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

zaterdag 19 mei 2012

“Being allowed to have my own choice of sights this time—I selected the real rather than the decorative side of Life—I have been over two prisons ancient & modern—Newgate and Pentonville—also the Bank, the Exchange ‘the Foundling Hospital,’—and to-day if all be well, I go with Dr. Forbes to see Bethlehem Hospital.”


Did Charlotte Brontë actually go to Bethlem? 
There is no further reference to Bethlem in any known Brontë letter, and the many biographers whose books I consulted wrote that the visit had come off without saying how they had confirmed this. In a footnote, Margaret Smith writes that on January 28, Brontë presented a copy of her new novel, Villette, to Dr. John Forbes, the physician who was supposed to take her to the hospital, inscribing it personally “in acknowledgment of kindness.”2 This could be taken as confirming the visit, but I wondered if it was enough.
Forbes was a distinguished lung specialist, a friend of Brontë’s publisher George Smith and a former schoolmate of Smith’s father in Scotland. In 1849, at Smith’s suggestion, Brontë had consulted Forbes about the care of her sister, Anne Brontë, who was dying of tuberculosis. It seemed possible that the visit to Bethlem had not come off, but that Brontë wished to thank Forbes for agreeing to take her, and for his help with Anne. After all, she signed books on January 28 for several friends and acquaintances.
----------------------------

Forbes, Dr John (1787–1861):

expert on consumptive diseases who was consulted by post on Anne’s consumption in 1849 and backed the advice of Dr Teale. He was a friend of George Smith’s, and extremely distinguished and in advance of his time. He made Charlotte’s acquaintance after one of Thackeray’s lectures on the English humorists, and on one of her later visits to London (Jan 1853) took her round the Bethlehem Hospital. No doubt it was on this occasion that he told Charlotte of the successful use of chloroform in operations, a remark that Patrick noted in his copy of Graham’s Modern Domestic Medicine . He was also a pioneer in the use of the stethoscope.  blackwellreference

woensdag 16 mei 2012

Blogs and "the Tenant of Wildfell Hall"


Helen Huntingdon, the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, is a very determined, warm, passionate, brave young woman –far from the prude she is often characterized as - who refuses to be a silent victim and decides to leave her brutish, drunkard husband - thought to be based on Anne's brother, Branwell; she is not only flouting convention but even going against the laws of the land. Fleeing with her small son, she decides to lead an independent existence in a desolate, isolated countryside mansion in Yorkshire earning a living with her paintings. fly high-by-learn online
 
I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels are or should be written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.”
- Helen Graham/Huntingdon (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) 
Written by Anne Brontë The killing words


“There was no light there but the faint red glow of the neglected fire; but I did not want a light; I only wanted to indulge my thoughts, unnoticed and undisturbed; and sitting down on a low stool before the easy-chair, I sunk my head upon its cushioned seat, and thought, and thought, until the tears gushed out again, and I wept like any child. Presently, however, the door was gently opened and someone entered the room. I trusted it was only a servant, and did not stir.”
Anne Brontë – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
 

Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the only work by Anne Brontë to be adapted for film. In 1996 it was made into a three hour television movie. I believe it is currently out of print, which is a real shame. I have a first edition of 'Charlotte Bronte and her Circle'. The chapter on Anne is really unbelievable in the way it completely discredits her as a writer. I do not have it on hand, but the editor claims, in the introduction (it may even be the first sentence…) that it is a certainly that if it wasn't for her sisters, she and her works would be forgotten. In my humble opinion, an easy test of this claim is to imagine what we truly would have thought of her works if she had not had her sisters' works to compete with. Would they really be so uninteresting, so skilless?
Here is an interesting, although far too brief, article on the Critics of Wildfell Hall 
by Glen Downey. 


(Helen's view of woman's conversation) 'Is it that they think it a duty to be continually talking,' pursued she:  'and so never pause to think, but fill up with aimless trifles and vain repetitions when subjects of real interest fail to present themselves, or do they really take a pleasure in such discourse?'
Annelle Altman

AUTHOR’S REFACE 
 
ANNE BRONTE TO THE SECOND EDITIONWhile I acknowledge the success of the present work to have been greater than I anticipated, and the praises it has elicited from a few kind critics to have been greater than it deserved, I must also admit that from some other quarters it has been censured with an asperity which I was as little prepared to expect, and which my judgment, as well as my feelings, assures me is more bitter than just.  It is scarcely the province of an author to refute the arguments of his censors and vindicate his own productions; but I may be allowed to make here a few observations with which I would have prefaced the first edition, had I foreseen the necessity of such precautions against the misapprehensions of those who would read it with a prejudiced mind or be content to judge it by a hasty glance.
 

