have been passed among strange scenes, in a new continent, at the
antipodes.

"We used to be furious politicians, as one could hardly help being in
1832.  She knew the names of the two ministries; the one that resigned,
and the one that succeeded and passed the Reform Bill.  She worshipped
the Duke of Wellington, but said that Sir Robert Peel was not to be
trusted; he did not act from principle like the rest, but from
expediency.  I, being of the furious radical party, told her 'how could
any of them trust one another; they were all of them rascals!'  Then she
would launch out into praises of the Duke of Wellington, referring to his
actions; which I could not contradict, as I knew nothing about him.  She
said she had taken interest in politics ever since she was five years
old.  She did not get her opinions from her father--that is, not
directly--but from the papers, &c., he preferred."

In illustration of the truth of this, I may give an extract from a letter
to her brother, written from Roe Head, May 17th, 1832:--"Lately I had
begun to think that I had lost all the interest which I used formerly to
take in politics; but the extreme pleasure I felt at the news of the
Reform Bill's being thrown out by the House of Lords, and of the
expulsion, or resignation of Earl Grey, &c., convinced me that I have not
as yet lost all my penchant for politics.  I am extremely glad that aunt
has consented to take in 'Fraser's Magazine;' for, though I know from
your description of its general contents it will be rather uninteresting
when compared with 'Blackwood,' still it will be better than remaining
the whole year without being able to obtain a sight of any periodical
whatever; and such would assuredly be our case, as, in the little wild
moorland village where we reside, there would be no possibility of
borrowing a work of that description from a circulating library.  I hope
with you that the present delightful weather may contribute to the
perfect restoration of our dear papa's health; and that it may give aunt
pleasant reminiscences of the salubrious climate of her native place,"
&c.

To return to "Mary's" letter.

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

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

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

"This is the epitome of her life.  At our house she had just as little
chance of a patient hearing, for though not school-girlish, we were more
intolerant.  We had a rage for practicality, and laughed all poetry to
scorn.  Neither she nor we had any idea but that our opinions were the
opinions of all the _sensible_ people in the world, and we used to
astonish each other at every sentence . . . Charlotte, at school, had no
plan of life beyond what circumstances made for her.  She knew that she
must provide for herself, and chose her trade; at least chose to begin it
once.  Her idea of self-improvement ruled her even at school.  It was to
cultivate her tastes.  She always said there was enough of hard
practicality and _useful_ knowledge forced on us by necessity, and that
the thing most needed was to soften and refine our minds.  She picked up
every scrap of information concerning painting, sculpture, poetry, music,
&c., as if it were gold."

What I have heard of her school days from other sources, confirms the
accuracy of the details in this remarkable letter.  She was an
indefatigable student: constantly reading and learning; with a strong
conviction of the necessity and value of education, very unusual in a
girl of fifteen.  She never lost a moment of time, and seemed almost to
grudge the necessary leisure for relaxation and play-hours, which might
be partly accounted for by the awkwardness in all games occasioned by her
shortness of sight.  Yet, in spite of these unsociable habits, she was a
great favourite with her school-fellows.  She was always ready to try and
do what they wished, though not sorry when they called her awkward, and
left her out of their sports.  Then, at night, she was an invaluable
story-teller, frightening them almost out of their wits as they lay in
bed.  On one occasion the effect was such that she was led to scream out
aloud, and Miss W---, coming up stairs, found that one of the listeners
had been seized with violent palpitations, in consequence of the
excitement produced by Charlotte's story.

Her indefatigable craving for knowledge tempted Miss W--- on into setting
her longer and longer tasks of reading for examination; and towards the
end of the year and a half that she remained as a pupil at Roe Head, she
received her first bad mark for an imperfect lesson.  She had had a great
quantity of Blair's "Lectures on Belles Lettres" to read; and she could
not answer some of the questions upon it; Charlotte Bronte had a bad
mark.  Miss W--- was sorry, and regretted that she had set Charlotte so
long a task.  Charlotte cried bitterly.  But her school-fellows were more
than sorry--they were indignant.  They declared that the infliction of
ever so slight a punishment on Charlotte Bronte was unjust--for who had
tried to do her duty like her?--and testified their feeling in a variety
of ways, until Miss W---, who was in reality only too willing to pass
over her good pupil's first fault, withdrew the bad mark; and the girls
all returned to their allegiance except "Mary," who took her own way
during the week or two that remained of the half-year, choosing to
consider that Miss W---, in giving Charlotte Bronte so long a task, had
forfeited her claim to obedience of the school regulations.

The number of pupils was so small that the attendance to certain subjects
at particular hours, common in larger schools, was not rigidly enforced.
When the girls were ready with their lessons, they came to Miss W--- to
say them.  She had a remarkable knack of making them feel interested in
whatever they had to learn.  They set to their studies, not as to tasks
or duties to be got through, but with a healthy desire and thirst for
knowledge, of which she had managed to make them perceive the relishing
savour.  They did not leave off reading and learning as soon as the
compulsory pressure of school was taken away.  They had been taught to
think, to analyse, to reject, to appreciate.  Charlotte Bronte was happy
in the choice made for her of the second school to which she was sent.
There was a robust freedom in the out-of-doors life of her companions.
They played at merry games in the fields round the house: on Saturday
half-holidays they went long scrambling walks down mysterious shady
lanes, then climbing the uplands, and thus gaining extensive views over
the country, about which so much had to be told, both of its past and
present history.

Miss W--- must have had in great perfection the French art, "conter," to
judge from her pupil's recollections of the tales she related during
these long walks, of this old house, or that new mill, and of the states
of society consequent on the changes involved by the suggestive dates of
either building.  She remembered the times when watchers or wakeners in
the night heard the distant word of command, and the measured tramp of
thousands of sad desperate men receiving a surreptitious military
training, in preparation for some great day which they saw in their
visions, when right should struggle with might and come off victorious:
when the people of England, represented by the workers of Yorkshire,
Lancashire, and Nottinghamshire, should make their voice heard in a
terrible slogan, since their true and pitiful complaints could find no
hearing in parliament.  We forget, now-a-days, so rapid have been the
changes for the better, how cruel was the condition of numbers of
labourers at the close of the great Peninsular war.  The half-ludicrous
nature of some of their grievances has lingered on in tradition; the real
intensity of their sufferings has become forgotten.  They were maddened
and desperate; and the country, in the opinion of many, seemed to be on
the verge of a precipice, from which it was only saved by the prompt and
resolute decision of a few in authority.  Miss W--- spoke of those times;
of the mysterious nightly drillings; of thousands on lonely moors; of the
muttered threats of individuals too closely pressed upon by necessity to
be prudent; of the overt acts, in which the burning of Cartwright's mill
took a prominent place; and these things sank deep into the mind of one,
at least, among her hearers.

Mr. Cartwright was the owner of a factory called Rawfolds, in Liversedge,
not beyond the distance of a walk from Roe Head.  He had dared to employ
machinery for the dressing of woollen cloth, which was an unpopular
measure in 1812, when many other circumstances conspired to make the
condition of the mill-hands unbearable from the pressure of starvation
and misery.  Mr. Cartwright was a very remarkable man, having, as I have
been told, some foreign blood in him, the traces of which were very
apparent in his tall figure, dark eyes and complexion, and singular,
though gentlemanly bearing.  At any rate he had been much abroad, and
spoke French well, of itself a suspicious circumstance to the bigoted
nationality of those days.  Altogether he was an unpopular man, even
before he took the last step of employing shears, instead of hands, to
dress his wool.  He was quite aware of his unpopularity, and of the
probable consequences.  He had his mill prepared for an assault.  He took
up his lodgings in it; and the doors were strongly barricaded at night.
On every step of the stairs there was placed a roller, spiked with barbed
points all round, so as to impede the ascent of the rioters, if they
succeeded in forcing the doors.

On the night of Saturday the 11th of April, 1812, the assault was made.
Some hundreds of starving cloth-dressers assembled in the very field near
Kirklees that sloped down from the house which Miss W--- afterwards
inhabited, and were armed by their leaders with pistols, hatchets, and
bludgeons, many of which had been extorted by the nightly bands that
prowled about the country, from such inhabitants of lonely houses as had
provided themselves with these means of self-defence.  The silent sullen
multitude marched in the dead of that spring-night to Rawfolds, and
giving tongue with a great shout, roused Mr. Cartwright up to the
knowledge that the long-expected attack was come.  He was within walls,
it is true; but against the fury of hundreds he had only four of his own
workmen and five soldiers to assist him.  These ten men, however, managed
to keep up such a vigorous and well-directed fire of musketry that they
defeated all the desperate attempts of the multitude outside to break
down the doors, and force a way into the mill; and, after a conflict of
twenty minutes, during which two of the assailants were killed and
several wounded, they withdrew in confusion, leaving Mr. Cartwright
master of the field, but so dizzy and exhausted, now the peril was past,
that he forgot the nature of his defences, and injured his leg rather
seriously by one of the spiked rollers, in attempting to go up his own
staircase.  His dwelling was near the factory.  Some of the rioters vowed
that, if he did not give in, they would leave this, and go to his house,
and murder his wife and children.  This was a terrible threat, for he had
been obliged to leave his family with only one or two soldiers to defend
them.  Mrs. Cartwright knew what they had threatened; and on that
dreadful night, hearing, as she thought, steps approaching, she snatched
up her two infant children, and put them in a basket up the great
chimney, common in old-fashioned Yorkshire houses.  One of the two
children who had been thus stowed away used to point out with pride,
after she had grown up to woman's estate, the marks of musket shot, and
the traces of gunpowder on the walls of her father's mill.  He was the
first that had offered any resistance to the progress of the "Luddites,"
who had become by this time so numerous as almost to assume the character
of an insurrectionary army.  Mr. Cartwright's conduct was so much admired
by the neighbouring mill-owners that they entered into a subscription for
his benefit which amounted in the end to 3,000_l_.

Not much more than a fortnight after this attack on Rawfolds, another
manufacturer who employed the obnoxious machinery was shot down in broad
daylight, as he was passing over Crossland Moor, which was skirted by a
small plantation in which the murderers lay hidden.  The readers of
"Shirley" will recognise these circumstances, which were related to Miss
Bronte years after they occurred, but on the very spots where they took
place, and by persons who remembered full well those terrible times of
insecurity to life and property on the one hand, and of bitter starvation
and blind ignorant despair on the other.

Mr. Bronte himself had been living amongst these very people in 1812, as
he was then clergyman at Hartshead, not three miles from Rawfolds; and,
as I have mentioned, it was in these perilous times that he began his
custom of carrying a loaded pistol continually about with him.  For not
only his Tory politics, but his love and regard for the authority of the
law, made him despise the cowardice of the surrounding magistrates, who,
in their dread of the Luddites, refused to interfere so as to prevent the
destruction of property.  The clergy of the district were the bravest men
by far.

There was a Mr. Roberson of Heald's Hall, a friend of Mr. Bronte's who
has left a deep impression of himself on the public mind.  He lived near
Heckmondwike, a large, straggling, dirty village, not two miles from Roe
Head.  It was principally inhabited by blanket weavers, who worked in
their own cottages; and Heald's Hall is the largest house in the village,
of which Mr. Roberson was the vicar.  At his own cost, he built a
handsome church at Liversedge, on a hill opposite the one on which his
house stood, which was the first attempt in the West Riding to meet the
wants of the overgrown population, and made many personal sacrifices for
his opinions, both religious and political, which were of the true old-
fashioned Tory stamp.  He hated everything which he fancied had a
tendency towards anarchy.  He was loyal in every fibre to Church and
King; and would have proudly laid down his life, any day, for what he
believed to be right and true.  But he was a man of an imperial will, and
by it he bore down opposition, till tradition represents him as having
something grimly demoniac about him.  He was intimate with Cartwright,
and aware of the attack likely to be made on his mill; accordingly, it is
said, he armed himself and his household, and was prepared to come to the
rescue, in the event of a signal being given that aid was needed.  Thus
far is likely enough.  Mr. Roberson had plenty of warlike spirit in him,
man of peace though he was.

But, in consequence of his having taken the unpopular side, exaggerations
of his character linger as truth in the minds of the people; and a
fabulous story is told of his forbidding any one to give water to the
wounded Luddites, left in the mill-yard, when he rode in the next morning
to congratulate his friend Cartwright on his successful defence.
Moreover, this stern, fearless clergyman had the soldiers that were sent
to defend the neighbourhood billeted at his house; and this deeply
displeased the workpeople, who were to be intimidated by the red-coats.
Although not a magistrate, he spared no pains to track out the Luddites
concerned in the assassination I have mentioned; and was so successful in
his acute unflinching energy, that it was believed he had been
supernaturally aided; and the country people, stealing into the fields
surrounding Heald's Hall on dusky winter evenings, years after this time,
declared that through the windows they saw Parson Roberson dancing, in a
strange red light, with black demons all whirling and eddying round him.
He kept a large boys' school; and made himself both respected and dreaded
by his pupils.  He added a grim kind of humour to his strength of will;
and the former quality suggested to his fancy strange out-of-the-way
kinds of punishment for any refractory pupils: for instance, he made them
stand on one leg in a corner of the schoolroom, holding a heavy book in
each hand; and once, when a boy had run away home, he followed him on
horseback, reclaimed him from his parents, and, tying him by a rope to
the stirrup of his saddle, made him run alongside of his horse for the
many miles they had to traverse before reaching Heald's Hall.

One other illustration of his character may be given.  He discovered that
his servant Betty had "a follower;" and, watching his time till Richard
was found in the kitchen, he ordered him into the dining-room, where the
pupils were all assembled.  He then questioned Richard whether he had
come after Betty; and on his confessing the truth, Mr. Roberson gave the
word, "Off with him, lads, to the pump!"  The poor lover was dragged to
the court-yard, and the pump set to play upon him; and, between every
drenching, the question was put to him, "Will you promise not to come
after Betty again?"  For a long time Richard bravely refused to give in;
when "Pump again, lads!" was the order.  But, at last, the poor soaked
"follower" was forced to yield, and renounce his Betty.

The Yorkshire character of Mr. Roberson would be incomplete if I did not
mention his fondness for horses.  He lived to be a very old man, dying
some time nearer to 1840 than 1830; and even after he was eighty years of
age, he took great delight in breaking refractory steeds; if necessary,
he would sit motionless on their backs for half-an-hour or more to bring
them to.  There is a story current that once, in a passion, he shot his
wife's favourite horse, and buried it near a quarry, where the ground,
some years after, miraculously opened and displayed the skeleton; but the
real fact is, that it was an act of humanity to put a poor old horse out
of misery; and that, to spare it pain, he shot it with his own hands, and
buried it where, the ground sinking afterwards by the working of a coal-
pit, the bones came to light.  The traditional colouring shows the animus
with which his memory is regarded by one set of people.  By another, the
neighbouring clergy, who remember him riding, in his old age, down the
hill on which his house stood, upon his strong white horse--his bearing
proud and dignified, his shovel hat bent over and shadowing his keen
eagle eyes--going to his Sunday duty like a faithful soldier that dies in
harness--who can appreciate his loyalty to conscience, his sacrifices to
duty, and his stand by his religion--his memory is venerated.  In his
extreme old age, a rubric meeting was held, at which his clerical
brethren gladly subscribed to present him with a testimonial of their
deep respect and regard.

This is a specimen of the strong character not seldom manifested by the
Yorkshire clergy of the Established Church.  Mr. Roberson was a friend of
Charlotte Bronte's father; lived within a couple of miles of Roe Head
while she was at school there; and was deeply engaged in transactions,
the memory of which was yet recent when she heard of them, and of the
part which he had had in them.

I may now say a little on the character of the Dissenting population
immediately surrounding Roe Head; for the "Tory and clergyman's
daughter," "taking interest in politics ever since she was five years
old," and holding frequent discussions with such of the girls as were
Dissenters and Radicals, was sure to have made herself as much acquainted
as she could with the condition of those to whom she was opposed in
opinion.

The bulk of the population were Dissenters, principally Independents.  In
the village of Heckmondwike, at one end of which Roe Head is situated,
there were two large chapels belonging to that denomination, and one to
the Methodists, all of which were well filled two or three times on a
Sunday, besides having various prayer-meetings, fully attended, on week-
days.  The inhabitants were a chapel-going people, very critical about
the doctrine of their sermons, tyrannical to their ministers, and violent
Radicals in politics.  A friend, well acquainted with the place when
Charlotte Bronte was at school, has described some events which occurred
then among them:--

"A scene, which took place at the Lower Chapel at Heckmondwike, will give
you some idea of the people at that time.  When a newly-married couple
made their appearance at chapel, it was the custom to sing the Wedding
Anthem, just after the last prayer, and as the congregation was quitting
the chapel.  The band of singers who performed this ceremony expected to
have money given them, and often passed the following night in drinking;
at least, so said the minister of the place; and he determined to put an
end to this custom.  In this he was supported by many members of the
chapel and congregation; but so strong was the democratic element, that
he met with the most violent opposition, and was often insulted when he
went into the street.  A bride was expected to make her first appearance,
and the minister told the singers not to perform the anthem.  On their
declaring they would, he had the large pew which they usually occupied
locked; they broke it open: from the pulpit he told the congregation
that, instead of their singing a hymn, he would read a chapter; hardly
had he uttered the first word, before up rose the singers, headed by a
tall, fierce-looking weaver, who gave out a hymn, and all sang it at the
very top of their voices, aided by those of their friends who were in the
chapel.  Those who disapproved of the conduct of the singers, and sided
with the minister, remained seated till the hymn was finished.  Then he
gave out the chapter again, read it, and preached.  He was just about to
conclude with prayer, when up started the singers and screamed forth
another hymn.  These disgraceful scenes were continued for many weeks,
and so violent was the feeling, that the different parties could hardly
keep from blows as they came through the chapel-yard.  The minister, at
last, left the place, and along with him went many of the most temperate
and respectable part of the congregation, and the singers remained
triumphant.

"I believe that there was such a violent contest respecting the choice of
a pastor, about this time, in the Upper Chapel at Heckmondwike, that the
Riot Act had to be read at a church-meeting."

Certainly, the _soi-disant_ Christians who forcibly ejected Mr. Redhead
at Haworth, ten or twelve years before, held a very heathen brotherhood
with the _soi-disant_ Christians of Heckmondwike; though the one set
might be called members of the Church of England and the other
Dissenters.

The letter from which I have taken the above extract relates throughout
to the immediate neighbourhood of the place where Charlotte Bronte spent
her school-days, and describes things as they existed at that very time.
The writer says,--"Having been accustomed to the respectful manners of
the lower orders in the agricultural districts, I was at first, much
disgusted and somewhat alarmed at the great freedom displayed by the
working classes of Heckmondwike and Gomersall to those in a station above
them.  The term 'lass,' was as freely applied to any young lady, as the
word 'wench' is in Lancashire.  The extremely untidy appearance of the
villagers shocked me not a little, though I must do the housewives the
justice to say that the cottages themselves were not dirty, and had an
air of rough plenty about them (except when trade was bad), that I had
not been accustomed to see in the farming districts.  The heap of coals
on one side of the house-door, and the brewing tubs on the other, and the
frequent perfume of malt and hops as you walked along, proved that fire
and 'home-brewed' were to be found at almost every man's hearth.  Nor was
hospitality, one of the main virtues of Yorkshire, wanting.  Oat-cake,
cheese, and beer were freely pressed upon the visitor.

"There used to be a yearly festival, half-religious, half social, held at
Heckmondwike, called 'The Lecture.'  I fancy it had come down from the
times of the Nonconformists.  A sermon was preached by some stranger at
the Lower Chapel, on a week-day evening, and the next day, two sermons in
succession were delivered at the Upper Chapel.  Of course, the service
was a very long one, and as the time was June, and the weather often hot,
it used to be regarded by myself and my companions as no pleasurable way
of passing the morning.  The rest of the day was spent in social
enjoyment; great numbers of strangers flocked to the place; booths were
erected for the sale of toys and gingerbread (a sort of 'Holy Fair'); and
the cottages, having had a little extra paint and white-washing, assumed
quite a holiday look.

"The village of Gomersall" (where Charlotte Bronte's friend "Mary" lived
with her family), "which was a much prettier place than Heckmondwike,
contained a strange-looking cottage, built of rough unhewn stones, many
of them projecting considerably, with uncouth heads and grinning faces
carved upon them; and upon a stone above the door was cut, in large
letters, 'SPITE HALL.'  It was erected by a man in the village, opposite
to the house of his enemy, who had just finished for himself a good
house, commanding a beautiful view down the valley, which this hideous
building quite shut out."

Fearless--because this people were quite familiar to all of them--amidst
such a population, lived and walked the gentle Miss W---'s eight or nine
pupils.  She herself was born and bred among this rough, strong, fierce
set, and knew the depth of goodness and loyalty that lay beneath their
wild manners and insubordinate ways.  And the girls talked of the little
world around them, as if it were the only world that was; and had their
opinions and their parties, and their fierce discussions like their
elders--possibly, their betters.  And among them, beloved and respected
by all, laughed at occasionally by a few, but always to her face--lived,
for a year and a half, the plain, short-sighted, oddly-dressed, studious
little girl they called Charlotte Bronte.



CHAPTER VII


Miss Bronte left Roe Head in 1832, having won the affectionate regard
both of her teacher and her school-fellows, and having formed there the
two fast friendships which lasted her whole life long; the one with
"Mary," who has not kept her letters; the other with "E.," who has kindly
entrusted me with a large portion of Miss Bronte's correspondence with
her.  This she has been induced to do by her knowledge of the urgent
desire on the part of Mr. Bronte that the life of his daughter should be
written, and in compliance with a request from her husband that I should
be permitted to have the use of these letters, without which such a task
could be but very imperfectly executed.  In order to shield this friend,
however, from any blame or misconstruction, it is only right to state
that, before granting me this privilege, she throughout most carefully
and completely effaced the names of the persons and places which occurred
in them; and also that such information as I have obtained from her bears
reference solely to Miss Bronte and her sisters, and not to any other
individuals whom I may find it necessary to allude to in connection with
them.

In looking over the earlier portion of this correspondence, I am struck
afresh by the absence of hope, which formed such a strong characteristic
in Charlotte.  At an age when girls, in general, look forward to an
eternal duration of such feelings as they or their friends entertain, and
can therefore see no hindrance to the fulfilment of any engagements
dependent on the future state of the affections, she is surprised that
"E." keeps her promise to write.  In after-life, I was painfully
impressed with the fact, that Miss Bronte never dared to allow herself to
look forward with hope; that she had no confidence in the future; and I
thought, when I heard of the sorrowful years she had passed through, that
it had been this this pressure of grief which had crushed all buoyancy of
expectation out of her.  But it appears from the letters, that it must
have been, so to speak, constitutional; or, perhaps, the deep pang of
losing her two elder sisters combined with a permanent state of bodily
weakness in producing her hopelessness.  If her trust in God had been
less strong, she would have given way to unbounded anxiety, at many a
period of her life.  As it was, we shall see, she made a great and
successful effort to leave "her times in His hands."

After her return home, she employed herself in teaching her sisters, over
whom she had had superior advantages.  She writes thus, July 21st, 1832,
of her course of life at the parsonage:--

"An account of one day is an account of all.  In the morning, from nine
o'clock till half-past twelve, I instruct my sisters, and draw; then we
walk till dinner-time.  After dinner I sew till tea-time, and after tea I
either write, read, or do a little fancy-work, or draw, as I please.
Thus, in one delightful, though somewhat monotonous course, my life is
passed.  I have been only out twice to tea since I came home.  We are
expecting company this afternoon, and on Tuesday next we shall have all
the female teachers of the Sunday-school to tea."

I may here introduce a quotation from a letter which I have received from
"Mary" since the publication of the previous editions of this memoir.

"Soon after leaving school she admitted reading something of Cobbett's.
'She did not like him,' she said; 'but all was fish that came to her
net.'  At this time she wrote to me that reading and drawing were the
only amusements she had, and that her supply of books was very small in
proportion to her wants.  She never spoke of her aunt.  When I saw Miss
Branwell she was a very precise person, and looked very odd, because her
dress, &c., was so utterly out of fashion.  She corrected one of us once
for using the word 'spit' or 'spitting.'  She made a great favourite of
Branwell.  She made her nieces sew, with purpose or without, and as far
as possible discouraged any other culture.  She used to keep the girls
sewing charity clothing, and maintained to me that it was not for the
good of the recipients, but of the sewers.  'It was proper for them to do
it,' she said.  Charlotte never was 'in wild excitement' that I know of.
When in health she used to talk better, and indeed when in low spirits
never spoke at all.  She needed her best spirits to say what was in her
heart, for at other times she had not courage.  She never gave decided
opinions at such times . . .

"Charlotte said she could get on with any one who had a bump at the top
of their heads (meaning conscientiousness).  I found that I seldom
differed from her, except that she was far too tolerant of stupid people,
if they had a grain of kindness in them."

It was about this time that Mr. Bronte provided his children with a
teacher in drawing, who turned out to be a man of considerable talent,
but very little principle.  Although they never attained to anything like
proficiency, they took great interest in acquiring this art; evidently,
from an instinctive desire to express their powerful imaginations in
visible forms.  Charlotte told me, that at this period of her life,
drawing, and walking out with her sisters, formed the two great pleasures
and relaxations of her day.

The three girls used to walk upwards toward the "purple-black" moors, the
sweeping surface of which was broken by here and there a stone-quarry;
and if they had strength and time to go far enough, they reached a
waterfall, where the beck fell over some rocks into the "bottom."  They
seldom went downwards through the village.  They were shy of meeting even
familiar faces, and were scrupulous about entering the house of the very
poorest uninvited. They were steady teachers at the Sunday-School, a
habit which Charlotte kept up very faithfully, even after she was left
alone; but they never faced their kind voluntary, and always preferred
the solitude and freedom of the moors.

* * * * *

In the September of this year, Charlotte went to pay her first visit to
her friend "E."  It took her into the neighbourhood of Roe Head, and
brought her into pleasant contact with many of her old school-fellows.
After this visit she and her friend seem to have agreed to correspond in
French, for the sake of improvement in the language.  But this
improvement could not be great, when it could only amount to a greater
familiarity with dictionary words, and when there was no one to explain
to them that a verbal translation of English idioms hardly constituted
French composition; but the effort was laudable, and of itself shows how
willing they both were to carry on the education which they had begun
under Miss W-.   I will give an extract which, whatever may be thought of
the language, is graphic enough, and presents us with a happy little
family picture; the eldest sister returning home to the two younger,
after a fortnight's absence.

"J'arrivait a Haworth en parfaite sauvete sans le moindre accident ou
malheur.  Mes petites soeurs couraient hors de la maison pour me
rencontrer aussitot que la voiture se fit voir, et elles m'embrassaient
avec autant d'empressement et de plaisir comme si j'avais ete absente
pour plus d'an.  Mon Papa, ma Tante, et le monsieur dent men frere avoit
parle, furent tous assembles dans le Salon, et en peu de temps je m'y
rendis aussi.  C'est souvent l'ordre du Ciel que quand on a perdu un
plaisir il y en a un autre pret a prendre sa place.  Ainsi je venois de
partir de tres-chers amis, mais tout a l'heure je revins a des parens
aussi chers et bon dans le moment.  Meme que vous me perdiez (ose-je
croire que mon depart vous etait un chagrin?) vous attendites l'arrivee
de votre frere, et de votre soeur.  J'ai donne a mes soeurs les pommes
que vous leur envoyiez avec tant de bonte; elles disent qu'elles sont sur
que Mademoiselle E. est tres-aimable et bonne; l'une et l'autre sont
extremement impatientes de vous voir; j'espere qu'en peu de mois elles
auront ce plaisir."

But it was some time yet before the friends could meet, and meanwhile
they agreed to correspond once a month.  There were no events to
chronicle in the Haworth letters.  Quiet days, occupied in reaching, and
feminine occupations in the house, did not present much to write about;
and Charlotte was naturally driven to criticise books.

Of these there were many in different plights, and according to their
plight, kept in different places.  The well-bound were ranged in the
sanctuary of Mr. Bronte's study; but the purchase of books was a
necessary luxury to him, but as it was often a choice between binding an
old one, or buying a new one, the familiar volume, which had been
hungrily read by all the members of the family, was sometimes in such a
condition that the bedroom shelf was considered its fitting place.  Up
and down the house were to be found many standard works of a solid kind.
Sir Walter Scott's writings, Wordsworth's and Southey's poems were among
the lighter literature; while, as having a character of their
own--earnest, wild, and occasionally fanatical--may be named some of the
books which came from the Branwell side of the family--from the Cornish
followers of the saintly John Wesley--and which are touched on in the
account of the works to which Caroline Helstone had access in
"Shirley:"--"Some venerable Lady's Magazines, that had once performed a
voyage with their owner, and undergone a storm"--(possibly part of the
relics of Mrs. Bronte's possessions, contained in the ship wrecked on the
coast of Cornwall)--"and whose pages were stained with salt water; some
mad Methodist Magazines full of miracles and apparitions, and
preternatural warnings, ominous dreams, and frenzied fanaticisms; and the
equally mad letters of Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe from the Dead to the Living."

Mr. Bronte encouraged a taste for reading in his girls; and though Miss
Branwell kept it in due bounds, by the variety of household occupations,
in which she expected them not merely to take a part, but to become
proficients, thereby occupying regularly a good portion of every day,
they were allowed to get books from the circulating library at Keighley;
and many a happy walk, up those long four miles, must they have had,
burdened with some new book, into which they peeped as they hurried home.
Not that the books were what would generally be called new; in the
beginning of 1833, the two friends seem almost simultaneously to have
fallen upon "Kenilworth," and Charlotte writes as follows about it:--

"I am glad you like 'Kenilworth;' it is certainly more resembling a
romance than a novel: in my opinion, one of the most interesting works
that ever emanated from the great Sir Walter's pen.  Varney is certainly
the personification of consummate villainy; and in the delineation of his
dark and profoundly artful mind, Scott exhibits a wonderful knowledge of
human nature, as well as a surprising skill in embodying his perceptions,
so as to enable others to become participators in that knowledge."

Commonplace as this extract may seem, it is noteworthy on two or three
accounts: in the first place, instead of discussing the plot or story,
she analyses the character of Varney; and next, she, knowing nothing of
the world, both from her youth and her isolated position, has yet been so
accustomed to hear "human nature" distrusted, as to receive the notion of
intense and artful villainy without surprise.

What was formal and set in her way of writing to "E." diminished as their
personal acquaintance increased, and as each came to know the home of the
other; so that small details concerning people and places had their
interest and their significance.  In the summer of 1833, she wrote to
invite her friend to come and pay her a visit.  "Aunt thought it would be
better" (she says) "to defer it until about the middle of summer, as the
winter, and even the spring seasons, are remarkably cold and bleak among
our mountains."

The first impression made on the visitor by the sisters of her school-
friend was, that Emily was a tall, long-armed girl, more fully grown than
her elder sister; extremely reserved in manner. I distinguish reserve
from shyness, because I imagine shyness would please, if it knew how;
whereas, reserve is indifferent whether it pleases or not.  Anne, like
her eldest sister, was shy; Emily was reserved.

Branwell was rather a handsome boy, with "tawny" hair, to use Miss
Bronte's phrase for a more obnoxious colour.  All were very clever,
original, and utterly different to any people or family "E." had ever
seen before.  But, on the whole, it was a happy visit to all parties.
Charlotte says, in writing to "E.," just after her return home--"Were I
to tell you of the impression you have made on every one here, you would
accuse me of flattery. Papa and aunt are continually adducing you as an
example for me to shape my actions and behaviour by.  Emily and Anne say
'they never saw any one they liked so well as you.'  And Tabby, whom you
have absolutely fascinated, talks a great deal more nonsense about your
ladyship than I care to repeat.  It is now so dark that, notwithstanding
the singular property of seeing in the night-time, which the young ladies
at Roe Head used to attribute to me, I can scribble no longer."

To a visitor at the parsonage, it was a great thing to have Tabby's good
word.  She had a Yorkshire keenness of perception into character, and it
was not everybody she liked.

Haworth is built with an utter disregard of all sanitary conditions: the
great old churchyard lies above all the houses, and it is terrible to
think how the very water-springs of the pumps below must be poisoned.  But
this winter of 1833-4 was particularly wet and rainy, and there were an
unusual number of deaths in the village.  A dreary season it was to the
family in the parsonage: their usual walks obstructed by the spongy state
of the moors--the passing and funeral bells so frequently tolling, and
filling the heavy air with their mournful sound--and, when they were
still, the "chip, chip," of the mason, as he cut the grave-stones in a
shed close by.  In many, living, as it were, in a churchyard, and with
all the sights and sounds connected with the last offices to the dead
things of everyday occurrence, the very familiarity would have bred
indifference.  But it was otherwise with Charlotte Bronte.  One of her
friends says:--"I have seen her turn pale and feel faint when, in
Hartshead church, some one accidentally remarked that we were walking
over graves. Charlotte was certainly afraid of death.  Not only of dead
bodies, or dying people.  She dreaded it as something horrible.  She
thought we did not know how long the 'moment of dissolution' might really
be, or how terrible.  This was just such a terror as only hypochondriacs
can provide for themselves.  She told me long ago that a misfortune was
often preceded by the dream frequently repeated which she gives to 'Jane
Eyre,' of carrying a little wailing child, and being unable to still it.
She described herself as having the most painful sense of pity for the
little thing, lying _inert_, as sick children do, while she walked about
in some gloomy place with it, such as the aisle of Haworth Church. The
misfortunes she mentioned were not always to herself.  She thought such
sensitiveness to omens was like the cholera, present to susceptible
people,--some feeling more, some less."

About the beginning of 1834, "E." went to London for the first time.  The
idea of her friend's visit seems to have stirred Charlotte strangely.  She
appears to have formed her notions of its probable consequences from some
of the papers in the "British Essayists," "The Rambler," "The Mirror," or
"The Lounger," which may have been among the English classics on the
parsonage bookshelves; for she evidently imagines that an entire change
of character for the worse is the usual effect of a visit to "the great
metropolis," and is delighted to find that "E." is "E." still.  And, as
her faith in her friend's stability is restored, her own imagination is
deeply moved by the idea of what great wonders are to be seen in that
vast and famous city.

   "Haworth, February 20th, 1834.

