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

zondag 7 april 2013

Wedding proposal Charlotte Bronte nr 1. "I am not the serious, grave, cool-hearted individual you suppose; you would think me romantic and eccentric."

Charlotte Brontë turned down four separate marriage proposals as she was determined not to live with a man she did not think her intellectual moral equal.
On March 5, 1839, Charlotte Bronte writes to the Reverend Henry Nussey, declining marriage.

"Before answering your letter, I might have spent a long time in consideration of its subject; but as from the first moment of its reception and perusal I determined on which course to pursue, it seemed to me that delay was wholly unnecessary. You are aware that I have many reasons to feel gratified to your family, that I have peculiar reasons for affection towards one at least of your sisters, and also that I highly esteem yourself. Do not therefore accuse me of wrong motives when I say that my answer to your proposal must be a decided negative. In forming this answer -- I trust I have listened to the dictates of conscience more than to those of inclination; I have no personal repugnance to the idea of a union with you -- but I feel convinced that mine is not the sort of disposition calculated to form the happiness of a man like you. It has always been my habit to study the character of those amongst whom I chance to be thrown, and I think I know yours and can imagine what description of woman would suit you for a wife. Her character should not be too marked, ardent and original -- her temper should be mild, her piety undoubted, her spirits even and cheerful, and her 'personal attractions' sufficient to please your eye and gratify your just pride. As for me, you do not know me, I am not this serious, grave, cool-headed individual you suppose -- You would think me romantic and eccentric -- you would say I was satirical and severe. However, I scorn deceit and I will never for the sake of attaining the distinction of matrimony and escaping the stigma of an old maid take a worthy man whom I am conscious I cannot render happy."
"Before I conclude let me thank you warmly for your other proposal regarding the school near Torrington...the fact is I could not at present enter upon such a project because I have not the capital necessary...It is a pleasure to me to hear that you are so comfortably settled...let me say also that I admire the good sense, and absence of flattery and cant which your letter displayed --! I shall always be glad to hear from you as a friend."

Charlotte's polite demurral seemingly aroused no apparent resentment on the part of the Nusseys, nor does it seem to have weighed on Charlotte's mind, for she remained on companiable terms with Henry for many years, as attested by the following two letters. Published in Letters ed. T.J. Wise and Symington, no.72.

To Ellen Nussey:

You ask me, my dear Ellen, whether I have received a letter from Henry.  I have, about a week since.  The contents, I confess, did a little surprise me, but I kept them to myself, and unless you had questioned me on the subject, I would never have adverted to it.  Henry says he is comfortably settled at Donnington, that his health is much improved, and that it is his intention to take pupils after Easter.  He then intimates that in due time he should want a wife to take care of his pupils, and frankly asks me to be that wife.  Altogether the letter is written without cant or flattery, and in a common-sense style, which does credit to his judgment.
‘Now, my dear Ellen, there were in this proposal some things which might have proved a strong temptation.  I thought if I were to marry Henry Nussey, his sister could live with me, and how happy I should be.  But again I asked myself two questions: Do I love him as much as a woman ought to love the man she marries?  Am I the person best qualified to make him happy?  Alas! Ellen, my conscience answered no to both these questions.  I felt that though I esteemed, though I had a kindly leaning towards him, because he is an amiable and well-disposed man, yet I had not, and could not have, that intense attachment which would make me willing to die for p. 297him; and, if ever I marry, it must be in that light of adoration that I will regard my husband.  Ten to one I shall never have the chance again; but n’importe.  Moreover, I was aware that Henry knew so little of me he could hardly be conscious to whom he was writing.  Why, it would startle him to see me in my natural home character; he would think I was a wild, romantic enthusiast indeed.  I could not sit all day long making a grave face before my husband.  I would laugh, and satirise, and say whatever came into my head first.  And if he were a clever man, and loved me, the whole world weighed in the balance against his smallest wish should be light as air.  Could I, knowing my mind to be such as that, conscientiously say that I would take a grave, quiet, young man like Henry?  No, it would have been deceiving him, and deception of that sort is beneath me.  So I wrote a long letter back, in which I expressed my refusal as gently as I could, and also candidly avowed my reasons for that refusal.  I described to him, too, the sort of character that would suit him for a wife.—Good-bye, my dear Ellen. gutenberg.org/files

1 opmerking:

  1. " I am not the serious, grave, cool-hearted individual you suppose"

    Well she never spoke truer words. Charlotte was a bubbling cauldron of emotion unguessed at by Ellen fully much less her brother! Charlotte was more suited for the Duke of Zamorna than Rev Henry Nussey!

    I would laugh, and satirise, and say whatever came into my head first

    That certainly turned out to be the case years later. Little attention is given to the humor Charlotte Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls came to share, but it was a corner stone of thier eventual relationship.

    The first long mention of Nicholls in her letters is to her father in May of 1852 when Charlotte was at Filey.

    She says "I went to a church I would like Mr.Nicholls to see " and says if he saw its practices they would cause him to laugh out.

    So Charlotte and Mr. Nicholls have already have a history of shared humor by this time since she believes she knows what would make him laugh.

    I imagine that history started when Charlotte learned Arthur's landlady, Mrs Brown, thought he had gone off his head because of his roars of laughter as he read Charlotte's book " Shirley".

    I don't think Charlotte was quite expecting that reaction from her father's sober sides curate! lol

    More unexpectedness from Mr. Nicholls was to follow.


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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