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

maandag 24 oktober 2011

Patrick Bronte teaching methods

Lessons were an integral part of life in the Brontë household. Patrick gave instruction to his children at regular times each day, “adapted to their respective ages and capacities” (Dearden 1857, qtd. in Barker 1994, 855), but he expected them to take responsibility for managing the outcomes. They were encouraged to commit their lessons to memory and they did so by discussing, playing and weaving new information  into their latest stories and journals. This was a far cry from the dull reciting of numbers and grammar practised in most schools at the time and satirised by Dickens in  Hard Times. At Crofton Hall, Maria and Elizabeth had used Mangnall’s Historical Questions, a standard textbook for repeated question and answer lessons that Charlotte again encountered with less rigour at Roe Head. Patrick Brontë’s teaching methods were radically different. The early biographer Mrs. Chadwick, possibly on the authority of the servant Nancy Garrs, reported that he regularly “made a practice of telling them stories to illustrate a geographical or history lesson, and they had to write it out the next morning. Consequently they thought it out in bed—a habit Charlotte continued all her life in connection with her stories” (63). His accent on storytelling and the primacy of the imagination marks Patrick Brontë as an inheritor of the Romantic tradition. For him, storytelling was as important in cultivating the mind as history and globes. He delighted in tales of adventure and regaled his  children and their friends with “strange stories . . . of the extraordinary lives and doings of people who resided in far off out of the way places but in contiguity with Haworth—stories which made one shiver and shrink from hearing, but they were full of grim humour & interest for Patrick Brontë and his children” (Brontë 1995, I: 600). It was just such local histories of family scandal and usurpation that later fed into the strange events of Emily’s Wuthering Heights. No doubt Patrick also entertained them with tales of Ireland. Charlotte’s mix of political allegory and  fairytale in  Tales of the Islanders (Brontë 1987, I: 21, 99, 140, 196) displays the same fascination for the gothic and the supernatural. Despite her shyness, she had inherited her father’s gift for storytelling and gained a reputation at Roe Head for regaling her schoolmates with stories of sleepwalkers, combining “all the horrors her imagination could create, from surging  seas, raging breakers, towering castle walls, high precipices, invisible chasms and dangers” (Brontë 1995, I: 592). 
A study of natural history and a love of nature was also part of Patrick Brontë’s Romantic ethos. Natural Theology sanctioned the study of nature as a means of revering the earthly grandeurs and design of Creation. Natural history could be justified as morally useful, and the Evangelical movement, which Patrick Brontë supported, gave religious sanction to such pursuits as bird watching and geology. Thus he subscribed to Wordsworth’s view that the beauties of nature were a beneficent force, and he allowed his children to roam freely on the moors accompanied by a servant and later by the family dog. Locals reported that he himself took the children with him on his own “rambles among the hills” (Barker 1994, 108), drawing attention to particular birds, plants or geological formations. 
His books by the naturalists Bewick, Audubon, Goldsmith, and “White of Selbourne” (recommended by Charlotte to one of her  school friends) indicate the extent of his interest in this field and his belief that the hand of providence was in every page of the “great book of  Nature”, the young Charlotte’s second “best book” and a phrase often repeated in the Brontë juvenilia (Alexander and Smith 2003, 338). Patrick’s own verse typically proclaims the beauty of nature as a manifestation of God: 
With heart enraptured, oft have I surveyed, 
The vast, and bounteous works, that God has made. 
The tinkling rill, the floods astounding roar, 
The river’s brink, and ocean’s frothy shore

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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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