   "Your letter gave me real and heartfelt pleasure, mingled with no
   small share of astonishment.  Mary had previously informed me of your
   departure for London, and I had not ventured to calculate on any
   communication from you while surrounded by the splendours and
   novelties of that great city, which has been called the mercantile
   metropolis of Europe.  Judging from human nature, I thought that a
   little country girl, for the first time in a situation so well
   calculated to excite curiosity, and to distract attention, would lose
   all remembrance, for a time at least, of distant and familiar objects,
   and give herself up entirely to the fascination of those scenes which
   were then presented to her view.  Your kind, interesting, and most
   welcome epistle showed me, however, that I had been both mistaken and
   uncharitable in these suppositions.  I was greatly amused at the tone
   of nonchalance which you assumed, while treating of London and its
   wonders.  Did you not feel awed while gazing at St. Paul's and
   Westminster Abbey?  Had you no feeling of intense and ardent interest,
   when in St. James's you saw the palace where so many of England's
   kings have held their courts, and beheld the 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 personages whom
   the sitting of Parliament now detains in London--the Duke of
   Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Earl Grey, Mr. Stanley, Mr. O'Connell?  If
   I were you, I would not be too anxious to spend my time in reading
   whilst in town.  Make use of your own eyes for the purposes of
   observation now, and, for a time at least, lay aside the spectacles
   with which authors would furnish us."

In a postscript she adds:--

   "Will you be kind enough to inform me of the number of performers in
   the King's military band?"

And in something of the same strain she writes on

   "June 19th.
   "My own Dear E.,

   "I may rightfully and truly call you so now.  You _have_ returned or
   _are_ returning from London--from the great city which is to me as
   apocryphal as Babylon, or Nineveh, or ancient Rome.  You are
   withdrawing from the world (as it is called), and bringing with you--if
   your letters enable me to form a correct judgment--a heart as
   unsophisticated, as natural, as true, as that you carried there.  I am
   slow, _very_ slow, to believe the protestations of another; I know my
   own sentiments, I can read my own mind, but the minds of the rest of
   man and woman kind are to me sealed volumes, hieroglyphical scrolls,
   which I cannot easily either unseal or decipher.  Yet time, careful
   study, long acquaintance, overcome most difficulties; and, in your
   case, I think they have succeeded well in bringing to light and
   construing that hidden language, whose turnings, windings,
   inconsistencies, and obscurities, so frequently baffle the researches
   of the honest observer of human nature . . . I am truly grateful for
   your mindfulness of so obscure a person as myself, and I hope the
   pleasure is not altogether selfish; I trust it is partly derived from
   the consciousness that my friend's character is of a higher, a more
   steadfast order than I was once perfectly aware of.  Few girls would
   have done as you have done--would have beheld the glare, and glitter,
   and dazzling display of London with dispositions so unchanged, heart
   so uncontaminated.  I see no affectation in your letters, no trifling,
   no frivolous contempt of plain, and weak admiration of showy persons
   and things."

In these days of cheap railway trips, we may smile at the idea of a short
visit to London having any great effect upon the character, whatever it
may have upon the intellect.  But her London--her great apocryphal
city--was the "town" of a century before, to which giddy daughters
dragged unwilling papas, or went with injudicious friends, to the
detriment of all their better qualities, and sometimes to the ruin of
their fortunes; it was the Vanity Fair of the "Pilgrim's Progress" to
her.

But see the just and admirable sense with which she can treat a subject
of which she is able to overlook all the bearings.

   "Haworth, July 4th, 1834.

   "In your last, you request me to tell you of your faults.  Now,
   really, how can you be so foolish!  I _won't_ tell you of your faults,
   because I don't know them.  What a creature would that be, who, after
   receiving an affectionate and kind letter from a beloved friend,
   should sit down and write a catalogue of defects by way of answer!
   Imagine me doing so, and then consider what epithets you would bestow
   on me.  Conceited, dogmatical, hypocritical, little humbug, I should
   think, would be the mildest. Why, child!  I've neither time nor
   inclination to reflect on your _faults_ when you are so far from me,
   and when, besides, kind letters and presents, and so forth, are
   continually bringing forth your goodness in the most prominent light.
   Then, too, there are judicious relations always round you, who can
   much better discharge that unpleasant office.  I have no doubt their
   advice is completely at your service; why then should I intrude mine?
   If you will not hear them, it will be vain though one should rise from
   the dead to instruct you.  Let us have no more nonsense, if you love
   me.  Mr. --- is going to be married, is he?  Well, his wife elect
   appeared to me to be a clever and amiable lady, as far as I could
   judge from the little I saw of her, and from your account. Now to that
   flattering sentence must I tack on a list of her faults?  You say it
   is in contemplation for you to leave ---.  I am sorry for it.  --- is
   a pleasant spot, one of the old family halls of England, surrounded by
   lawn and woodland, speaking of past times, and suggesting (to me at
   least) happy feelings.  M. thought you grown less, did she?  I am not
   grown a bit, but as short and dumpy as ever.  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, Shakspeare,
   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 Shakspeare 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 Shakspeare, and the Don Juan,
   perhaps the Cain, of Byron, though the latter is a magnificent poem,
   and read the rest fearlessly; that must indeed be a depraved mind
   which can gather evil from Henry VIII., from Richard III., from
   Macbeth, and Hamlet, and Julius Caesar.  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 Johnson, Southey's Life of Nelson,
   Lockhart's Life of Burns, Moore's Life of Sheridan, Moore's Life of
   Byron, Wolfe's Remains.  For natural history, read Bewick and Audubon,
   and Goldsmith and White's history of Selborne.  For divinity, your
   brother will advise you there.  I can only say, adhere to standard
   authors, and avoid novelty."

From this list, we see that she must have had a good range of books from
which to choose her own reading.  It is evident, that the womanly
consciences of these two correspondents were anxiously alive to many
questions discussed among the stricter religionists. The morality of
Shakspeare needed the confirmation of Charlotte's opinion to the
sensitive "E.;" and a little later, she inquired whether dancing was
objectionable, when indulged in for an hour or two in parties of boys and
girls.  Charlotte replies, "I should hesitate to express a difference of
opinion from Mr. ---, or from your excellent sister, but really the
matter seems to me to stand thus.  It is allowed on all hands, that the
sin of dancing consists not in the mere action of 'shaking the shanks'
(as the Scotch say), but in the consequences that usually attend it;
namely, frivolity and waste of time; when it is used only, as in the case
you state, for the exercise and amusement of an hour among young people
(who surely may without any breach of God's commandments be allowed a
little light-heartedness), these consequences cannot follow.  Ergo
(according to my manner of arguing), the amusement is at such times
perfectly innocent."

Although the distance between Haworth and B--- was but seventeen miles,
it was difficult to go straight from the one to the other without hiring
a gig or vehicle of some kind for the journey. Hence a visit from
Charlotte required a good deal of pre-arrangement.  _The_ Haworth gig was
not always to be had; and Mr. Bronte was often unwilling to fall into any
arrangement for meeting at Bradford or other places, which would occasion
trouble to others.  The whole family had an ample share of that sensitive
pride which led them to dread incurring obligations, and to fear
"outstaying their welcome" when on any visit.  I am not sure whether Mr.
Bronte did not consider distrust of others as a part of that knowledge of
human nature on which he piqued himself.  His precepts to this effect,
combined with Charlotte's lack of hope, made her always fearful of loving
too much; of wearying the objects of her affection; and thus she was
often trying to restrain her warm feelings, and was ever chary of that
presence so invariably welcome to her true friends.  According to this
mode of acting, when she was invited for a month, she stayed but a
fortnight amidst "E.'s" family, to whom every visit only endeared her the
more, and by whom she was received with that kind of quiet gladness with
which they would have greeted a sister.

She still kept up her childish interest in politics.  In March, 1835, she
writes: "What do you think of the course politics are taking?  I make
this enquiry, because I now think you take a wholesome interest in the
matter; formerly you did not care greatly about it.  B., you see, is
triumphant.  Wretch!  I am a hearty hater, and if there is any one I
thoroughly abhor, it is that man.  But the Opposition is divided, Red-
hots, and Luke-warms; and the Duke (par excellence _the_ Duke) and Sir
Robert Peel show no signs of insecurity, though they have been twice
beat; so 'Courage, mon amie,' as the old chevaliers used to say, before
they joined battle."

In the middle of the summer of 1835, a great family plan was mooted at
the parsonage.  The question was, to what trade or profession should
Branwell be brought up?  He was now nearly eighteen; it was time to
decide.  He was very clever, no doubt; perhaps to begin with, the
greatest genius in this rare family. The sisters hardly recognised their
own, or each others' powers, but they knew _his_.  The father, ignorant
of many failings in moral conduct, did proud homage to the great gifts of
his son; for Branwell's talents were readily and willingly brought out
for the entertainment of others.  Popular admiration was sweet to him.
And this led to his presence being sought at "arvills" and all the great
village gatherings, for the Yorkshiremen have a keen relish for
intellect; and it likewise procured him the undesirable distinction of
having his company recommended by the landlord of the Black Bull to any
chance traveller who might happen to feel solitary or dull over his
liquor.  "Do you want some one to help you with your bottle, sir?  If you
do, I'll send up for Patrick" (so the villagers called him till the day
of his death, though in his own family he was always "Branwell").  And
while the messenger went, the landlord entertained his guest with
accounts of the wonderful talents of the boy, whose precocious
cleverness, and great conversational powers, were the pride of the
village.  The attacks of ill health to which Mr. Bronte had been subject
of late years, rendered it not only necessary that he should take his
dinner alone (for the sake of avoiding temptations to unwholesome diet),
but made it also desirable that he should pass the time directly
succeeding his meals in perfect quiet.  And this necessity, combined with
due attention to his parochial duties, made him partially ignorant how
his son employed himself out of lesson-time.  His own youth had been
spent among people of the same conventional rank as those into whose
companionship Branwell was now thrown; but he had had a strong will, and
an earnest and persevering ambition, and a resoluteness of purpose which
his weaker son wanted.

It is singular how strong a yearning the whole family had towards the art
of drawing.  Mr. Bronte had been very solicitous to get them good
instruction; the girls themselves loved everything connected with it--all
descriptions or engravings of great pictures; and, in default of good
ones, they would take and analyse any print or drawing which came in
their way, and find out how much thought had gone to its composition,
what ideas it was intended to suggest, and what it _did_ suggest.  In the
same spirit, they laboured to design imaginations of their own; they
lacked the power of execution, not of conception.  At one time, Charlotte
had the notion of making her living as an artist, and wearied her eyes in
drawing with pre-Raphaelite minuteness, but not with pre-Raphaelite
accuracy, for she drew from fancy rather than from nature.

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

The best way of preparing him to become so appeared to be to send him as
a pupil to the Royal Academy.  I dare say he longed and yearned to follow
this path, principally because it would lead him to that mysterious
London--that Babylon the great--which seems to have filled the
imaginations and haunted the minds of all the younger members of this
recluse family.  To Branwell it was more than a vivid imagination, it was
an impressed reality.  By dint of studying maps, he was as well
acquainted with it, even down to its by-ways, as if he had lived there.
Poor misguided fellow! this craving to see and know London, and that
stronger craving after fame, were never to be satisfied.  He was to die
at the end of a short and blighted life.  But in this year of 1835, all
his home kindred were thinking how they could best forward his views, and
how help him up to the pinnacle where he desired to be.  What their plans
were, let Charlotte explain.  These are not the first sisters who have
laid their lives as a sacrifice before their brother's idolized wish.
Would to God they might be the last who met with such a miserable return!

   "Haworth, July 6th, 1835.

   "I had hoped to have had the extreme pleasure of seeing you at Haworth
   this summer, but human affairs are mutable, and human resolutions must
   bend to the course of events.  We are all about to divide, break up,
   separate.  Emily is going to school, Branwell is going to London, and
   I am going to be a governess.  This last determination I formed
   myself, knowing that I should have to take the step sometime, 'and
   better sune as syne,' to use the Scotch proverb; and knowing well that
   papa would have enough to do with his limited income, should Branwell
   be placed at the Royal Academy, and Emily at Roe Head.  Where am I
   going to reside? you will ask.  Within four miles of you, at a place
   neither of us is unacquainted with, being no other than the identical
   Roe Head mentioned above.  Yes!  I am going to teach in the very
   school where I was myself taught.  Miss W--- made me the offer, and I
   preferred it to one or two proposals of private governess-ship, which
   I had before received.  I am sad--very sad--at the thoughts of leaving
   home; but duty--necessity--these are stern mistresses, who will not be
   disobeyed.  Did I not once say you ought to be thankful for your
   independence?  I felt what I said at the time, and I repeat it now
   with double earnestness; if anything would cheer me, it is the idea of
   being so near you.  Surely, you and Polly will come and see me; it
   would be wrong in me to doubt it; you were never unkind yet.  Emily
   and I leave home on the 27th of this month; the idea of being together
   consoles us both somewhat, and, truth, since I must enter a situation,
   'My lines have fallen in pleasant places.'  I both love and respect
   Miss W-."



CHAPTER VIII


On the 29th of July, 1835, Charlotte, now a little more than nineteen
years old, went as teacher to Miss W---'s. Emily accompanied her as a
pupil; but she became literally ill from home-sickness, and could not
settle to anything, and after passing only three months at Roe Head,
returned to the parsonage and the beloved moors.

Miss Bronte gives the following reasons as those which prevented Emily's
remaining at school, and caused the substitution of her younger sister in
her place at Miss W---'s:--

"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
hill-side, her mind could make an Eden.  She found in the bleak solitude
many and dear delights; and not the least and best-loved was--liberty.
Liberty was the breath of Emily's nostrils; without it she perished.  The
change from her own home to a school, and from her own very noiseless,
very secluded, but unrestricted and unartificial mode of life, to one of
disciplined routine (though under the kindest auspices), was what she
failed in enduring.  Her nature proved here too strong for her fortitude.
Every morning, when she woke, the vision of home and the moors rushed on
her, and darkened and saddened the day that lay before her.  Nobody knew
what ailed her but me.  I knew only too well.  In this struggle her
health was quickly broken: her white face, attenuated form, and failing
strength, threatened rapid decline.  I felt in my heart she would die, if
she did not go home, and with this conviction obtained her recall.  She
had only been three months at school; and it was some years before the
experiment of sending her from home was again ventured on."

This physical suffering on Emily's part when absent from Haworth, after
recurring several times under similar circumstances, became at length so
much an acknowledged fact, that whichever was obliged to leave home, the
sisters decided that Emily must remain there, where alone she could enjoy
anything like good health.  She left it twice again in her life; once
going as teacher to a school in Halifax for six months, and afterwards
accompanying Charlotte to Brussels for ten.  When at home, she took the
principal part of the cooking upon herself, and did all the household
ironing; and after Tabby grew old and infirm, it was Emily who made all
the bread for the family; and any one passing by the kitchen-door, might
have seen her studying German out of an open book, propped up before her,
as she kneaded the dough; but no study, however interesting, interfered
with the goodness of the bread, which was always light and excellent.
Books were, indeed, a very common sight in that kitchen; the girls were
taught by their father theoretically, and by their aunt, practically,
that to take an active part in all household work was, in their position,
woman's simple duty; but in their careful employment of time, they found
many an odd five minutes for reading while watching the cakes, and
managed the union of two kinds of employment better than King Alfred.

Charlotte's life at Miss W---'s was a very happy one, until her health
failed.  She sincerely loved and respected the former schoolmistress, to
whom she was now become both companion and friend.  The girls were hardly
strangers to her, some of them being younger sisters of those who had
been her own playmates.  Though the duties of the day might be tedious
and monotonous, there were always two or three happy hours to look
forward to in the evening, when she and Miss W--- sat together--sometimes
late into the night--and had quiet pleasant conversations, or pauses of
silence as agreeable, because each felt that as soon as a thought or
remark occurred which they wished to express, there was an intelligent
companion ready to sympathise, and yet they were not compelled to "make
talk."

Miss W--- was always anxious to afford Miss Bronte every opportunity of
recreation in her power; but the difficulty often was to persuade her to
avail herself of the invitations which came, urging her to spend Saturday
and Sunday with "E." and "Mary," in their respective homes, that lay
within the distance of a walk.  She was too apt to consider, that
allowing herself a holiday was a dereliction of duty, and to refuse
herself the necessary change, from something of an over-ascetic spirit,
betokening a loss of healthy balance in either body or mind.  Indeed, it
is clear that such was the case, from a passage, referring to this time,
in the letter of "Mary" from which I have before given extracts.

"Three years after--" (the period when they were at school together)--"I
heard that she had gone as teacher to Miss W---'s.  I went to see her,
and asked how she could give so much for so little money, when she could
live without it.  She owned that, after clothing herself and Anne, there
was nothing left, though she had hoped to be able to save something.  She
confessed it was not brilliant, but what could she do?  I had nothing to
answer.  She seemed to have no interest or pleasure beyond the feeling of
duty, and, when she could get, used to sit alone, and 'make out.'  She
told me afterwards, that one evening she had sat in the dressing-room
until it was quite dark, and then observing it all at once, had taken
sudden fright."  No doubt she remembered this well when she described a
similar terror getting hold upon Jane Eyre.  She says in the story, "I
sat looking at the white bed and overshadowed walls--occasionally turning
a fascinated eye towards the gleaming mirror--I began to recall what I
had heard of dead men troubled in their graves . . . I endeavoured to be
firm; shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my head and tried to look
boldly through the dark room; at this moment, a ray from the moon
penetrated some aperture in the blind.  No! moon light was still, and
this stirred . . . prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my
nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald
of some coming vision from another world.  My heart beat thick, my head
grew hot; a sound filled my ears which I deemed the rustling of wings;
something seemed near me." {4}

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

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

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

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

Of course, the state of health thus described came on gradually, and is
not to be taken as a picture of her condition in 1836.  Yet even then
there is a despondency in some of her expressions, that too sadly reminds
one of some of Cowper's letters.  And it is remarkable how deeply his
poems impressed her.  His words, his verses, came more frequently to her
memory, I imagine, than those of any other poet.

"Mary" says: "Cowper's poem, 'The Castaway,' was known to them all, and
they all at times appreciated, or almost appropriated it.  Charlotte told
me once that Branwell had done so; and though his depression was the
result of his faults, it was in no other respect different from hers.
Both were not mental but physical illnesses.  She was well aware of this,
and would ask how that mended matters, as the feeling was there all the
same, and was not removed by knowing the cause.  She had a larger
religious toleration than a person would have who had never questioned,
and the manner of recommending religion was always that of offering
comfort, not fiercely enforcing a duty.  One time I mentioned that some
one had asked me what religion I was of (with the view of getting me for
a partizan), and that I had said that that was between God and me;--Emily
(who was lying on the hearth-rug) exclaimed, 'That's right.'  This was
all I ever heard Emily say on religious subjects.  Charlotte was free
from religious depression when in tolerable health; when that failed, her
depression returned.  You have probably seen such instances.  They don't
get over their difficulties; they forget them, when their stomach (or
whatever organ it is that inflicts such misery on sedentary people) will
let them.  I have heard her condemn Socinianism, Calvinism, and many
other 'isms' inconsistent with Church of Englandism.  I used to wonder at
her acquaintance with such subjects."

   "May 10th, 1836.

   "I was struck with the note you sent me with the umbrella; it showed a
   degree of interest in my concerns which I have no right to expect from
   any earthly creature.  I won't play the hypocrite; I won't answer your
   kind, gentle, friendly questions in the way you wish me to.  Don't
   deceive yourself by imagining I have a bit of real goodness about me.
   My darling, if I were like you, I should have my face Zion-ward,
   though prejudice and error might occasionally fling a mist over the
   glorious vision before me--but I _am not like you_.  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 dare say despise me.  But I know the
   treasures of the _Bible_; I love and adore them.  I can _see_ the Well
   of Life in all its clearness and brightness; but when I stoop down to
   drink of the pure waters they fly from my lips as if I were Tantalus.

   "You are far too kind and frequent in your invitations.  You puzzle
   me.  I hardly know how to refuse, and it is still more embarrassing to
   accept.  At any rate, I cannot come this week, for we are in the very
   thickest melee of the Repetitions.  I was hearing the terrible fifth
   section when your note arrived.  But Miss Wooler says I must go to
   Mary next Friday, as she promised for me on Whit-Sunday; and on Sunday
   morning I will join you at church, if it be convenient, and stay till
   Monday.  There's a free and easy proposal!  Miss W--- has driven me to
   it.  She says her character is implicated."

Good, kind Miss W---! however monotonous and trying were the duties
Charlotte had to perform under her roof, there was always a genial and
thoughtful friend watching over her, and urging her to partake of any
little piece of innocent recreation that might come in her way.  And in
those Midsummer holidays of 1836, her friend E. came to stay with her at
Haworth, so there was one happy time secured.

Here follows a series of letters, not dated, but belonging to the latter
portion of this year; and again we think of the gentle and melancholy
Cowper.

   "My dear dear E.,

   "I am at this moment trembling all over with excitement, after reading
   your note; it is what I never received before--it is the unrestrained
   pouring out of a warm, gentle, generous heart . . . I thank you with
   energy for this kindness.  I will no longer shrink from answering your
   questions.  I _do_ wish to be better than I am.  I pray fervently
   sometimes to be made so.  I have stings of conscience, visitings of
   remorse, glimpses of holy, of inexpressible things, which formerly I
   used to be a stranger to; it may all die away, and I may be in utter
   midnight, but I implore a merciful Redeemer, that, if this be the dawn
   of the gospel, it may still brighten to perfect day.  Do not mistake
   me--do not think I am good; I only wish to be so.  I only hate my
   former flippancy and forwardness.  Oh! I am no better than ever I was.
   I am in that state of horrid, gloomy uncertainty that, at this moment,
   I would submit to be old, grey-haired, to have passed all my youthful
   days of enjoyment, and to be settling on the verge of the grave, if I
   could only thereby ensure the prospect of reconciliation to God, and
   redemption through his Son's merits.  I never was exactly careless of
   these matters, but I have always taken a clouded and repulsive view of
   them; and now, if possible, the clouds are gathering darker, and a
   more oppressive despondency weighs on my spirits.  You have cheered
   me, my darling; for one moment, for an atom of time, I thought I might
   call you my own sister in the spirit; but the excitement is past, and
   I am now as wretched and hopeless as ever.  This very night I will
   pray as you wish me.  May the Almighty hear me compassionately! and I
   humbly hope he will, for you will strengthen my polluted petitions
   with your own pure requests.  All is bustle and confusion round me,
   the ladies pressing with their sums and their lessons . . . If you
   love me, _do, do, do_ come on Friday: I shall watch and wait for you,
   and if you disappoint me I shall weep.  I wish you could know the
   thrill of delight which I experienced, when, as I stood at the dining-
   room window, I saw ---, as he whirled past, toss your little packet
   over the wall."

Huddersfield market-day was still the great period for events at Roe
Head.  Then girls, running round the corner of the house and peeping
between tree-stems, and up a shadowy lane, could catch a glimpse of a
father or brother driving to market in his gig; might, perhaps, exchange
a wave of the hand; or see, as Charlotte Bronte did from the window, a
white packet tossed over the avail by come swift strong motion of an arm,
the rest of the traveller's body unseen.

"Weary with a day's hard work . . . I am sitting down to write a few
lines to my dear E.  Excuse me if I say nothing but nonsense, for my mind
is exhausted and dispirited.  It is a stormy evening, and the wind is
uttering a continual moaning sound, that makes me feel very melancholy.
At such times--in such moods as these--it is my nature to seek repose in
some calm tranquil idea, and I have now summoned up your image to give me
rest.  There you sit, upright and still in your black dress, and white
scarf, and pale marble-like face--just like reality.  I wish you would
speak to me.  If we should be separated--if it should be our lot to live
at a great distance, and never to see each other again--in old age, how I
should conjure up the memory of my youthful days, and what a melancholy
pleasure I should feel in dwelling on the recollection of my early
friend! . . . I have some qualities that make me very miserable, some
feelings that you can have no participation in--that few, very few,
people in the world can at all understand.  I don't pride myself on these
peculiarities.  I strive to conceal and suppress them as much as I can;
but they burst out sometimes, and then those who see the explosion
despise me, and I hate myself for days afterwards . . . I have just
received your epistle and what accompanied it.  I can't tell what should
induce you and your sisters to waste your kindness on such a one as me.
I'm obliged to them, and I hope you'll tell them so.  I'm obliged to you
also, more for your note than for your present.  The first gave me
pleasure, the last something like pain."

* * * * *

The nervous disturbance, which is stated to have troubled her while she
was at Miss W---'s, seems to have begun to distress her about this time;
at least, she herself speaks of her irritable condition, which was
certainly only a temporary ailment.

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

Compare this state of mind with the gentle resignation with which she had
submitted to be put aside as useless, or told of her ugliness by her
school-fellows, only three years before.

"My life since I saw you has passed as monotonously and unbroken as ever;
nothing but teach, teach, teach, from morning till night.  The greatest
variety I ever have is afforded by a letter from you, or by meeting with
a pleasant new book.  The 'Life of Oberlin,' and 'Leigh Richmond's
Domestic Portraiture,' are the last of this description.  The latter work
strongly attracted and strangely fascinated my attention.  Beg, borrow,
or steal it without delay; and read the 'Memoir of Wilberforce,'--that
short record of a brief uneventful life; I shall never forget it; it is
beautiful, not on account of the language in which it is written, not on
account of the incidents it details, but because of the simple narrative
it gives of a young talented sincere Christian."

* * * * *

About this time Miss W--- removed her school from the fine, open, breezy
situation of Roe Head, to Dewsbury Moor, only two or three miles distant.
Her new residence was on a lower site, and the air was less exhilarating
to one bred in the wild hill-village of Haworth.  Emily had gone as
teacher to a school at Halifax, where there were nearly forty pupils.

"I have had one letter from her since her departure," writes Charlotte,
on October 2nd, 1836: "it gives an appalling account of her duties; hard
labour from six in the morning to eleven at night, with only one half-
hour of exercise between.  This is slavery.  I fear she can never stand
it."

* * * * *

When the sisters met at home in the Christmas holidays, they talked over
their lives, and the prospect which they afforded of employment and
remuneration.  They felt that it was a duty to relieve their father of
the burden of their support, if not entirely, or that of all three, at
least that of one or two; and, naturally, the lot devolved upon the elder
ones to find some occupation which would enable them to do this.  They
knew that they were never likely to inherit much money.  Mr. Bronte had
but a small stipend, and was both charitable and liberal.  Their aunt had
an annuity of 50_l_., but it reverted to others at her death, and her
nieces had no right, and were the last persons in the world to reckon
upon her savings.  What could they do?  Charlotte and Emily were trying
teaching, and, as it seemed, without much success.  The former, it is
true, had the happiness of having a friend for her employer, and of being
surrounded by those who knew her and loved her; but her salary was too
small for her to save out of it; and her education did not entitle her to
a larger.  The sedentary and monotonous nature of the life, too, was
preying upon her health and spirits, although, with necessity "as her
mistress," she might hardly like to acknowledge this even to herself.  But
Emily--that free, wild, untameable spirit, never happy nor well but on
the sweeping moors that gathered round her home--that hater of strangers,
doomed to live amongst them, and not merely to live but to slave in their
service--what Charlotte could have borne patiently for herself, she could
not bear for her sister.  And yet what to do?  She had once hoped that
she herself might become an artist, and so earn her livelihood; but her
eyes had failed her in the minute and useless labour which she had
imposed upon herself with a view to this end.

It was the household custom among these girls to sew till nine o'clock at
night.  At that hour, Miss Branwell generally went to bed, and her
nieces' duties for the day were accounted done.  They put away their
work, and began to pace the room backwards and forwards, up and down,--as
often with the candles extinguished, for economy's sake, as not,--their
figures glancing into the fire-light, and out into the shadow,
perpetually.  At this time, they talked over past cares and troubles;
they planned for the future, and consulted each other as to their plans.
In after years this was the time for discussing together the plots of
their novels.  And again, still later, this was the time for the last
surviving sister to walk alone, from old accustomed habit, round and
round the desolate room, thinking sadly upon the "days that were no
more."  But this Christmas of 1836 was not without its hopes and daring
aspirations.  They had tried their hands at story-writing, in their
miniature magazine, long ago; they all of them "made out" perpetually.
They had likewise attempted to write poetry; and had a modest confidence
that they had achieved a tolerable success.  But they knew that they
might deceive themselves, and that sisters' judgments of each other's
productions were likely to be too partial to be depended upon.  So
Charlotte, as the eldest, resolved to write to Southey.  I believe (from
an expression in a letter to be noticed hereafter), that she also
consulted Coleridge; but I have not met with any part of that
correspondence.

On December 29th, her letter to Southey was despatched; and from an
excitement not unnatural in a girl who has worked herself up to the pitch
of writing to a Poet Laureate and asking his opinion of her poems, she
used some high-flown expressions which, probably, gave him the idea that
she was a romantic young lady, unacquainted with the realities of life.

This, most likely, was the first of those adventurous letters that passed
through the little post-office of Haworth.  Morning after morning of the
holidays slipped away, and there was no answer; the sisters had to leave
home, and Emily to return to her distasteful duties, without knowing even
whether Charlotte's letter had ever reached its destination.

Not dispirited, however, by the delay, Branwell determined to try a
similar venture, and addressed the following letter to Wordsworth.  It
was given by the poet to Mr. Quillinan in 1850, after the name of Bronte
had become known and famous.  I have no means of ascertaining what answer
was returned by Mr. Wordsworth; but that he considered the letter
remarkable may, I think, be inferred both from its preservation, and its
recurrence to his memory when the real name of Currer Bell was made known
to the public.

   "Haworth, near Bradford,
   "Yorkshire, January 19, 1837.

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

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

   "Do pardon me, sir, that I have ventured to come before one whose
   works I have most loved in our literature, and who most has been with
   me a divinity of the mind, laying before him one of my writings, and
   asking of him a judgment of its contents.  I must come before some one
   from whose sentence there is no appeal; and such a one is he who has
   developed the theory of poetry as well as its practice, and both in
   such a way as to claim a place in the memory of a thousand years to
   come.

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

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

   "Your really humble servant,
   "P. B. Bronte"

The poetry enclosed seems to me by no means equal to parts of the letter;
but, as every one likes to judge for himself, I copy the six opening
stanzas--about a third of the whole, and certainly not the worst.

   So where he reigns in glory bright,
   Above those starry skies of night,
   Amid his Paradise of light
      Oh, why may I not be?

   Oft when awake on Christmas morn,
   In sleepless twilight laid forlorn,
   Strange thoughts have o'er my mind been borne,
      How he has died for me.

   And oft within my chamber lying,
   Have I awaked myself with crying
   From dreams, where I beheld Him dying
      Upon the accursed Tree.

   And often has my mother said,
   While on her lap I laid my head,
   She feared for time I was not made,
      But for Eternity.

   So "I can read my title clear,
   To mansions in the skies,
   And let me bid farewell to fear,
      And wipe my weeping eyes."

   I'll lay me down on this marble stone,
   And set the world aside,
   To see upon her ebon throne
      The Moon in glory ride.

Soon after Charlotte returned to Dewsbury Moor, she was distressed by
hearing that her friend "E." was likely to leave the neighbourhood for a
considerable length of time.

   "Feb. 20th.

   "What shall I do without you?  How long are we likely to be separated?
   Why are we to be denied each other's society?  It is an inscrutable
   fatality.  I long to be with you, because it seems as if two or three
   days, or weeks, spent in your company would beyond measure strengthen
   me in the enjoyment of those feelings which I have so lately begun to
   cherish.  You first pointed out to me that way in which I am so feebly
   endeavouring to travel, and now I cannot keep you by my side, I must
   proceed sorrowfully alone.  Why are we to be divided?  Surely, it must
   be because we are in danger of loving each other too well--of losing
   sight of the _Creator_ in idolatry of the _creature_.  At first, I
   could not say 'Thy will be done!'  I felt rebellious, but I knew it
   was wrong to feel so.  Being left a moment alone this morning, I
   prayed fervently to be enabled to resign myself to _every_ decree of
   God's will, though it should be dealt forth by a far severer hand than
   the present disappointment; since then I have felt calmer and humbler,
   and consequently happier.  Last Sunday I took up my Bible in a gloomy
   state of mind: I began to read--a feeling stole over me such as I have
   not known for many long years--a sweet, placid sensation, like those,
   I remember, which used to visit me when I was a little child, and, on
   Sunday evenings in summer, stood by the open window reading the life
   of a certain French nobleman, who attained a purer and higher degree
   of sanctity than has been known since the days of the early martyrs."

"E.'s" residence was equally within a walk from Dewsbury Moor as it had
been from Roe Head; and on Saturday afternoons both "Mary" and she used
to call upon Charlotte, and often endeavoured to persuade her to return
with them, and be the guest of one of them till Monday morning; but this
was comparatively seldom.  Mary says:--"She visited us twice or thrice
when she was at Miss W---'s.  We used to dispute about politics and
religion.  She, a Tory and clergyman's daughter, was always in a minority
of one in our house of violent Dissent and Radicalism.  She used to hear
over again, delivered _with authority_, all the lectures I had been used
to give her at school on despotic aristocracy, mercenary priesthood, &c.
She had not energy to defend herself; sometimes she owned to a _little_
truth in it, but generally said nothing.  Her feeble health gave her her
yielding manner, for she could never oppose any one without gathering up
all her strength for the struggle.  Thus she would let me advise and
patronise most imperiously, sometimes picking out any grain of sense
there might be in what I said, but never allowing any one materially to
interfere with her independence of thought and action.  Though her
silence sometimes left one under the impression that she agreed when she
did not, she never gave a flattering opinion, and thus her words were
golden, whether for praise or blame."

"Mary's" father was a man of remarkable intelligence, but of strong, not
to say violent prejudices, all running in favour of Republicanism and
Dissent.  No other county but Yorkshire could have produced such a man.
His brother had been a _detenu_ in France, and had afterwards voluntarily
taken up his residence there.  Mr. T. himself had been much abroad, both
on business and to see the great continental galleries of paintings.  He
spoke French perfectly, I have been told, when need was; but delighted
usually in talking the broadest Yorkshire.  He bought splendid engravings
of the pictures which he particularly admired, and his house was full of
works of art and of books; but he rather liked to present his rough side
to any stranger or new-comer; he would speak his broadest, bring out his
opinions on Church and State in their most startling forms, and, by and
by, if he found his hearer could stand the shock, he would involuntarily
show his warm kind heart, and his true taste, and real refinement.  His
family of four sons and two daughters were brought up on Republican
principles; independence of thought and action was encouraged; no "shams"
tolerated.  They are scattered far and wide: Martha, the younger
daughter, sleeps in the Protestant cemetery at Brussels; Mary is in New
Zealand; Mr. T. is dead.  And so life and death have dispersed the circle
of "violent Radicals and Dissenters" into which, twenty years ago, the
little, quiet, resolute clergyman's daughter was received, and by whom
she was truly loved and honoured.

January and February of 1837 had passed away, and still there was no
reply from Southey.  Probably she had lost expectation and almost hope
when at length, in the beginning of March, she received the letter
inserted in Mr. C. C. Southey's life of his Father, vol. iv. p. 327.

