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

donderdag 2 juni 2011

Maria Bronte

When Maria was six years old, she was characterised as "grave, thoughtful, and quiet, to a degree far beyond her years".

Soon after their mother's death in 1821, Maria and her sisters grew up largely with one another, staying away from society. Maria read the newspaper and revealed her findings to her sisters,

Maria was said to have been a precocious child. According to her father, when he asked 10-year-old Maria "what...the best mode of spending time [was]", she answered, "By laying it out in preparation for a happy eternity.  He later said that he could speak with Maria on any popular topic of the day as fluently as with an adult, and regretfully recalled her "powerfully intellectual mind".
A printer from Thornton also remembered Maria correcting the proofs of one of Mr. Brontë's long poems.
According to Charlotte, she was rather serious and silent than otherwise, and Mrs. Gaskell described her as "delicate, unusually clever and thoughtful for her age, gentle, and untidy".

On 1 July 1824, Maria, 10, and Elizabeth, joined the Cowan Bridge School with Charlotte and Emily following soon after in September. The food provided by the school was generally poorly cooked and unhealthy, and the cook was reported to be "careless, dirty, and wasteful". Both Maria and Elizabeth had just recovered from measles and whooping cough, and despite hunger, they often did not eat. The school register read: Maria Brontë, aged 10 ... reads tolerably. Writes pretty well. Ciphers a little. Works badly. Very little of geography or history. Has made some progress in reading French, but knows nothing of the language grammatically. Miss Andrews, a teacher there, admitted that Maria had a "fine imagination and extra-ordinary talents
In spring 1825, a typhoid epidemic swept through the school, causing the departure of almost a sixth of the students, between February and June 1825. By the winter of 1824, Maria's health was already deteriorating due to consumption. On 14 February 1825, Maria was withdrawn from the school., She lived at Haworth for three months before dying at the age of 11.

Patrick attributed Maria's death to a divine aspect: "She exhibited during her illness many symptoms of a heart under Divine influence. Died of decline".

According to Elizabeth Gaskell, Maria inspired the pious character Helen Burns in Jane Eyre, and a teacher on whom Miss Scatcherd was modeled subjected Charlotte's "gentle patient dying sister [Maria]" to "worrying and cruelty".

One of these fellow-pupils of Charlotte and Maria Bronte's, 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 flashed 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.

A very young Elisabeth Taylor as Helen Burns

  • Lowood School's headmaster and treasurer is Mr. Brocklehurst, a grim and pious man who runs the institution as cheaply as possible. When Jane first encounters him the fleeting impression she gets at first glance is that of "a black pillar!" (I, 4, p.31). Mr. Brocklehurst has an original in the Reverend William Carus-Wilson (1791-1859), the founder of The Clergy Daughters' School. Carus-Wilson was a Calvinist Evangelist, ordained in 1816. He was also the son of a prosperous landowner. Revelations concerning Carus-Wilson's running of the school caused much controversy in later years.
    The kindly superintendent Miss Temple who Jane develops a close friendship with has a real life counterpart in Ann Evans, who was the superintendent at Cowan Bridge school. Charlotte's favourable depiction of Miss Temple is considered a 'just tribute' to Ann Evans's character.

    Another Lowood staff member who was modeled on an actual person is Miss Scatcherd, the History and Grammar teacher who mercilessly bullies Jane's friend Helen Burns. Miss Scatcherd is apparently based on a Miss Andrews, who taught at Cowan Bridge school when the Bronte sisters attended, and Charlotte's portrayal of her is quite the opposite to that of Ann Evans. In fact, along with John Reed, Miss Scatcherd is arguably the most unpleasant character in the novel. In her Life of Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell alludes to the harsh behaviour of Miss Andrews, cruelties echoed in the Lowood section of Jane Eyre, such as when Helen is birched by Miss Scatcherd for having dirty fingernails, despite being unable to wash them due to the water being frozen that morning. Jane-Eyre---Charlotte-Brontes-Inspirations-for-Lowood-School&id=5778074
  •  Rebecca Fraser also quotes in her biography on Charlotte Brontë (Vintage, 2003, p. 41), that the original Miss Scatcherd was also the writer (by the name A.H.) of one of the letters that the supporters of Carus-Wilson published around 1857 to discredit the way Charlotte Brontë had portrayed Cowan Bridge as Lowood School in Jane Eyre.
  • More info: Brett Harrison, 'The real "Miss Temple'' ' BST 85 (1975)
  • blackwell reference
  • Susan (Susanna) Harben, born 16 June 1785. Christened 27 June 1785 at St Thomas in the Cliffs, Lewes. Died February 1848, "dear old aunt Sue" who did not marry and became matron of the Clergy Daughter's School at Kirkby, Lonsdale. This was the school Charlotte Bronte was sent to and, according to "Notes on the families of Chamberlain and Harben", Matron Harben was apparently the model for the Matron in "Jane Eyre". The picture to the right of Susan Harben is from "Notes on the families of Chamberlain and Harben".

  • CB remembered Miss [Ann] Evans with gratitude and regard and pictured her as "Miss Temple" in Jane Eyre. Like Miss Temple, Miss Evans left school to be married on 6 July 1826 at Tunstall Church (...) Miss Evans was succeeded as superintendent of the school by Miss -or Mrs.- Harben, a close friend of Carus Wilson. The courtesy title of "Mrs." was given her of the tragic circumstance of her bridegroom having died in church on her wedding day. Mrs. Harben remained at school until 1843.
  • This was the charge, too, that lay at the heart of Elizabeth Gaskell's epistolary feud with Rev Carus Wilson 20 years later. In 1857, Gaskell's biography of her late friend Charlotte Brontë suggested that Lowood, the nightmare school described in the early chapters of Jane Eyre, was a direct transcription of Cowan Bridge, the establishment attended by the Brontë sisters in the 1820s. Gaskell had since visited the place and found it dirty, serving up sour milk in which dust, dirt and goodness knows what floated. It was this "want of cleanliness", implied Gaskell, which had been responsible for the deaths of the two eldest Brontë girls.
    With a howl of indignation, the family of the school's founder, Rev Wilson, conducted a vicious letter campaign against Mrs Gaskell in which she was accused of being a fantasist. Battle lines were drawn, and a teary Mrs Gaskell marshalled her troops, including Charlotte Brontë's clerical widower, into responding on her behalf.  -Guardian-UK-news-
Maria made the best of it in silence. Like all the members of her family she was endowed with unlimited power of resignation, and never did a complaint escape her lips; but she had an incurable disease. To add to her sufferings she was a prey to the malevolence of one of the teachers, who suspected her wrongly of affecting a mournful air to gain the compassion of her comrades. Maria died ten months after her arrival at Cowan Bridge and Elizabeth a few weeks later. Both sisters had succumbed to tuberculosis.

Charlotte and Emily returned to Haworth towards the end of 1825.
They, were two timid and studious little girls, happy only at home. Charlotte was the gayer and played and talked willingly when she felt at ease. Emily, almost never spoke, but she had so attentive and serious an air that it was difficult to forget her presence. They found at home their brother Branwell, already admired for a very precocious artistic sense, and Anne, who, in her gentleness and her gravity, must have reminded them of the sister Maria whom they had lost.
Years later Mary Taylor told:

Charlotte 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, etc.

1 opmerking:

  1. You should read "The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte" by Daphne du Maurier, published in 1961. To understand the entire family history and dynamics.


The Parlour

The Parlour



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).

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.

Top Withens in the snow.

Top Withens in the snow.



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