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

dinsdag 3 januari 2012

Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle, by Clement K. Shorter

Many changes have been made since Mr. Brontë died, but the house still retains its essentially interesting features.  In the time of the Brontës, it is true, the front outlook was as desolate as to-day it is attractive.  Then there was a little piece of barren ground running down to the walls of the churchyard, with here and there a currant-bush as the sole adornment.  Now we see an abundance of trees and a well-kept lawn. 
Miss Ellen Nussey well remembers seeing Emily and Anne, on a fine summer afternoon, sitting on stools in this bit of garden plucking currants from the poor insignificant bushes.  
There was no premonition of the time, not so far distant, when the rough doorway separating the churchyard from the garden, which was opened for their mother when they were little children, should be opened again time after time in rapid succession for their own biers to be carried through.  This gateway is now effectively bricked up.  In the days of the Brontës it was reserved for the p. 60passage of the dead—a grim arrangement, which, strange to say, finds no place in any one of the sisters’ stories.  

We enter the house, and the door on the right leads into Mr. Brontë’s study, always called the parlour; that on the left into the dining-room, where the children spent a great portion of their lives.  From childhood to womanhood, indeed, the three girls regularly breakfasted with their father in his study.  

In the dining-room—a square and simple room of a kind common enough in the houses of the poorer middle-classes—they ate their mid-day dinner, their tea and supper. 
 Mr. Brontë joined them at tea, although he always dined alone in his study.  The children’s dinner-table has been described to me by a visitor to the house.  At one end sat Miss Branwell, at the other, Charlotte, with Emily and Anne on either side.  Branwell was then absent.  The living was of the simplest.  A single joint, followed invariably by one kind or another of milk-pudding.  Pastry was unknown in the Brontë household.  Milk-puddings, or food composed of milk and rice, would seem to have made the principal diet of Emily and Anne Brontë, and to this they added a breakfast of Scotch porridge, which they shared with their dogs.  It is more interesting, perhaps, to think of all the daydreams in that room, of the mass of writing which was achieved there, of the conversations and speculation as to the future.  
Miss Nussey has given a pleasant picture of twilight when Charlotte and she walked with arms encircling one another round and round the table, and Emily and Anne followed in similar fashion.  There was no lack of cheerfulness and of hope at that period.  

Behind Mr. Brontë’s studio was the kitchen; and there we may easily picture the Brontë children telling stories to Tabby or Martha, or to whatever servant reigned at the time, and learning, as all of them did, to become thoroughly domesticated—Emily most of all.  Behind the dining-room was a p. 61peat-room, which, when Charlotte was married in 1854, was cleared out and converted into a little study for Mr. Nicholls.  The staircase with its solid banister remains as it did half a century ago; and at its foot one is still shown the corner which tradition assigns as the scene of Emily’s conflict with her dog Keeper.  On the right, at the back, as you mount the staircase, was a small room allotted to Branwell as a studio. 

On the other side of this staircase, also at the back, was the servants’ room.  In the front of the house, immediately over the dining-room, was Miss Branwell’s room, afterwards the spare bedroom until Charlotte Brontë married.  In that room she died. 

On the left, over Mr. Brontë’s study, was Mr. Brontë’s bedroom.  It was the room which, for many years, he shared with Branwell, and it was in that room that Branwell and his father died at an interval of twenty years.  On the staircase, half-way up, was a grandfather’s clock, which Mr. Brontë used to wind up every night on his way to bed.  He always went to bed at nine o’clock, and Miss Nussey well remembers his stentorian tones as he called out as he left his study and passed the dining-room door—
‘Don’t be up late, childrenwhich they usually were.  

Between these two front rooms upstairs, and immediately over the passage, with a door facing the staircase, was a box room; but this was the children’s nursery, where for many years the children slept, where the bulk of their little books were compiled, and where, it is more than probable, The Professor and Jane Eyre were composed.

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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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