After accounting for his delay in replying to hers by the fact of a long
absence from home, during which his letters had accumulated, whence "it
has lain unanswered till the last of a numerous file, not from disrespect
or indifference to its contents, but because in truth it is not an easy
task to answer it, nor a pleasant one to cast a damp over the high
spirits and the generous desires of youth," he goes on to say: "What you
are I can only infer from your letter, which appears to be written in
sincerity, though I may suspect that you have used a fictitious
signature.  Be that as it may, the letter and the verses bear the same
stamp, and I can well understand the state of mind they indicate.

* * * * *

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

"But it is not with a view to distinction that you should cultivate this
talent, if you consult your own happiness.  I, who have made literature
my profession, and devoted my life to it, and have never for a moment
repented of the deliberate choice, think myself, nevertheless, bound in
duty to caution every young man who applies as an aspirant to me for
encouragement and advice, against taking so perilous a course.  You will
say that a woman has no need of such a caution; there can be no peril in
it for her.  In a certain sense this is true; but there is a danger of
which I would, with all kindness and all earnestness, warn you.  The day
dreams in which you habitually indulge are likely to induce a distempered
state of mind; and in proportion as all the ordinary uses of the world
seem to you flat and unprofitable, you will be unfitted for them without
becoming fitted for anything else.  Literature cannot be the business of
a woman's life, and it ought not to be.  The more she is engaged in her
proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it, even as an
accomplishment and a recreation.  To those duties you have not yet been
called, and when you are you will be less eager for celebrity.  You will
not seek in imagination for excitement, of which the vicissitudes of this
life, and the anxieties from which you must not hope to be exempted, be
your state what it may, will bring with them but too much.

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

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

"ROBERT SOUTHEY."

* * * * *

I was with Miss Bronte when she received Mr. Cuthbert Southey's note,
requesting her permission to insert the foregoing letter in his father's
life.  She said to me, "Mr. Southey's letter was kind and admirable; a
little stringent, but it did me good."

It is partly because I think it so admirable, and partly because it tends
to bring out her character, as shown in the following reply, that I have
taken the liberty of inserting the foregoing extracts from it.

   "Sir, March 16th.

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

   "At the first perusal of your letter, I felt only shame and regret
   that I had ever ventured to trouble you with my crude rhapsody; I felt
   a painful heat rise to my face when I thought of the quires of paper I
   had covered with what once gave me so much delight, but which now was
   only a source of confusion; but after I had thought a little and read
   it again and again, the prospect seemed to clear.  You do not forbid
   me to write; you do not say that what I write is utterly destitute of
   merit.  You only warn me against the folly of neglecting real duties
   for the sake of imaginative pleasures; of writing for the love of
   fame; for the selfish excitement of emulation.  You kindly allow me to
   write poetry for its own sake, provided I leave undone nothing which I
   ought to do, in order to pursue that single, absorbing, exquisite
   gratification.  I am afraid, sir, you think me very foolish.  I know
   the first letter I wrote to you was all senseless trash from beginning
   to end; but I am not altogether the idle dreaming being it would seem
   to denote.  My father is a clergyman of limited, though competent
   income, and I am the eldest of his children.  He expended quite as
   much in my education as he could afford in justice to the rest.  I
   thought it therefore my duty, when I left school, to become a
   governess.  In that capacity I find enough to occupy my thoughts all
   day long, and my head and hands too, without having a moment's time
   for one dream of the imagination.  In the evenings, I confess, I do
   think, but I never trouble any one else with my thoughts.  I carefully
   avoid any appearance of preoccupation and eccentricity, which might
   lead those I live amongst to suspect the nature of my pursuits.
   Following my father's advice--who from my childhood has counselled me,
   just in the wise 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 let you know that your advice shall not be
   wasted; however sorrowfully and reluctantly it may be at first
   followed.

   "C. B."

I cannot deny myself the gratification of inserting Southey's reply:--

   "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
   considerately and as kindly as it was given.  Let me now request that,
   if you ever should come to these Lakes while I am living here, you
   will let me see you.  You would then think of me afterwards with the
   more good-will, because you would perceive that there is neither
   severity nor moroseness in the state of mind to which years and
   observation have brought me.

   "It is, by God's mercy, in our power to attain a degree of
   self-government, which is essential to our own happiness, and
   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
   improvement will then keep pace with the culture of your intellectual
   powers.

   "And now, madam, God bless you!

   "Farewell, and believe me to be your sincere friend,

   "ROBERT SOUTHEY.

Of this second letter, also, she spoke, and told me that it contained an
invitation for her to go and see the poet if ever she visited the Lakes.
"But there was no money to spare," said she, "nor any prospect of my ever
earning money enough to have the chance of so great a pleasure, so I gave
up thinking of it."  At the time we conversed together on the subject we
were at the Lakes.  But Southey was dead.

This "stringent" letter made her put aside, for a time, all idea of
literary enterprise.  She bent her whole energy towards the fulfilment of
the duties in hand; but her occupation was not sufficient food for her
great forces of intellect, and they cried out perpetually, "Give, give,"
while the comparatively less breezy air of Dewsbury Moor told upon her
health and spirits more and more.  On August 27, 1837, she writes:--

   "I am again at Dewsbury, engaged in the old business,--teach, teach,
   teach . . . _When will you come home_?  Make haste!  You have been at
   Bath long enough for all purposes; by this time you have acquired
   polish enough, I am sure; if the varnish is laid on much thicker, I am
   afraid the good wood underneath will be quite concealed, and your
   Yorkshire friends won't stand that.  Come, come.  I am getting really
   tired of your absence.  Saturday after Saturday comes round, and I can
   have no hope of hearing your knock at the door, and then being told
   that 'Miss E. is come.'  Oh, dear! in this monotonous life of mine,
   that was a pleasant event.  I wish it would recur again; but it will
   take two or three interviews before the stiffness--the estrangement of
   this long separation--will wear away."

About this time she forgot to return a work-bag she had borrowed, by a
messenger, and in repairing her error she says:--"These aberrations of
memory warn me pretty intelligibly that I am getting past my prime."
AEtat 21!  And the same tone of despondency runs through the following
letter:--

   "I wish exceedingly that I could come to you before Christmas, but it
   is impossible; another three weeks must elapse before I shall again
   have my comforter beside me, under the roof of my own dear quiet home.
   If I could always live with you, and daily read the Bible with you--if
   your lips and mine could at the same time drink the same draught, from
   the same pure fountain of mercy--I hope, I trust, I might one day
   become better, far better than my evil, wandering thoughts, my corrupt
   heart, cold to the spirit and warm to the flesh, will now permit me to
   be.  I often plan the pleasant life which we might lead together,
   strengthening each other in that power of self-denial, that hallowed
   and glowing devotion, which the first saints of God often attained to.
   My eyes fill with tears when I contrast the bliss of such a state,
   brightened by hopes of the future, with the melancholy state I now
   live in, uncertain that I ever felt true contrition, wandering in
   thought and deed, longing for holiness, which I shall _never_, _never_
   obtain, smitten at times to the heart with the conviction that ghastly
   Calvinistic doctrines are true--darkened, in short, by the very
   shadows of spiritual death.  If Christian perfection be necessary to
   salvation, I shall never be saved; my heart is a very hotbed for
   sinful thoughts, and when I decide on an action I scarcely remember to
   look to my Redeemer for direction.  I know not how to pray; I cannot
   bend my life to the grand end of doing good; I go on constantly
   seeking my own pleasure, pursuing the gratification of my own desires.
   I forget God, and will not God forget me?  And, meantime, I know the
   greatness of Jehovah; I acknowledge the perfection of His word; I
   adore the purity of the Christian faith; my theory is right, my
   practice horribly wrong."

The Christmas holidays came, and she and Anne returned to the parsonage,
and to that happy home circle in which alone their natures expanded;
amongst all other people they shrivelled up more or less.  Indeed, there
were only one or two strangers who could be admitted among the sisters
without producing the same result.  Emily and Anne were bound up in their
lives and interests like twins.  The former from reserve, the latter from
timidity, avoided all friendships and intimacies beyond their family.
Emily was impervious to influence; she never came in contact with public
opinion, and her own decision of what was right and fitting was a law for
her conduct and appearance, with which she allowed no one to interfere.
Her love was poured out on Anne, as Charlotte's was on her.  But the
affection among all the three was stronger than either death or life.

"E." was eagerly welcomed by Charlotte, freely admitted by Emily, and
kindly received by Anne, whenever she could visit them; and this
Christmas she had promised to do so, but her coming had to be delayed on
account of a little domestic accident detailed in the following letter:--

   "Dec. 29, 1837.

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

A good neighbour of the Brontes--a clever, intelligent Yorkshire woman,
who keeps a druggist's shop in Haworth, and from her occupation, her
experience, and excellent sense, holds the position of village doctress
and nurse, and, as such, has been a friend, in many a time of trial, and
sickness, and death, in the households round--told me a characteristic
little incident connected with Tabby's fractured leg.  Mr. Bronte is
truly generous and regardful of all deserving claims.  Tabby had lived
with them for ten or twelve years, and was, as Charlotte expressed it,
"one of the family."  But on the other hand, she was past the age for any
very active service, being nearer seventy than sixty at the time of the
accident; she had a sister living in the village; and the savings she had
accumulated, during many years' service, formed a competency for one in
her rank of life.  Or if, in this time of sickness, she fell short of any
comforts which her state rendered necessary, the parsonage could supply
them.  So reasoned Miss Branwell, the prudent, not to say anxious aunt;
looking to the limited contents of Mr. Bronte's purse, and the unprovided-
for-future of her nieces; who were, moreover, losing the relaxation of
the holidays, in close attendance upon Tabby.

Miss Branwell urged her views upon Mr. Bronte as soon as the immediate
danger to the old servant's life was over.  He refused at first to listen
to the careful advice; it was repugnant to his liberal nature.  But Miss
Branwell persevered; urged economical motives; pressed on his love for
his daughters.  He gave way.  Tabby was to be removed to her sister's,
and there nursed and cared for, Mr. Bronte coming in with his aid when
her own resources fell short.  This decision was communicated to the
girls.  There were symptoms of a quiet, but sturdy rebellion, that winter
afternoon, in the small precincts of Haworth parsonage.  They made one
unanimous and stiff remonstrance.  Tabby had tended them in their
childhood; they, and none other, should tend her in her infirmity and
age.  At tea-time, they were sad and silent, and the meal went away
untouched by any of the three.  So it was at breakfast; they did not
waste many words on the subject, but each word they did utter was
weighty.  They "struck" eating till the resolution was rescinded, and
Tabby was allowed to remain a helpless invalid entirely dependent upon
them.  Herein was the strong feeling of Duty being paramount to pleasure,
which lay at the foundation of Charlotte's character, made most apparent;
for we have seen how she yearned for her friend's company; but it was to
be obtained only by shrinking from what she esteemed right, and that she
never did, whatever might be the sacrifice.

She had another weight on her mind this Christmas.  I have said that the
air of Dewsbury Moor did not agree with her, though she herself was
hardly aware how much her life there was affecting her health.  But Anne
had begun to suffer just before the holidays, and Charlotte watched over
her younger sisters with the jealous vigilance of some wild creature,
that changes her very nature if danger threatens her young.  Anne had a
slight cough, a pain at her side, a difficulty of breathing.  Miss W---
considered it as little more than a common cold; but Charlotte felt every
indication of incipient consumption as a stab at her heart, remembering
Maria and Elizabeth, whose places once knew them, and should know them no
more.

Stung by anxiety for this little sister, she upbraided Miss W--- for her
fancied indifference to Anne's state of health.  Miss W--- felt these
reproaches keenly, and wrote to Mr. Bronte about them.  He immediately
replied most kindly, expressing his fear that Charlotte's apprehensions
and anxieties respecting her sister had led her to give utterance to over-
excited expressions of alarm.  Through Miss W---'s kind consideration,
Anne was a year longer at school than her friends intended.  At the close
of the half-year Miss W--- sought for the opportunity of an explanation
of each other's words, and the issue proved that "the falling out of
faithful friends, renewing is of love."  And so ended the first, last,
and only difference Charlotte ever had with good, kind Miss W ---.

Still her heart had received a shock in the perception of Anne's
delicacy; and all these holidays she watched over her with the longing,
fond anxiety, which is so full of sudden pangs of fear.

Emily had given up her situation in the Halifax school, at the expiration
of six months of arduous trial, on account of her health, which could
only be re-established by the bracing moorland air and free life of home.
Tabby's illness had preyed on the family resources.  I doubt whether
Branwell was maintaining himself at this time.  For some unexplained
reason, he had given up the idea of becoming a student of painting at the
Royal Academy, and his prospects in life were uncertain, and had yet to
be settled.  So Charlotte had quietly to take up her burden of teaching
again, and return to her previous monotonous life.

Brave heart, ready to die in harness!  She went back to her work, and
made no complaint, hoping to subdue the weakness that was gaining ground
upon her.  About this time, she would turn sick and trembling at any
sudden noise, and could hardly repress her screams when startled.  This
showed a fearful degree of physical weakness in one who was generally so
self-controlled; and the medical man, whom at length, through Miss W---'s
entreaty, she was led to consult, insisted on her return to the
parsonage.  She had led too sedentary a life, he said; and the soft
summer air, blowing round her home, the sweet company of those she loved,
the release, the freedom of life in her own family, were needed, to save
either reason or life.  So, as One higher than she had over-ruled that
for a time she might relax her strain, she returned to Haworth; and after
a season of utter quiet, her father sought for her the enlivening society
of her two friends, Mary and Martha T.  At the conclusion of the
following letter, written to the then absent E., there is, I think, as
pretty a glimpse of a merry group of young people as need be; and like
all descriptions of doing, as distinct from thinking or feeling, in
letters, it saddens one in proportion to the vivacity of the picture of
what was once, and is now utterly swept away.

   "Haworth, June 9, 1838.

   "I received your packet of despatches on Wednesday; it was brought me
   by Mary and Martha, who have been staying at Haworth for a few days;
   they leave us to-day.  You will be surprised at the date of this
   letter.  I ought to be at Dewsbury Moor, you know; but I stayed as
   long as I was able, and at length I neither could nor dared stay any
   longer.  My health and spirits had utterly failed me, and the medical
   man whom I consulted enjoined me, as I valued my life, to go home.  So
   home I went, and the change has at once roused and soothed me; and I
   am now, I trust, fairly in the way to be myself again.

   "A calm and even mind like yours cannot conceive the feelings of the
   shattered wretch who is now writing to you, when, after weeks of
   mental and bodily anguish not to be described, something like peace
   began to dawn again.  Mary is far from well.  She breathes short, has
   a pain in her chest, and frequent flushings of fever.  I cannot tell
   you what agony these symptoms give me; they remind me too strongly of
   my two sisters, whom no power of medicine could save.  Martha is now
   very well; she has kept in a continual flow of good humour during her
   stay here, and has consequently been very fascinating . . . "

   "They are making such a noise about me I cannot write any more.  Mary
   is playing on the piano; Martha is chattering as fast as her little
   tongue can run; and Branwell is standing before her, laughing at her
   vivacity."

Charlotte grew much stronger in this quiet, happy period at home.  She
paid occasional visits to her two great friends, and they in return came
to Haworth.  At one of their houses, I suspect, she met with the person
to whom the following letter refers--some one having a slight resemblance
to the character of "St. John," in the last volume of "Jane Eyre," and,
like him, in holy orders.

   "March 12, 1839.

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

So that--her first proposal of marriage--was quietly declined and put on
one side.  Matrimony did not enter into the scheme of her life, but good,
sound, earnest labour did; the question, however, was as yet undecided in
what direction she should employ her forces.  She had been discouraged in
literature; her eyes failed her in the minute kind of drawing which she
practised when she wanted to express an idea; teaching seemed to her at
this time, as it does to most women at all times, the only way of earning
an independent livelihood.  But neither she nor her sisters were
naturally fond of children.  The hieroglyphics of childhood were an
unknown language to them, for they had never been much with those younger
than themselves.  I am inclined to think, too, that they had not the
happy knack of imparting information, which seems to be a separate gift
from the faculty of acquiring it; a kind of sympathetic tact, which
instinctively perceives the difficulties that impede comprehension in a
child's mind, and that yet are too vague and unformed for it, with its
half-developed powers of expression, to explain by words.  Consequently,
teaching very young children was anything but a "delightful task" to the
three Bronte sisters.  With older girls, verging on womanhood, they might
have done better, especially if these had any desire for improvement.  But
the education which the village clergyman's daughters had received, did
not as yet qualify them to undertake the charge of advanced pupils.  They
knew but little French, and were not proficients in music; I doubt
whether Charlotte could play at all.  But they were all strong again,
and, at any rate, Charlotte and Anne must put their shoulders to the
wheel.  One daughter was needed at home, to stay with Mr. Bronte and Miss
Branwell; to be the young and active member in a household of four,
whereof three--the father, the aunt, and faithful Tabby--were past middle
age.  And Emily, who suffered and drooped more than her sisters when away
from Haworth, was the one appointed to remain.  Anne was the first to
meet with a situation.

   "April 15th, 1839.

   "I could not write to you in the week you requested, as about that
   time we were very busy in preparing for Anne's departure.  Poor child!
   she left us last Monday; no one went with her; it was her own wish
   that she might be allowed to go alone, as she thought she could manage
   better and summon more courage if thrown entirely upon her own
   resources.  We have had one letter from her since she went.  She
   expresses herself very well satisfied, and says that Mrs. --- is
   extremely kind; the two eldest children alone are under her care, the
   rest are confined to the nursery, with which and its occupants she has
   nothing to do . . . I hope she'll do.  You would be astonished what a
   sensible, clever letter she writes; it is only the talking part that I
   fear.  But I do seriously apprehend that Mrs. --- will sometimes
   conclude that she has a natural impediment in her speech.  For my own
   part, I am as yet 'wanting a situation,' like a housemaid out of
   place.  By the way, I have lately discovered I have quite a talent for
   cleaning, sweeping up hearths, dusting rooms, making beds, &c.; so, if
   everything else fails, I can turn my hand to that, if anybody will
   give me good wages for little labour.  I won't be a cook; I hate
   soothing.  I won't be a nurserymaid, nor a lady's-maid, far less a
   lady's companion, or a mantua-maker, or a straw-bonnet maker, or a
   taker-in of plain work.  I won't be anything but a housemaid . . .
   With regard to my visit to G., I have as yet received no invitation;
   but if I should be asked, though I should feel it a great act of self-
   denial to refuse, yet I have almost made up my mind to do so, though
   the society of the T.'s is one of the most rousing pleasures I have
   ever known.  Good-bye, my darling E., &c.

   "P. S.--Strike out that word 'darling;' it is humbug.  Where's the use
   of protestations?  We've known each other, and liked each other, a
   good while; that's enough."

Not many weeks after this was written, Charlotte also became engaged as a
governess.  I intend carefully to abstain from introducing the names of
any living people, respecting whom I may have to tell unpleasant truths,
or to quote severe remarks from Miss Bronte's letters; but it is
necessary that the difficulties she had to encounter in her various
phases of life, should be fairly and frankly made known, before the force
"of what was resisted" can be at all understood.  I was once speaking to
her about "Agnes Grey"--the novel in which her sister Anne pretty
literally describes her own experience as a governess--and alluding more
particularly to the account of the stoning of the little nestlings in the
presence of the parent birds.  She said that none but those who had been
in the position of a governess could ever realise the dark side of
"respectable" human nature; under no great temptation to crime, but daily
giving way to selfishness and ill-temper, till its conduct towards those
dependent on it sometimes amounts to a tyranny of which one would rather
be the victim than the inflicter.  We can only trust in such cases that
the employers err rather from a density of perception and an absence of
sympathy, than from any natural cruelty of disposition.  Among several
things of the same kind, which I well remember, she told me what had once
occurred to herself.  She had been entrusted with the care of a little
boy, three or four years old, during the absence of his parents on a
day's excursion, and particularly enjoined to keep him out of the stable-
yard.  His elder brother, a lad of eight or nine, and not a pupil of Miss
Bronte's, tempted the little fellow into the forbidden place.  She
followed, and tried to induce him to come away; but, instigated by his
brother, he began throwing stones at her, and one of them hit her so
severe a blow on the temple that the lads were alarmed into obedience.
The next day, in full family conclave, the mother asked Miss Bronte what
occasioned the mark on her forehead.  She simply replied, "An accident,
ma'am," and no further inquiry was made; but the children (both brothers
and sisters) had been present, and honoured her for not "telling tales."
From that time, she began to obtain influence over all, more or less,
according to their different characters; and as she insensibly gained
their affection, her own interest in them was increasing.  But one day,
at the children's dinner, the small truant of the stable-yard, in a
little demonstrative gush, said, putting his hand in hers, "I love 'ou,
Miss Bronte."  Whereupon, the mother exclaimed, before all the children,
"Love the _governess_, my dear!"

"The family into which she first entered was, I believe, that of a
wealthy Yorkshire manufacturer.  The following extracts from her
correspondence at this time will show how painfully the restraint of her
new mode of life pressed upon her.  The first is from a letter to Emily,
beginning with one of the tender expressions in which, in spite of
'humbug,' she indulged herself.  'Mine dear love,' 'Mine-bonnie love,'
are her terms of address to this beloved sister.

"June 8th, 1839.

"I have striven hard to be pleased with my new situation.  The country,
the house and the grounds are, as I have said, divine; but, alack-a-day!
there is such a thing as seeing all beautiful around you--pleasant woods,
white paths, green lawns, and blue sunshiny sky--and not having a free
moment or a free thought left to enjoy them.  The children are constantly
with me.  As for correcting them, I quickly found that was out of the
question; they are to do as they like.  A complaint to the mother only
brings black looks on myself, and unjust, partial excuses to screen the
children.  I have tried that plan once, and succeeded so notably, I shall
try no more.  I said in my last letter that Mrs. --- did not know me.  I
now begin to find she does not intend to know me; that she cares nothing
about me, except to contrive how the greatest possible quantity of labour
may be got out of me; and to that end she overwhelms me with oceans of
needle-work; yards of cambric to hem, muslin nightcaps to make, and,
above all things, dolls to dress.  I do not think she likes me at all,
because I can't help being shy in such an entirely novel scene,
surrounded as I have hitherto been by strange and constantly changing
faces . . . I used to think I should like to be in the stir of grand
folks' society; but I have had enough of it--it is dreary work to look on
and listen.  I see more clearly than I have ever done before, that a
private governess has no existence, is not considered as a living
rational being, except as connected with the wearisome duties she has to
fulfil . . . One of the pleasantest afternoons I have spent here--indeed,
the only one at all pleasant--was when Mr. --- walked out with his
children, and I had orders to follow a little behind.  As he strolled on
through his fields, with his magnificent Newfoundland dog at his side, he
looked very like what a frank, wealthy, Conservative gentleman ought to
be.  He spoke freely and unaffectedly to the people he met, and, though
he indulged his children and allowed them to tease himself far too much,
he would not suffer them grossly to insult others."

(WRITTEN IN PENCIL TO A FRIEND.)

"July, 1839.

"I cannot procure ink, without going into the drawing-room, where I do
not wish to go . . . I should have written to you long since, and told
you every detail of the utterly new scene into which I have lately been
cast, had I not been daily expecting a letter from yourself, and
wondering and lamenting that you did not write; for you will remember it
was your turn.  I must not bother you too much with my sorrows, of which,
I fear, you have heard an exaggerated account.  If you were near me,
perhaps I might be tempted to tell you all, to grow egotistical, and pour
out the long history of a private governess's trials and crosses in her
first situation.  As it is, I will only ask you to imagine the miseries
of a reserved wretch like me, thrown at once into the midst of a large
family, at a time when they were particularly gay--when the house was
filled with company--all strangers--people whose faces I had never seen
before.  In this state I had charge given me of a set of pampered,
spoilt, turbulent children, whom I was expected constantly to amuse, as
well as to instruct.  I soon found that the constant demand on my stock
of animal spirits reduced them to the lowest state of exhaustion; at
times I felt--and, I suppose, seemed--depressed.  To my astonishment, I
was taken to task on the subject by Mrs. --- with a sternness of manner
and a harshness of language scarcely credible; like a fool, I cried most
bitterly.  I could not help it; my spirits quite failed me at first.  I
thought I had done my best--strained every nerve to please her; and to be
treated in that way, merely because I was shy and sometimes melancholy,
was too bad.  At first I was for giving all up and going home.  But,
after a little reflection, I determined to summon what energy I had, and
to weather the storm.  I said to myself, 'I have never yet quitted a
place without gaining a friend; adversity is a good school; the poor are
born to labour, and the dependent to endure.'  I resolved to be patient,
to command my feelings, and to take what came; the ordeal, I reflected,
would not last many weeks, and I trusted it would do me good.  I
recollected the fable of the willow and the oak; I bent quietly, and now,
I trust, the storm is blowing over me.  Mrs. --- is generally considered
an agreeable woman; so she is, I doubt not, in general society.  She
behaves somewhat more civilly to me now than she did at first, and the
children are a little more manageable; but she does not know my
character, and she does not wish to know it.  I have never had five
minutes' conversation with her since I came, except while she was
scolding me.  I have no wish to be pitied, except by yourself; if I were
talking to you I could tell you much more."

(TO EMILY, ABOUT THIS TIME.)

"Mine bonnie love, I was as glad of your letter as tongue can express: it
is a real, genuine pleasure to hear from home; a thing to be saved till
bedtime, when one has a moment's quiet and rest to enjoy it thoroughly.
Write whenever you can.  I could like to be at home.  I could like to
work in a mill.  I could like to feel some mental liberty.  I could like
this weight of restraint to be taken off.  But the holidays will come.
Coraggio."

Her temporary engagement in this uncongenial family ended in the July of
this year; not before the constant strain upon her spirits and strength
had again affected her health; but when this delicacy became apparent in
palpitations and shortness of breathing, it was treated as affectation--as
a phase of imaginary indisposition, which could be dissipated by a good
scolding.  She had been brought up rather in a school of Spartan
endurance than in one of maudlin self-indulgence, and could bear many a
pain and relinquish many a hope in silence.

After she had been at home about a week, her friend proposed that she
should accompany her in some little excursion, having pleasure alone for
its object.  She caught at the idea most eagerly at first; but her hope
stood still, waned, and had almost disappeared before, after many delays,
it was realised.  In its fulfilment at last, it was a favourable specimen
of many a similar air-bubble dancing before her eyes in her brief career,
in which stern realities, rather than pleasures, formed the leading
incidents.

   "July 26th, 1839.

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

   "Say when you go, and I shall be able in my answer to say decidedly
   whether I can accompany you or not.  I must--I will--I'm set upon
   it--I'll be obstinate and bear down all opposition.

   "P.S.--Since writing the above, I find that aunt and papa have
   determined to go to Liverpool for a fortnight, and take us all with
   them.  It is stipulated, however, that I should give up the Cleathorpe
   scheme.  I yield reluctantly."

I fancy that, about this time, Mr. Bronte found it necessary, either from
failing health or the increased populousness of the parish, to engage the
assistance of a curate.  At least, it is in a letter written this summer
that I find mention of the first of a succession of curates, who
henceforward revolved round Haworth Parsonage, and made an impression on
the mind of one of its inmates which she has conveyed pretty distinctly
to the world.  The Haworth curate brought his clerical friends and
neighbours about the place, and for a time the incursions of these, near
the parsonage tea-time, formed occurrences by which the quietness of the
life there was varied, sometimes pleasantly, sometimes disagreeably.  The
little adventure recorded at the end of the following letter is uncommon
in the lot of most women, and is a testimony in this case to the unusual
power of attraction--though so plain in feature--which Charlotte
possessed, when she let herself go in the happiness and freedom of home.

   "August 4th, 1839.

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

   "I have an odd circumstance to relate to you: prepare for a hearty
   laugh!  The other day, Mr. ---, a vicar, came to spend the day with
   us, bringing with him his own curate.  The latter gentleman, by name
   Mr. B., is a young Irish clergyman, fresh from Dublin University.  It
   was the first time we had any of us seen him, but, however, after the
   manner of his countrymen, he soon made himself at home.  His character
   quickly appeared in his conversation; witty, lively, ardent, clever
   too; but deficient in the dignity and discretion of an Englishman.  At
   home, you know, I talk with ease, and am never shy--never weighed down
   and oppressed by that miserable _mauvaise honte_ which torments and
   constrains me elsewhere.  So I 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 correspondents.  Having opened and read it, it proved to be a
   declaration of attachment and proposal of matrimony, expressed in the
   ardent language of the sapient young Irishman!  I hope you are
   laughing heartily.  This is not like one of my adventures, is it?  It
   more nearly resembles Martha's.  I am certainly doomed to be an old
   maid.  Never mind.  I made up my mind to that fate ever since I was
   twelve years old.

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

On the 14th of August she still writes from Haworth:--

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

However, a little more patience, a little more delay, and she enjoyed the
pleasure she had wished for so much.  She and her friend went to Easton
for a fortnight in the latter part of September.  It was here she
received her first impressions of the sea.

   "Oct. 24th.

   "Have you forgotten the sea by this time, E.?  Is it grown dim in your
   mind?  Or can you still see it, dark, blue, and green, and foam-white,
   and hear it roaring roughly when the wind is high, or rushing softly
   when it is calm? . . . I am as well as need be, and very fat.  I think
   of Easton very often, and of worthy Mr. H., and his kind-hearted
   helpmate, and of our pleasant walks to H--- Wood, and to Boynton, our
   merry evenings, our romps with little Hancheon, &c., &c.  If we both
   live, this period of our lives will long be a theme for pleasant
   recollection.  Did you chance, in your letter to Mr. H., to mention my
   spectacles?  I am sadly inconvenienced by the want of them.  I can
   neither read, write, nor draw with comfort in their absence.  I hope
   Madame won't refuse to give them up . . . Excuse the brevity of this
   letter, for I have been drawing all day, and my eyes are so tired it
   is quite a labour to write."

But, as the vivid remembrance of this pleasure died away, an accident
occurred to make the actual duties of life press somewhat heavily for a
time.

   "December 21st, 1839

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



CHAPTER IX


The year 1840 found all the Brontes living at home, except Anne.  As I
have already intimated, for some reason with which I am unacquainted, the
plan of sending Branwell to study at the Royal Academy had been
relinquished; probably it was found, on inquiry, that the expenses of
such a life, were greater than his father's slender finances could
afford, even with the help which Charlotte's labours at Miss W---'s gave,
by providing for Anne's board and education.  I gather from what I have
heard, that Branwell must have been severely disappointed when the plan
fell through.  His talents were certainly very brilliant, and of this he
was fully conscious, and fervently desired, by their use, either in
writing or drawing, to make himself a name.  At the same time, he would
probably have found his strong love of pleasure and irregular habits a
great impediment in his path to fame; but these blemishes in his
character were only additional reasons why he yearned after a London
life, in which he imagined he could obtain every stimulant to his already
vigorous intellect, while at the same time he would have a license of
action to be found only in crowded cities.  Thus his whole nature was
attracted towards the metropolis; and many an hour must he have spent
poring over the map of London, to judge from an anecdote which has been
told me.  Some traveller for a London house of business came to Haworth
for a night; and according to the unfortunate habit of the place, the
brilliant "Patrick" was sent for to the inn, to beguile the evening by
his intellectual conversation and his flashes of wit.  They began to talk
of London; of the habits and ways of life there; of the places of
amusement; and Branwell informed the Londoner of one or two short cuts
from point to point, up narrow lanes or back streets; and it was only
towards the end of the evening that the traveller discovered, from his
companion's voluntary confession, that he had never set foot in London at
all.

At this time the young man seemed to have his fate in his own hands.  He
was full of noble impulses, as well as of extraordinary gifts; not
accustomed to resist temptation, it is true, from any higher motive than
strong family affection, but showing so much power of attachment to all
about him that they took pleasure in believing that, after a time, he
would "right himself," and that they should have pride and delight in the
use he would then make of his splendid talents.  His aunt especially made
him her great favourite.  There are always peculiar trials in the life of
an only boy in a family of girls.  He is expected to act a part in life;
to _do_, while they are only to _be_; and the necessity of their giving
way to him in some things, is too often exaggerated into their giving way
to him in all, and thus rendering him utterly selfish.  In the family
about whom I am writing, while the rest were almost ascetic in their
habits, Branwell was allowed to grow up self-indulgent; but, in early
youth, his power of attracting and attaching people was so great, that
few came in contact with him who were not so much dazzled by him as to be
desirous of gratifying whatever wishes he expressed.  Of course, he was
careful enough not to reveal anything before his father and sisters of
the pleasures he indulged in; but his tone of thought and conversation
became gradually coarser, and, for a time, his sisters tried to persuade
themselves that such coarseness was a part of manliness, and to blind
themselves by love to the fact that Branwell was worse than other young
men.  At present, though he had, they were aware, fallen into some
errors, the exact nature of which they avoided knowing, still he was
their hope and their darling; their pride, who should some time bring
great glory to the name of Bronte.

He and his sister Charlotte were both slight and small of stature, while
the other two were of taller and larger make.  I have seen Branwell's
profile; it is what would be generally esteemed very handsome; the
forehead is massive, the eye well set, and the expression of it fine and
intellectual; the nose too is good; but there are coarse lines about the
mouth, and the lips, though of handsome shape, are loose and thick,
indicating self-indulgence, while the slightly retreating chin conveys an
idea of weakness of will.  His hair and complexion were sandy.  He had
enough of Irish blood in him to make his manners frank and genial, with a
kind of natural gallantry about them.  In a fragment of one of his
manuscripts which I have read, there is a justness and felicity of
expression which is very striking.  It is the beginning of a tale, and
the actors in it are drawn with much of the grace of characteristic
portrait-painting, in perfectly pure and simple language which
distinguishes so many of Addison's papers in the "Spectator."  The
fragment is too short to afford the means of judging whether he had much
dramatic talent, as the persons of the story are not thrown into
conversation.  But altogether the elegance and composure of style are
such as one would not have expected from this vehement and ill-fated
young man.  He had a stronger desire for literary fame burning in his
heart, than even that which occasionally flashed up in his sisters'.  He
tried various outlets for his talents.  He wrote and sent poems to
Wordsworth and Coleridge, who both expressed kind and laudatory opinions,
and he frequently contributed verses to the _Leeds Mercury_.  In 1840, he
was living at home, employing himself in occasional composition of
various kinds, and waiting till some occupation, for which he might be
fitted without any expensive course of preliminary training, should turn
up; waiting, not impatiently; for he saw society of one kind (probably
what he called "life") at the Black Bull; and at home he was as yet the
cherished favourite.

