I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

zaterdag 4 december 2010

Christmas In Victorian England

Prince Albert married Queen Victoria and brought many German customs with him that Christmas began to gain popularity again.

One of the first signs of Christmas was the arrival of the Christmas card in the post. John Calcott Horsley designed the first Christmas card in 1846 for Sir Henry Cole, Chairman of the Society of the Arts. Only 1000 cards were printed that first year and were expensive, but the pattern for the future was formed. Then in 1870, postage was reduced to one half penny per ounce and a cheaper color lithography was used for printing. Thus began the real spread of the Christmas card. By the early 1870s, the custom had reached the United States. At first, designs were simple, but as technology advanced, new subjects evolved. By the 1860s, popular designs were Christmas feasts, church bells, snowbound mail-coaches and turkey and plum puddings.

Christmas decorations sometimes appeared well before the holiday, also, but many still held to the old superstition of bad luck to erect evergreens before Christmas Eve. The most favored plants were all 'magical' because of the mid-winter berries they produced--mistletoe, holly and ivy. The red berry of the holly was believed to protect one against witchcraft. The sprig had to be carried into the house by a male, as the berry is on the 'male' holly plant. One use for holly sprigs was to decorate the Christmas pudding. The 'female' ivy symbolized immortality. Mistletoe, because of its pagan origins, was not allowed in any church. Kissing under the mistletoe was a purely English custom, and only as many berries as were on the mistletoe, could there be kisses. For after every kiss, a berry had to be removed from the sprig.

The Christmas tree can truly be called a Victorian innovation. The custom of a lighted tree began in Germany and German settlers brought the idea to America. But it wasn't until Prince Albert, of German descent, brought the Christmas tree to England in 1840 that it gained popularity there. By 1847, the trees at Windsor Castle were laden with presents as well as wax candles. The tradition spread as English citizens followed the Royal example. The trees and other decorations were removed on Twelfth Night (January 6). To do so before or after was considered bad luck.

Families began their Christmas Day by celebrating mass. (Christmas Eve services did not become popular until after the Second World War.) The peal of bells called everyone to church. At services, scriptural lessons were interspersed with carols. Most of the carols we sing today were written in the nineteenth century, although old favorites such as 'Silent Night' and 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' are much older.

Carols were also sung at home and families even walked door-to-door to entertain others. Also going from house-to-house were the wassailers. These were usually the poor of the parish, who sought donations of drink, food or money as they invited others to drink from their wooden bowl.

Christmas dinner was a grand affair. Goose, chicken or a joint of roast beef took center stage on the table. Turkey, while popular in America, wasn't customary fare until late in the 19th century in England. Christmas pudding, made with beef, raisins and prunes, was mixed on Stir-up Sunday, the Sunday before Advent, in order for the mixture to mature. All present in the house took turns stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon (in honor of the Christ child's wooden crib). The stirring had to be done in a clockwise direction for luck. Mince pies were another traditional dish. They were sweeter, made with mincemeat, fruit and spices, and had to be eaten for the twelve days of Christmas to ensure twelve months of luck in the coming year. Each one eaten had to be baked by a different person, however, so there was much sharing with friends.

After dinner, children pulled their crackers and everyone exchanged gifts. The evening usually ended with parlor games and carol singing.

by Michelle J. Hoppe

zondag 28 november 2010

Villette, directed dreaming

In Charlotte Brontë’s book Villette, her heroine, Lucy Snowe, accidentally takes too much opium, and spends an evening intensely tripping. When Ms Brontë was asked how she, a parson’s daughter in a remote Yorkshire village, could accurately describe what opium felt like, she said that every night, before she went to bed, she deliberately thought about this particular scene as she fell asleep. On the third night of trying this, she dreamt the entire scene in its entirety, with all the sensations and visions Lucy had.
Of course, this could have been a way of covering up the fact that her brother was an opium addict, and she probably got the facts from him. She did say, however, that she often used this method when she wasn’t sure how to write a scene, or how a character thought or felt. Many creative types use directed dreaming when they’re stuck.

Mirfield

Mirfield

Bookings for Mirfield's Brontë-themed Christmas all-charity fund-raising events. Some Brontë descendants of Rev Patrick Brontë's brothers and sisters to be present at some of the events. All funded by local businesses in North Kirklees and Haworth and friends of Kirklees Brontë Group.
Sun 28th November. A Brontë walk in the footsteps of the Brontës when they walked from Roe Head school to St Mary's parish church, Mirfield. We will see what is left of the former Blake Hall site, where Anne Brontë was a governess. Then back to the church hall where one can purchase refreshment and food and see the exihibition about the St Mary's church history and the Brontë connection. The walk starts at 1pm across from Holly Bank School, Mirfield, at the top of Whitleys Garden centre to be led by Ken Dews from the Kirklees Ramblers. It will take about one and a half hours at the most. All are welcome - just turn up. Some of us to have collection tins for Help the Heroes.

Parsonage

Parsonage

Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte



Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.


O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!


Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,


To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.


With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.


Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.


There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.


--
Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Parents
Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

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