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

vrijdag 1 maart 2013

Pets of the Brontes

Keeper, a large mastiff, was an impressive dog, a match for Emily. A villager remembered Keeper as a “conglomerate, combining every species of English caninity from the turnspit to the sheepdog, with a strain of Haworth originality superadded” ( Smith, 1995, p. 332). Charlotte said that when Keeper stood silently, he was “like a devouring flame," and she noted in one letter, “Keeper is well, big—and grim as ever” (Smith, p. 259).
Keeper was capable of love and loyalty to a select few but vicious toward others. When Keeper fought another large dog, the local men stood around to watch the spectacle. Emily dove into the fight. She grabbed Keeper by the neck and dashed pepper into the faces of the furious beasts.
Under: Grasper From Life, pencil sketch by Emily Bronte, 1834

 The early pets are mainly known to us through pictures, and through Emily and Anne’s diary papers. They include Grasper (described in AOTB as an Irish terrier); Rainbow, Diamond, Snowflake (species unknown), and a pheasant called Jasper – possibly these were all wild birds who were fed regularly. Later the family acquired Keeper, the most famous and characterful of the Brontë pets (his fictional equivalent, Tartar in Shirley, is described in ch. 11 as “of a breed between mastiff and bull-dog”); Nero (often called Hero), a hawk, lost while Emily and Charlotte were in Brussels; Black Tom and Tiger (d. 1844), both cats; two geese, Victoria and Adelaide; and a cage bird, Little Dick, mentioned in Anne’s diary paper for 1845. Last of the major pets was Flossy, brought by Anne from Thorp Green in 1843 and painted by both her and Emily. Flossy sired a puppy, given to Ellen Nussey. In his last years Patrick acquired dogs called Cato and Plato. Charlotte’s comparative indifference to animals is evidenced by the lack of references to them in her early letters. In her last lonely years she was touched by the dogs’ display of affection, especially on her returns home.
In June 1843 Anne's charges at Thorp Green - the Robinson girls - gave her this spaniel dog as a gift. Anne named it 'Flossy', and brought it home to the Parsonage where it spent the rest of its life. The following summer Flossy had a pup, and this was given to Ellen Nussey as a gift: Ellen decided to name it 'Flossy' after its parent. This water-colour painting was produced in 1843 - soon after Flossy's arrival in the Brontë household: for many years it was attributed to Charlotte, but recent study into many aspects of the painting leave little doubt that it was actually by Emily. The dog outlived Anne by many years, dying in 1854 - 'without a pang . . . no dog ever had a happier life or an easier death'
reported Charlotte many years later. mick-armitage

 Under : Flossy, the dog of Anne.
" During Miss Bran well's reign at the parsonage, the love of animals had to be kept in due subjection. There was then but one dog, which was admitted to the parlour at stated times. Emily and Anne always gave him a portion of their breakfast, which was, by their own choice, the old north country diet of oatmeal porridge. Later on, there were three household pets the tawny, strong-limbed ' Keeper/ Emily's favourite: he was so completely under her control, she could quite easily

make him spring and roar like a lion. She taught him this kind of occasional play without any coercion. * Flossy long, silky-haired, black and white ' Flossy ' was Anne's favourite ; and black ' Tom/ the tabby, was everybody's favourite. It received such gentle treatment it seemed to
have lost cat's nature, and subsided into luxurious amiability and contentment. The Brontes' love of dumb creatures made them very sensitive of the treatment bestowed upon them. For anyone to offend in this respect was with them an infallible bad sign, and a blot on the disposition." infootstepsofthe Brontes
Ellen Nussey, Charlotte's friend and one of the few visitors to the Brontë home, recalled,