My object in writing the following pages was not simply to amuse the Reader; neither was it to gratify my own taste, nor yet to ingratiate myself with the Press and the Public: I wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it.  But as the priceless treasure too frequently hides at the bottom of a well, it needs some courage to dive for it, especially as he that does so will be likely to incur more scorn and obloquy for the mud and water into which he has ventured to plunge, than thanks for the jewel he procures; as, in like manner, she who undertakes the cleansing of a careless bachelor’s apartment will be liable to more abuse for the dust she raises than commendation for the clearance she effects.  Let it not be imagined, however, that I consider myself competent to reform the errors and abuses of society, but only that I would fain contribute my humble quota towards so good an aim; and if I can gain the public ear at all, I would rather whisper a few wholesome truths therein than much soft nonsense.

As the story of ‘Agnes Grey’ was accused of extravagant over-colouring in those very parts that were carefully copied from the life, with a most scrupulous avoidance of all exaggeration, so, in the present work, I find myself censured for depicting con amore, with ‘a morbid love of the coarse, if not of the brutal,’ those scenes which, I will venture to say, have not been more painful for the most fastidious of my critics to read than they were for me to describe.  I may have gone too far; in which case I shall be careful not to trouble myself or my readers in the same way again; but when we have to do with vice and vicious characters, I maintain it is better to depict them as they really are than as they would wish to appear.  To represent a bad thing in its least offensive light is, doubtless, the most agreeable course for a writer of fiction to pursue; but is it the most honest, or the safest?  Is it better to reveal the snares and pitfalls of life to the young and thoughtless traveller, or to cover them with branches and flowers?  Oh, reader! if there were less of this delicate concealment of facts—this whispering, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace, there would be less of sin and misery to the young of both sexes who are left to wring their bitter knowledge from experience.

I would not be understood to suppose that the proceedings of the unhappy scapegrace, with his few profligate companions I have here introduced, are a specimen of the common practices of society—the case is an extreme one, as I trusted none would fail to perceive; but I know that such characters do exist, and if I have warned one rash youth from following in their steps, or prevented one thoughtless girl from falling into the very natural error of my heroine, the book has not been written in vain.  But, at the same time, if any honest reader shall have derived more pain than pleasure from its perusal, and have closed the last volume with a disagreeable impression on his mind, I humbly crave his pardon, for such was far from my intention; and I will endeavour to do better another time, for I love to give innocent pleasure.  Yet, be it understood, I shall not limit my ambition to this—or even to producing ‘a perfect work of art’: time and talents so spent, I should consider wasted and misapplied.  Such humble talents as God has given me I will endeavour to put to their greatest use; if I am able to amuse, I will try to benefit too; and when I feel it my duty to speak an unpalatable truth, with the help of God, I will speak it, though it be to the prejudice of my name and to the detriment of my reader’s immediate pleasure as well as my own.

One word more, and I have done.  Respecting the author’s identity, I would have it to be distinctly understood that Acton Bell is neither Currer nor Ellis Bell, and therefore let not his faults be attributed to them.  As to whether the name be real or fictitious, it cannot greatly signify to those who know him only by his works.  As little, I should think, can it matter whether the writer so designated is a man, or a woman, as one or two of my critics profess to have discovered.  I take the imputation in good part, as a compliment to the just delineation of my female characters; and though I am bound to attribute much of the severity of my censors to this suspicion, I make no effort to refute it, because, in my own mind, I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be.  All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anyting that would be proper and becoming for a man.

July 22nd, 1848. Read the book on: Gutenberg

 

dinsdag 15 mei 2012

What did the Brontes see in may during their walkes??

 
May is a busy month as birds get down to the task of nest building and rearing their brood. The weather is warm but danger of frost at night can cause damage to tender plants.

What to see

 Cuckoo FlowerResident birds and the arrival of summer migrants such as SwallowsHouse Martins and Swifts are occupied with the task of building nests and rearing their young. Hawthorn also known as May hedge will be flowering in early to late May dependent on how cold spring has been.

Early in May 
Bluebells will be flowering in woodland. The leaves on trees will be open during the month. Butterfliessuch as the Orange Tip can be seen on grassland and theGreen Hairstreak which is usually found on heath and moorland.

Key dates:

House Martins first seen 2nd May 2005 Haworth
Swifts first seen at Haworth 15th May 2005, 2nd May 2007, 4th May 2008, 9th May 2009, 1st May 2010, 6th May 2011, 11th May 2012.
22nd May 2005 Hawthorn flowering at Haworth, 7th May 2007, 24th May 2008.
Bluebells flowering at Haworth May 8th 2009.
Cuckoo heard 14th May 2005 at Ponden and 23 May 2005 at Haworth Cemetery, Penistone. Heard near Bronte waterfall on 1st May 2007. Heard Long Bridge area 20th May 2011, Heard Haworth area 10th May 2012.
Cuckoo Flower, flowering 9th May 2007Cinnabar moth first seen in Cross Roads on 20th May 2007Speckled Wood butterfly seen 13th May 2009

Parsonage

Parsonage

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).

Parents
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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