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

vrijdag 9 december 2011

In the Footsteps of the Brontës

Chadwick, Ellis H., In the Footsteps of the Brontës (London, Pitman, 1914) pp. 199-230, 400-9, ill.. Reprinted in 1971.
Some good chapters on 
Charlotte's Brussels. Con­tains also a copy of the prospec­tus of the "Maison d'éduca­tion pour les jeunes demoiselles, sous la direction de Madame Heger-Parent," a reprint of two articles on M. and Mme. Heger (see Heger historiograp­hy), photographs of Miss Frances Wheel­wright and Mdlle. de Bassom­pière, a letter from Mme. Heger to Laeti­tia Wheelwright (dated 21-9-1842) and a very speculative chapter about a third visit of Charlotte to Brussels in 1850. Mrs. Chadwick knew Paul Heger, Frances Wheelwright, the Jenkin­ses and Mlle. de Bassompière personally.

A few years after Esther Alice Chadwick (fl. 1882–1928) - who wrote under the name Mrs Ellis H. Chadwick - had read a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë, she moved to a house near the Haworth vicarage where the Brontë family had lived. As a result, Chadwick was able to speak to many people who had known the family, and in 1914 she published this extensive biography of the family. 
From this book: 

When some years afterwards Martha Brown, the servant, had an opportunity 
of visiting London, she was much interested in Paternoster Row and the Chapter Coffee House as well as the publishing firm in Cornhill. She had assured Charlotte Bronte that she should visit the two latter places and tell them that she came 
from Haworth parsonage. " You never will, Martha ! " said Charlotte. " But I will," replied Martha, in her broad Yorkshire, and her sister, Mrs. Ratcliffe, affirmed that she carried out her intention in part by making herself known at the 
Chapter Coffee House to the waiter, whilst at Cornhill she was content with seeing the young man behind the counter on which were books, some of which had " Currer Bell " on the cover. Her courage failed, however, and she did not dare 
to ask for the head of the firm, which very much amused Charlotte Bronte. 
Charlotte Bronte left Hathersage on 23rd July, 1845. On her journey home from Sheffield to Leeds, she travelled with a gentleman, whose features and bearing betrayed him to be a Frenchman. Putting aside her natural shyness, she inquired in French if he were not a Frenchman, and on his replying in 
the affirmative, she further asked if he had not spent some time in Germany, as she detected the thick, guttural pronunciation. She evidently enjoyed the journey, pleasantly beguiled by conversation in the language in which she had become proficient. It is now known by the light of her recently published letters in The Times, sent to M. Heger in 1844-45, that the real reason for her conversation with the Frenchman was that he reminded her of M. Heger : " Every word was most precious to me, because it reminded me of you. I love French for your sake with all my heart and soul," she writes.
As Charlotte and Emily tramped the moors " to the damage of their shoes, but the benefit of their health," Charlotte told her sister of her sorrow and anguish, and Emily had to bear with her for nearly two years. We read in her letter, dated November, 1845, " I have denied myself absolutely the pleasure of 
speaking about you even to Emily ; but I have been able to conquer neither my regrets nor my impatience." It is easy to understand Charlotte's never-ending sorrow for the loss of Emily, for it was she who comforted and bore with her during this wretched time. If Charlotte wrote down her dreams, and Emily wrote of her deliriums during her illness, no wonder Charlotte said on preparing a new edition of Withering Heights that, on looking over the papers, they left her prostrate and caused her sleepless nights. 

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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.



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