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 4 oktober 2012

Haworth homes plan comes under attack by Bronte guardians

One of the world’s most famous literary societies has warned that plans for up to 320 homes on Green Belt land in Bronte country could undermine the area’s heritage tourism.

It is next to a lane to Oxenhope known as “Charlotte’s Path” after Jane Eyre author Charlotte Bronte, where she and her future husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, held clandestine meetings before they were  married. thetelegraphandargus

 I have walked the route many times, and it has the happiest connections to the courtship and wedding of Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Bell Nicholls.  bronte parsonage

Arthur Bell Nicholls, the curate who assisted Patrick Brontë in the parish, had proposed to Charlotte without consulting him. Charlotte's father knew Nicholls was penniless, without even the incumbency of a parish, which is what had enabled Patrick Brontë to provide for a family—and in no grand style, either. Patrick Brontë believed that Nicholls was after Charlotte's money, as her books were selling well, and he was furious that Nicholls should seek to win his daughter without the courtesy of a man-to-man discussion first. Losing his hot Irish temper, he criticized his future son-in-law in the harshest language every time the poor man's name came up.
Nor was Patrick Brontë the only person who opposed Nicholls' marriage proposal. The Brontë family servants (who were like family since they had served there for decades) also roundly criticized him, and so did Charlotte's old friend Ellen Nussey. (Brontës, 726, 735) Charlotte Brontë—who had never particularly noticed Arthur Bell Nicholls before the proposal—found herself in the unlikely position of his champion, defending Nicholls' character against the irate critics who surrounded her since she seemed to be the only person who was keeping a cool head about the whole affair. In this way, she began to see and appreciate her suitor's fine qualities. If those around Charlotte had been calmer about the proposal, it is very possible that Charlotte wouldn't have given him a second thought. (Brontës, 732)
Into the middle of this quarrel came Mrs. Gaskell on her first visit to Haworth. (Brontës, 738-741) She had learned about the proposal and its obstacles from Charlotte's letters, and her romantic heart found it tragic and disgraceful that this Romeo and Juliet should be kept apart. What she failed to take into account was Charlotte's own ambivalence about the love affair. Charlotte wasn't sure whether she was even interested in Nicholls, so her father's opposition to the match gave her the perfect excuse. She could act passive and resigned, and no one would be offended: not her father, who felt guilty for upsetting her; not Arthur Bell Nicholls, who was managing to carry on a quiet correspondence with her behind her father's back; and certainly not the romantic Mrs. Gaskell, who concluded that her poor friend was a persecuted saint. All negative attention could direct itself to the obstinate Patrick Brontë—and while his future son-in-law never blamed him, Mrs. Gaskell certainly did. (Brontës, 741)
But Charlotte was not generally passive and resigned, and she did not stay so now. As soon as she made up her mind, she went straight to her father and her suitor and told them how things were to be. She was going to marry Arthur Bell Nicholls, and she was not going to leave either her father or her home. Nicholls would return to Haworth to live in the parsonage with them, and he would resume his old occupation as curate, carrying out her father's duties so that the elderly Patrick Brontë could retire. (Brontës, 748)
One wonders how Patrick Brontë felt when she laid down the law like that, but he had not opposed any of his children when their minds were made up, and he did not do so now. "Papa's mind seems wholly changed about this matter," Charlotte writes. "And he has said both to me and when I was not there – how much happier he feels since he allowed all to be settled." (Brontës, 750) Charlotte and Nicholls married on June 29, 1854, and were very happy together, but that happiness was not to be long-lived; she died before they reached their first anniversary. Arthur Bell Nicholls then went on to take care of his aged father-in-law until Patrick Brontë's death six years later. A very close friendship sprang up between these formerly bitter rivals for Charlotte's affection, and when Patrick Brontë died, his son-in-law was so devastated by the loss that he could barely manage to walk in the funeral procession, physically supported by a friend. (Brontës, 821) clare dunkle br myths

HaworthApril 11th, 1854

Dear Ellen,
‘Mr. Nicholls came on Monday, and was here all last week.  Matters have progressed thus since July.  He renewed his visit in September, but then matters so fell out that I saw little of him.  He continued to write.  The correspondence pressed on my mind.  I grew very miserable in keeping it from papa.  At last sheer pain made me gather courage to break it.  I told all.  It was very hard and rough work at the time, but the issue after a few days was that I obtained leave to continue the communication.  Mr. Nicholls came in January; he was ten days in the neighbourhood.  I saw much of him.  I had stipulated with papa for opportunity to become better acquainted.  I had it, and all I learnt inclined me to esteem and affection.  Still papa was very, very hostile, bitterly unjust.
‘I told Mr. Nicholls the great obstacle that lay in his way.  He has persevered.  The result of this, his last visit, is, that papa’s consent is gained, that his respect, I believe, is won, for Mr. Nicholls has in all things proved himself disinterested and forbearing.  Certainly, I must respect him, nor can I withhold from him more than mere cool respect.  In fact, dear Ellen, I am engaged.
p. 486‘Mr. Nicholls, in the course of a few months, will return to the curacy of Haworth.  I stipulated that I would not leave papa; and to papa himself I proposed a plan of residence which should maintain his seclusion and convenience uninvaded, and in a pecuniary sense bring him gain instead of loss.  What seemed at one time impossible is now arranged, and papa begins really to take a pleasure in the prospect. gutenberg

1 opmerking:

  1. Wonderful post! I love the story of Charlotte's and Mr.Nicholls courtship. It's good to see this fine man finally get his due in these last years.

    It's no small thing to have won the hand of a Brontë, make her very happy and then protect her legacy for 50 years. Mr.Nicholls created the first Brontë museum in his home after leaving Haworth.

    I also love reading about the 3 times Mr.Nicholls is so overwhelmed by his love for Charlotte, he simply breaks down.

    Of course when he purposed,then the last church service, at Whitsum, ( when the congregation saw his struggle and cried )and when he left the school deeds at the parsonage before leaving Haworth, believing he would not see CB again. As we know, she came out and found him sobbing at the gate.

    Nicholls was too in love to give up just because those at the parsonage told him to. He persisted and won his prize

    It must of been amazing for Charlotte to see in another a love that was so like the love she felt for Constantin Heger. To relive that huge event in her life , but from another perspective entirely.... this time she walked in Heger's shoes.

    This had to help Nicholls's cause. Because Charlotte knew so well the pain of unanswered letters, she could not afflict it on another forever...and indeed that was how Arthur started to win her, when she finally answered his letters.

    Few people were as keen an obverser of human nature than Charlotte Bronte. So it says a great deal about Arthur that the more she got to know him, the better she liked him, until esteem turned to love.

    Her awful loneliness now that the London years were winding down and also the pressing need to somehow replace her father's work while he retained his position also helped Nicolls's cause as he was the answer. But how lovely real happiness came to Charlotte as well.

    Charlotte's need for such happiness was such, that if even she knew what was ahead, I can't say she would not have gone forward with the marriage anyway.

    We know Nicholls never fully recovered from her loss and his grief remained raw. And I think he too would have said that the few months of his happiness with Charlotte as his wife was worth the subsequent 50 years of grief. This is a great love story and deserves its place in Brontë history


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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