Miss Branwell was unaware of the fermentation of unoccupied talent going
on around her.  She was not her nieces' confidante--perhaps no one so
much older could have been; but their father, from whom they derived not
a little of their adventurous spirit, was silently cognisant of much of
which she took no note.  Next to her nephew, the docile, pensive Anne was
her favourite.  Of her she had taken charge from her infancy; she was
always patient and tractable, and would submit quietly to occasional
oppression, even when she felt it keenly.  Not so her two elder sisters;
they made their opinions known, when roused by any injustice.  At such
times, Emily would express herself as strongly as Charlotte, although
perhaps less frequently.  But, in general, notwithstanding that Miss
Branwell might be occasionally unreasonable, she and her nieces went on
smoothly enough; and though they might now and then be annoyed by petty
tyranny, she still inspired them with sincere respect, and not a little
affection.  They were, moreover, grateful to her for many habits she had
enforced upon them, and which in time had become second nature: order,
method, neatness in everything; a perfect knowledge of all kinds of
household work; an exact punctuality, and obedience to the laws of time
and place, of which no one but themselves, I have heard Charlotte say,
could tell the value in after-life; with their impulsive natures, it was
positive repose to have learnt implicit obedience to external laws.
People in Haworth have assured me that, according to the hour of day--nay,
the very minute--could they have told what the inhabitants of the
parsonage were about.  At certain times the girls would be sewing in
their aunt's bedroom--the chamber which, in former days, before they had
outstripped her in their learning, had served them as a schoolroom; at
certain (early) hours they had their meals; from six to eight, Miss
Branwell read aloud to Mr. Bronte; at punctual eight, the household
assembled to evening prayers in his study; and by nine he, the aunt, and
Tabby, were all in bed,--the girls free to pace up and down (like
restless wild animals) in the parlour, talking over plans and projects,
and thoughts of what was to be their future life.

At the time of which I write, the favourite idea was that of keeping a
school.  They thought that, by a little contrivance, and a very little
additional building, a small number of pupils, four or six, might be
accommodated in the parsonage.  As teaching seemed the only profession
open to them, and as it appeared that Emily at least could not live away
from home, while the others also suffered much from the same cause, this
plan of school-keeping presented itself as most desirable.  But it
involved some outlay; and to this their aunt was averse.  Yet there was
no one to whom they could apply for a loan of the requisite means, except
Miss Branwell, who had made a small store out of her savings, which she
intended for her nephew and nieces eventually, but which she did not like
to risk.  Still, this plan of school-keeping remained uppermost; and in
the evenings of this winter of 1839-40, the alterations that would be
necessary in the house, and the best way of convincing their aunt of the
wisdom of their project, formed the principal subject of their
conversation.

This anxiety weighed upon their minds rather heavily, during the months
of dark and dreary weather.  Nor were external events, among the circle
of their friends, of a cheerful character.  In January, 1840, Charlotte
heard of the death of a young girl who had been a pupil of hers, and a
schoolfellow of Anne's, at the time when the sisters were together at Roe
Head; and had attached herself very strongly to the latter, who, in
return, bestowed upon her much quiet affection.  It was a sad day when
the intelligence of this young creature's death arrived.  Charlotte wrote
thus on January 12th, 1840:--

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

During this winter, Charlotte employed her leisure hours in writing a
story.  Some fragments of the manuscript yet remain, but it is in too
small a hand to be read without great fatigue to the eyes; and one cares
the less to read it, as she herself condemned it, in the preface to the
"Professor," by saying that in this story she had got over such taste as
she might once have had for the "ornamental and redundant in
composition."  The beginning, too, as she acknowledges, was on a scale
commensurate with one of Richardson's novels, of seven or eight volumes.
I gather some of these particulars from a copy of a letter, apparently in
reply to one from Wordsworth, to whom she had sent the commencement of
the story, sometime in the summer of 1840.

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

There are two or three things noticeable in the letter from which these
extracts are taken.  The first is the initials with which she had
evidently signed the former one to which she alludes.  About this time,
to her more familiar correspondents, she occasionally calls herself
"Charles Thunder," making a kind of pseudonym for herself out of her
Christian name, and the meaning of her Greek surname.  In the next place,
there is a touch of assumed smartness, very different from the simple,
womanly, dignified letter which she had written to Southey, under nearly
similar circumstances, three years before.  I imagine the cause of this
difference to be twofold.  Southey, in his reply to her first letter, had
appealed to the higher parts of her nature, in calling her to consider
whether literature was, or was not, the best course for a woman to
pursue.  But the person to whom she addressed this one had evidently
confined himself to purely literary criticisms, besides which, her sense
of humour was tickled by the perplexity which her correspondent felt as
to whether he was addressing a man or a woman.  She rather wished to
encourage the former idea; and, in consequence, possibly, assumed
something of the flippancy which very probably existed in her brother's
style of conversation, from whom she would derive her notions of young
manhood, not likely, as far as refinement was concerned, to be improved
by the other specimens she had seen, such as the curates whom she
afterwards represented in "Shirley."

These curates were full of strong, High-Church feeling.  Belligerent by
nature, it was well for their professional character that they had, as
clergymen, sufficient scope for the exercise of their warlike
propensities.  Mr. Bronte, with all his warm regard for Church and State,
had a great respect for mental freedom; and, though he was the last man
in the world to conceal his opinions, he lived in perfect amity with all
the respectable part of those who differed from him.  Not so the curates.
Dissent was schism, and schism was condemned in the Bible.  In default of
turbaned Saracens, they entered on a crusade against Methodists in
broadcloth; and the consequence was that the Methodists and Baptists
refused to pay the church-rates.  Miss Bronte thus describes the state of
things at this time:--

   "Little Haworth has been all in a bustle about church-rates, since you
   were here.  We had a stirring meeting in the schoolroom.  Papa took
   the chair, and Mr. C. and Mr. W. acted as his supporters, one on each
   side.  There was violent opposition, which set Mr. C.'s Irish blood in
   a ferment, and if papa had not kept him quiet, partly by persuasion
   and partly by compulsion, he would have given the Dissenters their
   kale through the reek--a Scotch proverb, which I will explain to you
   another time.  He and Mr. W. both bottled up their wrath for that
   time, but it was only to explode with redoubled force at a future
   period.  We had two sermons on dissent, and its consequences, preached
   last Sunday--one in the afternoon by Mr. W., and one in the evening by
   Mr. C.  All the Dissenters were invited to come and hear, and they
   actually shut up their chapels, and came in a body; of course the
   church was crowded.  Mr. W. delivered a noble, eloquent, High-Church,
   Apostolical-Succession discourse, in which he banged the Dissenters
   most fearlessly and unflinchingly.  I thought they had got enough for
   one while, but it was nothing to the dose that was thrust down their
   throats in the evening.  A keener, cleverer, bolder, and more heart-
   stirring harangue than that which Mr. C. delivered from Haworth
   pulpit, last Sunday evening, I never heard.  He did not rant; he did
   not cant; he did not whine; he did not sniggle; he just got up and
   spoke with the boldness of a man who was impressed with the truth of
   what he was saying, who has no fear of his enemies, and no dread of
   consequences.  His sermon lasted an hour, yet I was sorry when it was
   done.  I do not say that I agree either with him, or with Mr. W.,
   either in all or in half their opinions.  I consider them bigoted,
   intolerant, and wholly unjustifiable on the ground of common sense.  My
   conscience will not let me be either a Puseyite or a Hookist; _mais_,
   if I were a Dissenter, I would have taken the first opportunity of
   kicking, or of horse-whipping both the gentlemen for their stern,
   bitter attack on my religion and its teachers.  But in spite of all
   this, I admired the noble integrity which could dictate so fearless an
   opposition against so strong an antagonist.

   "P.S.--Mr. W. has given another lecture at the Keighley Mechanics'
   Institution, and papa has also given a lecture; both are spoken of
   very highly in the newspapers, and it is mentioned as a matter of
   wonder that such displays of intellect should emanate from the village
   of Haworth, 'situated among the bogs and mountains, and, until very
   lately, supposed to be in a state of semi-barbarism.'  Such are the
   words of the newspaper."

To fill up the account of this outwardly eventless year, I may add a few
more extracts from the letters entrusted to me.

   "May 15th, 1840.

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

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

   "June 2nd, 1840.

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

   C. B.
   C. B.
   C. B.
   C. B.

   "If you have any better plan to suggest I am open to conviction,
   provided your plan is practicable."

   "August 20th, 1840.

   "Have you seen anything of Miss H. lately?  I wish they, or somebody
   else, would get me a situation.  I have answered advertisements
   without number, but my applications have met with no success.

   "I have got another bale of French books from G. containing upwards of
   forty volumes.  I have read about half.  They are like the rest,
   clever, wicked, sophistical, and immoral.  The best of it is, they
   give one a thorough idea of France and Paris, and are the best
   substitute for French conversation that I have met with.

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

   "'The wind bloweth where it listeth.  Thou hearest the sound thereof,
   but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth.'  That, I
   believe, is Scripture, though in what chapter or book, or whether it
   be correctly quoted, I can't possibly say.  However, it behoves me to
   write a letter to a young woman of the name of E., with whom I was
   once acquainted, 'in life's morning march, when my spirit was young.'
   This young woman wished me to write to her some time since, though I
   have nothing to say--I e'en put it off, day by day, till at last,
   fearing that she will 'curse me by her gods,' I feel constrained to
   sit down and tack a few lines together, which she may call a letter or
   not as she pleases.  Now if the young woman expects sense in this
   production, she will find herself miserably disappointed.  I shall
   dress her a dish of salmagundi--I shall cook a hash--compound a
   stew--toss up an _omelette soufflee a la Francaise_, and send it her
   with my respects.  The wind, which is very high up in our hills of
   Judea, though, I suppose, down in the Philistine flats of B. parish it
   is nothing to speak of, has produced the same effects on the contents
   of my knowledge-box that a quaigh of usquebaugh does upon those of
   most other bipeds.  I see everything _couleur de rose_, and am
   strongly inclined to dance a jig, if I knew how.  I think I must
   partake of the nature of a pig or an ass--both which animals are
   strongly affected by a high wind.  From what quarter the wind blows I
   cannot tell, for I never could in my life; but I should very much like
   to know how the great brewing-tub of Bridlington Bay works, and what
   sort of yeasty froth rises just now on the waves.

   "A woman of the name of Mrs. B., it seems, wants a teacher.  I wish
   she would have me; and I have written to Miss W. to tell her so.
   Verily, it is a delightful thing to live here at home, at full liberty
   to do just what one pleases.  But I recollect some scrubby old fable
   about grasshoppers and ants, by a scrubby old knave yclept AEsop; the
   grasshoppers sang all the summer, and starved all the winter.

   "A distant relation of mine, one Patrick Branwell, has set off to seek
   his fortune in the wild, wandering, adventurous, romantic,
   knight-errant-like capacity of clerk on the Leeds and Manchester
   Railroad.  Leeds and Manchester--where are they?  Cities in the
   wilderness, like Tadmor, alias Palmyra--are they not?

   "There is one little trait respecting Mr. W. which lately came to my
   knowledge, which gives a glimpse of the better side of his character.
   Last Saturday night he had been sitting an hour in the parlour with
   Papa; and, as he went away, I heard Papa say to him 'What is the
   matter with you?  You seem in very low spirits to-night.'  'Oh, I
   don't know.  I've been to see a poor young girl, who, I'm afraid, is
   dying.'  'Indeed; what is her name?'  'Susan Bland, the daughter of
   John Bland, the superintendent.'  Now Susan Bland is my oldest and
   best scholar in the Sunday-school; and, when I heard that, I thought I
   would go as soon as I could to see her.  I did go on Monday afternoon,
   and found her on her way to that 'bourn whence no traveller returns.'
   After sitting with her some time, I happened to ask her mother, if she
   thought a little port wine would do her good.  She replied that the
   doctor had recommended it, and that when Mr. W. was last there, he had
   brought them a bottle of wine and jar of preserves.  She added, that
   he was always good-natured to poor folks, and seemed to have a deal of
   feeling and kindheartedness about him.  No doubt, there are defects in
   his character, but there are also good qualities . . . God bless him!
   I wonder who, with his advantages, would be without his faults.  I
   know many of his faulty actions, many of his weak points; yet, where I
   am, he shall always find rather a defender than an accuser.  To be
   sure, my opinion will go but a very little way to decide his
   character; what of that?  People should do right as far as their
   ability extends.  You are not to suppose, from all this, that Mr. W.
   and I are on very amiable terms; we are not at all.  We are distant,
   cold, and reserved.  We seldom speak; and when we do, it is only to
   exchange the most trivial and common-place remarks."

The Mrs. B. alluded to in this letter, as in want of a governess, entered
into a correspondence with Miss Bronte, and expressed herself much
pleased with the letters she received from her, with the "style and
candour of the application," in which Charlotte had taken care to tell
her, that if she wanted a showy, elegant, or fashionable person, her
correspondent was not fitted for such a situation.  But Mrs. B. required
her governess to give instructions in music and singing, for which
Charlotte was not qualified: and, accordingly, the negotiation fell
through.  But Miss Bronte was not one to sit down in despair after
disappointment.  Much as she disliked the life of a private governess, it
was her duty to relieve her father of the burden of her support, and this
was the only way open to her.  So she set to advertising and inquiring
with fresh vigour.

In the meantime, a little occurrence took place, described in one of her
letters, which I shall give, as it shows her instinctive aversion to a
particular class of men, whose vices some have supposed she looked upon
with indulgence.  The extract tells all that need be known, for the
purpose I have in view, of the miserable pair to whom it relates.

   "You remember Mr. and Mrs. ---?  Mrs. --- came here the other day,
   with a most melancholy tale of her wretched husband's drunken,
   extravagant, profligate habits.  She asked Papa's advice; there was
   nothing she said but ruin before them.  They owed debts which they
   could never pay.  She expected Mr. ---'s instant dismissal from his
   curacy; she knew, from bitter experience, that his vices were utterly
   hopeless.  He treated her and her child savagely; with much more to
   the same effect.  Papa advised her to leave him for ever, and go home,
   if she had a home to go to.  She said, this was what she had long
   resolved to do; and she would leave him directly, as soon as Mr. B.
   dismissed him.  She expressed great disgust and contempt towards him,
   and did not affect to have the shadow of regard in any way.  I do not
   wonder at this, but I do wonder she should ever marry a man towards
   whom her feelings must always have been pretty much the same as they
   are now.  I am morally certain no decent woman could experience
   anything but aversion towards such a man as Mr. ---.  Before I knew,
   or suspected his character, and when I rather wondered at his
   versatile talents, I felt it in an uncontrollable degree.  I hated to
   talk with him--hated to look at him; though as I was not certain that
   there was substantial reason for such a dislike, and thought it absurd
   to trust to mere instinct, I both concealed and repressed the feeling
   as much as I could; and, on all occasions, treated him with as much
   civility as I was mistress of.  I was struck with Mary's expression of
   a similar feeling at first sight; she said, when we left him, 'That is
   a hideous man, Charlotte!'  I thought 'He is indeed.'"



CHAPTER X


Early in March, 1841, Miss Bronte obtained her second and last situation
as a governess.  This time she esteemed herself fortunate in becoming a
member of a kind-hearted and friendly household.  The master of it, she
especially regarded as a valuable friend, whose advice helped to guide
her in one very important step of her life.  But as her definite
acquirements were few, she had to eke them out by employing her leisure
time in needlework; and altogether her position was that of "bonne" or
nursery governess, liable to repeated and never-ending calls upon her
time.  This description of uncertain, yet perpetual employment, subject
to the exercise of another person's will at all hours of the day, was
peculiarly trying to one whose life at home had been full of abundant
leisure.  _Idle_ she never was in any place, but of the multitude of
small talks, plans, duties, pleasures, &c., that make up most people's
days, her home life was nearly destitute.  This made it possible for her
to go through long and deep histories of feeling and imagination, for
which others, odd as it sounds, have rarely time.  This made it
inevitable that--later on, in her too short career--the intensity of her
feeling should wear out her physical health.  The habit of "making out,"
which had grown with her growth, and strengthened with her strength, had
become a part of her nature.  Yet all exercise of her strongest and most
characteristic faculties was now out of the question.  She could not (as
while she was at Miss W---'s) feel, amidst the occupations of the day,
that when evening came, she might employ herself in more congenial ways.
No doubt, all who enter upon the career of a governess have to relinquish
much; no doubt, it must ever be a life of sacrifice; but to Charlotte
Bronte it was a perpetual attempt to force all her faculties into a
direction for which the whole of her previous life had unfitted them.
Moreover, the little Brontes had been brought up motherless; and from
knowing nothing of the gaiety and the sportiveness of childhood--from
never having experienced caresses or fond attentions themselves--they
were ignorant of the very nature of infancy, or how to call out its
engaging qualities.  Children were to them the troublesome necessities of
humanity; they had never been drawn into contact with them in any other
way.  Years afterwards, when Miss Bronte came to stay with us, she
watched our little girls perpetually; and I could not persuade her that
they were only average specimens of well brought up children.  She was
surprised and touched by any sign of thoughtfulness for others, of
kindness to animals, or of unselfishness on their part: and constantly
maintained that she was in the right, and I in the wrong, when we
differed on the point of their unusual excellence.  All this must be
borne in mind while reading the following letters.  And it must likewise
be borne in mind--by those who, surviving her, look back upon her life
from their mount of observation--how no distaste, no suffering ever made
her shrink from any course which she believed it to be her duty to engage
in.

   "March 3rd, 1841.

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

* * * * *

   "The house is not very large, but exceedingly comfortable and well
   regulated; the grounds are fine and extensive.  In taking the place, I
   have made a large sacrifice in the way of salary, in the hope of
   securing comfort,--by which word I do not mean to express good eating
   and drinking, or warm fire, or a soft bed, but the society of cheerful
   faces, and minds and hearts not dug out of a lead-mine, or cut from a
   marble quarry.  My salary is not really more than 16_l_. per annum,
   though it is nominally 20_l_., but the expense of washing will be
   deducted therefrom.  My pupils are two in number, a girl of eight, and
   a boy of six.  As to my employers, you will not expect me to say much
   about their characters when I tell you that I only arrived here
   yesterday.  I have not the faculty of telling an individual's
   disposition at first sight.  Before I can venture to pronounce on a
   character, I must see it first under various lights and from various
   points of view.  All I can say therefore is, both Mr. and Mrs. ---
   seem to me good sort of people.  I have as yet had no cause to
   complain of want of considerateness or civility.  My pupils are wild
   and unbroken, but apparently well-disposed.  I wish I may be able to
   say as much next time I write to you.  My earnest wish and endeavour
   will be to please them.  If I can but feel that I am giving
   satisfaction, and if at the same time I can keep my health, I shall, I
   hope, be moderately happy.  But no one but myself can tell how hard a
   governess's work is to me--for no one but myself is aware how utterly
   averse my whole mind and nature are for the employment.  Do not think
   that I fail to blame myself for this, or that I leave any means
   unemployed to conquer this feeling.  Some of my greatest difficulties
   lie in things that would appear to you comparatively trivial.  I find
   it so hard to repel the rude familiarity of children.  I find it so
   difficult to ask either servants or mistress for anything I want,
   however much I want it.  It is less pain for me to endure the greatest
   inconvenience than to go into the kitchen to request its removal.  I
   am a fool.  Heaven knows I cannot help it!

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

* * * * *

   "March 21st.

   "You must excuse a very short answer to your most welcome letter; for
   my time is entirely occupied.  Mrs. --- expected a good deal of sewing
   from me.  I cannot sew much during the day, on account of the
   children, who require the utmost attention.  I am obliged, therefore,
   to devote the evenings to this business.  Write to me often; very long
   letters.  It will do both of us good.  This place is far better than
   ---, but God knows, I have enough to do to keep a good heart in the
   matter.  What you said has cheered me a little.  I wish I could always
   act according to your advice.  Home-sickness affects me sorely.  I
   like Mr. --- extremely.  The children are over-indulged, and
   consequently hard at times to manage.  _Do, do_, do come and see me;
   if it be a breach of etiquette, never mind.  If you can only stop an
   hour, come.  Talk no more about my forsaking you; my darling, I could
   not afford to do it.  I find it is not in my nature to get on in this
   weary world without sympathy and attachment in some quarter; and
   seldom indeed do we find it.  It is too great a treasure to be ever
   wantonly thrown away when once secured."

Miss Bronte had not been many weeks in her new situation before she had a
proof of the kind-hearted hospitality of her employers.  Mr. --- wrote to
her father, and urgently invited him to come and make acquaintance with
his daughter's new home, by spending a week with her in it; and Mrs. ---
expressed great regret when one of Miss Bronte's friends drove up to the
house to leave a letter or parcel, without entering.  So she found that
all her friends might freely visit her, and that her father would be
received with especial gladness.  She thankfully acknowledged this
kindness in writing to urge her friend afresh to come and see her; which
she accordingly did.

   "June, 1841.

   "You can hardly fancy it possible, I dare say, that I cannot find a
   quarter of an hour to scribble a note in; but so it is; and when a
   note is written, it has to be carried a mile to the post, and that
   consumes nearly an hour, which is a large portion of the day.  Mr. and
   Mrs. --- have been gone a week.  I heard from them this morning.  No
   time is fixed for their return, but I hope it will not be delayed
   long, or I shall miss the chance of seeing Anne this vacation.  She
   came home, I understand, last Wednesday, and is only to be allowed
   three weeks' vacation, because the family she is with are going to
   Scarborough.  _I should like to see her_, to judge for myself of the
   state of her health.  I dare not trust any other person's report, no
   one seems minute enough in their observations.  I should very much
   have liked you to have seen her.  I have got on very well with the
   servants and children so far; yet it is dreary, solitary work.  You
   can tell as well as me the lonely feeling of being without a
   companion."

Soon after this was written, Mr. and Mrs. --- returned, in time to allow
Charlotte to go and look after Anne's health, which, as she found to her
intense anxiety, was far from strong.  What could she do to nurse and
cherish up this little sister, the youngest of them all?  Apprehension
about her brought up once more the idea of keeping a school.  If, by this
means, they three could live together, and maintain themselves, all might
go well.  They would have some time of their own, in which to try again
and yet again at that literary career, which, in spite of all baffling
difficulties, was never quite set aside as an ultimate object; but far
the strongest motive with Charlotte was the conviction that Anne's health
was so delicate that it required a degree of tending which none but her
sister could give.  Thus she wrote during those midsummer holidays.

   "Haworth, July 18th, 1841.

   "We waited long and anxiously for you, on the Thursday that you
   promised to come.  I quite wearied my eyes with watching from the
   window, eye-glass in hand, and sometimes spectacles on nose.  However,
   you are not to blame . . . and as to disappointment, why, all must
   suffer disappointment at some period or other of their lives.  But a
   hundred things I had to say to you will now be forgotten, and never
   said.  There is a project hatching in this house, which both Emily and
   I anxiously wished to discuss with you.  The project is yet in its
   infancy, hardly peeping from its shell; and whether it will ever come
   out a fine full-fledged chicken, or will turn addle and die before it
   cheeps, is one of those considerations that are but dimly revealed by
   the oracles of futurity.  Now, don't be nonplussed by all this
   metaphorical mystery.  I talk of a plain and everyday occurrence,
   though, in Delphic style, I wrap up the information in figures of
   speech concerning eggs, chickens etceatera, etcaeterorum.  To come to
   the point: Papa and aunt talk, by fits and starts, of our--id est,
   Emily, Anne, and myself--commencing a school!  I have often, you know,
   said how much I wished such a thing; but I never could conceive where
   the capital was to come from for making such a speculation.  I was
   well aware, indeed, that aunt had money, but I always considered that
   she was the last person who would offer a loan for the purpose in
   question.  A loan, however, she _has_ offered, or rather intimates
   that she perhaps _will_ offer in case pupils can be secured, an
   eligible situation obtained, &c.  This sounds very fair, but still
   there are matters to be considered which throw something of a damp
   upon the scheme.  I do not expect that aunt will sink more than
   150_l_. in such a venture; and would it be possible to establish a
   respectable (not by any means a _showy_) school, and to commence
   housekeeping with a capital of only that amount?  Propound the
   question to your sister, if you think she can answer it; if not, don't
   say a word on the subject.  As to getting into debt, that is a thing
   we could none of us reconcile our mind to for a moment.  We do not
   care how modest, how humble our commencement be, so it be made on sure
   grounds, and have a safe foundation.  In thinking of all possible and
   impossible places where we could establish a school, I have thought of
   Burlington, or rather of the neighbourhood of Burlington.  Do you
   remember whether there was any other school there besides that of Miss
   ---?  This is, of course, a perfectly crude and random idea.  There
   are a hundred reasons why it should be an impracticable one.  We have
   no connections, no acquaintances there; it is far from home, &c.
   Still, I fancy the ground in the East Riding is less fully occupied
   than in the West.  Much inquiry and consideration will be necessary,
   of course, before any place is decided on; and I fear much time will
   elapse before any plan is executed . . . Write as soon as you can.  I
   shall not leave my present situation till my future prospects assume a
   more fixed and definite aspect."

A fortnight afterwards, we see that the seed has been sown which was to
grow up into a plan materially influencing her future life.

   "August 7th, 1841.

   "This is Saturday evening; I have put the children to bed; now I am
   going to sit down and answer your letter.  I am again by
   myself--housekeeper and governess--for Mr. and Mrs. --- are staying at
   ---.  To speak truth, though I am solitary while they are away, it is
   still by far the happiest part of my time.  The children are under
   decent control, the servants are very observant and attentive to me,
   and the occasional absence of the master and mistress relieves me from
   the duty of always endeavouring to seem cheerful and conversable.
   Martha ---, it appears, is in the way of enjoying great advantages; so
   is Mary, for you will be surprised to hear that she is returning
   immediately to the Continent with her brother; not, however, to stay
   there, but to take a month's tour and recreation.  I have had a long
   letter from Mary, and a packet containing a present of a very handsome
   black silk scarf, and a pair of beautiful kid gloves, bought at
   Brussels.  Of course, I was in one sense pleased with the gift--pleased
   that they should think of me so far off, amidst the excitements of one
   of the most splendid capitals of Europe; and yet it felt irksome to
   accept it.  I should think Mary and Martha have not more than
   sufficient pocket-money to supply themselves.  I wish they had
   testified their regard by a less expensive token.  Mary's letters
   spoke of some of the pictures and cathedrals she had seen--pictures
   the most exquisite, cathedrals the most venerable.  I hardly know what
   swelled to my throat as I read her letter: such a vehement impatience
   of restraint and steady work; such a strong wish for wings--wings such
   as wealth can furnish; such an urgent thirst to see, to know, to
   learn; something internal seemed to expand bodily for a minute.  I was
   tantalised by the consciousness of faculties unexercised,--then all
   collapsed, and I despaired.  My dear, I would hardly make that
   confession to any one but yourself; and to you, rather in a letter
   than _viva 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.  No further steps have been
   taken about the project I mentioned to you, nor probably will be for
   the present; but Emily, and Anne, and I, keep it in view.  It is our
   polar star, and we look to it in all circumstances of despondency.  I
   begin to suspect I am writing in a strain which will make you think I
   am unhappy.  This is far from being the case; on the contrary, I know
   my place is a favourable one, for a governess.  What dismays and
   haunts me sometimes, is a conviction that I have no natural knack for
   my vocation.  If teaching only were requisite, it would be smooth and
   easy; but it is the living in other people's houses--the estrangement
   from one's real character--the adoption of a cold, rigid, apathetic
   exterior, that is painful . . . You will not mention our school
   project at present.  A project not actually commenced is always
   uncertain.  Write to me often, my dear Nell; you _know_ your letters
   are valued.  Your 'loving child' (as you choose to call me so),

   C. B.

   "P.S.  I am well in health; don't fancy I am not, but I have one
   aching feeling at my heart (I must allude to it, though I had resolved
   not to).  It is about Anne; she has so much to endure: far, far more
   than I ever had.  When my thoughts turn to her, they always see her as
   a patient, persecuted stranger.  I know what concealed susceptibility
   is in her nature, when her feelings are wounded.  I wish I could be
   with her, to administer a little balm.  She is more lonely--less
   gifted with the power of making friends, even than I am.  'Drop the
   subject.'"

She could bear much for herself; but she could not patiently bear the
sorrows of others, especially of her sisters; and again, of the two
sisters, the idea of the little, gentle, youngest suffering in lonely
patience, was insupportable to her.  Something must be done.  No matter
if the desired end were far away; all time was lost in which she was not
making progress, however slow, towards it.  To have a school, was to have
some portion of daily leisure, uncontrolled but by her own sense of duty;
it was for the three sisters, loving each other with so passionate an
affection, to be together under one roof, and yet earning their own
subsistence; above all, it was to have the power of watching over these
two whose life and happiness were ever to Charlotte far more than her
own.  But no trembling impatience should lead her to take an unwise step
in haste.  She inquired in every direction she could, as to the chances
which a new school might have of success.  In all there seemed more
establishments like the one which the sisters wished to set up than could
be supported.  What was to be done?  Superior advantages must be offered.
But how?  They themselves abounded in thought, power, and information;
but these are qualifications scarcely fit to be inserted in a prospectus.
Of French they knew something; enough to read it fluently, but hardly
enough to teach it in competition with natives or professional masters.
Emily and Anne had some knowledge of music; but here again it was
doubtful whether, without more instruction, they could engage to give
lessons in it.

Just about this time, Miss W--- was thinking of relinquishing her school
at Dewsbury Moor; and offered to give it up in favour of her old pupils,
the Brontes.  A sister of hers had taken the active management since the
time when Charlotte was a teacher; but the number of pupils had
diminished; and, if the Brontes undertook it, they would have to try and
work it up to its former state of prosperity.  This, again, would require
advantages on their part which they did not at present possess, but which
Charlotte caught a glimpse of.  She resolved to follow the clue, and
never to rest till she had reached a successful issue.  With the forced
calm of a suppressed eagerness, that sends a glow of desire through every
word of the following letter, she wrote to her aunt thus.

   "Dear Aunt,

   "Sept. 29th, 1841.

   "I have heard nothing of Miss W--- 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 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_l_., which you
   have been so kind as to offer us, will, perhaps, not be all required
   now, as Miss W--- 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_l_.; living is there little more than half as
   dear as it is in England, and the facilities for education are equal
   or superior to any other place in Europe.  In half a year, I could
   acquire a thorough familiarity with French.  I could improve greatly
   in Italian, and even get a dash of German, i.e., providing my health
   continued as good as it is now.  Mary is now staying at Brussels, at a
   first-rate establishment there.  I should not think of going to the
   Chateau de Kokleberg, 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 connections far more improving, polished,
   and cultivated, than any I have yet known.

   "These are advantages which would turn to real account, when we
   actually commenced a school; and, if Emily could share them with me,
   we could take a footing in the world afterwards which we can never do
   now.  I say Emily instead of Anne; for Anne might take her turn at
   some future period, if our school answered.  I feel certain, while I
   am writing, that you will see the propriety of what I say.  You always
   like to use your money to the best advantage.  You are not fond of
   making shabby purchases; when you do confer a favour, it is often done
   in style; and depend upon it, 50_l_., or 100_l_., 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 ever repent your kindness."

This letter was written from the house in which she was residing as
governess.  It was some little time before an answer came.  Much had to
be talked over between the father and aunt in Haworth Parsonage.  At last
consent was given.  Then, and not till then, she confided her plan to an
intimate friend.  She was not one to talk over-much about any project,
while it remained uncertain--to speak about her labour, in any direction,
while its result was doubtful.

   "Nov. 2nd, 1841.

   "Now let us begin to quarrel.  In the first place, I must consider
   whether I will commence operations on the defensive, or the offensive.
   The defensive, I think.  You say, and I see plainly, that your
   feelings have been hurt by an apparent want of confidence on my part.
   You heard from others of Miss W---'s overtures before I communicated
   them to you myself.  This is true.  I was deliberating on plans
   important to my future prospects.  I never exchanged a letter with you
   on the subject.  True again.  This appears strange conduct to a
   friend, near and dear, long-known, and never found wanting.  Most
   true.  I cannot give you my _excuses_ for this behaviour; this word
   _excuse_ implies confession of a fault, and I do not feel that I have
   been in fault.  The plain fact is, I _was_ not, I am not now, certain
   of my destiny.  On the contrary, I have been most uncertain, perplexed
   with contradictory schemes and proposals.  My time, as I have often
   told you, is fully occupied; yet I had many letters to write, which it
   was absolutely necessary should be written.  I knew it would avail
   nothing to write to you then to say I was in doubt and
   uncertainty--hoping this, fearing that, anxious, eagerly desirous to
   do what seemed impossible to be done.  When I thought of you in that
   busy interval, it was to resolve, that you should know all when my way
   was clear, and my grand end attained.  If I could, I would always work
   in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their
   results.  Miss W--- did most kindly propose that I should come to
   Dewsbury Moor and attempt to revive the school her sister had
   relinquished.  She offered me the use of her furniture.  At first, I
   received the proposal cordially, and prepared to do my utmost to bring
   about success; but a fire was kindled in my very heart, which I could
   not quench.  I so longed to increase my attainments--to become
   something better than I am; a glimpse of what I felt, I showed to you
   in one of my former letters--only a glimpse; Mary cast oil upon the
   flames--encouraged me, and in her own strong, energetic language,
   heartened me on.  I longed to go to Brussels; but how could I get
   there?  I wished for one, at least, of my sisters to share the
   advantage with me.  I fixed on Emily.  She deserved the reward, I
   knew.  How could the point be managed?  In extreme excitement, I wrote
   a letter home, which carried the day.  I made an appeal to aunt for
   assistance, which was answered by consent.  Things are not settled;
   yet it is sufficient to say we have a _chance_ of going for half a
   year.  Dewsbury Moor is relinquished.  Perhaps, fortunately so.  In my
   secret soul, I believe there is no cause to regret it.  My plans for
   the future are bounded to this intention: if I once get to Brussels,
   and if my health is spared, I will do my best to make the utmost of
   every advantage that shall come within my reach.  When the half-year
   is expired, I will do what I can.

* * * * *

   "Believe me, though I was born in April, the month of cloud and
   sunshine, I am not changeful.  My spirits are unequal, and sometimes I
   speak vehemently, and sometimes I say nothing at all; but I have a
   steady regard for you, and if you will let the cloud and shower pass
   by, be sure the sun is always behind, obscured, but still existing."

At Christmas she left her situation, after a parting with her employers
which seems to have affected and touched her greatly.  "They only made
too much of me," was her remark, after leaving this family; "I did not
deserve it."

* * * * *

All four children hoped to meet together at their father's house this
December.  Branwell expected to have a short leave of absence from his
employment as a clerk on the Leeds and Manchester Railway, in which he
had been engaged for five months.  Anne arrived before Christmas-day.  She
had rendered herself so valuable in her difficult situation, that her
employers vehemently urged her to return, although she had announced her
resolution to leave them; partly on account of the harsh treatment she
had received, and partly because her stay at home, during her sisters'
absence in Belgium, seemed desirable, when the age of the three remaining
inhabitants of the parsonage was taken into consideration.