Keeper used to steal upstairs and sleep on the beds, which were covered in white counterpanes. This upset Emily, who was in charge of all of the housekeeping chores. One evening the servant Tabby came and told Emily that Keeper was sleeping on the bed again. Emily immediately went up after the dog while Tabby and Charlotte watched:
Down-stairs came Emily, dragging after the unwilling Keeper, his hind legs set in a heavy attitude of resistance, held by the "scruff of his neck" but growling low and savagely all the time…She let him go, planted in a dark corner at the bottom of the stairs...her bare clenched fist struck against his red fierce eyes, before he had time to make his spring...she “punished him” till his eyes were swelled up, and the half-blind, stupefied beast was led to his accustomed lair to have his swelled head fomented and cared for by the very Emily herself. The generous dog owed her no grudge; he loved her dearly ever after. (Gaskell, 1975, pp. 268-269) societyandanimalsforum

Under: A drawing from Emily

Ellen remembered evenings in the parsonage with Emily, “habitually kneeling on the hearth, reading a book, with her arm round Keeper” (Gerin, 1971, p.156). Ellen recalled that Emily and Keeper developed small, daily rituals that are an important part of the human-dog bond, “The two dogs, Keeper and Flossey were always in quiet waiting by the side of Emily and Anne during their breakfast of Scotch oatmeal and milk, and always had a share handed down to them at the close of the meal” (Shorter, 1896, p. 178).

Ellen found that the best approach to Emily, who was indifferent to friendly overtures, was through Keeper. Once Keeper tried to climb up on Emily's lap but could not quite fit, so he stretched out across Ellen's knees. She did not complain about his heaviness because she knew that “Emily's heart was won by [my] unresisting endurance” (Gerin, 1971, p.110).
“The evening before her death she insisted on feeding the dogs...as she had always done. As she stepped from the warmth of the kitchen into the cold air of the damp, stone-flagged passage, she staggered and almost fell against the wall” (p. 576).
Emily mentions Nero 'in his cage' in her diary paper of 30 July 1841. Christine Alexander suggests that the bird was probably acquired early in 1841. emily-brontes-hawk
Diary papers:

Emily and Anne Brontë's Diary Paper, November 24, 1834: I fed Rainbow, Diamond Snowflake Jasper pheasant (alias) this morning wuthering/diary_papers

Keeper and Flossey had become part of the family, somehow winning over Aunt Branwell who allowed previous dogs only into the parlor of the house and then only at stated times (Frank, 1990). The dogs' taken-for-granted presence in everyday life can be seen in the “diary papers” that Emily and Anne wrote for each other on their birthdays. On July 31,1845, Anne wrote, “Keeper and Flossey are I do not know where” and then added that Charlotte “has let Flossey in by the by and [s] he is now lying on the sofa” (Smith, 1995, p.410). In a diary paper dated 1841, Emily wrote, “ Victoria and Adelaide [the geese] are ensconced in the peat-house—Keeper is in the kitchen—We are all stout and healthy” (Barker, 1998, p. 95). societyandanimalsforum

Thursday, July 30, 1845. We have got Flossey, got and lost Tiger–lost the Hawk. Hero which with the geese was given away and is doubtless dead for when I came back from Brussels I enquired on all hands and could hear nothing of him–Tiger died early last year–Keeper and Flossey are well also the canary acquired 4 years since. diary_papers

Anne Brontë's Birthday Paper, July 30, 1841. We have got Keeper, got a sweet little cat and lost it, and also got a hawk. Got a wild goose which has flown away, and three tame ones, one of which has been killed. diary_papers

Anne Brontë's Diary Paper, Thursday July 31, 1845. Tabby and Martha are I think in the Kitchen Keeper and Flossy are I do not know where little Dick is hopping in his cage. diary_papers

One long ramble made in these early days was far away over the moors, to a spot familiar
to Emily and Anne, which they called 4 The Meeting of the Waters.' It was a small oasis of emerald green turf, broken here and there by small clear springs ; a few large stones served as resting-places ; seated here, we were hidden from all the world, nothing appearing in view but miles and miles of
heather, a glorious blue sky, and brightening sun. A fresh breeze wafted on us its exhilaiating influence ; we laughed and made mirth of each other, and settled we would call ourselves
the quartette. Emily, half reclining on a slab of stone, played like a young child with the tadpoles in the water, making them swim about, and then fell to moralising on the strong and the weak, the brave and the cowardly, as she chased them with her hand. infootsteps                     

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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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