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 13 juli 2013

Charlotte Bronte, a Tory

Politically a Tory, she preached tolerance rather than revolution. She held high moral principles and, despite her shyness, was prepared to argue for her beliefs.

The Taylors were an old and respected, but unconventional, Yorkshire textiles family. The six children were encouraged by their father, a fierce radical in religion and politics, to develop independence of thought and action and freedom of expression.
Joshua Taylor was an educated, cultured and strongly cosmopolitan influence upon them. The Taylors exported cloth to Europe and America and had strong European connections. They often travelled in Europe on business and pleasure and had relatives living in Brussels. In the 1830s Charlotte Brontë sometimes stayed at Red House. She greatly enjoyed her visits, writing that:
‘… the society of the Taylors is one of the most rousing
leasures I have ever known.’ (Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey, 15 April 1839)

Mary Taylor later wrote about Charlotte’s visits:

‘We used to dispute about politics and religion. She, a Tory and clergyman’s daughter, was always in a minority of one in our house of violent Dissent and Radicalism.’ (Mary Taylor to Mrs Gaskell, 1856) RedHouse-MaryTaylor ----------------------------------

Tory refers to those holding a political philosophy (Toryism) commonly regarded as based on a traditionalist and conservative view which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom.
English Tories from the time of the Glorious Revolution up until the Reform Bill of 1832 were characterized by strong monarchist tendencies, support for the Church of England, and hostility to reform, while the Tory Party was an actual organization which held power intermittently throughout the same period.[11] Since 1832, the term "Tory" is commonly used to refer to the Conservative Party and its members. wiki/Tory  

The Conservative Party traces its origins to a faction, rooted in the 18th-century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger (Prime Minister of Great Britain 1783–1801 and 1804–1806). Originally known as "Independent Whigs", "Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites", after Pitt's death the term "Tory" came into use. This was an allusion to the Tories, a political grouping that had existed from 1678, but which had no organisational continuity with the Pittite party. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was commonly used for the newer party. wiki/Conservative_Party

Mr. Bronte himself had been living amongst these very people in 1812, as he was then clergyman at Hartshead, not three miles from Rawfolds; and, as I have mentioned, it was in these perilous times that he began his custom of carrying a loaded pistol continually about with him. For not only his Tory politics, but his love and regard for the authority of the law, made him despise the cowardice of the surrounding magistrates, who, in their dread of the Luddites, refused to interfere so as to prevent the destruction of property. The clergy of the district were the bravest men by far. There was a Mr. Roberson, of Heald's Hall, a friend of Mr. Bronte's, who has left a deep impression of himself on the public mind. He lived near Heckmondwike, a large, straggling, dirty village, not two miles from Roe Head. It was principally inhabited by blanket weavers, who worked in their own cottages; and Heald's Hall is the largest house in the village, of which Mr. Roberson was the vicar. At his own cost, he built a handsome church at Liversedge, on a hill opposite the one on which his house stood, which was the first attempt in the West Riding to meet the wants of the overgrown population, and made many personal sacrifices for his opinions, both religious and political, which were of the true old-fashioned Tory stamp. He hated everything which he fancied had a tendency towards anarchy. He was loyal in every fibre to Church and king; and would have proudly laid down his life, any day, for what he believed to be right and true. But he was a man of an imperial will, and by it he bore down opposition, till tradition represents him as having something grimly demoniac about him. egaskell/cbronte

Disraeli is not the only early Victorian Tory novelist whose brilliance puts today's fictionally challenged Conservative MPs in the shade. This writer was intensely interested in politics from early childhood and was reactionary enough to have opposed the franchise-extending Reform Bill of 1832. Perhaps surprisingly to those who see her as a radical feminist, I'm talking about Charlotte Brontë, who made her contribution to the "condition of England" novel in 1849, a few years after Disraeli completed his trilogy.
Shirley, Charlotte Brontë's second published novel, is a story of industrial unrest and class conflict which confounds some of today's critics with its failure to address Chartism. Yet to appreciate it artistically it's important not to make anachronistic judgments. Indeed, putting it in a Disraelian context might be a new way of making sense of this novel which many readers, fresh from the exhilaration of reading the more instantly appealing Jane Eyre, have found so strange and difficult.
Though she retained her hero-worship of the Duke of Wellington, Brontë had by 1849 modified her politics to the extent that she could no longer be accused of being an intransigent "high Tory". The high Tories in Shirley are shown to be as limited in their way as the Whig manufacturer whose heart has become a machine. Instead, in the character of Shirley Keeldar, Brontë offers something that looks suspiciously like a modified Young England Toryism. As an enlightened aristocrat, Shirley is the fount of regeneration in the district: not only does she relieve the distress of the poor with her paternalistic charity, but the manufacturing interests are dependent on her too if they are to survive (in a more humane form). She is also close to the land, which she worships as mother nature in Romantic vein, and prefers feeling and imagination to reason and commerce.  In her flambuoyant disregard for social convention, Shirley has what could almost be called a female Byronism which recalls the young Disraeli. If, politically, the novel has something in common with Young England, aesthetically it harks back to Disraeli's earlier works. Despite the dazzling figure of Shirley Keeldar, though, the novel is fundamentally anti-idealistic. Its anti-Utopian stance sets it in a line of Tory pessimism going right back to Swift and Dr Johnson. guardianreview