After some correspondence and much talking over plans at home, it seemed
better, in consequence of letters which they received from Brussels
giving a discouraging account of the schools there, that Charlotte and
Emily should go to an institution at Lille, in the north of France, which
was highly recommended by Baptist Noel, and other clergymen.  Indeed, at
the end of January, it was arranged that they were to set off for this
place in three weeks, under the escort of a French lady, then visiting in
London.  The terms were 50_l_. each pupil, for board and French alone,
but a separate room was to be allowed for this sum; without this
indulgence, it was lower.  Charlotte writes:--

   "January 20th, 1842.

   "I consider it kind in aunt to consent to an extra sum for a separate
   room.  We shall find it a great privilege in many ways.  I regret the
   change from Brussels to Lille on many accounts, chiefly that I shall
   not see Martha.  Mary has been indefatigably kind in providing me with
   information.  She has grudged no labour, and scarcely any expense, to
   that end.  Mary's price is above rubies.  I have, in fact, two
   friends--you and her--staunch and true, in whose faith and sincerity I
   have as strong a belief as I have in the Bible.  I have bothered you
   both--you especially; but you always get the tongs and heap coals of
   fire upon my head.  I have had letters to write lately to Brussels, to
   Lille, and to London.  I have lots of chemises, nightgowns, pocket-
   handkerchiefs, and pockets to make; besides clothes to repair.  I have
   been, every week since I came home, expecting to see Branwell, and he
   has never been able to get over yet.  We fully expect him, however,
   next Saturday.  Under these circumstances how can I go visiting?  You
   tantalize me to death with talking of conversations by the fireside.
   Depend upon it, we are not to have any such for many a long month to
   come.  I get an interesting impression of old age upon my face; and
   when you see me next I shall certainly wear caps and spectacles."



CHAPTER XI


I am not aware of all the circumstances which led to the relinquishment
of the Lille plan.  Brussels had had from the first a strong attraction
for Charlotte; and the idea of going there, in preference to any other
place, had only been given up in consequence of the information received
of the second-rate character of its schools.  In one of her letters
reference has been made to Mrs. Jenkins, the wife of the chaplain of the
British Embassy.  At the request of his brother--a clergyman, living not
many miles from Haworth, and an acquaintance of Mr. Bronte's--she made
much inquiry, and at length, after some discouragement in her search,
heard of a school which seemed in every respect desirable.  There was an
English lady who had long lived in the Orleans family, amidst the various
fluctuations of their fortunes, and who, when the Princess Louise was
married to King Leopold, accompanied her to Brussels, in the capacity of
reader.  This lady's granddaughter was receiving her education at the
pensionnat of Madame Heger; and so satisfied was the grandmother with the
kind of instruction given, that she named the establishment, with high
encomiums, to Mrs. Jerkins; and, in consequence, it was decided that, if
the terms suited, Miss Bronte and Emily should proceed thither.  M. Heger
informs me that, on receipt of a letter from Charlotte, making very
particular inquiries as to the possible amount of what are usually termed
"extras," he and his wife were so much struck by the simple earnest tone
of the letter, that they said to each other:--"These are the daughters of
an English pastor, of moderate means, anxious to learn with an ulterior
view of instructing others, and to whom the risk of additional expense is
of great consequence.  Let us name a specific sum, within which all
expenses shall be included."

This was accordingly done; the agreement was concluded, and the Brontes
prepared to leave their native county for the first time, if we except
the melancholy and memorable residence at Cowan Bridge.  Mr. Bronte
determined to accompany his daughters.  Mary and her brother, who were
experienced in foreign travelling, were also of the party.  Charlotte
first saw London in the day or two they now stopped there; and, from an
expression in one of her subsequent letters, they all, I believe, stayed
at the Chapter Coffee House, Paternoster Row--a strange, old-fashioned
tavern, of which I shall have more to say hereafter.

Mary's account of their journey is thus given.

"In passing through London, she seemed to think our business was and
ought to be, to see all the pictures and statues we could.  She knew the
artists, and know where other productions of theirs were to be found.  I
don't remember what we saw except St. Paul's.  Emily was like her in
these habits of mind, but certainly never took her opinion, but always
had one to offer . . . I don't know what Charlotte thought of Brussels.
We arrived in the dark, and went next morning to our respective schools
to see them.  We were, of course, much preoccupied, and our prospects
gloomy.  Charlotte used to like the country round Brussels.  'At the top
of every hill you see something.'  She took, long solitary walks on the
occasional holidays."

Mr. Bronte took his daughters to the Rue d'Isabelle, Brussels; remained
one night at Mr. Jenkins'; and straight returned to his wild Yorkshire
village.

What a contrast to that must the Belgian capital have presented to those
two young women thus left behind!  Suffering acutely from every strange
and unaccustomed contact--far away from their beloved home, and the dear
moors beyond--their indomitable will was their great support.  Charlotte's
own words, with regard to Emily, are:--

   "After the age of twenty, having meantime studied alone with diligence
   and perseverance, she went with me to an establishment on the
   continent.  The same suffering and conflict ensued, heightened by the
   strong recoil of her upright heretic and English spirit from the
   gentle Jesuitry of the foreign and Romish system.  Once more she
   seemed sinking, but this time she rallied through the mere force of
   resolution: with inward remorse and shame she looked back on her
   former failure, and resolved to conquer, but the victory cost her
   dear.  She was never happy till she carried her hard-won knowledge
   back to the remote English village, the old parsonage-house, and
   desolate Yorkshire hills."

They wanted learning.  They came for learning.  They would learn.  Where
they had a distinct purpose to be achieved in intercourse with their
fellows, they forgot themselves; at all other times they were miserably
shy.  Mrs. Jenkins told me that she used to ask them to spend Sundays and
holidays with her, until she found that they felt more pain than pleasure
from such visits.  Emily hardly ever uttered more than a monosyllable.
Charlotte was sometimes excited sufficiently to speak eloquently and
well--on certain subjects; but before her tongue was thus loosened, she
had a habit of gradually wheeling round on her chair, so as almost to
conceal her face from the person to whom she was speaking.

And yet there was much in Brussels to strike a responsive chord in her
powerful imagination.  At length she was seeing somewhat of that grand
old world of which she had dreamed.  As the gay crowds passed by her, so
had gay crowds paced those streets for centuries, in all their varying
costumes.  Every spot told an historic tale, extending back into the
fabulous ages when Jan and Jannika, the aboriginal giant and giantess,
looked over the wall, forty feet high, of what is now the Rue Villa
Hermosa, and peered down upon the new settlers who were to turn them out
of the country in which they had lived since the deluge.  The great
solemn Cathedral of St. Gudule, the religious paintings, the striking
forms and ceremonies of the Romish Church--all made a deep impression on
the girls, fresh from the bare walls and simple worship of Haworth
Church.  And then they were indignant with themselves for having been
susceptible of this impression, and their stout Protestant hearts arrayed
themselves against the false Duessa that had thus imposed upon them.

The very building they occupied as pupils, in Madame Heger's pensionnat,
had its own ghostly train of splendid associations, marching for ever, in
shadowy procession, through and through the ancient rooms, and shaded
alleys of the gardens.  From the splendour of to-day in the Rue Royale,
if you turn aside, near the statue of the General Beliard, you look down
four flights of broad stone steps upon the Rue d'Isabelle.  The chimneys
of the houses in it are below your feet.  Opposite to the lowest flight
of steps, there is a large old mansion facing you, with a spacious walled
garden behind--and to the right of it.  In front of this garden, on the
same side as the mansion, and with great boughs of trees sweeping over
their lowly roofs, is a row of small, picturesque, old-fashioned
cottages, not unlike, in degree and uniformity, to the almshouses so
often seen in an English country town.  The Rue d'Isabelle looks as
though it had been untouched by the innovations of the builder for the
last three centuries; and yet any one might drop a stone into it from the
back windows of the grand modern hotels in the Rue Royale, built and
furnished in the newest Parisian fashion.

In the thirteenth century, the Rue d'Isabelle was called the Fosse-aux-
Chiens; and the kennels for the ducal hounds occupied the place where
Madame Heger's pensionnat now stands.  A hospital (in the ancient large
meaning of the word) succeeded to the kennel.  The houseless and the
poor, perhaps the leprous, were received, by the brethren of a religious
order, in a building on this sheltered site; and what had been a fosse
for defence, was filled up with herb-gardens and orchards for upwards of
a hundred years.  Then came the aristocratic guild of the cross-bow
men--that company the members whereof were required to prove their noble
descent--untainted for so many generations, before they could be admitted
into the guild; and, being admitted, were required to swear a solemn
oath, that no other pastime or exercise should take up any part of their
leisure, the whole of which was to be devoted to the practice of the
noble art of shooting with the cross-bow.  Once a year a grand match was
held, under the patronage of some saint, to whose church-steeple was
affixed the bird, or semblance of a bird, to be hit by the victor. {5}
The conqueror in the game was Roi des Arbaletriers for the coming year,
and received a jewelled decoration accordingly, which he was entitled to
wear for twelve months; after which he restored it to the guild, to be
again striven for.  The family of him who died during the year that he
was king, were bound to present the decoration to the church of the
patron saint of the guild, and to furnish a similar prize to be contended
for afresh.  These noble cross-bow men of the middle ages formed a sort
of armed guard to the powers in existence, and almost invariably took the
aristocratic, in preference to the democratic side, in the numerous civil
dissensions of the Flemish towns.  Hence they were protected by the
authorities, and easily obtained favourable and sheltered sites for their
exercise-ground.  And thus they came to occupy the old fosse, and took
possession of the great orchard of the hospital, lying tranquil and sunny
in the hollow below the rampart.

But, in the sixteenth century, it became necessary to construct a street
through the exercise-ground of the "Arbaletriers du Grand Serment," and,
after much delay, the company were induced by the beloved Infanta
Isabella to give up the requisite plot of ground.  In recompense for
this, Isabella--who herself was a member of the guild, and had even shot
down the bird, and been queen in 1615--made many presents to the
arbaletriers; and, in return, the grateful city, which had long wanted a
nearer road to St. Gudule, but been baffled by the noble archers, called
the street after her name.  She, as a sort of indemnification to the
arbaletriers, caused a "great mansion" to be built for their
accommodation in the new Rue d'Isabelle.  This mansion was placed in
front of their exercise-ground, and was of a square shape.  On a remote
part of the walls, may still be read--

   PHILLIPPO IIII.  HISPAN.  REGE.  ISABELLA-CLARA-EUGENIA HISPAN.
   INFANS.  MAGNAE GULDAE REGINA GULDAE FRATRIBUS POSUIT.

In that mansion were held all the splendid feasts of the Grand Serment
des Arbaletriers.  The master-archer lived there constantly, in order to
be ever at hand to render his services to the guild.  The great saloon
was also used for the court balls and festivals, when the archers were
not admitted.  The Infanta caused other and smaller houses to be built in
her new street, to serve as residences for her "garde noble;" and for her
"garde bourgeoise," a small habitation each, some of which still remain,
to remind us of English almshouses.  The "great mansion," with its
quadrangular form; the spacious saloon--once used for the archducal
balls, where the dark, grave Spaniards mixed with the blond nobility of
Brabant and Flanders--now a schoolroom for Belgian girls; the cross-bow
men's archery-ground--all are there--the pensionnat of Madame Heger.

This lady was assisted in the work of instruction by her husband--a
kindly, wise, good, and religious man--whose acquaintance I am glad to
have made, and who has furnished me with some interesting details, from
his wife's recollections and his own, of the two Miss Brontes during
their residence in Brussels.  He had the better opportunities of watching
them, from his giving lessons in the French language and literature in
the school.  A short extract from a letter, written to me by a French
lady resident in Brussels, and well qualified to judge, will help to show
the estimation in which he is held.

"Je ne connais pas personnellement M. Heger, mais je sais qu'il est peu
de caracteres aussi nobles, aussi admirables que le sien.  Il est un des
membres les plus zeles de cette Societe de S. Vincent de Paul dont je
t'ai deja parle, et ne se contente pas de servir les pauvres et les
malades, mais leur consacre encore les soirees.  Apres des journees
absorbees tout entieres par les devoirs que sa place lui impose, il
reunit les pauvres, les ouvriers, leur donne des cours gratuits, et
trouve encore le moyen de les amuser en les instruisant.  Ce devouement
te dira assez que M. Heger est profondement et ouvertement religieux.  Il
a des manieres franches et avenantes; il se fait aimer de tous ceux qui
l'approchent, et surtout des enfants.  Il a la parole facile, et possde a
un haut degre l'eloquence du bon sens et du coeur.  Il n'est point
auteur.  Homme de zele et de conscience, il vient de se demettre des
fonctions elevees et lucratives qu'il exercait a l'Athenee, celles de
Prefet des Etudes, parce qu'il ne peut y realiser le bien qu'il avait
espere, introduire l'enseignement religieux dans le programme des etudes.
J'ai vu une fois Madame Heger, qui a quelque chose de froid et de
compasse dans son maintien, et qui previent peu en sa faveur.  Je la
crois pourtant aimee et appreciee par ses eleves."

There were from eighty to a hundred pupils in the pensionnat, when
Charlotte and Emily Bronte entered in February 1842.

M. Heger's account is that they knew nothing of French.  I suspect they
knew as much (or as little), for all conversational purposes, as any
English girls do, who have never been abroad, and have only learnt the
idioms and pronunciation from an Englishwoman.  The two sisters clung
together, and kept apart from the herd of happy, boisterous,
well-befriended Belgian girls, who, in their turn, thought the new
English pupils wild and scared-looking, with strange, odd, insular ideas
about dress; for Emily had taken a fancy to the fashion, ugly and
preposterous even during its reign, of gigot sleves, and persisted in
wearing them long after they were "gone out."  Her petticoats, too, had
not a curve or a wave in them, but hung down straight and long, clinging
to her lank figure.  The sisters spoke to no one but from necessity.  They
were too full of earnest thought, and of the exile's sick yearning, to be
ready for careless conversation or merry game.  M. Heger, who had done
little but observe, during the few first weeks of their residence in the
Rue d'Isabelle, perceived that with their unusual characters, and
extraordinary talents, a different mode must be adopted from that in
which he generally taught French to English girls.  He seems to have
rated Emily's genius as something even higher than Charlotte's; and her
estimation of their relative powers was the same.  Emily had a head for
logic, and a capability of argument, unusual in a man, and rare indeed in
a woman, according to M. Heger.  Impairing the force of this gift, was a
stubborn tenacity of will, which rendered her obtuse to all reasoning
where her own wishes, or her own sense of right, was concerned.  "She
should have been a man--a great navigator," said M. Heger in speaking of
her.  "Her powerful reason would have deduced new spheres of discovery
from the knowledge of the old; and her strong imperious will would never
have been daunted by opposition or difficulty; never have given way but
with life."  And yet, moreover, her faculty of imagination was such that,
if she had written a history, her view of scenes and characters would
have been so vivid, and so powerfully expressed, and supported by such a
show of argument, that it would have dominated over the reader, whatever
might have been his previous opinions, or his cooler perceptions of its
truth.  But she appeared egotistical and exacting compared to Charlotte,
who was always unselfish (this is M. Heger's testimony); and in the
anxiety of the elder to make her younger sister contented she allowed her
to exercise a kind of unconscious tyranny over her.

After consulting with his wife, M. Heger told them that he meant to
dispense with the old method of grounding in grammar, vocabulary, &c.,
and to proceed on a new plan--something similar to what he had
occasionally adopted with the elder among his French and Belgian pupils.
He proposed to read to them some of the master-pieces of the most
celebrated French authors (such as Casimir de la Vigne's poem on the
"Death of Joan of Arc," parts of Bossuet, the admirable translation of
the noble letter of St. Ignatius to the Roman Christians in the
"Bibliotheque Choisie des Peres de l'Eglise," &c.), and after having thus
impressed the complete effect of the whole, to analyse the parts with
them, pointing out in what such or such an author excelled, and where
were the blemishes.  He believed that he had to do with pupils capable,
from their ready sympathy with the intellectual, the refined, the
polished, or the noble, of catching the echo of a style, and so
reproducing their own thoughts in a somewhat similar manner.

After explaining his plan to them, he awaited their reply.  Emily spoke
first; and said that she saw no good to be derived from it; and that, by
adopting it, they should lose all originality of thought and expression.
She would have entered into an argument on the subject, but for this, M.
Heger had no time.  Charlotte then spoke; she also doubted the success of
the plan; but she would follow out M. Heger's advice, because she was
bound to obey him while she was his pupil.  Before speaking of the
results, it may be desirable to give an extract from one of her letters,
which shows some of her first impressions of her new life.

"Brussels, 1842 (May?).

"I was twenty-six years old a week or two since; and at this ripe time of
life I am a school-girl, and, on the whole, very happy in that capacity.
It felt very strange at first to submit to authority instead of
exercising it--to obey orders instead of giving them; but I like that
state of things.  I returned to it with the same avidity that a cow, that
has long been kept on dry hay, returns to fresh grass.  Don't laugh at my
simile.  It is natural to me to submit, and very unnatural to command.

"This is a large school, in which there are about forty externes, or day
pupils, and twelve pensionnaires, or boarders.  Madame Heger, the head,
is a lady of precisely the same cast of mind, degree of cultivation, and
quality of intellect as Miss ---.  I think the severe points are a little
softened, because she has not been disappointed, and consequently soured.
In a word, she is a married instead of a maiden lady.  There are three
teachers in the school--Mademoiselle Blanche, Mademoiselle Sophie, and
Mademoiselle Marie.  The two first have no particular character.  One is
an old maid, and the other will be one.  Mademoiselle Marie is talented
and original, but of repulsive and arbitrary manners, which have made the
whole school, except myself and Emily, her bitter enemies.  No less than
seven masters attend, to teach the different branches of
education--French, Drawing, Music, Singing, Writing, Arithmetic, and
German.  All in the house are Catholics except ourselves, one other girl,
and the gouvernante of Madame's children, an Englishwoman, in rank
something between a lady's maid and a nursery governess.  The difference
in country and religion makes a broad line of demarcation between us and
all the rest.  We are completely isolated in the midst of numbers.  Yet I
think I am never unhappy; my present life is so delightful, so congenial
to my own nature, compared to that of a governess.  My time, constantly
occupied, passes too rapidly.  Hitherto both Emily and I have had good
health, and therefore we have been able to work well.  There is one
individual of whom I have not yet spoken--M. Heger, the husband of
Madame.  He is professor of rhetoric, a man of power as to mind, but very
choleric and irritable in temperament.  He is very angry with me just at
present, because I have written a translation which he chose to
stigmatize as '_peu correct_.'  He did not tell me so, but wrote the word
on the margin of my book, and asked, in brief stern phrase, how it
happened that my compositions were always better than my translations?
adding that the thing seemed to him inexplicable.  The fact is, some
weeks ago, in a high-flown humour, he forbade me to use either dictionary
or grammar in translating the most difficult English compositions into
French.  This makes the task rather arduous, and compels me every now and
then to introduce an English word, which nearly plucks the eyes out of
his head when he sees it.  Emily and he don't draw well together at all.
Emily works like a horse, and she has had great difficulties to contend
with--far greater than I have had.  Indeed, those who come to a French
school for instruction ought previously to have acquired a considerable
knowledge of the French language, otherwise they will lose a great deal
of time, for the course of instruction is adapted to natives and not to
foreigners; and in these large establishments they will not change their
ordinary course for one or two strangers.  The few private lessons that
M. Heger has vouchsafed to give us, are, I suppose, to be considered a
great favour; and I can perceive they have already excited much spite and
jealousy in the school.

"You will abuse this letter for being short and dreary, and there are a
hundred things which I want to tell you, but I have not time.  Brussels
is a beautiful city.  The Belgians hate the English.  Their external
morality is more rigid than ours.  To lace the stays without a
handkerchief on the neck is considered a disgusting piece of indelicacy."

The passage in this letter where M. Heger is represented as prohibiting
the use of dictionary or grammar, refers, I imagine, to the time I have
mentioned, when he determined to adopt a new method of instruction in the
French language, of which they were to catch the spirit and rhythm rather
from the ear and the heart, as its noblest accents fell upon them, than
by over-careful and anxious study of its grammatical rules.  It seems to
me a daring experiment on the part of their teacher; but, doubtless, he
knew his ground; and that it answered is evident in the composition of
some of Charlotte's _devoirs_, written about this time.  I am tempted, in
illustration of this season of mental culture, to recur to a conversation
which I had with M. Heger on the manner in which he formed his pupils'
style, and to give a proof of his success, by copying a _devoir_ of
Charlotte's with his remarks upon it.

He told me that one day this summer (when the Brontes had been for about
four months receiving instruction from him) he read to them Victor Hugo's
celebrated portrait of Mirabeau, "mais, dans ma lecon je me bornais a ce
qui concerne _Mirabeau orateur_.  C'est apres l'analyse de ce morceau,
considere surtout du point de vue du fond, de la disposition de ce qu'on
pourrait appeler _la charpente_ qu'ont ete faits les deux portraits que
je vous donne."  He went on to say that he had pointed out to them the
fault in Victor Hugo's style as being exaggeration in conception, and, at
the same time, he had made them notice the extreme beauty of his
"nuances" of expression.  They were then dismissed to choose the subject
of a similar kind of portrait.  This selection M. Heger always left to
them; for "it is necessary," he observed, "before sitting down to write
on a subject, to have thoughts and feelings about it.  I cannot tell on
what subject your heart and mind have been excited.  I must leave that to
you."  The marginal comments, I need hardly say, are M. Heger's; the
words in italics are Charlotte's, for which he substitutes a better form
of expression, which is placed between brackets. {6}



IMITATION.


   "Le 31 Juillet, 1842.

   PORTRAIT DE PIERRE L'HERMITE.  CHARLOTTE BRONTE

   "De temps en temps, il parait sur la terre des hommes destines a etre
   les instruments [predestines] {Pourquoi cette suppression?} de grands
   changements moraux ou politiques.  Quelquefois c'est un conquerant, un
   Alexandre ou un Attila, qui passe comme un ouragan, et purifie
   l'atmosphere moral, comme l'orage purifie l'atmosphere physique;
   quelquefois, c'est un revolutionnaire, un Cromwell, ou un Robespierre,
   qui fait expier par un roi {les fautes et} les vices de toute une
   dynastie; quelquefois c'est un enthousiaste religieux comme Mahomet,
   ou Pierre l'Hermite, qui, avec le seul levier de la pensee, souleve
   des nations entieres, les deracine et les transplante dans des climats
   nouveaux, _peuplant l'Asie avec les habitants de l'Europe_.  Pierre
   l'Hermite etait gentilhomme de Picardie, en France, {Invtile, quand
   vous ecrivez er francais} pourquoi donc n'a-t-il passe sa vie comma
   les autres gentilhommes, ses contemporains, ont passe la leur, a
   table, a la chasse, dans son lit, sans s'inquieter de Saladin, ou de
   ses Sarrasins?  N'est-ce pas, parce qu'il y a dans certaines natures,
   _une ardour_ [un foyer d'activite] indomptable qui ne leur permet pas
   de rester inactives, _qui les force a se remuer afin d'exercer les
   facultes puissantes, qui meme en dormant sont pretes, comme Sampson, a
   briser les noeuds qui les retiennent_?

   {Vous avez commence a parler de Pierre: vous etes entree dans le
   sujet: marchez au but.}

   "Pierre prit la profession des armes; _si son ardeur avait ete de
   cette espece_ [s'il n'avait eu que cette ardeur vulgaire] qui provient
   d'une robuste sante, _il aurait_ [c'eut] ete un brave militaire, et
   rien de plus; mais son ardeur etait celle de l'ame, sa flamme etait
   pure et elle s'elevait vers le ciel.

   "_Sans doute_ [Il est vrai que] la jeunesse de Pierre _etait_ [fet]
   troublee par passions orageuses; les natures puissantes sont extremes
   en tout, elles ne connaissent la tiedeur ni dans le bien, ni dans le
   mal; Pierre donc chercha d'abord avidement la gloire qui se fletrit et
   les plaisirs qui trompent, mais _il fit bientot la decouverte_
   [bientot il s'apercut] que ce qu'il poursuivait n'etait qe'une
   illusion a laquelle il ne pourrait jamais atteindre; {Vnutile, quand
   vous avez dit illusion} il retourna donc sur ses pas, il recommenca le
   voyage de la vie, mais cette fois il evita le chemin spacieux qui mene
   a la perdition et il prit le chemin etroit qui mene a la vie;
   _puisque_ [comme] le trajet etait long et difficile il jeta la casque
   et les armes du soldat, et se vetit de l'habit simple du moine.  A la
   vie militaire succeda la vie monastique, car les extremes se touchent,
   et _chez l'homme sincere_ la sincerite du repentir amene
   [necessairement a la suite] _avec lui_ la rigueur de la penitence.
   [Voila donc Pierre devenu moine!]

   "Mais _Pierre_ [il] avait en lui un principe qui l'empechait de rester
   long-temps inactif, ses idees, sur quel sujet _qu'il soit_ [que ce
   fut] ne pouvaient pas etre bornees; il ne lui suffisait pas que lui-
   meme fut religieux, que lui-meme fut convaincu de la realite de
   Christianisme (sic), il fallait que toute l'Europe, que toute l'Asie,
   partageat sa conviction et professat la croyance de la Croix.  La
   Piete [fervente] elevee par la Genie, nourrie par la Solitude, _fit
   naitre une espece d'inspiration_ [exalta son ame jusqu'a
   l'inspiration] _dans son ame_, et lorsqu'il quitta sa cellule et
   reparut dans le monde, il portait comme Moise l'empreinte de la
   Divinite sur son front, et _tout_ [tous] reconnurent en lui la
   veritable apotre de la Croix.

   "Mahomet n'avait jamais remue les molles nations de l'Orient comme
   alors Pierre remua les peuples austeres de l'Occident; il fallait que
   cette eloquence fut d'une force presque miraculeuse _qui pouvait_
   [presqu'elle] persuad_er_ [ait] aux rois de vendre leurs royaumes
   _afin de procurer_ [pour avoir] des armes et des soldats _pour aider_
   [a offrir] a Pierre dans la guerre sainte qu'il voulait livrer aux
   infideles.  La puissance de Pierre [l'Hermite] n'etait nullement une
   puissance physique, car la nature, ou pour mieux dire, Dieu est
   impartial dans la distribution de ses dons; il accorde a l'un de ses
   enfants la grace, la beaute, les perfections corporelles, a l'autre
   l'esprit, la grandeur morale.  Pierre donc etait un homme petit, d'une
   physionomie peu agreable; mais il avait ce courage, cette constance,
   cet enthousiasme, cette energie de sentiment qui ecrase toute
   opposition, et qui fait que la volonte d'un seul homme devient la loi
   de toute une nation.  Pour se former une juste idee de l'influence
   qu'exerca cet homme sur les _caracteres_ [choses] et les idees de son
   temps, il faut se le representer au milieu de l'armee des croisees
   dans son double role de prophete et de guerrier; le pauvre hermite,
   vetu _du pauvre_ [de l'humble] habit gris est la plus puissant qieun
   roi; il est entoure _d'une_ [de la] multitude [avide] une multitude
   qui ne voit que lui, tandis qui lui, il ne voit que le ciel; ses yeux
   leves semblent dire, 'Je vois Dieu et les anges, et j'ai perdu de vue
   la terre!'

   "_Dans ce moment le_ [mais ce] pauvre _habit_ [froc] gris est pour lui
   comme le manteau d'Elijah; il l'enveloppe d'inspiration; _il_ [Pierre]
   lit dans l'avenir; il voit Jerusalem delivree; [il voit] le saint
   sepulcre libre; il voit le Croissant argent est arrache du Temple, et
   l'Oriflamme et la Croix rouge sont etabli a sa place; non-seulement
   Pierre voit ces merveilles, mais il les fait voir a tous ceux qui
   l'entourent; il ravive l'esperance et le courage dans [tous ces corps
   epuises de fatigues et de privations].  La bataille ne sera livree que
   demain, mais la victoire est decidee ce soir.  Pierre a promis; et les
   Croises se fient a sa parole, comme les Israelites se fiaient a celle
   de Moise et de Josue."

As a companion portrait to this, Emily chose to depict Harold on the eve
of the battle of Hastings.  It appears to me that her _devoir_ is
superior to Charlotte's in power and in imagination, and fully equal to
it in language; and that this, in both cases, considering how little
practical knowledge of French they had when they arrived at Brussels in
February, and that they wrote without the aid of dictionary or grammar,
is unusual and remarkable.  We shall see the progress Charlotte had made,
in ease and grace of style, a year later.

In the choice of subjects left to her selection, she frequently took
characters and scenes from the Old Testament, with which all her writings
show that she was especially familiar.  The picturesqueness and colour
(if I may so express it), the grandeur and breadth of its narrations,
impressed her deeply.  To use M. Heger's expression, "Elle etait nourrie
de la Bible."  After he had read De la Vigne's poem on Joan of Arc, she
chose the "Vision and Death of Moses on Mount Nebo" to write about; and,
in looking over this _devoir_, I was much struck with one or two of M.
Heger's remarks.  After describing, in a quiet and simple manner, the
circumstances under which Moses took leave of the Israelites, her
imagination becomes warmed, and she launches out into a noble strain,
depicting the glorious futurity of the Chosen People, as, looking down
upon the Promised Land, he sees their prosperity in prophetic vision.
But, before reaching the middle of this glowing description, she
interrupts herself to discuss for a moment the doubts that have been
thrown on the miraculous relations of the Old Testament.  M. Heger
remarks, "When you are writing, place your argument first in cool,
prosaic language; but when you have thrown the reins on the neck of your
imagination, do not pull her up to reason."  Again, in the vision of
Moses, he sees the maidens leading forth their flocks to the wells at
eventide, and they are described as wearing flowery garlands.  Here the
writer is reminded of the necessity of preserving a certain
verisimilitude: Moses might from his elevation see mountains and plains,
groups of maidens and herds of cattle, but could hardly perceive the
details of dress, or the ornaments of the head.

When they had made further progress, M. Heger took up a more advanced
plan, that of synthetical teaching.  He would read to them various
accounts of the same person or event, and make them notice the points of
agreement and disagreement.  Where they were different, he would make
them seek the origin of that difference by causing them to examine well
into the character and position of each separate writer, and how they
would be likely to affect his conception of truth.  For instance, take
Cromwell.  He would read Bossuet's description of him in the "Oraison
Funebre de la Reine d'Angleterre," and show how in this he was considered
entirely from the religious point of view, as an instrument in the hands
of God, preordained to His work.  Then he would make them read Guizot,
and see how, in this view, Cromwell was endowed with the utmost power of
free-will, but governed by no higher motive than that of expediency;
while Carlyle regarded him as a character regulated by a strong and
conscientious desire to do the will of the Lord.  Then he would desire
them to remember that the Royalist and Commonwealth men had each their
different opinions of the great Protector.  And from these conflicting
characters, he would require them to sift and collect the elements of
truth, and try to unite them into a perfect whole.

This kind of exercise delighted Charlotte.  It called into play her
powers of analysis, which were extraordinary, and she very soon excelled
in it.

Wherever the Brontes could be national they were so, with the same
tenacity of attachment which made them suffer as they did whenever they
left Haworth.  They were Protestant to the backbone in other things
beside their religion, but pre-eminently so in that.  Touched as
Charlotte was by the letter of St. Ignatius before alluded to, she
claimed equal self-devotion, and from as high a motive, for some of the
missionaries of the English Church sent out to toil and to perish on the
poisonous African coast, and wrote as an "imitation," "Lettre d'un
Missionnaire, Sierra Leone, Afrique."

Something of her feeling, too, appears in the following letter:--

   "Brussels, 1842.

   "I consider it doubtful whether I shall come home in September or not.
   Madame Heger has made a proposal for both me and Emily to stay another
   half-year, offering to dismiss her English master, and take me as
   English teacher; also to employ Emily some part of each day in
   teaching music to a certain number of the pupils.  For these services
   we are to be allowed to continue our studies in French and German, and
   to have board, &c., without paying for it; no salaries, however, are
   offered.  The proposal is kind, and in a great selfish city like
   Brussels, and a great selfish school, containing nearly ninety pupils
   (boarders and day pupils included), implies a degree of interest which
   demands gratitude in return.  I am inclined to accept it.  What think
   you?  I don't deny I sometimes wish to be in England, or that I have
   brief attacks of home sickness; but, on the whole, I have borne a very
   valiant heart so far; and I have been happy in Brussels, because I
   have always been fully occupied with the employments that I like.
   Emily is making rapid progress in French, German, music, and drawing.
   Monsieur and Madame Heger begin to recognise the valuable parts of her
   character, under her singularities.

   "If the national character of the Belgians is to be measured by the
   character of most of the girls is this school, it in a character
   singularly cold, selfish, animal, and inferior.  They are very
   mutinous and difficult for the teachers to manage; and their
   principles are rotten to the core.  We avoid them, which it is not
   difficult to do, as we have the brand of Protestantism and Anglicism
   upon us.  People talk of the danger which Protestants expose
   themselves to in going to reside in Catholic countries, and thereby
   running the chance of changing their faith.  My advice to all
   Protestants who are tempted to do anything so besotted as turn
   Catholics, is, to walk over the sea on to the Continent; to attend
   mass sedulously for a time; to note well the mummeries thereof; also
   the idiotic, mercenary aspect of all the priests; and then, if they
   are still disposed to consider Papistry in any other light than a most
   feeble, childish piece of humbug, let them turn Papists at once--that's
   all.  I consider Methodism, Quakerism, and the extremes of High and
   Low Churchism foolish, but Roman Catholicism beats them all.  At the
   same time, allow me to tell you, that there are some Catholics who are
   as good as any Christians can be to whom the Bible is a sealed book,
   and much better than many Protestants."

When the Brontes first went to Brussels, it was with the intention of
remaining there for six months, or until the _grandes vacances_ began in
September.  The duties of the school were then suspended for six weeks or
two months, and it seemed a desirable period for their return.  But the
proposal mentioned in the foregoing letter altered their plans.  Besides,
they were happy in the feeling that they were making progress in all the
knowledge they had so long been yearning to acquire.  They were happy,
too, in possessing friends whose society had been for years congenial to
them, and in occasional meetings with these, they could have the
inexpressible solace to residents in a foreign country--and peculiarly
such to the Brontes--of talking over the intelligence received from their
respective homes--referring to past, or planning for future days.  "Mary"
and her sister, the bright, dancing, laughing Martha, were
parlour-boarders in an establishment just beyond the barriers of
Brussels.  Again, the cousins of these friends were resident in the town;
and at their house Charlotte and Emily were always welcome, though their
overpowering shyness prevented their more valuable qualities from being
known, and generally kept them silent.  They spent their weekly holiday
with this family, for many months; but at the end of the time, Emily was
as impenetrable to friendly advances as at the beginning; while Charlotte
was too physically weak (as "Mary" has expressed it) to "gather up her
forces" sufficiently to express any difference or opposition of opinion,
and had consequently an assenting and deferential manner, strangely at
variance with what they knew of her remarkable talents and decided
character.  At this house, the T.'s and the Brontes could look forward to
meeting each other pretty frequently.  There was another English family
where Charlotte soon became a welcome guest, and where, I suspect, she
felt herself more at her ease than either at Mrs. Jenkins', or the
friends whom I have first mentioned.

