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 6 februari 2014

Branwell Bronte and Laudanum

No one knows when Branwell first started using laudanum. Laudanum contained 10% opium. It was easy to buy for a few pence. It was known to soothe the nerves, ward off consumption, and for Branwell, was equivalent to liberation. It is suggested he may have used it to help his epileptic seizures, but with the attempts that he made at professions and constant failure, it seemed to be a growing addiction and comfort where he could escape the troubles of his life. bjtanke/bronte

The Old Apothecary
The druggist shop where Branwell Brontë bought his laudanum is now a gift shop selling a wonderful range of olde worlde remedies and household products
At the time of the Brontës this shop at the top of Main Street was a druggist shop run by Betty Hardacre. Being opposite the church and parsonage, it was a convenient place for Branwell, brother of the famous sisters, to purchase laudanum, a derivative of opium which was sold legally without prescription as a painkiller. Following a series of failures and disgraces in a number of careers, Branwell turned to drink and drugs. His serious addiction masked his illness until it was too late and he died of tuberculosis aged just 31.

When you step inside the Old Apothecary it is not difficult to imagine the druggist shop as it may have looked. Mother and daughter team Patricia and Caroline Rose have recreated a stunning Victorian-style store including authentic polished mahogany display cases, glass bottles, antique advertisements and gas lighting. The shop sells aromatic potions and lotions of its own making as well as remedies, sweets and household products which one had thought had long since disappeared from the shelves. rose-apothecary

Because the disease appeared gradually, people often didn't notice the symptoms until it was too late to treat them. This was the case with Branwell Brontë, whose laudanum addiction masked the symptoms of tuberculosis until a very late stage in the disease. In Emily's lifetime, it was commonly believed that pure air could help treat tuberculosis; this is why Catherine Earnshaw is sent to the Lintons when she gets sick––among other reasons, the characters believe that Thrushcross Grange has 'better air' than Wuthering Heights. This is also the reason for Edgar's belief that the Grange will be a healthier environment for Linton. Around the time that Emily was writing Wuthering Heights, the American Dr. John Croghan even set up a tuberculosis hospital in a cave because he believed that the unique air would cure his patients ("Cave Air Approach"). wuthering-Heights

Opium derivatives were also used in many patent medicines and sold without a prescription in great quantities in Victorian general stores and apothecaries. The most popular patent medicines which contained opium or its derivatives were Kendal Black Drop, Godfrey’s Cordial, Dover's Powder, Dalby’s Carminative, McMunn’s Elixir, Batley’s Sedative Solution, and Mother Bailey’s Quieting Syrup (Hayter 31). Opium and its derivatives were used as cheap homemade mixtures.

Following its introduction into Britain, ‘opium was first believed by many to be a medical miracle’ (Landow and Allingham, 2006) and marketed to the masses in various forms; Godfrey’s Cordial, Dalby’s Carminative, McMunn’s Elixir and Batley’s Sedative Solution are examples of just a few medicines containing opium, all sold without any regulation (Hayter 1971: 31). For many years, opium and its derivatives, including the popular laudanum, was enjoyed by the British public; young and old, rich and poor. Far from being a middle class pastime, opium was used in many households as a startlingly normal practise. It was seen as ‘central to medicine, a medicament of surpassing usefulness which undoubtedly found its way into every home’ (Berridge and Edwards 1981: xxv). It was even said that ‘The bulk of the medical evidence goes to support the verdict that it is not more injurious than the moderate use of alcohol, and that even its abusive use is less destructive to the victim and his friends than intemperance’ (Watt 1892). how-opium-was-really-used-and-abused-the-moonstone-wilkie-collins

1 opmerking:

  1. I would think Branwell started taking the drug in earnest during the later part of his decline. While he was simply waiting for Mr. Robinson to die, he seems to have traveled about Yorkshire drinking in other pubs besides the Bull and with pals.

    When it became clear he would not become the master at Thorpe Green, he went into sharper decline, became less social and perhaps that is when the drug taking accelerated ....It was cheaper than buying rounds for others that's for sure . I believe the debt his sister's paid to keep him out of jail was a bar tab

    this is why Catherine Earnshaw is sent to the Lintons when she gets sick––among other reasons, the characters believe that Thrushcross Grange has 'better air' than Wuthering Heights.

    I though Catherine was attacked by the Lintons' dog when she and Heathcliff were spying on Thrushcross and she is taken into the house to recuperate


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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