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 16 januari 2012

PATERNOSTER ROW. The "Chapter Coffee House"".

Charlotte Bronte 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.......

The "Chapter Coffee House," at the corner of Chapter House Court, was in the last century famous for its punch, its pamphlets, and its newspapers. As lawyers and authors frequented the Fleet Street taverns, so booksellers haunted the "Chapter." Bonnell Thornton, in the Connoisseur, Jan., 1754, says:—"The conversation here naturally turns upon the newest publications, but their criticisms are somewhat singular. When they say a good book they do not mean to praise the style or sentiment, but the quick and extensive sale of it. That book is best which sells most."

Mrs. Gaskell has sketched the "Chapter" in 1848, with its low heavy-beamed ceilings, wainscoted rooms, and its broad, dark, shallow staircase. She describes it as formerly frequented by university men, country clergymen, and country booksellers, who, friendless in London, liked to hear the literary chat. Few persons slept there, and in a long, low, dingy room up-stairs the periodical meetings of the trade were held. "The high, narrow windows looked into the gloomy Row." Nothing of motion or of change could be seen in the grim, dark houses opposite, so near and close, although the whole width of the Row was between. The mighty roar of London ran round like the sound of an unseen ocean, yet every footfall on the pavement below might be heard distinctly in that unfrequented street.

The frequenters of the "Chapter Coffee House" (1797—1805) have been carefully described by Sir Richard Phillips. Alexander Stevens, editor of the "Annual Biography and Obituary," was one of the choice spirits who met nightly in the "Wittinagemot," as it was called, or the north-east corner box in the coffee-room. The neighbours, who dropped in directly the morning papers arrived, and before they were dried by the waiter, were called the Wet Paper Club, and another set intercepted the wet evening papers. Dr. Buchan, author of that murderous book, "Domestic Medicine," which teaches a man how to kill himself and family cheaply, generally acted as moderator. He was a handsome, white-haired man, a Tory, a good-humoured companion, and a bon vivant. If any one began to complain, or appear hypochondriacal, he used to say—

"Now let me prescribe for you, without a fee. Here, John, bring a glass of punch for Mr.— unless he likes brandy and water better. Now, take that, sir, and I'll warrant you'll soon be well. You're a peg too low; you want stimulus; and if one glass won't do, call for a second."
Dr. Gower, the urbane and able physician of the Middlesex Hospital, was another frequent visitor, as also that great eater and worker, Dr. Fordyce, whose balance no potations could disturb. Fordyce had fashionable practice, and brought rare news and much sound information on general subjects. He came to the "Chapter" from his wine, stayed about an hour, and sipped a glass of brandy and water. He then took another glass at the "London Coffee House," and a third at the "Oxford," then wound home to his house in Essex Street, Strand. The three doctors seldom agreed on medical subjects, and laughed loudly at each other's theories. They all, however, agreed in regarding the "Chapter" punch as an infallible and safe remedy for all ills.

The standing men in the box were Hammond and Murray. Hammond, a Coventry manufacturer, had scarcely missed an evening at the "Chapter" for forty-five years. His strictures on the events of the day were thought severe but able, and as a friend of liberty he had argued all through the times of Wilkes and the French and American wars. His Socratic arguments were very amusing. Mr. Murray, the great referee of the Wittinagemot, was a Scotch minister, who generally sat at the "Chapter" reading papers from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. He was known to have read straight through every morning and evening paper published in London for thirty years. His memory was so good that he was always appealed to for dates and matters of fact, but his mind was not remarkable for general lucidity. Other friends of Stevens's were Dr. Birdmore, the Master of the Charterhouse, who abounded in anecdote; Walker, the rhetorician and dictionary-maker, a most intelligent man, with a fine enunciation, and Dr. Towers, a political writer, who over his half-pint of Lisbon grew sarcastic and lively. Also a grumbling man named Dobson, who between asthmatic paroxysms vented his spleen on all sides. Dobson was an author and paradox-monger, but so devoid of principle that he was deserted by all his friends, and would have died from want, if Dr. Garthshore had not placed him as a patient in an empty fever hospital. Robinson, "the king of booksellers," and his sensible brother John were also frequenters of the "Chapter," as well as Joseph Johnson, the friend of Priestley, Paine, Cowper, and Fuseli, from St. Paul's Churchyard. Phillips, the speculative bookseller, then commencing his Monthly Magazine, came to the "Chapter" to look out for recruits, and with his pockets well lined with guineas to enlist them. He used to describe all the odd characters at this coffee-house, from the glutton in politics, who waited at daylight for the morning papers, to the moping and disconsolate bachelor, who sat till the fire was raked out by the sleepy waiter at half-past twelve at night. These strange figures succeeded each other regularly, like the figures in a magic lantern.
Alexander Chalmers, editor of many works, enlivened the Wittinagemot by many sallies of wit and humour. He took great pains not to be mistaken for a namesake of his, who, he used to say, carried "the leaden mace." Other habitués were the two Parrys, of the Courier and Jacobite papers, and Captain Skinner, a man of elegant manners, who represented England in the absurd procession of all nations, devised by that German revolutionary fanatic, Anacharsis Clootz, in Paris in 1793. Baker, an ex-Spitalfields manufacturer, a great talker and eater, joined the coterie regularly, till he shot himself at his lodgings in Kirby Street. It was discovered that his only meal in the day had been the nightly supper at the "Chapter," at the fixed price of a shilling, with a supplementary pint of porter. When the shilling could no longer be found for the supper, he killed himself.

Among other members of these pleasant coteries were Lowndes, the electrician; Dr. Busby, the musician; Cooke, the well-bred writer of conversation; and Macfarlane, the author of "The History of George III.," who was eventually killed by a blow from the pole of a coach during an election procession of Sir Francis Burdett at Brentford. Another celebrity was a young man named Wilson, called Langton, from his stories of the haut ton. He ran up a score of £40, and then disappeared, to the vexation of Mrs. Brown, the landlady, who would willingly have welcomed him, even though he never paid, as a means of amusing and detaining customers. Waithman, the Common Councilman, was always clear-headed and agreeable. There was also Mr. Paterson, a long-headed, speculative North Briton, who had taught Pitt mathematics. But such coteries are like empires; they have their rise and their fall. Dr. Buchan died; some pert young sparks offended the Nestor, Hammond, who gave up the place, after forty-five years' attendance, and before 1820 the "Chapter" grew silent and dull.

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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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