An English physician, with a large family of daughters, went to reside at
Brussels, for the sake of their education.  He placed them at Madame
Heger's school in July, 1842, not a month before the beginning of the
_grandes vacances_ on August 15th.  In order to make the most of their
time, and become accustomed to the language, these English sisters went
daily, through the holidays, to the pensionnat in the Rue d'Isabelle.  Six
or eight boarders remained, besides the Miss Brontes.  They were there
during the whole time, never even having the break to their monotonous
life, which passing an occasional day with a friend would have afforded
them; but devoting themselves with indefatigable diligence to the
different studies in which they were engaged.  Their position in the
school appeared, to these new comers, analogous to what is often called
that of a parlour-boarder.  They prepared their French, drawing, German,
and literature for their various masters; and to these occupations Emily
added that of music, in which she was somewhat of a proficient; so much
so as to be qualified to give instruction in it to the three younger
sisters of my informant.

The school was divided into three classes.  In the first were from
fifteen to twenty pupils; in the second, sixty was about the average
number--all foreigners, excepting the two Brontes and one other; in the
third, there were from twenty to thirty pupils.  The first and second
classes occupied a long room, divided by a wooden partition; in each
division were four long ranges of desks; and at the end was the
_estrade_, or platform, for the presiding instructor.  On the last row,
in the quietest corner, sat Charlotte and Emily, side by side, so deeply
absorbed in their studies as to be insensible to any noise or movement
around them.  The school-hours were from nine to twelve (the luncheon
hour), when the boarders and half-boarders--perhaps two-and-thirty
girls--went to the refectoire (a room with two long tables, having an oil-
lamp suspended over each), to partake of bread and fruit; the _externes_,
or morning pupils, who had brought their own refreshment with them,
adjourning to eat it in the garden.  From one to two, there was fancy-
work--a pupil reading aloud some light literature in each room; from two
to four, lessons again.  At four, the externes left; and the remaining
girls dined in the refectoire, M. and Madame Heger presiding.  From five
to six there was recreation, from six to seven, preparation for lessons;
and, after that succeeded the _lecture pieuse_--Charlotte's nightmare.  On
rare occasions, M. Heger himself would come in, and substitute a book of
a different and more interesting kind.  At eight, there was a slight meal
of water and _pistolets_ (the delicious little Brussels rolls), which was
immediately followed by prayers, and then to bed.

The principal bedroom was over the long classe, or schoolroom.  There
were six or eight narrow beds on each side of the apartment, every one
enveloped in its white draping curtain; a long drawer, beneath each,
served for a wardrobe, and between each was a stand for ewer, basin, and
looking-glass.  The beds of the two Miss Brontes were at the extreme end
of the room, almost as private and retired as if they had been in a
separate apartment.

During the hours of recreation, which were always spent in the garden,
they invariably walked together, and generally kept a profound silence;
Emily, though so much the taller, leaning on her sister.  Charlotte would
always answer when spoken to, taking the lead in replying to any remark
addressed to both; Emily rarely spoke to any one.  Charlotte's quiet,
gentle manner never changed.  She was never seen out of temper for a
moment; and occasionally, when she herself had assumed the post of
English teacher, and the impertinence or inattention of her pupils was
most irritating, a slight increase of colour, a momentary sparkling of
the eye, and more decided energy of manner, were the only outward tokens
she gave of being conscious of the annoyance to which she was subjected.
But this dignified endurance of hers subdued her pupils, in the long run,
far more than the voluble tirades of the other mistresses.  My informant
adds:--"The effect of this manner was singular.  I can speak from
personal experience.  I was at that time high-spirited and impetuous, not
respecting the French mistresses; yet, to my own astonishment, at one
word from her, I was perfectly tractable; so much so, that at length, M.
and Madame Heger invariably preferred all their wishes to me through her;
the other pupils did not, perhaps, love her as I did, she was so quiet
and silent; but all respected her."

With the exception of that part which describes Charlotte's manner as
English teacher--an office which she did not assume for some months
later--all this description of the school life of the two Brontes refers
to the commencement of the new scholastic year in October 1842; and the
extracts I have given convey the first impression which the life at a
foreign school, and the position of the two Miss Brontes therein, made
upon an intelligent English girl of sixteen.  I will make a quotation
from "Mary's" letter referring to this time.

"The first part of her time at Brussels was not uninteresting.  She spoke
of new people and characters, and foreign ways of the pupils and
teachers.  She knew the hopes and prospects of the teachers, and
mentioned one who was very anxious to marry, 'she was getting so old.'
She used to get her father or brother (I forget which) to be the bearer
of letters to different single men, who she thought might be persuaded to
do her the favour, saying that her only resource was to become a sister
of charity if her present employment failed and that she hated the idea.
Charlotte naturally looked with curiosity to people of her own condition.
This woman almost frightened her.  'She declares there is nothing she can
turn to, and laughs at the idea of delicacy,--and she is only ten years
older than I am!'  I did not see the connection till she said, 'Well,
Polly, I should hate being a sister of charity; I suppose that would
shock some people, but I should.'  I thought she would have as much
feeling as a nurse as most people, and more than some.  She said she did
not know how people could bear the constant pressure of misery, and never
to change except to a new form of it.  It would be impossible to keep
one's natural feelings.  I promised her a better destiny than to go
begging any one to marry her, or to lose her natural feelings as a sister
of charity.  She said, 'My youth is leaving me; I can never do better
than I have done, and I have done nothing yet.'  At such times she seemed
to think that most human beings were destined by the pressure of worldly
interests to lose one faculty and feeling after another 'till they went
dead altogether.  I hope I shall be put in my grave as soon as I'm dead;
I don't want to walk about so.'  Here we always differed.  I thought the
degradation of nature she feared was a consequence of poverty, and that
she should give her attention to earning money.  Sometimes she admitted
this, but could find no means of earning money.  At others she seemed
afraid of letting her thoughts dwell on the subject, saying it brought on
the worst palsy of all.  Indeed, in her position, nothing less than
entire constant absorption in petty money matters could have scraped
together a provision.

"Of course artists and authors stood high with Charlotte, and the best
thing after their works would have been their company.  She used very
inconsistently to rail at money and money-getting, and then wish she was
able to visit all the large towns in Europe, see all the sights and know
all the celebrities.  This was her notion of literary fame,--a passport
to the society of clever people . . . When she had become acquainted with
the people and ways at Brussels her life became monotonous, and she fell
into the same hopeless state as at Miss W---'s, though in a less degree.
I wrote to her, urging her to go home or elsewhere; she had got what she
wanted (French), and there was at least novelty in a new place, if no
improvement.  That if she sank into deeper gloom she would soon not have
energy to go, and she was too far from home for her friends to hear of
her condition and order her home as they had done from Miss W---'s.  She
wrote that I had done her a great service, that she should certainly
follow my advice, and was much obliged to me.  I have often wondered at
this letter.  Though she patiently tolerated advice, she could always
quietly put it aside, and do as she thought fit.  More than once
afterwards she mentioned the 'service' I had done her.  She sent me
10_l_. to New Zealand, on hearing some exaggerated accounts of my
circumstances, and told me she hoped it would come in seasonably; it was
a debt she owed me 'for the service I had done her.'  I should think
10_l_. was a quarter of her income.  The 'service' was mentioned as an
apology, but kindness was the real motive."

The first break in this life of regular duties and employments came
heavily and sadly.  Martha--pretty, winning, mischievous, tricksome
Martha--was taken ill suddenly at the Chateau de Koekelberg.  Her sister
tended her with devoted love; but it was all in vain; in a few days she
died.  Charlotte's own short account of this event is as follows:--

"Martha T.'s illness was unknown to me till the day before she died.  I
hastened to Koekelberg the next morning--unconscious that she was in
great danger--and was told that it was finished.  She had died in the
night.  Mary was taken away to Bruxelles.  I have seen Mary frequently
since.  She is in no ways crushed by the event; but while Martha was ill,
she was to her more than a mother--more than a sister: watching, nursing,
cherishing her so tenderly, so unweariedly.  She appears calm and serious
now; no bursts of violent emotion; no exaggeration of distress.  I have
seen Martha's grave--the place where her ashes lie in a foreign country."

Who that has read "Shirley" does not remember the few lines--perhaps half
a page--of sad recollection?

   "He has no idea that little Jessy will die young, she is so gay, and
   chattering, and arch--original even now; passionate when provoked, but
   most affectionate if caressed; by turns gentle and rattling; exacting
   yet generous; fearless . . . yet reliant on any who will help her.
   Jessy, with her little piquant face, engaging prattle, and winning
   ways, is made to be a pet.

   * * * * *

   "Do you know this place?  No, you never saw it; but you recognise the
   nature of these trees, this foliage--the cypress, the willow, the yew.
   Stone crosses like these are not unfamiliar to you, nor are these dim
   garlands of everlasting flowers.  Here is the place: green sod and a
   grey marble head-stone--Jessy sleeps below.  She lived through an
   April day; much loved was she, much loving.  She often, in her brief
   life, shed tears--she had frequent sorrows; she smiled between,
   gladdening whatever saw her.  Her death was tranquil and happy in
   Rose's guardian arms, for Rose had been her stay and defence through
   many trials; the dying and the watching English girls were at that
   hour alone in a foreign country, and the soil of that country gave
   Jessy a grave.

   * * * * *

   "But, Jessy, I will write about you no more.  This is an autumn
   evening, wet and wild.  There is only one cloud in the sky; but it
   curtains it from pole to pole.  The wind cannot rest; it hurries
   sobbing over hills of sullen outline, colourless with twilight and
   mist.  Rain has beat all day on that church tower" (Haworth): "it
   rises dark from the stony enclosure of its graveyard: the nettles, the
   long grass, and the tombs all drip with wet.  This evening reminds me
   too forcibly of another evening some years ago: a howling, rainy
   autumn evening too--when certain who had that day performed a
   pilgrimage to a grave new made in a heretic cemetery, sat near a wood
   fire on the hearth of a foreign dwelling.  They were merry and social,
   but they each knew that a gap, never to be filled, had been made in
   their circle.  They knew they had lost something whose absence could
   never be quite atoned for, so long as they lived; and they knew that
   heavy falling rain was soaking into the wet earth which covered their
   lost darling; and that the sad, sighing gale was mourning above her
   buried head.  The fire warmed them; Life and Friendship yet blessed
   them: but Jessy lay cold, coffined, solitary--only the sod screening
   her from the storm."

This was the first death that had occurred in the small circle of
Charlotte's immediate and intimate friends since the loss of her two
sisters long ago.  She was still in the midst of her deep sympathy with
"Mary," when word came from home that her aunt, Miss Branwell, was
ailing--was very ill.  Emily and Charlotte immediately resolved to go
home straight, and hastily packed up for England, doubtful whether they
should ever return to Brussels or not, leaving all their relations with
M. and Madame Heger, and the pensionnat, uprooted, and uncertain of any
future existence.  Even before their departure, on the morning after they
received the first intelligence of illness--when they were on the very
point of starting--came a second letter, telling them of their aunt's
death.  It could not hasten their movements, for every arrangement had
been made for speed.  They sailed from Antwerp; they travelled night and
day, and got home on a Tuesday morning.  The funeral and all was over,
and Mr. Bronte and Anne were sitting together, in quiet grief for the
loss of one who had done her part well in their household for nearly
twenty years, and earned the regard and respect of many who never knew
how much they should miss her till she was gone.  The small property
which she had accumulated, by dint of personal frugality and self-denial,
was bequeathed to her nieces.  Branwell, her darling, was to have had his
share; but his reckless expenditure had distressed the good old lady, and
his name was omitted in her will.

When the first shock was over, the three sisters began to enjoy the full
relish of meeting again, after the longest separation they had had in
their lives.  They had much to tell of the past, and much to settle for
the future.  Anne had been for some little time in a situation, to which
she was to return at the end of the Christmas holidays.  For another year
or so they were again to be all three apart; and, after that, the happy
vision of being together and opening a school was to be realised.  Of
course they did not now look forward to settling at Burlington, or any
other place which would take them away from their father; but the small
sum which they each independently possessed would enable them to effect
such alterations in the parsonage-house at Haworth as would adapt it to
the reception of pupils.  Anne's plans for the interval were fixed.  Emily
quickly decided to be the daughter to remain at home.  About Charlotte
there was much deliberation and some discussion.

Even in all the haste of their sudden departure from Brussels, M. Heger
had found time to write a letter of sympathy to Mr. Bronte on the loss
which he had just sustained; a letter containing such a graceful
appreciation of the daughters' characters, under the form of a tribute of
respect to their father, that I should have been tempted to copy it, even
had there not also been a proposal made in it respecting Charlotte, which
deserves a place in the record of her life.

   "Au Reverend Monsieur Bronte, Pasteur Evangelique, &c, &c.

   "Samedi, 5 Obre.

   "MONSIEUR,

   "Un evenement bien triste decide mesdemoiselles vas filles a retourner
   brusquement en Angleterre, ce depart qui nous afflige beaucoup a
   cependant ma complete approbation; il est bien naturel qu'elles
   cherchent a vous consoler de ce que le ciel vient de vous oter, on se
   serrant autour de vous, poui mieux vous faire apprecier ce que le ciel
   vous a donne et ce qu'il vous laisse encore.  J'espere que vous me
   pardonnerez, Monsieur, de profiter de cette circonstance pour vous
   faire parvenir l'expression de mon respect; je n'ai pas l'honneur de
   vous connaitre personnellement, et cependant j'eprouve pour votre
   personne un sentiment de sincere veneration, car en jugeant un pere de
   famille par ses enfants on ne risque pas de se tromper, et sous ce
   rapport l'education et les sentiments que nous avons trouves dans
   mesdemoiselles vos filles n'ont pu que nous donner une tres-haute idee
   de votre merite et de votre caractere.  Vous apprendrez sans doute
   avec plaisir que vos enfants ont fait du progres tresremarquable dans
   toutes les branches de l'enseignenient, et que ces progres sont
   entierement du a leur amour pour le travail et a leur perseverance;
   nous n'avons eu que bien peu a faire avec de pareilles eleves; leur
   avancement est votre oeuvre bien plus que la notre; nous n'avons pas
   eu a leur apprendre le prix du temps et de l'instruction, elles
   avaient appris tout cela dans la maison paternelle, et nous n'avons
   eu, pour notre part, que le faible merite de diriger leurs efforts et
   de fournir un aliment convenable a la louable activite que vos filles
   ont puisees dans votre exemple et dans vos lecons.  Puissent les
   eloges meritees que nous donnons a vos enfants vous etre de quelque
   consolation dans le malheur que vous afflige; c'est la notre espoir en
   vous ecrivant, et ce sera, pour Mesdemoiselles Charlotte et Emily, une
   douce et belle recompense de leurs travaux.

   "En perdant nos deux cheres eleves, nous ne devons pas vous cacher que
   nous eprouvons a la fois et du chagrin et de l'inquietude; nous sommes
   affliges parce que cette brusque separation vient briser l'affection
   presque paternelle que nous leur avons vouee, et notre peine
   s'augmente a la vue de tant de travaux interrompues, de tant de choses
   bien commencees, et qui ne demandent que quelque temps encore pour
   etre menees a bonne fin.  Dans un an, chacune de vos demoiselles eut
   ete entierement premunie contre les eventualites de l'avenir; chacune
   d'elles acquerait a la fois et l'instruction et la science
   d'enseignement; Mlle Emily allait apprendre le piano; recevoir les
   lecons du meilleur professeur que nous ayons en Belgique, et deja elle
   avait elle-meme de petites eleves; elle perdait donc a la fois un
   reste d'ignorance et un reste plus genant encore de timidite; Mlle
   Charlotte commencait a donner des lecons en francais, et d'acquerir
   cette assurance, cet aplomb si necessaire dans l'enseignement; encore
   un an tout au plus et l'oeuvre etait achevee et bien achevee.  Alors
   nous aurions pu, si cela vous eut convenu, offrir a mesdemoiselles vos
   filles ou du moins a l'une des deux une position qui eut ete dans ses
   gouts, et qui lui eut donne cette douce independance si difficile a
   trouver pour une jeune personne.  Ce n'est pas, croyez le bien,
   Monsieur, ce n'est pas ici pour nous une question d'interet personnel,
   c'est une question d'affection; vous me pardonnerez si nous vous
   parlons de vos enfants, si nous nous occupons de leur avenir, comme si
   elles faisaient partie de notre famille; leurs qualites personnelles,
   leur bon vouloir, leur zele extreme sont les seules causes qui nous
   poussent a nous hasarder de la sorte.  Nous savons, Monsieur, que vous
   peserez plus murement et plus sagement que nous la consequence
   qu'aurait pour l'avenir une interruption complete dans les etudes de
   vos deux filles; vous deciderez ce qu'il faut faire, et vous nous
   pardonnerez notre franchise, si vous daignez considerer que le motif
   qui nous fait agir est une affection bien desinteressee et qui
   s'affligerait beaucoup de devoir deja se resigner a n'etre plus utile
   a vos chers enfants.

   "Agreez, je vous prie, Monsieur, l'expression respectueuse de mes
   sentiments de haute consideration.

   "C. HEGER."

There was so much truth, as well as so much kindness in this letter--it
was so obvious that a second year of instruction would be far more
valuable than the first, that there was no long hesitation before it was
decided that Charlotte should return to Brussels.

Meanwhile, they enjoyed their Christmas all together inexpressibly.
Branwell was with them; that was always a pleasure at this time; whatever
might be his faults, or even his vices, his sisters yet held him up as
their family hope, as they trusted that he would some day be their family
pride.  They blinded themselves to the magnitude of the failings of which
they were now and then told, by persuading themselves that such failings
were common to all men of any strength of character; for, till sad
experience taught them better, they fell into the usual error of
confounding strong passions with strong character.

Charlotte's friend came over to see her, and she returned the visit.  Her
Brussels life must have seemed like a dream, so completely, in this short
space of time, did she fall back into the old household ways; with more
of household independence than she could ever have had during her aunt's
lifetime.  Winter though it was, the sisters took their accustomed walks
on the snow-covered moors; or went often down the long road to Keighley,
for such books as had been added to the library there during their
absence from England.



CHAPTER XII


Towards the end of January, the time came for Charlotte to return to
Brussels.  Her journey thither was rather disastrous.  She had to make
her way alone; and the train from Leeds to London, which should have
reached Euston-square early in the afternoon, was so much delayed that it
did not get in till ten at night.  She had intended to seek out the
Chapter Coffee-house, where she had stayed before, and which would have
been near the place where the steam-boats lay; but she appears to have
been frightened by the idea of arriving at an hour which, to Yorkshire
notions, was so late and unseemly; and taking a cab, therefore, at the
station, she drove straight to the London Bridge Wharf, and desired a
waterman to row her to the Ostend packet, which was to sail the next
morning.  She described to me, pretty much as she has since described it
in "Villette," her sense of loneliness, and yet her strange pleasure in
the excitement of the situation, as in the dead of that winter's night
she went swiftly over the dark river to the black hull's side, and was at
first refused leave to ascend to the deck.  "No passengers might sleep on
board," they said, with some appearance of disrespect.  She looked back
to the lights and subdued noises of London--that "Mighty Heart" in which
she had no place--and, standing up in the rocking boat, she asked to
speak to some one in authority on board the packet.  He came, and her
quiet simple statement of her wish, and her reason for it, quelled the
feeling of sneering distrust in those who had first heard her request;
and impressed the authority so favourably that he allowed her to come on
board, and take possession of a berth.  The next morning she sailed; and
at seven on Sunday evening she reached the Rue d'Isabelle once more;
having only left Haworth on Friday morning at an early hour.

Her salary was 16_l_. a year; out of which she had to pay for her German
lessons, for which she was charged as much (the lessons being probably
rated by time) as when Emily learnt with her and divided the expense,
viz., ten francs a month.  By Miss Bronte's own desire, she gave her
English lessons in the _classe_, or schoolroom, without the supervision
of Madame or M. Heger.  They offered to be present, with a view to
maintain order among the unruly Belgian girls; but she declined this,
saying that she would rather enforce discipline by her own manner and
character than be indebted for obedience to the presence of a _gendarme_.
She ruled over a new schoolroom, which had been built on the space in the
play-ground adjoining the house.  Over that First Class she was
_surveillante_ at all hours; and henceforward she was called
_Mademoiselle_ Charlotte by M. Heger's orders.  She continued her own
studies, principally attending to German, and to Literature; and every
Sunday she went alone to the German and English chapels.  Her walks too
were solitary, and principally taken in the allee defendue, where she was
secure from intrusion.  This solitude was a perilous luxury to one of her
temperament; so liable as she was to morbid and acute mental suffering.

On March 6th, 1843, she writes thus:--

   "I am settled by this time, of course.  I am not too much overloaded
   with occupation; and besides teaching English, I have time to improve
   myself in German.  I ought to consider myself well off, and to be
   thankful for my good fortunes.  I hope I am thankful; and if I could
   always keep up my spirits and never feel lonely, or long for
   companionship, or friendship, or whatever they call it, I should do
   very well.  As I told you before, M. and Madame Heger are the only two
   persons in the house for whom I really experience regard and esteem,
   and of course, I cannot be always with them, nor even very often.  They
   told me, when I first returned, that I was to consider their sitting-
   room my sitting-room also, and to go there whenever I was not engaged
   in the schoolroom.  This, however, I cannot do.  In the daytime it is
   a public room, where music-masters and mistresses are constantly
   passing in and out; and in the evening, I will not, and ought not to
   intrude on M. and Madame Heger and their children.  Thus I am a good
   deal by myself, out of school-hours; but that does not signify.  I now
   regularly give English lessons to M. Heger and his brother-in-law.
   They get on with wonderful rapidity; especially the first.  He already
   begins to speak English very decently.  If you could see and hear the
   efforts I make to teach them to pronounce like Englishmen, and their
   unavailing attempts to imitate, you would laugh to all eternity.

   "The Carnival is just over, and we have entered upon the gloom and
   abstinence of Lent.  The first day of Lent we had coffee without milk
   for breakfast; vinegar and vegetables, with a very little salt fish,
   for dinner; and bread for supper.  The Carnival was nothing but
   masking and mummery.  M. Heger took me and one of the pupils into the
   town to see the masks.  It was animating to see the immense crowds,
   and the general gaiety, but the masks were nothing.  I have been twice
   to the D.'s" (those cousins of "Mary's" of whom I have before made
   mention).  "When she leaves Bruxelles, I shall have nowhere to go to.
   I have had two letters from Mary.  She does not tell me she has been
   ill, and she does not complain; but her letters are not the letters of
   a person in the enjoyment of great happiness.  She has nobody to be as
   good to her as M. Heger is to me; to lend her books; to converse with
   her sometimes, &c.

   "Good-bye.  When I say so, it seems to me that you will hardly hear
   me; all the waves of the Channel heaving and roaring between must
   deaden the sound."

From the tone of this letter, it may easily be perceived that the
Brussels of 1843 was a different place from that of 1842.  Then she had
Emily for a daily and nightly solace and companion.  She had the weekly
variety of a visit to the family of the D.s; and she had the frequent
happiness of seeing "Mary" and Martha.  Now Emily was far away in
Haworth--where she or any other loved one, might die, before Charlotte,
with her utmost speed, could reach them, as experience, in her aunt's
case, had taught her.  The D.s were leaving Brussels; so, henceforth, her
weekly holiday would have to be passed in the Rue d'Isabelle, or so she
thought.  "Mary" was gone off on her own independent course; Martha alone
remained--still and quiet for ever, in the cemetery beyond the Porte de
Louvain.  The weather, too, for the first few weeks after Charlotte's
return, had been piercingly cold; and her feeble constitution was always
painfully sensitive to an inclement season.  Mere bodily pain, however
acute, she could always put aside; but too often ill-health assailed her
in a part far more to be dreaded.  Her depression of spirits, when she
was not well, was pitiful in its extremity.  She was aware that it was
constitutional, and could reason about it; but no reasoning prevented her
suffering mental agony, while the bodily cause remained in force.

The Hegers have discovered, since the publication of "Villette," that at
this beginning of her career as English teacher in their school, the
conduct of her pupils was often impertinent and mutinous in the highest
degree.  But of this they were unaware at the time, as she had declined
their presence, and never made any complaint.  Still it must have been a
depressing thought to her at this period, that her joyous, healthy,
obtuse pupils were so little answerable to the powers she could bring to
bear upon them; and though from their own testimony, her patience,
firmness, and resolution, at length obtained their just reward, yet with
one so weak in health and spirits, the reaction after such struggles as
she frequently had with her pupils, must have been very sad and painful.

She thus writes to her friend E.:--

   "April, 1843.

   "Is there any talk of your coming to Brussels?  During the bitter cold
   weather we had through February, and the principal part of March, I
   did not regret that you had not accompanied me.  If I had seen you
   shivering as I shivered myself, if I had seen your hands and feet as
   red and swelled as mine were, my discomfort would just have been
   doubled.  I can do very well under this sort of thing; it does not
   fret me; it only makes me numb and silent; but if you were to pass a
   winter in Belgium, you would be ill.  However, more genial weather is
   coming now, and I wish you were here.  Yet I never have pressed you,
   and never would press you too warmly to come.  There are privations
   and humiliations to submit to; there is monotony and uniformity of
   life; and, above all, there is a constant sense of solitude in the
   midst of numbers.  The Protestant, the foreigner, is a solitary being,
   whether as teacher or pupil.  I do not say this by way of complaining
   of my own lot; for though I acknowledge that there are certain
   disadvantages in my present position, what position on earth is
   without them?  And, whenever I turn back to compare what I am with
   what I was--my place here with my place at Mrs. ---'s for instance--I
   am thankful.  There was an observation in your last letter which
   excited, for a moment, my wrath.  At first, I thought it would be
   folly to reply to it, and I would let it die.  Afterwards, I
   determined to give one answer, once for all.  'Three or four people,'
   it seems, 'have the idea that the future _epoux_ of Mademoiselle
   Bronte is on the Continent.'  These people are wiser than I am.  They
   could not believe that I crossed the sea merely to return as teacher
   to Madame Hegers.  I must have some more powerful motive than respect
   for my master and mistress, gratitude for their kindness, &c., to
   induce me to refuse a salary of 50_l_. in England, and accept one of
   16_l_. in Belgium.  I must, forsooth, have some remote hope of
   entrapping a husband somehow, or somewhere.  If these charitable
   people knew the total seclusion of the life I lead,--that I never
   exchange a word with any other man than Monsieur Heger, and seldom
   indeed with him,--they would, perhaps, cease to suppose that any such
   chimerical and groundless notion had influenced my proceedings.  Have
   I said enough to clear myself of so silly an imputation?  Not that it
   is a crime to marry, or a crime to wish to be married; but it is an
   imbecility, which I reject with contempt, for women, who have neither
   fortune nor beauty, to make marriage the principal object of their
   wishes and hopes, and the aim of all their actions; not to be able to
   convince themselves that they are unattractive, and that they had
   better be quiet, and think of other things than wedlock."

The following is an extract, from one of the few letters which have been
preserved, of her correspondence with her sister Emily:--

   "May 29, 1843

   "I get on here from day to day in a Robinson-Crusoe-like sort of way,
   very lonely, but that does not signify.  In other respects, I have
   nothing substantial to complain of, nor is this a cause for complaint.
   I hope you are well.  Walk out often on the moors.  My love to Tabby.
   I hope she keeps well."

And about this time she wrote to her father,

   "June 2nd, 1818,

   "I was very glad to hear from home.  I had begun to get low-spirited
   at not receiving any news, and to entertain indefinite fears that
   something was wrong.  You do not say anything about your own health,
   but I hope you are well, and Emily also.  I am afraid she will have a
   good deal of hard work to do now that Hannah" (a servant-girl who had
   been assisting Tabby) "is gone.  I am exceedingly glad to hear that
   you still keep Tabby" (considerably upwards of seventy).  "It is an
   act of great charity to her, and I do not think it will be unrewarded,
   for she is very faithful, and will always serve you, when she has
   occasion, to the best of her abilities; besides, she will be company
   for Emily, who, without her, would be very lonely."

I gave a _devoir_, written after she had been four months under M.
Heger's tuition.  I will now copy out another, written nearly a year
later, during which the progress made appears to me very great.

   "31 Mai, 1843.

   "SUR LA MORT DE NAPOLEON.

   "Napoleon naquit en Corse et mourut a Ste. Helene.  Entre ces deux
   iles rien qu'un vaste et brulant desert et l'ocean immense.  Il naquit
   fils d'un simple gentilhomme, et mourut empereur, mais sans couronne
   et dans les fers.  Entre son berceau et sa tombe qu'y a-t-il? la
   carriere d'un soldat parvenu, des champs de bataille, une mer de sang,
   un trone, puis du sang encore, et des fers.  Sa vie, c'est l'arc en
   ciel; les deux points extremes touchent la terre, la comble lumi-neuse
   mesure les cieux.  Sur Napoleon au berceau une mere brillait; dans la
   maison paternelle il avait des freres et des soeurs; plus tard dans
   son palais il eut une femme qui l'aimait.  Mais sur son lit de mort
   Napoleon est seul; plus de mere, ni de frere, ni de soeur, ni de
   femme, ni d'enfant!!  D'autres ont dit et rediront ses exploits, moi,
   je m'arrete a contempler l'abandonnement de sa derniere heure!

   "Il est la, exile et captif, enchaine sur un ecueil.  Nouveau
   Promethee il subit le chatiment de son orgueil!  Promethee avait voulu
   etre Dieu et Createur; il deroba le feu du Ciel pour animer le corps
   qu'il avait forme.  Et lui, Buonaparte, il a voulu creer, non pas un
   homme, mais un empire, et pour donner une existence, une ame, a son
   oeuvre gigantesque, il n'a pas hesite a arracher la vie a des nations
   entieres.  Jupiter indigne de l'impiete de Promethee, le riva vivant a
   la cime du Caucase.  Ainsi, pour punir l'ambition rapace de
   Buonaparte, la Providence l'a enchaine, jusqu'a ce que la mort s'en
   suivit, sur un roc isole de l'Atlantique.  Peut-etre la aussi a-t-il
   senti lui fouillant le flanc cet insatiable vautour dont parle la
   fable, peut-etre a-t-il souffert aussi cette soif du coeur, cette faim
   de l'ame, qui torturent l'exile, loin de sa famille et de sa patrie.
   Mais parler ainsi n'est-ce pas attribuer gratuitement a Napoleon une
   humaine faiblesse qu'il n'eprouva jamais?  Quand donc s'est-il laisse
   enchainer par un lien d'affection?  Sans doute d'autres conquerants
   ont hesite dans leur carriere de gloire, arretes par un obstacle
   d'amour ou d'amitie, retenus par la main d'une femme, rappeles par la
   voix d'un ami--lui, jamais!  Il n'eut pas besoin, comme Ulysse, de se
   lier au mat du navire, ni de se boucher les oreilles avec de la cire;
   il ne redoutait pas le chant des Sirenes--il le dedaignait; il se fit
   marbre et fer pour executer ses grands projets.  Napoleon ne se
   regardait pas comme un homme, mais comme l'incarnation d'un peuple.  Il
   n'aimait pas; il ne considerait ses amis et ses proches que comme des
   instruments auxquels il tint, tant qu'ils furent utiles, et qu'il jeta
   de cote quand ils cesserent de l'etre.  Qu'on ne se permette donc pas
   d'approcher du sepulcre du Corse avec sentiments de pitie, ou de
   souiller de larmes la pierre qui couvre ses restes, son ame
   repudierait tout cela.  On a dit, je le sais, qu'elle fut cruelle la
   main qui le separa de sa femme et de son enfant.  Non, c'etait une
   main qui, comme la sienne, ne tremblait ni de passion ni de crainte,
   c'etait la main d'un homme froid, convaincu, qui avait su deviner
   Buonaparte; et voici ce que disait cet homme que la defaite n'a pu
   humilier, ni la victoire enorgueiller.  'Marie-Louise n'est pas la
   femme de Napoleon; c'est la France que Napoleon a epousee; c'est la
   France qu'il aime, leur union enfante la perte de l'Europe; voila la
   divorce que je veux; voila l'union qu'il faut briser.'