Besides Mary Taylor's deep friendship with Charlotte Bronte, there are many other motivations to read this fascinating novel. Mary Taylor is wonderful at descriping the working class as complex and interesting characters and her politics are more radical than Charlotte's. Taylor manages to capture the Yorkshire dialect without snobishness. Charlotte was a political Tory/conservative and could often write harsly of the poor working class struggle for equality and respect (see her novel Shirley). And for anyone who has studied Victorian feminism, this novel is a great reflecting point. It's a shame that Mary Taylor did NOT save her letters from Charlotte nor hand them over to biographer and fellow Victorian novelist aElizabeth Gaskell, because the intellectual and literary discussions the two writers would have engaged in would have been fascinating to read -- especially their positions on women's education, marriage, children, and careers. Miss-Miles-Tale-Yorkshire-Years 

3 opmerkingen:

  1. Indeed, I morn Mary's lost letters as much as Charlotte's in that exchange. Just the few of Mary's letters we have show an intelligence a forthrightness and a wit which stood alone in Charlotte's world until she started moving in London circles. ...and I would argue as to whether she found in effect any one better in those regards even then . In her way Mary was up to CB's best mentally ...and that was very rare in Charlotte's experience

    Mr. Bronte's Toryism stemmed, I believe, from his experience in Ireland as a youth. He bettered himself in the system, why could not others? .But more, he saw what lawlessness can do in rebellion and how it can call forth even more oppression.

    In such a case one would likely uphold the law as the best of a bad lot and seek change though reform, which we know he did his whole life in a vigorous manner.

    Politically, Charlotte is often not sympathetic to the modern reader. When factory workers won a case against a criminal owner, she wrote to her father she was glad of course, but unhappy too since such events make the " lower orders "( a term she constantly uses about the working class ) unhappy with their lot and less likely to work.

    lol It's little wonder Charlotte passed on composing the social change type of novel and yet who stood more for freedom of self?

    Sitting at the Taylor table must of been a revelation to Charlotte, not having heard such arguments before and certainly never so forcibly lol

    Again, one must look to Rev Bronte's commitment to mental freedom for his children. How many others would have snatched Charlotte away and forbidden such company?

    Yet the Taylors became like family

    The differences between Charlotte and her husband , Arthur Bell Nichols, are often highlighted. But they were in accord in their conservatism and in their dry humor...powerful bonds .

    It's to be remembered Charlotte did not submit to his views , in the most part she agreed with them ( expect for his attitude to Dissenters! lol! )

    Despite the dazzling figure of Shirley Keeldar, though, the novel is fundamentally anti-idealistic. Its anti-Utopian stance sets it in a line of Tory pessimism going right back to Swift and Dr Johnson..

    An astute observation. Dr. Johnson was another one who had dim views of upsetting the social order. But like Charlotte, he had great sympathy for individuals who found themselves in difficulties within that order .

    Basically the idea is humans are rascals...lol

    Near the end of Charlotte's life the Crimea war broke out . In a letter to Miss Wooler Charlotte expressed a different feeling about such matters that she had held before which she saw as a result of middle age approaching...the flowing sword of justice was slipping from her hand and she saw more the human cost. One can only wonder how else time and life would have modify her views or not ...

  2. Mary & Charlotte's letters to each other would have been so fascinating to read, truly a shame that Mary chose to burn them, such a loss. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at the Taylor's when charlotte was there. Invigorating and lively political and social discussions, such as she was used to at home, I'm sure felt very normal to her, unlike those she most likely had at Brookroyd, which were most likely very proper and polite, and not at all 'course'.
    xo J~

  3. Yes, I wished as well that I lived in that time and could meet them and talk with them and be part of their circle.

    I as well wished Mary saved her letters. What would we learn about Charlotte?


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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