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 12 juli 2012

The Three Brontes by May Sinclair

Unknown woman, formerly known as Charlotte Brontë (Mrs A.B. Nicholls)
by Unknown artist
watercolour, 1850
urchased, 1906

Then there is that other "sensational discovery" of the Heger portrait, that little drawing (now in the National Portrait Gallery) of Charlotte Bronte in curls, wearing a green gown, and reading Shirley. It is signed Paul Heger, 1850, the year of Shirley's publication, and the year in which Charlotte sat to Richmond for her portrait. There are two inscriptions on the back: "The Wearin' of the Green; First since Emily's death"; and below: "This drawing is by P. Heger, done from life in 1850." The handwriting gives no clue. Mr. Malham-Dembleby attaches immense importance to this green gown, which he "identifies" with the pink one worn by Lucy in Villette. He says that Lady Ritchie told him that Charlotte wore a green gown at the dinner-party Thackeray gave for her in June, 1850; and when the green gown turns out after all to be a white one with a green pattern on it, it is all one to Mr. Malham-Dembleby. So much for the green gown. Still, gown or no gown, the portrait  may  be genuine. Mr. Malham-Dembleby says that it is drawn on the same paper as that used in Mr. George Smith's house, where Charlotte was staying in June 1850, and he argues that Charlotte and M. Heger met in London that year, and that he then drew this portrait of her from the life. True, the portrait is a very creditable performance for an amateur; true, M. Heger's children maintained that their father did not draw, and there is no earthly evidence that he did; true, we have nothing but one person's report of another person's (a collector's) statement that he had obtained the portrait from the Heger family, a statement at variance with the evidence of the Heger family itself. But granted that the children of M. Heger were mistaken as to their father's gift, and that he did draw this portrait of Charlotte Bronte from Charlotte herself in London in 1850, I cannot see that it matters a straw or helps us to the assumption of the great tragic passion which is the main support of Mr. Malham-Dembleby's amazing fabrication. The-Three-Brontes


Since Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte and Maeterlinck's eloquent tribute to Emily in Wisdom and Destiny, which last Miss Sinclair writes she has " unblushingly ' lifted,'" no one has more clearly and adequately dealt with the great trio of sisters. Not once does Miss Sinclair's right instinct fail her in this beautiful appreciation. She understands and sets forth Charlotte's method and inspiration as could one only who shared the same inspiration and practised the same art; she feels Emily's power as one who has felt in the same kind; and it is important to add that she lays her finger on the very heart of Emily's mysticism as could This latter fact recalls to memory certain acknowledgments made to Miss Sinclair in Evelyn IJnderhill's fine volume on Mysticism. As to Charlotte, Miss Sinclair's great service is the clearing away of rubbish and gossip, the tracing to its true source, her finer inspiration and her splendid vindication of Charlotte's women, her prophetic vision of the submerging of the futile and vain mid-Victorian type and the survival of a braver and nobler woman. ' In setting aside the idle gossip of a love-affair which wakened Charlotte Bronte's powers, Miss Sinclair says the great thing to realize is that " it is always the inner life that counts, and with, the Brontes it 
supremely counted."  It counted and accounted indeed for almost everything. Because Charlotte Bronte wrote a novel about a little French professor in love, the critics must necessarily try to build up a gossiping romance about her relations to M. Heger. " It may be," says Miss Sinclair with fine irony,  " t h a t I have no more authority for my belief that Emily Bronte was in love with the Absolute than the other people have for theirs that Charlotte was in love with M. Heger." Miss Sinclair quotes from a letter of Charlotte's written in Brussels at the time when her passion was supposed to be at high-water mark. She writes, " I lead an easeful, stagnant, silent life."  " M ay I point out," asks the unerring psychologist in Miss Sinclair, " that you may be ' silent' in the first workings of a tragic and illegitimate passion, you are not ' stagnant' and certainly not ' easeful.' " Not M. Heger in the French Pensionnai and a futile passion taught Charlotte Bronte to turn her genius free upon the reproduction of life. Charlotte could be inspired, but she was not easily taught. Her schoolmistresses, indeed, taught her to " indite," " peruse," and " retain " where she had much better have "written," "read," and "kept," and doubtless M. Heger corrected her French syntax, but her genius was awakened by reading her untrammeled sister's Wuthering Heights. This discovery is Miss Sinclair's most valuable and entirely original contribution to Bronte biography. Miss Sinclair, who knows so well that the great event is in the inner life, knows also what a high adventure is the reading of a great and vitalizing book. After the " strange grayness " of the Professor, the 
" stillness and grayness of imperfect hearing, imperfect seeing," Charlotte Bronte suddenly awakens and produces a book pulsing with vitality. Through whatever flaws of method and of style, the life, sincerity, reality, of the book breaks. The critics, amazed, search the biographical data for an event to account for the sudden blossoming. Miss Sinclair shows conclusively that the event was spiritual.  It was not a French professor who awakened the genius's soul; it was a book.  It was Emily, who knew none of the " cold deliberations born of fear " ; whose own book was the fruit of a divine freedom, a divine unconsciousness," who lifted her sister to the plane where she too could freely use her powers. " The experience may seem insufficient," says Miss Sinclair, and adds, authoritatively, " it is of such experiences that a great writer's life is largely made." For this insight, this fact so self-evident, once it is pointed out, all readers of Charlotte Bronte owe Miss Sinclair a debt of deep gratitude, as well as for her discriminating, fine-seeing analysis of Charlotte's development of style, method, and spirit. The eulogy of Emily Bronte surpasses any that has yet been accorded that great, unacclaimed writer. If Swinburne has praised her exuberantly and Maeterlinck exquisitely, May Sinclair has sung her truly, proving her praise as she sings. She has paused at the very passages, the lines, the attitudes which give the " unapproachable, the unique and baffling quality of her temperament and of her genius." " Born with a profound, incurable indifference to the material event," chary of alien and external contacts, self-sufficing and heroic, there came to her " nothing of all that passes in love, sorrow, passion, or anguish; still did she possess all that abides when emotion has faded away." Emily Bronte was of those souls born complete who do not realize their being 
through contact with external reality. She was. She lived and thought and produced splendidly aloof from the stream of circumstance. If we would, as critic, desire to find flaws in a book so remarkable as this, we should say that Miss Sinclair was perhaps somewhat too scornful of Anne's gentle and submissive spirit. And it might be pointed out that the method of repetition used especially in the first half of the book, the continual refrain of " their destiny," " their happiness," belongs rather to the method of poetry than of prose. Still no critic need fear to say of Miss Sinclair's book that it is one of the most vital and splendid achievements of literary appreciation and analysis of our timesNorthAmericanRev-

1 opmerking:

  1. This is an enjoyable book , with interesting thoughts and one might say Sinclair started the modern wild child of the moor Emily vogue that went on for many years...and still does! ...However Miss Sinclair unluckily published her book just before CB's letters to M. Heger. came to light...When those letters were published in the Times, Sinclair's ideas about CB's emotions were shown to be quite wrong . Charlotte's letters to M. Heger. have to be read to be believed....and Charlotte wondered why M. Heger. did not answer?


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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