   "La voix des timides et des traitres protesta contre cette sentence.
   'C'est abuser de droit de la victoire!  C'est fouler aux pieds le
   vaincu!  Que l'Angleterre se montre clemente, qu'elle ouvre ses bras
   pour recevoir comme hote son ennemi desarme.'  L'Angleterre aurait
   peut-etre ecoute ce conseii, car partout et toujours il y a des ames
   faibles et timorees bientot seduites par la flatterie ou effrayees par
   le reproche.  Mais la Providence permit qu'un homme se trouvat qui n'a
   jamais su ce que c'est que la crainte; qui aima sa patrie mieux que sa
   renommee; impenetrable devant les menaces, inaccessible aux louanges,
   il se presenta devant le conseil de la nation, et levant son front
   tranquille en haut, il osa dire: 'Que la trahison se taise! car c'est
   trahir que de conseiller de temporiser avec Buonaparte.  Moi je sais
   ce que sont ces guerres dont l'Europe saigne encore, comme une victime
   sous le couteau du boucher.  Il faut en finir avec Napoleon
   Buonaparte.  Vous vous effrayez a tort d'un mot si dur!  Je n'ai pas
   de magnanimite, dit-on?  Soit! que m'importe ce qu'on dit de moi?  Je
   n'ai pas ici a me faire une reputation de heros magnanime, mais a
   guerir, si la cure est possible, l'Europe qui se meurt, epuisee de
   ressources et de sang, l'Europe dont vous negligez les vrais interets,
   pre-occupes que vous etes d'une vaine renommee de clemence.  Vous etes
   faibles!  Eh bien! je viens vous aider.  Envoyez Buonaparte a Ste.
   Helene! n'hesitez pas, ne cherchez pas un autre endroit; c'est le seul
   convenable.  Je vous le dis, j'ai reflechi pour vous; c'est la qu'il
   doit etre et non pas ailleurs.  Quant a Napoleon, homme, soldat, je
   n'ai rien contre lui; c'est un lion royal, aupres de qui vous n'etes
   que des chacals.  Mais Napoleon Empereur, c'est autre chose, je
   l'extirperai du sol de l'Europe.'  Et celui qui parla ainsi toujours
   sut garder sa promesse, celle-la comme toutes les autres.  Je l'ai
   dit, et je le repete, cet homme est l'egal de Napoleon par le genie;
   comme trempe de caractere, comme droiture, comme elevation de pensee
   et de but, il est d'une tout autre espece.  Napoleon Buonaparte etait
   avide de renommee et de gloire; Arthur Wellesley ne se soucie ni de
   l'une ni de l'autre; l'opinion publique, la popularite, etaient choses
   de grand valeur aux yeux de Napoleon; pour Wellington l'opinion
   publique est une rumeur, un rien que le souffle de son inflexible
   volonte fait disparaitre comme une bulle de savon.  Napoleon flattait
   le peuple; Wellington le brusqne; l'un cherchait les
   applau-dissements, l'autre ne se soucie que du temoignage de sa
   conscience; quand elle approuve, c'est assez; toute autre louange
   l'obsede.  Aussi ce peuple, qui adorait Buonaparte s'irritait,
   s'insurgeait contre la morgue de Wellington: parfois il lui temoigna
   sa colere et sa haine par des grognements, par des hurlements de betes
   fauves; et alors, avec une impassibilite de senateur romain, le
   moderne Coriolan toisait du regard l'emeute furieuse; il croisait ses
   bras nerveux sur sa large poitrine, et seul, debout sur son seuil, il
   attendait, il bravait cette tempete populaire dont les flots venaient
   mourir a quelques pas de lui: et quand la foule, honteuse de sa
   rebellion, venait lecher les pieds du maitre, le hautain patricien
   meprisait l'hommage d'aujourd'hui comme la haine d'hier, et dans les
   rues de Londres, et devant son palais ducal d'Apsley, il repoussait
   d'un genre plein de froid dedain l'incommode empressement du peuple
   enthousiaste.  Cette fierte neanmoins n'excluait pas en lui une rare
   modestie; partout il se soustrait a l'eloge; se derobe au panegyrique;
   jamais il ne parle de ses exploits, et jamais il ne souffre qu'un
   autre lui en parle en sa presence.  Son caractere egale en grandeur et
   surpasse en verite celui de tout autre heros ancien ou moderne.  La
   gloire de Napoleon crut en une nuit, comme la vigne de Jonas, et il
   suffit d'un jour pour la fletrir; la gloire de Wellington est comme
   les vieux chenes qui ombragent le chateau de ses peres sur les rives
   du Shannon; le chene croit lentement; il lui faut du temps pour
   pousser vers le ciel ses branches noueuses, et pour enfoncer dans le
   sol ces racines profondes qui s'enchevetrent dans les fondements
   solides de la terre; mais alors, l'arbre seculaire, inebranlable comme
   le roc ou il a sa base, brave et la faux du temps et l'effort des
   vents et des tempetes.  Il faudra peut-etre un siecle a l'Angleterre
   pour qu'elle connaise la valeur de son heros.  Dans un siecle,
   l'Europe entiere saura combien Wellington a des droits a sa
   reconnaissance."

How often in writing this paper "in a strange land," must Miss Bronte
have thought of the old childish disputes in the kitchen of Haworth
parsonage, touching the respective merits of Wellington and Buonaparte!
Although the title given to her _devoir_ is, "On the Death of Napoleon,"
she seems yet to have considered it a point of honour rather to sing
praises to an English hero than to dwell on the character of a foreigner,
placed as she was among those who cared little either for an England or
for Wellington.  She now felt that she had made great progress towards
obtaining proficiency in the French language, which had been her main
object in coming to Brussels.  But to the zealous learner "Alps on Alps
arise."  No sooner is one difficulty surmounted than some other desirable
attainment appears, and must be laboured after.  A knowledge of German
now became her object; and she resolved to compel herself to remain in
Brussels till that was gained.  The strong yearning to go home came upon
her; the stronger self-denying will forbade.  There was a great internal
struggle; every fibre of her heart quivered in the strain to master her
will; and, when she conquered herself, she remained, not like a victor
calm and supreme on the throne, but like a panting, torn, and suffering
victim.  Her nerves and her spirits gave way.  Her health became much
shaken.

   "Brussels, August 1st, 1843.

   "If I complain in this letter, have mercy and don't blame me, for, I
   forewarn you, I am in low spirits, and that earth and heaven are
   dreary and empty to me at this moment.  In a few days our vacation
   will begin; everybody is joyous and animated at the prospect, because
   everybody is to go home.  I know that I am to stay here during the
   five weeks that the holidays last, and that I shall be much alone
   during that time, and consequently get downcast, and find both days
   and nights of a weary length.  It is the first time in my life that I
   have really dreaded the vacation.  Alas!  I can hardly write, I have
   such a dreary weight at my heart; and I do so wish to go home.  Is not
   this childish?  Pardon me, for I cannot help it.  However, though I am
   not strong enough to bear up cheerfully, I can still bear up; and I
   will continue to stay (D. V.) some months longer, till I have acquired
   German; and then I hope to see all your faces again.  Would that the
   vacation were well over! it will pass so slowly.  Do have the
   Christian charity to write me a long, long letter; fill it with the
   minutest details; nothing will be uninteresting.  Do not think it is
   because people are unkind to me that I wish to leave Belgium; nothing
   of the sort.  Everybody is abundantly civil, but home-sickness keeps
   creeping over me.  I cannot shake it off.  Believe me, very merrily,
   vivaciously, gaily, yours,

   "C.B."

The _grandes vacances_ began soon after the date of this letter, when she
was left in the great deserted pensionnat, with only one teacher for a
companion.  This teacher, a Frenchwoman, had always been uncongenial to
her; but, left to each other's sole companionship, Charlotte soon
discovered that her associate was more profligate, more steeped in a kind
of cold, systematic sensuality, than she had before imagined it possible
for a human being to be; and her whole nature revolted from this woman's
society.  A low nervous fever was gaining upon Miss Bronte.  She had
never been a good sleeper, but now she could not sleep at all.  Whatever
had been disagreeable, or obnoxious, to her during the day, was presented
when it was over with exaggerated vividness to her disordered fancy.
There were causes for distress and anxiety in the news from home,
particularly as regarded Branwell.  In the dead of the night, lying awake
at the end of the long deserted dormitory, in the vast and silent house,
every fear respecting those whom she loved, and who were so far off in
another country, became a terrible reality, oppressing her and choking up
the very life-blood in her heart.  Those nights were times of sick,
dreary, wakeful misery; precursors of many such in after years.

In the daytime, driven abroad by loathing of her companion and by the
weak restlessness of fever, she tried to walk herself into such a state
of bodily fatigue as would induce sleep.  So she went out, and with weary
steps would traverse the Boulevards and the streets, sometimes for hours
together; faltering and resting occasionally on some of the many benches
placed for the repose of happy groups, or for solitary wanderers like
herself.  Then up again--anywhere but to the pensionnat--out to the
cemetery where Martha lay--out beyond it, to the hills whence there is
nothing to be seen but fields as far as the horizon.  The shades of
evening made her retrace her footsteps--sick for want of food, but not
hungry; fatigued with long continued exercise--yet restless still, and
doomed to another weary, haunted night of sleeplessness.  She would
thread the streets in the neighbourhood of the Rue d'Isabelle, and yet
avoid it and its occupant, till as late an hour as she dared be out.  At
last, she was compelled to keep her bed for some days, and this
compulsory rest did her good.  She was weak, but less depressed in
spirits than she had been, when the school re-opened, and her positive
practical duties recommenced.

She writes thus:--

"October 13th, 1843

"Mary is getting on well, as she deserves to do.  I often hear from her.
Her letters and yours are one of my few pleasures.  She urges me very
much to leave Brussels and go to her; but, at present, however tempted to
take such a step, I should not feel justified in doing so.  To leave a
certainty for a complete uncertainty, would be to the last degree
imprudent.  Notwithstanding that, Brussels is indeed desolate to me now.
Since the D.s left, I have had no friend.  I had, indeed, some very kind
acquaintances in the family of a Dr. ---, but they, too, are gone now.
They left in the latter part of August, and I am completely alone.  I
cannot count the Belgians anything.  It is a curious position to be so
utterly solitary in the midst of numbers.  Sometimes the solitude
oppresses me to an excess.  One day, lately, I felt as if I could bear it
no longer, and I went to Madame Heger, and gave her notice.  If it had
depended on her, I should certainly have soon been at liberty; but M.
Heger, having heard of what was in agitation, sent for me the day after,
and pronounced with vehemence his decision, that I should not leave.  I
could not, at that time, have persevered in my intention without exciting
him to anger; so I promised to stay a little while longer.  How long that
will be, I do not know.  I should not like to return to England to do
nothing.  I am too old for that now; but if I could hear of a favourable
opportunity for commencing a school, I think I should embrace it.  We
have as yet no fires here, and I suffer much from cold; otherwise, I am
well in health.  Mr. --- will take this letter to England.  He is a
pretty-looking and pretty behaved young man, apparently constructed
without a backbone; by which I don't allude to his corporal spine, which
is all right enough, but to his character.

   "I get on here after a fashion; but now that Mary D. has left
   Brussels, I have nobody to speak to, for I count the Belgians as
   nothing.  Sometimes I ask myself how long shall I stay here; but as
   yet I have only asked the question; I have not answered it.  However,
   when I have acquired as much German as I think fit, I think I shall
   pack up bag and baggage and depart.  Twinges of home-sickness cut me
   to the heart, every now and then.  To-day the weather is glaring, and
   I am stupified with a bad cold and headache.  I have nothing to tell
   you.  One day is like another in this place.  I know you, living in
   the country, can hardly believe it is possible life can be monotonous
   in the centre of a brilliant capital like Brussels; but so it is.  I
   feel it most on holidays, when all the girls and teachers go out to
   visit, and it sometimes happens that I am left, during several hours,
   quite alone, with four great desolate schoolrooms at my disposition.  I
   try to read, I try to write; but in vain.  I then wander about from
   room to room, but the silence and loneliness of all the house weighs
   down one's spirits like lead.  You will hardly believe that Madame
   Heger (good and kind as I have described her) never comes near me on
   these occasions.  I own, I was astonished the first time I was left
   alone thus; when everybody else was enjoying the pleasures of a fete
   day with their friends, and she knew I was quite by myself, and never
   took the least notice of me.  Yet, I understand, she praises me very
   much to everybody, and says what excellent lessons I give.  She is not
   colder to me than she is to the other teachers; but they are less
   dependent on her than I am.  They have relations and acquaintances in
   Bruxelles.  You remember the letter she wrote me, when I was in
   England?  How kind and affectionate that was? is it not odd?  In the
   meantime, the complaints I make at present are a sort of relief which
   I permit myself.  In all other respects I am well satisfied with my
   position, and you may say so to people who inquire after me (if any
   one does).  Write to me, dear, whenever you can.  You do a good deed
   when you send me a letter, for you comfort a very desolate heart."

One of the reasons for the silent estrangement between Madame Heger and
Miss Bronte, in the second year of her residence at Brussels, is to be
found in the fact, that the English Protestant's dislike of Romanism
increased with her knowledge of it, and its effects upon those who
professed it; and when occasion called for an expression of opinion from
Charlotte Bronte, she was uncompromising truth.  Madame Heger, on the
opposite side, was not merely a Roman Catholic, she was _devote_.  Not of
a warm or impulsive temperament, she was naturally governed by her
conscience, rather than by her affections; and her conscience was in the
hands of her religious guides.  She considered any slight thrown upon her
Church as blasphemy against the Holy Truth; and, though she was not given
to open expression of her thoughts and feelings, yet her increasing
coolness of behaviour showed how much her most cherished opinions had
been wounded.  Thus, although there was never any explanation of Madame
Heger's change of manner, this may be given as one great reason why,
about this time, Charlotte was made painfully conscious of a silent
estrangement between them; an estrangement of which, perhaps, the former
was hardly aware.  I have before alluded to intelligence from home,
calculated to distress Charlotte exceedingly with fears respecting
Branwell, which I shall speak of more at large when the realisation of
her worst apprehensions came to affect the daily life of herself and her
sisters.  I allude to the subject again here, in order that the reader
may remember the gnawing, private cares, which she had to bury in her own
heart; and the pain of which could only be smothered for a time under the
diligent fulfilment of present duty.  Another dim sorrow was faintly
perceived at this time.  Her father's eyesight began to fail; it was not
unlikely that he might shortly become blind; more of his duty must
devolve on a curate, and Mr. Bronte, always liberal, would have to pay at
a higher rate than he had heretofore done for this assistance.

She wrote thus to Emily:--

"Dec.1st, 1843.

"This is Sunday morning.  They are at their idolatrous 'messe,' and I am
here, that is in the Refectoire.  I should like uncommonly to be in the
dining-room at home, or in the kitchen, or in the back kitchen.  I should
like even to be cutting up the hash, with the clerk and some register
people at the other table, and you standing by, watching that I put
enough flour, not too much pepper, and, above all, that I save the best
pieces of the leg of mutton for Tiger and Keeper, the first of which
personages would be jumping about the dish and carving-knife, and the
latter standing like a devouring flame on the kitchen-floor.  To complete
the picture, Tabby blowing the fire, in order to boil the potatoes to a
sort of vegetable glue!  How divine are these recollections to me at this
moment!  Yet I have no thought of coming home just now.  I lack a real
pretext for doing so; it is true this place is dismal to me, but I cannot
go home without a fixed prospect when I get there; and this prospect must
not be a situation; that would be jumping out of the frying-pan into the
fire.  _You_ call yourself idle! absurd, absurd! . . . Is papa well?  Are
you well? and Tabby?  You ask about Queen Victoria's visit to Brussels.  I
saw her for an instant flashing through the Rue Royale in a carriage and
six, surrounded by soldiers.  She was laughing and talking very gaily.
She looked a little stout, vivacious lady, very plainly dressed, not much
dignity or pretension about her.  The Belgians liked her very well on the
whole.  They said she enlivened the sombre court of King Leopold, which
is usually as gloomy as a conventicle.  Write to me again soon.  Tell me
whether papa really wants me very much to come home, and whether you do
likewise.  I have an idea that I should be of no use there--a sort of
aged person upon the parish.  I pray, with heart and soul, that all may
continue well at Haworth; above all in our grey half-inhabited house.  God
bless the walls thereof!  Safety, health, happiness, and prosperity to
you, papa, and Tabby.  Amen.

"C. B."

Towards the end of this year (1843) various reasons conspired with the
causes of anxiety which have been mentioned, to make her feel that her
presence was absolutely and imperatively required at home, while she had
acquired all that she proposed to herself in coming to Brussels the
second time; and was, moreover, no longer regarded with the former
kindliness of feeling by Madame Heger.  In consequence of this state of
things, working down with sharp edge into a sensitive mind, she suddenly
announced to that lady her immediate intention of returning to England.
Both M. and Madame Heger agreed that it would be for the best, when they
learnt only that part of the case which she could reveal to them--namely,
Mr. Bronte's increasing blindness.  But as the inevitable moment of
separation from people and places, among which she had spent so many
happy hours, drew near, her spirits gave way; she had the natural
presentiment that she saw them all for the last time, and she received
but a dead kind of comfort from being reminded by her friends that
Brussels and Haworth were not so very far apart; that access from one
place to the other was not so difficult or impracticable as her tears
would seem to predicate; nay, there was some talk of one of Madame
Heger's daughters being sent to her as a pupil, if she fulfilled her
intention of trying to begin a school.  To facilitate her success in this
plan, should she ever engage in it, M. Heger gave her a kind of diploma,
dated from, and sealed with the seal of the Athenee Royal de Bruxelles,
certifying that she was perfectly capable of teaching the French
language, having well studied the grammar and composition thereof, and,
moreover, having prepared herself for teaching by studying and practising
the best methods of instruction.  This certificate is dated December 29th
1843, and on the 2nd of January, 1844, she arrived at Haworth.

On the 23rd of the month she writes as follows:--

"Every one asks me what I am going to do, now that I am returned home;
and every one seems to expect that I should immediately commence a
school.  In truth, it is what I should wish to do.  I desire it above all
things.  I have sufficient money for the undertaking, and I hope now
sufficient qualifications to give me a fair chance of success; yet I
cannot yet permit myself to enter upon life--to touch the object which
seems now within my reach, and which I have been so long straining to
attain.  You will ask me why?  It is on papa's account; he is now, as you
know, getting old, and it grieves me to tell you that he is losing his
sight.  I have felt for some months that I ought not to be away from him;
and I feel now that it would be too selfish to leave him (at least, as
long as Branwell and Anne are absent), in order to pursue selfish
interests of my own.  With the help of God, I will try to deny myself in
this matter, and to wait.

"I suffered much before I left Brussels.  I think, however long I live, I
shall not forget what the parting with M. Heger cost me.  It grieved me
so much to grieve him who has been so true, kind, and disinterested a
friend.  At parting he gave me a kind of diploma certifying my abilities
as a teacher, sealed with the seal of the Athenee Royal, of which he is
professor.  I was surprised also at the degree of regret expressed by my
Belgian pupils, when they knew I was going to leave.  I did not think it
had been in their phlegmatic nature . . . I do not know whether you feel
as I do, but there are times now when it appears to me as if all my ideas
and feelings, except a few friendships and affections, are changed from
what they used to be; something in me, which used to be enthusiasm, is
tamed down and broken.  I have fewer illusions; what I wish for now is
active exertion--a stake in life.  Haworth seems such a lonely, quiet
spot, buried away from the world.  I no longer regard myself as
young--indeed, I shall soon be twenty-eight; and it seems as if I ought
to be working and braving the rough realities of the world, as other
people do.  It is, however, my duty to restrain this feeling at present,
and I will endeavour to do so."

Of course her absent sister and brother obtained a holiday to welcome her
return home, and in a few weeks she was spared to pay a visit to her
friend at B.  But she was far from well or strong, and the short journey
of fourteen miles seems to have fatigued her greatly.

Soon after she came back to Haworth, in a letter to one of the household
in which she had been staying, there occurs this passage:--"Our poor
little cat has been ill two days, and is just dead.  It is piteous to see
even an animal lying lifeless.  Emily is sorry."  These few words relate
to points in the characters of the two sisters, which I must dwell upon a
little.  Charlotte was more than commonly tender in her treatment of all
dumb creatures, and they, with that fine instinct so often noticed, were
invariably attracted towards her.  The deep and exaggerated consciousness
of her personal defects--the constitutional absence of hope, which made
her slow to trust in human affection, and, consequently, slow to respond
to any manifestation of it--made her manner shy and constrained to men
and women, and even to children.  We have seen something of this
trembling distrust of her own capability of inspiring affection, in the
grateful surprise she expresses at the regret felt by her Belgian pupils
at her departure.  But not merely were her actions kind, her words and
tones were ever gentle and caressing, towards animals: and she quickly
noticed the least want of care or tenderness on the part of others
towards any poor brute creature.  The readers of "Shirley" may remember
that it is one of the tests which the heroine applies to her lover.

   "Do you know what soothsayers I would consult?" . . . "The little
   Irish beggar that comes barefoot to my door; the mouse that steals out
   of the cranny in my wainscot; the bird in frost and snow that pecks at
   my window for a crumb; the dog that licks my hand and sits beside my
   knee.  I know somebody to whose knee the black cat loves to climb,
   against whose shoulder and cheek it likes to purr.  The old dog always
   comes out of his kennel and wags his tail, and whines affectionately
   when somebody passes."  [For "somebody" and "he," read "Charlotte
   Bronte" and "she."]  "He quietly strokes the cat, and lets her sit
   while he conveniently can; and when he must disturb her by rising, he
   puts her softly down, and never flings her from him roughly: he always
   whistles to the dog, and gives him a caress."

The feeling, which in Charlotte partook of something of the nature of an
affection, was, with Emily, more of a passion.  Some one speaking of her
to me, in a careless kind of strength of expression, said, "she never
showed regard to any human creature; all her love was reserved for
animals."  The helplessness of an animal was its passport to Charlotte's
heart; the fierce, wild, intractability of its nature was what often
recommended it to Emily.  Speaking of her dead sister, the former told me
that from her many traits in Shirley's character were taken; her way of
sitting on the rug reading, with her arm round her rough bull-dog's neck;
her calling to a strange dog, running past, with hanging head and lolling
tongue, to give it a merciful draught of water, its maddened snap at her,
her nobly stern presence of mind, going right into the kitchen, and
taking up one of Tabby's red-hot Italian irons to sear the bitten place,
and telling no one, till the danger was well-nigh over, for fear of the
terrors that might beset their weaker minds.  All this, looked upon as a
well-invented fiction in "Shirley," was written down by Charlotte with
streaming eyes; it was the literal true account of what Emily had done.
The same tawny bull-dog (with his "strangled whistle"), called "Tartar"
in "Shirley," was "Keeper" in Haworth parsonage; a gift to Emily.  With
the gift came a warning.  Keeper was faithful to the depths of his nature
as long as he was with friends; but he who struck him with a stick or
whip, roused the relentless nature of the brute, who flew at his throat
forthwith, and held him there till one or the other was at the point of
death.  Now Keeper's household fault was this.  He loved to steal
upstairs, and stretch his square, tawny limbs, on the comfortable beds,
covered over with delicate white counterpanes.  But the cleanliness of
the parsonage arrangements was perfect; and this habit of Keeper's was so
objectionable, that Emily, in reply to Tabby's remonstrances, declared
that, if he was found again transgressing, she herself, in defiance of
warning and his well-known ferocity of nature, would beat him so severely
that he would never offend again.  In the gathering dusk of an autumn
evening, Tabby came, half-triumphantly, half-tremblingly, but in great
wrath, to tell Emily that Keeper was lying on the best bed, in drowsy
voluptuousness.  Charlotte saw Emily's whitening face, and set mouth, but
dared not speak to interfere; no one dared when Emily's eyes glowed in
that manner out of the paleness of her face, and when her lips were so
compressed into stone.  She went upstairs, and Tabby and Charlotte stood
in the gloomy passage below, full of the dark shadows of coming night.
Down-stairs came Emily, dragging after her the unwilling Keeper, his hind
legs set in a heavy attitude of resistance, held by the "scuft of his
neck," but growling low and savagely all the time.  The watchers would
fain have spoken, but durst not, for fear of taking off Emily's
attention, and causing her to avert her head for a moment from the
enraged brute.  She let him go, planted in a dark corner at the bottom of
the stairs; no time was there to fetch stick or rod, for fear of the
strangling clutch at her throat--her bare clenched fist struck against
his red fierce eyes, before he had time to make his spring, and, in the
language of the turf, she "punished him" till his eyes were swelled up,
and the half-blind, stupified beast was led to his accustomed lair, to
have his swollen head fomented and cared for by the very Emily herself.
The generous dog owed her no grudge; he loved her dearly ever after; he
walked first among the mourners to her funeral; he slept moaning for
nights at the door of her empty room, and never, so to speak, rejoiced,
dog fashion, after her death.  He, in his turn, was mourned over by the
surviving sister.  Let us somehow hope, in half Red Indian creed, that he
follows Emily now; and, when he rests, sleeps on some soft white bed of
dreams, unpunished when he awakens to the life of the land of shadows.

Now we can understand the force of the words, "Our poor little cat is
dead.  Emily is sorry."



CHAPTER XIII


The moors were a great resource this spring; Emily and Charlotte walked
out on them perpetually, "to the great damage of our shoes, but I hope,
to the benefit of our health."  The old plan of school-keeping was often
discussed in these rambles; but in-doors they set with vigour to shirt-
making for the absent Branwell, and pondered in silence over their past
and future life.  At last they came to a determination.

"I have seriously entered into the enterprise of keeping a school--or
rather, taking a limited number of pupils at home.  That is, I have begun
in good earnest to seek for pupils.  I wrote to Mrs. --- " (the lady with
whom she had lived as governess, just before going to Brussels), "not
asking her for her daughter--I cannot do that--but informing her of my
intention.  I received an answer from Mr. --- expressive of, I believe,
sincere regret that I had not informed them a month sooner, in which
case, he said, they would gladly have sent me their own daughter, and
also Colonel S.'s, but that now both were promised to Miss C.  I was
partly disappointed by this answer, and partly gratified; indeed, I
derived quite an impulse of encouragement from the warm assurance that if
I had but applied a little sooner they would certainly have sent me their
daughter.  I own I had misgivings that nobody would be willing to send a
child for education to Haworth.  These misgivings are partly done away
with.  I have written also to Mrs. B., and have enclosed the diploma
which M. Heger gave me before I left Brussels.  I have not yet received
her answer, but I wait for it with some anxiety.  I do not expect that
she will send me any of her children, but if she would, I dare say she
could recommend me other pupils.  Unfortunately, she knows us only very
slightly.  As soon as I can get an assurance of only _one_ pupil, I will
have cards of terms printed, and will commence the repairs necessary in
the house.  I wish all that to be done before winter.  I think of fixing
the board and English education at 25_l_. per annum."

Again, at a later date, July 24th, in the same year, she writes:--

"I am driving on with my small matter as well as I can.  I have written
to all the friends on whom I have the slightest claim, and to some on
whom I have no claim; Mrs. B., for example.  On her, also, I have
actually made bold to call.  She was exceedingly polite; regretted that
her children were already at school at Liverpool; thought the undertaking
a most praiseworthy one, but feared I should have some difficulty in
making it succeed on account of the _situation_.  Such is the answer I
receive from almost every one.  I tell them the _retired situation_ is,
in some points of view, an advantage; that were it in the midst of a
large town I could not pretend to take pupils on terms so moderate (Mrs.
B. remarked that she thought the terms very moderate), but that, as it
is, not having house-rent to pay, we can offer the same privileges of
education that are to be had in expensive seminaries, at little more than
half their price; and as our number must be limited, we can devote a
large share of time and pains to each pupil.  Thank you for the very
pretty little purse you have sent me.  I make to you a curious return in
the shape of half a dozen cards of terms.  Make such use of them as your
judgment shall dictate.  You will see that I have fixed the sum at
35_l_., which I think is the just medium, considering advantages and
disadvantages."

This was written in July; August, September, and October passed away, and
no pupils were to be heard of.  Day after day, there was a little hope
felt by the sisters until the post came in.  But Haworth village was wild
and lonely, and the Brontes but little known, owing to their want of
connections.  Charlotte writes on the subject, in the early winter
months, to this effect--

   "I, Emily, and Anne, are truly obliged to you for the efforts you have
   made in our behalf; and if you have not been successful, you are only
   like ourselves.  Every one wishes us well; but there are no pupils to
   be had.  We have no present intention, however, of breaking our hearts
   on the subject, still less of feeling mortified at defeat.  The effort
   must be beneficial, whatever the result may be, because it teaches us
   experience, and an additional knowledge of this world.  I send you two
   more circulars."

A month later, she says:--

   "We have made no alterations yet in our house.  It would be folly to
   do so, while there is so little likelihood of our ever getting pupils.
   I fear you are giving yourself too much trouble on our account.  Depend
   upon it, if you were to persuade a mamma to bring her child to
   Haworth, the aspect of the place would frighten her, and she would
   probably take the dear girl back with her, instanter.  We are glad
   that we have made the attempt, and we will not be cast down because it
   has not succeeded."

There were, probably, growing up in each sister's heart, secret
unacknowledged feelings of relief, that their plan had not succeeded.
Yes! a dull sense of relief that their cherished project had been tried
and had failed.  For that house, which was to be regarded as an
occasional home for their brother, could hardly be a fitting residence
for the children of strangers.  They had, in all likelihood, become
silently aware that his habits were such as to render his society at
times most undesirable.  Possibly, too, they had, by this time, heard
distressing rumours concerning the cause of that remorse and agony of
mind, which at times made him restless and unnaturally merry, at times
rendered him moody and irritable.

In January, 1845, Charlotte says:--"Branwell has been quieter and less
irritable, on the whole, this time than he was in summer.  Anne is, as
usual, always good, mild, and patient."  The deep-seated pain which he
was to occasion to his relations had now taken a decided form, and
pressed heavily on Charlotte's health and spirits.  Early in this year,
she went to H. to bid good-bye to her dear friend "Mary," who was leaving
England for Australia.

Branwell, I have mentioned, had obtained the situation of a private
tutor.  Anne was also engaged as governess in the same family, and was
thus a miserable witness to her brother's deterioration of character at
this period.  Of the causes of this deterioration I cannot speak; but the
consequences were these.  He went home for his holidays reluctantly,
stayed there as short a time as possible, perplexing and distressing them
all by his extraordinary conduct--at one time in the highest spirits, at
another, in the deepest depression--accusing himself of blackest guilt
and treachery, without specifying what they were; and altogether evincing
an irritability of disposition bordering on insanity.

Charlotte and Emily suffered acutely from his mysterious behaviour.  He
expressed himself more than satisfied with his situation; he was
remaining in it for a longer time than he had ever done in any kind of
employment before; so that for some time they could not conjecture that
anything there made him so wilful, and restless, and full of both levity
and misery.  But a sense of something wrong connected with him, sickened
and oppressed them.  They began to lose all hope in his future career.  He
was no longer the family pride; an indistinct dread, caused partly by his
own conduct, partly by expressions of agonising suspicion in Anne's
letters home, was creeping over their minds that he might turn out their
deep disgrace.  But, I believe, they shrank from any attempt to define
their fears, and spoke of him to each other as little as possible.  They
could not help but think, and mourn, and wonder.

"Feb. 20th, 1845.

"I spent a week at H., not very pleasantly; headache, sickliness, and
flatness of spirits, made me a poor companion, a sad drag on the
vivacious and loquacious gaiety of all the other inmates of the house.  I
never was fortunate enough to be able to rally, for as much as a single
hour, while I was there.  I am sure all, with the exception perhaps of
Mary, were very glad when I took my departure.  I begin to perceive that
I have too little life in me, now-a-days, to be fit company for any
except very quiet people.  Is it age, or what else, that changes me so?"

Alas! she hardly needed to have asked this question.  How could she be
otherwise than "flat-spirited," "a poor companion," and a "sad drag" on
the gaiety of those who were light-hearted and happy!  Her honest plan
for earning her own livelihood had fallen away, crumbled to ashes; after
all her preparations, not a pupil had offered herself; and, instead of
being sorry that this wish of many years could not be realised, she had
reason to be glad.  Her poor father, nearly sightless, depended upon her
cares in his blind helplessness; but this was a sacred pious charge, the
duties of which she was blessed in fulfilling.  The black gloom hung over
what had once been the brightest hope of the family--over Branwell, and
the mystery in which his wayward conduct was enveloped.  Somehow and
sometime, he would have to turn to his home as a hiding place for shame;
such was the sad foreboding of his sisters.  Then how could she be
cheerful, when she was losing her dear and noble "Mary," for such a
length of time and distance of space that her heart might well prophesy
that it was "for ever"?  Long before, she had written of Mary T., that
she "was full of feelings noble, warm, generous, devoted, and profound.
God bless her!  I never hope to see in this world a character more truly
noble.  She would die willingly for one she loved.  Her intellect and
attainments are of the very highest standard."  And this was the friend
whom she was to lose!  Hear that friend's account of their final
interview:--

"When I last saw Charlotte (Jan. 1845), she told me she had quite decided
to stay at home.  She owned she did not like it.  Her health was weak.
She said she should like any change at first, as she had liked Brussels
at first, and she thought that there must be some possibility for some
people of having a life of more variety and more communion with human
kind, but she saw none for her.  I told her very warmly, that she ought
not to stay at home; that to spend the next five years at home, in
solitude and weak health, would ruin her; that she would never recover
it.  Such a dark shadow came over her face when I said, 'Think of what
you'll be five years hence!' that I stopped, and said, 'Don't cry,
Charlotte!'  She did not cry, but went on walking up and down the room,
and said in a little while, 'But I intend to stay, Polly.'"

A few weeks after she parted from Mary, she gives this account of her
days at Haworth.

"March 24th, 1845.

"I can hardly tell you how time gets on at Haworth.  There is no event
whatever to mark its progress.  One day resembles another; and all have
heavy, lifeless physiognomies.  Sunday, baking-day, and Saturday, are the
only ones that have any distinctive mark.  Meantime, life wears away.  I
shall soon be thirty; and I have done nothing yet.  Sometimes I get
melancholy at the prospect before and behind me.  Yet it is wrong and
foolish to repine.  Undoubtedly, my duty directs me to stay at home for
the present.  There was a time when Haworth was a very pleasant place to
me; it is not so now.  I feel as if we were all buried here.  I long to
travel; to work; to live a life of action.  Excuse me, dear, for
troubling you with my fruitless wishes.  I will put by the rest, and not
trouble you with them.  You must write to me.  If you knew how welcome
your letters are, you would write very often.  Your letters, and the
French newspapers, are the only messengers that come to me from the outer
world beyond our moors; and very welcome messengers they are."

One of her daily employments was to read to her father, and it required a
little gentle diplomacy on her part to effect this duty; for there were
times when the offer of another to do what he had been so long accustomed
to do for himself, only reminded him too painfully of the deprivation
under which he was suffering.  And, in secret, she, too, dreaded a
similar loss for herself.  Long-continued ill health, a deranged
condition of the liver, her close application to minute drawing and
writing in her younger days, her now habitual sleeplessness at nights,
the many bitter noiseless tears she had shed over Branwell's mysterious
and distressing conduct--all these causes were telling on her poor eyes;
and about this time she thus writes to M. Heger:--

   "Il n'y a rien que je crains comme le desoeuvrement, l'inertie, la
   lethargie des facultes.  Quand le corps est paresseux l'esprit souffre
   cruellement; je ne connaitrais pas cette lethargie, si je pouvais
   ecrire.  Autrefois je passais des journees, des semaines, des mois
   entiers a ecrire, et pas tout-a-fait sans fruit, puisque Southey et
   Coleridge, deux de nos meilleurs auteurs, a qui j'ai envoye certains
   manuscrits, en ont bien voulu temoigner leur approbation; mais a
   present, j'ai la vue trop faible; si j'ecrivais beaueoup je
   deviendrais aveugle.  Cette faiblesse de vue est pour moi une terrible
   privation; sans cela, savez-vous ce que je ferais, Monsieur?
   J'ecrirais un livre et je le dedierais a mon maitre de litterature, au
   seul maitre que j'aie jamais eu--a vous, Monsieur!  Je vous ai dit
   souvent en francais combien je vous respecte, combien je suis
   redevable a votre bonte, a vos conseils.  Je voudrais le dire une fois
   en anglais.  Cela ne se peut pas; il ne faut pas y penser.  La
   carriere des lettres m'est fermee . . . N'oubliez pas de me dire
   comment vous vous portez, comment Madame et les enfants se portent.  Je
   compte bientot avoir de vos nouvelles; cette idee me souris, car le
   souvenir de vos bontes ne s'effacera jamais de ma memoire, et tant que
   ce souvenir durera, le respect que vous m'avez inspire durera aussi.
   Agreez, Monsieur," &c.

It is probable, that even her sisters and most intimate friends did not
know of this dread of ultimate blindness which beset her at this period.
What eyesight she had to spare she reserved for the use of her father.
She did but little plain-sewing; not more writing than could be avoided,
and employed herself principally in knitting.

"April 2nd, 1845.

"I see plainly it is proved to us that there is scarcely a draught of
unmingled happiness to be had in this world.  ---'s illness comes with ---
's marriage.  Mary T. finds herself free, and on that path to adventure
and exertion to which she has so long been seeking admission.  Sickness,
hardship, danger are her fellow travellers--her inseparable companions.
She may have been out of the reach of these S. W. N. W. gales, before
they began to blow, or they may have spent their fury on land, and not
ruffled the sea much.  If it has been otherwise, she has been sorely
tossed, while we have been sleeping in our beds, or lying awake thinking
about her.  Yet these real, material dangers, when once past, leave in
the mind the satisfaction of having struggled with difficulty, and
overcome it.  Strength, courage, and experience are their invariable
results; whereas, I doubt whether suffering purely mental has any good
result, unless it be to make us by comparison less sensitive to physical
suffering . . . 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 wondered
how you could possibly regret being civil to a decent individual, merely
because he happened to be single, instead of double.  Now, however, I can
perceive that your scruples are founded on common sense.  I know that if
women wish to escape the stigma of husband-seeking, they must act and
look like marble or clay--cold, expressionless, bloodless; for every
appearance of feeling, of joy, sorrow, friendliness, antipathy,
admiration, disgust, are alike construed by the world into the attempt to
hook a husband.  Never mind! well-meaning women have their own
consciences to comfort them after all.  Do not, therefore, be too much
afraid of showing yourself as you are, affectionate and good-hearted; do
not too harshly repress sentiments and feelings excellent in 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."

   "June 13th, 1845.

   "As to the Mrs. ---, who, you say, is like me, I somehow feel no
   leaning to her at all.  I never do to people who are said to be like
   me, because I have always a notion that they are only like me in the
   disagreeable, outside, first-acquaintance part of my character; in
   those points which are obvious to the ordinary run of people, and
   which I know are not pleasing.  You say she is 'clever'--'a clever
   person.'  How I dislike the term!  It means rather a shrewd, very
   ugly, meddling, talking woman . . . I feel reluctant to leave papa for
   a single day.  His sight diminishes weekly; and can it be wondered at
   that, as he sees the most precious of his faculties leaving him, his
   spirits sometimes sink?  It is so hard to feel that his few and scanty
   pleasures must all soon go.  He has now the greatest difficulty in
   either reading or writing; and then he dreads the state of dependence
   to which blindness will inevitably reduce him.  He fears that he will
   be nothing in his parish.  I try to cheer him; sometimes I succeed
   temporarily, but no consolation can restore his sight, or atone for
   the want of it.  Still he is never peevish; never impatient; only
   anxious and dejected."

For the reason just given, Charlotte declined an invitation to the only
house to which she was now ever asked to come.  In answer to her
correspondent's reply to this letter, she says:--

   "You thought I refused you coldly, did you?  It was a queer sort of
   coldness, when I would have given my ears to say Yes, and was obliged
   to say No.  Matters, however, are now a little changed.  Anne is come
   home, and her presence certainly makes me feel more at liberty.  Then,
   if all be well, I will come and see you.  Tell me only when I must
   come.  Mention the week and the day.  Have the kindness also to answer
   the following queries, if you can.  How far is it from Leeds to
   Sheffield?  Can you give me a notion of the cost?  Of course, when I
   come, you will let me enjoy your own company in peace, and not drag me
   out a visiting.  I have no desire at all to see your curate.  I think
   he must be like all the other curates I have seen; and they seem to me
   a self-seeking, vain, empty race.  At this blessed moment, we have no
   less than three of them in Haworth parish--and there is not one to
   mend another.  The other day, they all three, accompanied by Mr. S.,
   dropped, or rather rushed, in unexpectedly to tea.  It was Monday
   (baking day), and I was hot and tired; still, if they had behaved
   quietly and decently, I would have served them out their tea in peace;
   but they began glorifying themselves, and abusing Dissenters in such a
   manner, that my temper lost its balance, and I pronounced a few
   sentences sharply and rapidly, which struck them all dumb.  Papa was
   greatly horrified also, but I don't regret it."

On her return from this short visit to her friend, she travelled with a
gentleman in the railway carriage, whose features and bearing betrayed
him, in a moment, to be a Frenchman.  She ventured to ask him if such was
not the case; and, on his admitting it, she further inquired if he had
not passed a considerable time in Germany, and was answered that he had;
her quick ear detected something of the thick guttural pronunciation,
which, Frenchmen say, they are able to discover even in the grandchildren
of their countrymen who have lived any time beyond the Rhine.  Charlotte
had retained her skill in the language by the habit of which she thus
speaks to M. Heger:--

   "Je crains beaucoup d'oublier le francais--j'apprends tous les jours
   une demie page de francais par coeur, et j'ai grand plaisir a
   apprendre cette lecon, Veuillez presenter a Madame l'assurance de mon
   estime; je crains que Maria-Louise et Claire ne m'aient deja oubliees;
   mais je vous reverrai un jour; aussitot que j'aurais gagne assez
   d'argent pour alter a Bruxelles, j'y irai."

And so her journey back to Haworth, after the rare pleasure of this visit
to her friend, was pleasantly beguiled by conversation with the French
gentleman; and she arrived at home refreshed and happy.  What to find
there?

It was ten o'clock when she reached the parsonage.  Branwell was there,
unexpectedly, very ill.  He had come home a day or two before, apparently
for a holiday; in reality, I imagine, because some discovery had been
made which rendered his absence imperatively desirable.  The day of
Charlotte's return, he had received a letter from Mr. ---, sternly
dismissing him, intimating that his proceedings were discovered,
characterising them as bad beyond expression, and charging him, on pain
of exposure, to break off immediately, and for ever, all communication
with every member of the family.

Whatever may have been the nature and depth of Branwell's sins,--whatever
may have been his temptation, whatever his guilt,--there is no doubt of
the suffering which his conduct entailed upon his poor father and his
innocent sisters.  The hopes and plans they had cherished long, and
laboured hard to fulfil, were cruelly frustrated; henceforward their days
were embittered and the natural rest of their nights destroyed by his
paroxysms of remorse.  Let us read of the misery caused to his poor
sisters in Charlotte's own affecting words:--

   "We have had sad work with Branwell.  He thought of nothing but
   stunning or drowning his agony of mind.  No one in this house could
   have rest; and, at last, we have been obliged to send him from home
   for a week, with some one to look after him.  He has written to me
   this morning, expressing some sense of contrition . . . but as long as
   he remains at home, I scarce dare hope for peace in the house.  We
   must all, I fear, prepare for a season of distress and disquietude.
   When I left you, I was strongly impressed with the feeling that I was
   going back to sorrow."

   "August, 1845.

   "Things here at home are much as usual; not very bright as it regards
   Branwell, though his health, and consequently his temper, have been
   somewhat better this last day or two, because he is now _forced to_
   abstain."

   "August 18th, 1845.

   "I have delayed writing, because I have no good news to communicate.
   My hopes ebb low indeed about Branwell.  I sometimes fear he will
   never be fit for much.  The late blow to his prospects and feelings
   has quite made him reckless.  It is only absolute want of means that
   acts as any check to him.  One ought, indeed, to hope to the very
   last; and I try to do so, but occasionally hope in his case seems so
   fallacious."

   "Nov. 4th, 1845.

   "I hoped to be able to ask you to come to Haworth.  It almost seemed
   as if Branwell had a chance of getting employment, and I waited to
   know the result of his efforts in order to say, dear ---, come and see
   us.  But the place (a secretaryship to a railway committee) is given
   to another person.  Branwell still remains at home; and while _he_ is
   here, _you_ shall not come.  I am more confirmed in that resolution
   the more I see of him.  I wish I could say one word to you in his
   favour, but I cannot.  I will hold my tongue.  We are all obliged to
   you for your kind suggestion about Leeds; but I think our school
   schemes are, for the present, at rest."

   "Dec. 31st, 1845.

   "You say well, in speaking of ---, that no sufferings are so awful as
   those brought on by dissipation; alas! I see the truth of this
   observation daily proved. --and--must have as weary and burdensome a
   life of it in waiting upon their unhappy brother.  It seems grievous,
   indeed, that those who have not sinned should suffer so largely."

In fact, all their latter days blighted with the presence of cruel,
shameful suffering,--the premature deaths of two at least of the
sisters,--all the great possibilities of their earthly lives snapped
short,--may be dated from Midsummer 1845.

For the last three years of Branwell's life, he took opium habitually, by
way of stunning conscience; he drank moreover, whenever he could get the
opportunity.  The reader may say that I have mentioned his tendency to
intemperance long before.  It is true; but it did not become habitual, as
far as I can learn, until after he was dismissed from his tutorship.  He
took opium, because it made him forget for a time more effectually than
drink; and, besides, it was more portable.  In procuring it he showed all
the cunning of the opium-eater.  He would steal out while the family were
at church--to which he had professed himself too ill to go--and manage to
cajole the village druggist out of a lump; or, it might be, the carrier
had unsuspiciously brought him some in a packet from a distance.  For
some time before his death he had attacks of delirium tremens of the most
frightful character; he slept in his father's room, and he would
sometimes declare that either he or his father should be dead before the
morning.  The trembling sisters, sick with fright, would implore their
father not to expose himself to this danger; but Mr. Bronte is no timid
man, and perhaps he felt that he could possibly influence his son to some
self-restraint, more by showing trust in him than by showing fear.  The
sisters often listened for the report of a pistol in the dead of the
night, till watchful eye and hearkening ear grew heavy and dull with the
perpetual strain upon their nerves.  In the mornings young Bronte would
saunter out, saying, with a drunkard's incontinence of speech, "The poor
old man and I have had a terrible night of it; he does his best--the poor
old man! but it's all over with me."



CHAPTER XIV


In the course of this sad autumn of 1845, a new interest came up; faint,
indeed, and often lost sight of in the vivid pain and constant pressure
of anxiety respecting their brother.  In the biographical notice of her
sisters, which Charlotte prefixed to the edition of "Wuthering Heights"
and "Agnes Grey," published in 1850--a piece of writing unique, as far as
I know, in its pathos and its power--she says:--

   "One day in the autumn of 1845, I accidentally lighted on a MS. volume
   of verse, in my sister Emily's handwriting.  Of course, I was not
   surprised, knowing that she could and did write verse: I looked it
   over, and something more than surprise seized me--a deep conviction
   that these were not common effusions, nor at all like the poetry women
   generally write.  I thought them condensed and terse, vigorous and
   genuine.  To my ear they had also a peculiar music, wild, melancholy,
   and elevating.  My sister Emily was not a person of demonstrative
   character, nor one on the recesses of whose mind and feelings even
   those nearest and dearest to her could, with impunity, intrude
   unlicensed: it took hours to reconcile her to the discovery I had
   made, and days to persuade her that such poems merited publication . .
   . Meantime, my younger sister quietly produced some of her own
   compositions, intimating that since Emily's had given me pleasure, I
   might like to look at hers.  I could not but be a partial judge, yet I
   thought that these verses too had a sweet sincere pathos of their own.
   We had very early cherished the dream of one day being authors.  We
   agreed to arrange a small selection of our poems, and, if possible,
   get them printed.  Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own
   names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell; the ambiguous
   choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming
   Christian names, positively masculine, while we did not like to
   declare ourselves women, because--without at the time suspecting that
   our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called 'feminine,' we
   had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on
   with prejudice; we noticed how critics sometimes use for their
   chastisement the weapon of personality, and for their reward, a
   flattery, which is not true praise.  The bringing out of our little
   book was hard work.  As was to be expected, neither we nor our poems
   were at all wanted; but for this we had been prepared at the outset;
   though inexperienced ourselves, we had read the experience of others.
   The great puzzle lay in the difficulty of getting answers of any kind
   from the publishers to whom we applied.  Being greatly harassed by
   this obstacle, I ventured to apply to the Messrs. Chambers, of
   Edinburgh, for a word of advice; _they_ may have forgotten the
   circumstance, but _I_ have not, for from them I received a brief and
   business-like, but civil and sensible reply, on which we acted, and at
   last made way."

I inquired from Mr. Robert Chambers, and found, as Miss Bronte
conjectured, that he had entirely forgotten the application which had
been made to him and his brother for advice; nor had they any copy or
memorandum of the correspondence.

There is an intelligent man living in Haworth, who has given me some
interesting particulars relating to the sisters about this period.  He
says:--

"I have known Miss Bronte, as Miss Bronte, a long time; indeed, ever
since they came to Haworth in 1819.  But I had not much acquaintance with
the family till about 1843, when I began to do a little in the stationery
line.  Nothing of that kind could be had nearer than Keighley before I
began.  They used to buy a great deal of writing paper, and I used to
wonder whatever they did with so much.  I sometimes thought they
contributed to the Magazines.  When I was out of stock, I was always
afraid of their coming; they seemed so distressed about it, if I had
none.  I have walked to Halifax (a distance of ten miles) many a time,
for half a ream of paper, for fear of being without it when they came.  I
could not buy more at a time for want of capital.  I was always short of
that.  I did so like them to come when I had anything for them; they were
so much different to anybody else; so gentle and kind, and so very quiet.
They never talked much.  Charlotte sometimes would sit and inquire about
our circumstances so kindly and feelingly! . . . Though I am a poor
working man (which I have never felt to be any degradation), I could talk
with her with the greatest freedom.  I always felt quite at home with
her.  Though I never had any school education, I never felt the want of
it in her company."

The publishers to whom she finally made a successful application for the
production of "Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell's poems," were Messrs.
Aylott and Jones, Paternoster Row.  Mr. Aylott has kindly placed the
letters which she wrote to them on the subject at my disposal.  The first
is dated January 28th, 1846, and in it she inquires if they will publish
one volume octavo of poems; if not at their own risk, on the author's
account.  It is signed "C. Bronte."  They must have replied pretty
speedily, for on January 31st she writes again:--

"GENTLEMEN,

"Since you agree to undertake the publication of the work respecting
which I applied to you, I should wish now to know, as soon as possible,
the cost of paper and printing.  I will then send the necessary
remittance, together with the manuscript.  I should like it to be printed
in one octavo volume, of the same quality of paper and size of type as
Moxon's last edition of Wordsworth.  The poems will occupy, I should
think, from 200 to 250 pages.  They are not the production of a
clergyman, nor are they exclusively of a religious character; but I
presume these circumstances will be immaterial.  It will, perhaps, be
necessary that you should see the manuscript, in order to calculate
accurately the expense of publication; in that case I will send it
immediately.  I should like, however, previously, to have some idea of
the probable cost; and if, from what I have said, you can make a rough
calculation on the subject, I should be greatly obliged to you."

In her next letter, February 6th, she says:--

"You will perceive that the poems are the work of three persons,
relatives--their separate pieces are distinguished by their respective
signatures."

She writes again on February 15th; and on the 16th she says:--

"The MS. will certainly form a thinner volume than I had anticipated.  I
cannot name another model which I should like it precisely to resemble,
yet, I think, a duodecimo form, and a somewhat reduced, though still
_clear_ type, would be preferable.  I only stipulate for _clear_ type,
not too small, and good paper."

On February 21st she selects the "long primer type" for the poems, and
will remit 31_l_. 10_s_. in a few days.

Minute as the details conveyed in these notes are, they are not trivial,
because they afford such strong indications of character.  If the volume
was to be published at their own risk, it was necessary that the sister
conducting the negotiation should make herself acquainted with the
different kinds of type, and the various sizes of books.  Accordingly she
bought a small volume, from which to learn all she could on the subject
of preparation for the press.  No half-knowledge--no trusting to other
people for decisions which she could make for herself; and yet a generous
and full confidence, not misplaced, in the thorough probity of Messrs.
Aylott and Jones.  The caution in ascertaining the risk before embarking
in the enterprise, and the prompt payment of the money required, even
before it could be said to have assumed the shape of a debt, were both
parts of a self-reliant and independent character.  Self-contained also
was she.  During the whole time that the volume of poems was in the
course of preparation and publication, no word was written telling
anyone, out of the household circle, what was in progress.

I have had some of the letters placed in my hands, which she addressed to
her old schoolmistress, Miss W-.  They begin a little before this time.
Acting on the conviction, which I have all along entertained, that where
Charlotte Bronte's own words could be used, no others ought to take their
place, I shall make extracts from this series, according to their dates.

"Jan. 30th, 1846.

"MY DEAR MISS W---,

"I have not yet paid my visit to ---; it is, indeed, more than a year
since I was there, but I frequently hear from E., and she did not fail to
tell me that you were gone into Worcestershire; she was unable, however,
to give me your exact address.  Had I known it, I should have written to
you long since.  I thought you would wonder how we were getting on, when
you heard of the railway panic; and you may be sure that I am very glad
to be able to answer your kind inquiries by the assurance that our small
capital is as yet undiminished.  The York and Midland is, as you say, a
very good line, yet, I confess to you, I should wish, for my own part, to
be wise in time.  I cannot think that even the very best lines will
continue for many years at their present premiums; and I have been most
anxious for us to sell our shares ere it be too late, and to secure the
proceeds in some safer, if, for the present, less profitable investment.
I cannot, however, persuade my sisters to regard the affair precisely
from my point of view; and I feel as if I would rather run the risk of
loss than hurt Emily's feelings by acting in direct opposition to her
opinion.  She managed in a most handsome and able manner for me, when I
was in Brussels, and prevented by distance from looking after my own
interests; therefore, I will let her manage still, and take the
consequences.  Disinterested and energetic she certainly is; and if she
be not quite so tractable or open to conviction as I could wish, I must
remember perfection is not the lot of humanity; and as long as we can
regard those we love, and to whom we are closely allied, with profound
and never-shaken esteem, it is a small thing that they should vex us
occasionally by what appear to us unreasonable and headstrong notions.

   "You, my dear Miss W---, know, full as well as I do, the value of
   sisters' affection to each other; there is nothing like it in this
   world, I believe, when they are nearly equal in age, and similar in
   education, tastes, and sentiments.  You ask about Branwell; he never
   thinks of seeking employment, and I begin to fear that he has rendered
   himself incapable of filling any respectable station in life; besides,
   if money were at his disposal, he would use it only to his own injury;
   the faculty of self-government is, I fear, almost destroyed in him.
   You ask me if I do not think that men are strange beings?  I do,
   indeed.  I have often thought so; and I think, too, that the mode of
   bringing them up is strange: they are not sufficiently guarded from
   temptation.  Girls are protected as if they were something very frail
   or silly indeed, while boys are turned loose on the world, as if they,
   of all beings in existence, were the wisest and least liable to be led
   astray.  I am glad you like Broomsgrove, though, I dare say, there are
   few places you would _not_ like, with Mrs. M. for a companion.  I
   always feel a peculiar satisfaction when I hear of your enjoying
   yourself, because it proves that there really is such a thing as
   retributive justice even in this world.  You worked hard; you denied
   yourself all pleasure, almost all relaxation, in your youth, and in
   the prime of life; now you are free, and that while you have still, I
   hope, many years of vigour and health in which you can enjoy freedom.
   Besides, I have another and very egotistical motive for being pleased;
   it seems that even 'a lone woman' can be happy, as well as cherished
   wives and proud mothers.  I am glad of that.  I speculate much on the
   existence of unmarried and never-to-be-married women now-a-days; and I
   have already got to the point of considering that there is no more
   respectable character on this earth than an unmarried woman, who makes
   her own way through life quietly, perseveringly, without support of
   husband or brother; and who, having attained the age of forty-five or
   upwards, retains in her possession a well-regulated mind, a
   disposition to enjoy simple pleasures, and fortitude to support
   inevitably pains, sympathy with the sufferings of others, and
   willingness to relieve want as far as her means extend."

During the time that the negotiation with Messrs. Aylott and Co. was
going on, Charlotte went to visit her old school-friend, with whom she
was in such habits of confidential intimacy; but neither then nor
afterwards, did she ever speak to her of the publication of the poems;
nevertheless, this young lady suspected that the sisters wrote for
Magazines; and in this idea she was confirmed when, on one of her visits
to Haworth, she saw Anne with a number of "Chambers's Journal," and a
gentle smile of pleasure stealing over her placid face as she read.

"What is the matter?" asked the friend.  "Why do you smile?"

"Only because I see they have inserted one of my poems," was the quiet
reply; and not a word more was said on the subject.

To this friend Charlotte addressed the following letters:--

   "March 3rd, 1846.

   "I reached home a little after two o'clock, all safe and right
   yesterday; I found papa very well; his sight much the same.  Emily and
   Anne were going to Keighley to meet me; unfortunately, I had returned
   by the old road, while they were gone by the new, and we missed each
   other.  They did not get home till half-past four, and were caught in
   the heavy shower of rain which fell in the afternoon.  I am sorry to
   say Anne has taken a little cold in consequence, but I hope she will
   soon be well.  Papa was much cheered by my report of Mr. C.'s opinion,
   and of old Mrs. E.'s experience; but I could perceive he caught gladly
   at the idea of deferring the operation a few months longer.  I went
   into the room where Branwell was, to speak to him, about an hour after
   I got home: it was very forced work to address him.  I might have
   spared myself the trouble, as he took no notice, and made no reply; he
   was stupified.  My fears were not in vain.  I hear that he got a
   sovereign while I have been away, under pretence of paying a pressing
   debt; he went immediately and changed it at a public-house, and has
   employed it as was to be expected.  --- concluded her account by
   saying he was a 'hopeless being;' it is too true.  In his present
   state it is scarcely possible to stay in the room where he is.  What
   the future has in store I do not know."

   "March 31st, 1846.

   "Our poor old servant Tabby had a sort of fit, a fortnight since, but
   is nearly recovered now.  Martha" (the girl they had to assist poor
   old Tabby, and who remains still the faithful servant at the
   parsonage,) "is ill with a swelling in her knee, and obliged to go
   home.  I fear it will be long before she is in working condition
   again.  I received the number of the 'Record' you sent . . . I read
   D'Aubigne's letter.  It is clever, and in what he says about
   Catholicism very good.  The Evangelical Alliance part is not very
   practicable, yet certainly it is more in accordance with the spirit of
   the Gospel to preach unity among Christians than to inculcate mutual
   intolerance and hatred.  I am very glad I went to--when I did, for the
   changed weather has somewhat changed my health and strength since.  How
   do you get on?  I long for mild south and west winds.  I am thankful
   papa continues pretty well, though often made very miserable by
   Branwell's wretched conduct.  _There_--there is no change but for the
   worse."

Meanwhile the printing of the volume of poems was quietly proceeding.
After some consultation and deliberation, the sisters had determined to
correct the proofs themselves, Up to March 28th the publishers had
addressed their correspondent as C. Bronte, Esq.; but at this time some
"little mistake occurred," and she desired Messrs. Aylott and Co. in
future to direct to her real address, "_Miss_ Bronte," &c.  She had,
however, evidently left it to be implied that she was not acting on her
own behalf, but as agent for the real authors, since in a note dated
April 6th, she makes a proposal on behalf of "C., E., and A. Bell," which
is to the following effect, that they are preparing for the press a work
of fiction, consisting of three distinct and unconnected tales, which may
be published either together, as a work of three volumes, of the ordinary
novel size, or separately, as single volumes, as may be deemed most
advisable.  She states, in addition, that it is not their intention to
publish these tales on their own account; but that the authors direct her
to ask Messrs. Aylott and Co. whether they would be disposed to undertake
the work, after having, of course, by due inspection of the MS.,
ascertained that its contents are such as to warrant an expectation of
success.  To this letter of inquiry the publishers replied speedily, and
the tenor of their answer may be gathered from Charlotte's, dated April
11th.

   "I beg to thank you, in the name of C., E., and A. Bell, for your
   obliging offer of advice.  I will avail myself of it, to request
   information on two or three points.  It is evident that unknown
   authors have great difficulties to contend with, before they can
   succeed in bringing their works before the public.  Can you give me
   any hint as to the way in which these difficulties are best met?  For
   instance, in the present case, where a work of fiction is in question,
   in what form would a publisher be most likely to accept the MS.?
   Whether offered as a work of three vols., or as tales which might be
   published in numbers, or as contributions to a periodical?

   "What publishers would be most likely to receive favourably a proposal
   of this nature?

   "Would it suffice to _write_ to a publisher on the subject, or would
   it be necessary to have recourse to a personal interview?

   "Your opinion and advice on these three points, or on any other which
   your experience may suggest as important, would be esteemed by us as a
   favour."

It is evident from the whole tenor of this correspondence, that the
truthfulness and probity of the firm of publishers with whom she had to
deal in this her first literary venture, were strongly impressed upon her
mind, and was followed by the inevitable consequence of reliance on their
suggestions.  And the progress of the poems was not unreasonably lengthy
or long drawn out.  On April 20th she writes to desire that three copies
may be sent to her, and that Messrs. Aylott will advise her as to the
reviewers to whom copies ought to be sent.

I give the next letter as illustrating the ideas of these girls as to
what periodical reviews or notices led public opinion.

"The poems to be neatly done up in cloth.  Have the goodness to send
copies and advertisements, _as early as possible_, to each of the
undermentioned periodicals.

"'Colburn's New Monthly Magazine.'

"'Bentley's Magazine.'

"'Hood's Magazine.'

"'Jerrold's Shilling Magazine.'

"'Blackwood's Magazine.'

"'The Edinburgh Review.'

"'Tait's Edinburgh Magazine.'

"'The Dublin University Magazine.'

"Also to the 'Daily News' and to the 'Britannia' papers.

"If there are any other periodicals to which you have been in the habit
of sending copies of works, let them be supplied also with copies.  I
think those I have mentioned will suffice for advertising."

In compliance with this latter request, Messrs. Aylott suggest that
copies and advertisements of the work should be sent to the "Athenaeum,"
"Literary Gazette," "Critic," and "Times;" but in her reply Miss Bronte
says, that she thinks the periodicals she first mentioned will be
sufficient for advertising in at present, as the authors do not wish to
lay out a larger sum than two pounds in advertising, esteeming the
success of a work dependent more on the notice it receives from
periodicals than on the quantity of advertisements.  In case of any
notice of the poems appearing, whether favourable or otherwise, Messrs.
Aylott and Co. are requested to send her the name and number of those
periodicals in which such notices appear; as otherwise, since she has not
the opportunity of seeing periodicals regularly, she may miss reading the
critique.  "Should the poems be remarked upon favourably, it is my
intention to appropriate a further sum for advertisements.  If, on the
other hand, they should pass unnoticed or be condemned, I consider it
would be quite useless to advertise, as there is nothing, either in the
title of the work, or the names of the authors, to attract attention from
a single individual."

I suppose the little volume of poems was published some time about the
end of May, 1846.  It stole into life; some weeks passed over, without
the mighty murmuring public discovering that three more voices were
uttering their speech.  And, meanwhile, the course of existence moved
drearily along from day to day with the anxious sisters, who must have
forgotten their sense of authorship in the vital care gnawing at their
hearts.  On June 17th, Charlotte writes:--

"Branwell declares that he neither can nor will do anything for himself;
good situations have been offered him, for which, by a fortnight's work,
he might have qualified himself, but he will do nothing except drink and
make us all wretched."

In the "Athenaeum" of July 4th, under the head of poetry for the million,
came a short review of the poems of C., E., and A. Bell.  The reviewer
assigns to Ellis the highest rank of the three "brothers," as he supposes
them to be; he calls Ellis "a fine, quaint spirit;" and speaks of "an
evident power of wing that may reach heights not here attempted."  Again,
with some degree of penetration, the reviewer says, that the poems of
Ellis "convey an impression of originality beyond what his contributions
to these volumes embody."  Currer is placed midway between Ellis and
Acton.  But there is little in the review to strain out, at this distance
of time, as worth preserving.  Still, we can fancy with what interest it
was read at Haworth Parsonage, and how the sisters would endeavour to
find out reasons for opinions, or hints for the future guidance of their
talents.

I call particular attention to the following letter of Charlotte's, dated
July 10th, 1846.  To whom it was written, matters not; but the wholesome
sense of duty in it--the sense of the supremacy of that duty which God,
in placing us in families, has laid out for us, seems to deserve especial
regard in these days.

   "I see you are in a dilemma, and one of a peculiar and difficult
   nature.  Two paths lie before you; you conscientiously wish to choose
   the right one, even though it be the most steep, strait, and rugged;
   but you do not know which is the right one; you cannot decide whether
   duty and religion command you to go out into the cold and friendless
   world, and there to earn your living by governess drudgery, or whether
   they enjoin your continued stay with your aged mother, neglecting,
   _for the present_, every prospect of independency for yourself, and
   putting up with daily inconvenience, sometimes even with privations.  I
   can well imagine, that it is next to impossible for you to decide for
   yourself in this matter, so I will decide it for you.  At least, I
   will tell you what is my earnest conviction on the subject; I will
   show you candidly how the question strikes me.  The right path is that
   which necessitates the greatest sacrifice of self-interest--which
   implies the greatest good to others; and this path, steadily followed,
   will lead, I believe, in time, to prosperity and to happiness, though
   it may seem, at the outset, to tend quite in a contrary direction.
   Your mother is both old and infirm; old and infirm people have but few
   sources of happiness--fewer almost than the comparatively young and
   healthy can conceive; to deprive them of one of these is cruel.  If
   your mother is more composed when you are with her, stay with her.  If
   she would be unhappy in case you left her, stay with her.  It will not
   apparently, as far as short-sighted humanity can see, be for your
   advantage to remain at ---, nor will you be praised and admired for
   remaining at home to comfort your mother; yet, probably, your own
   conscience will approve, and if it does, stay with her.  I recommend
   you to do what I am trying to do myself."

The remainder of this letter is only interesting to the reader as it
conveys a peremptory disclaimer of the report that the writer was engaged
to be married to her father's curate--the very same gentleman to whom,
eight years afterwards, she was united; and who, probably, even now,
although she was unconscious of the fact, had begun his service to her,
in the same tender and faithful spirit as that in which Jacob served for
Rachel.  Others may have noticed this, though she did not.

A few more notes remain of her correspondence "on behalf of the Messrs.
Bell" with Mr. Aylott.  On July 15th she says, "I suppose, as you have
not written, no other notices have yet appeared, nor has the demand for
the work increased.  Will you favour me with a line stating whether
_any_, or how many copies have yet been sold?"

But few, I fear; for, three days later, she wrote the following:--

"The Messrs. Bell desire me to thank you for your suggestion respecting
the advertisements.  They agree with you that, since the season is
unfavourable, advertising had better be deferred.  They are obliged to
you for the information respecting the number of copies sold."

On July 23rd she writes to the Messrs. Aylott:--

"The Messrs. Bell would be obliged to you to post the enclosed note in
London.  It is an answer to the letter you forwarded, which contained an
application for their autographs from a person who professed to have read
and admired their poems.  I think I before intimated, that the Messrs.
Bell are desirous for the present of remaining unknown, for which reason
they prefer having the note posted in London to sending it direct, in
order to avoid giving any clue to residence, or identity by post-mark,
&c."

Once more, in September, she writes, "As the work has received no further
notice from any periodical, I presume the demand for it has not greatly
increased."

In the biographical notice of her sisters, she thus speaks of the failure
of the modest hopes vested in this publication.  "The book was printed;
it is scarcely known, and all of it that merits to be known are the poems
of Ellis Bell.

"The fixed conviction I held, and hold, of the worth of these poems, has
not, indeed, received the confirmation of much favourable criticism; but
I must retain it notwithstanding."



FOOTNOTES:


{1}  A reviewer pointed out the discrepancy between the age (twenty-seven
years) assigned, on the mural tablet, to Anne Bronte at the time of her
death in 1849, and the alleged fact that she was born at Thornton, from
which place Mr. Bronte removed on February 25th, 1820.  I was aware of
the discrepancy, but I did not think it of sufficient consequence to be
rectified by an examination of the register of births.  Mr. Bronte's own
words, on which I grounded my statement as to the time of Anne Bronte's
birth, are as follows:--

"In Thornton, Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, Emily Jane, and Anne were
born."  And such of the inhabitants of Haworth as have spoken on the
subject say that all the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bronte were born before
they removed to Haworth.  There is probably some mistake in the
inscription on the tablet.

{2}  In the month of April 1858, a neat mural tablet was erected within
the Communion railing of the Church at Haworth, to the memory of the
deceased members of the Bronte family.  The tablet is of white Carrara
marble on a ground of dove-coloured marble, with a cornice surmounted by
an ornamental pediment of chaste design.  Between the brackets which
support the tablet, is inscribed the sacred monogram I.H.S., in old
English letters.

In Memory of

Maria, wife of the Rev. P. Bronte, A.B., Minister of Haworth,

She died Sept. 15th, 1821, in the 39th year of her age.

Also, of Maria, their daughter, who died May 6th, 1825, in the 12th year
of her age.

Also, of Elizabeth, their daughter, who died June 15th, 1825, in the 11th
year of her age.

Also, of Patrick Branwell, their son, who died Sept. 24th, 1848, aged 31
years.

Also, of Emily Jane, their daughter, who died Dec. 19th, 1848, aged 30
years.

Also, of Anne, their daughter, who died May 28th, 1849, aged 29 years.
She was buried at the Old Church, Scarborough.

Also, of Charlotte, their daughter, wife of the Rev. A. B. Nicholls, B.A.
She died March 31st, 1855, in the 39th year of her age.

"The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law, but
thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ."--1 Cor. xv. 56, 57.

{3}  With regard to my own opinion of the present school, I can only give
it as formed after what was merely a cursory and superficial inspection,
as I do not believe that I was in the house above half an hour; but it
was and is this,--that the house at Casterton seemed thoroughly healthy
and well kept, and is situated in a lovely spot; that the pupils looked
bright, happy, and well, and that the lady superintendent was a most
prepossessing looking person, who, on my making some inquiry as to the
accomplishments taught to the pupils, said that the scheme of education
was materially changed since the school had been opened.  I would have
inserted this testimony in the first edition, had I believed that any
weight could be attached to an opinion formed on such slight and
superficial grounds.

{4}  "Jane Eyre," vol. I., page 20.

{5}  Scott describes the sport, "Shooting at the Popinjay," "as an
ancient game formerly practised with archery, but at this period (1679)
with firearms.  This was the figure of a bird decked with parti-coloured
feathers, so as to resemble a popinjay or parrot.  It was suspended to a
pole, and served for a mark at which the competitors discharged their
fusees and carbines in rotation, at the distance of seventy paces.  He
whose ball brought down the mark held the proud title of Captain of the
Popinjay for the remainder of the day, and was usually escorted in
triumph to the most respectable change-house in the neighbourhood, where
the evening was closed with conviviality, conducted under his auspices,
and if he was able to maintain it, at his expense."--Old Mortality.

{6}  In this Gutenberg eBook M. Heger's comments are given in {} at
approximately the place where they occur--DP.





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