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

woensdag 30 maart 2016

Villette in the US, or the story of the first American visitor to the Pensionnat in 1858.

The garden drawing in
'Vagabondizing in Belgium'


 

William Makepeace Thackeray was in the United States, for a lecturing tour, when Villette was published. He wrote about the novel in several letters, and, according to Winifred Gérin in her Charlotte biography, “the rage the book was enjoying among lady-readers over there.” A look in The Letters and private papers of William Makepeace Thackeray (volume 3, London, 1946) reveals however that there are only two references to the popularity of Villette in America. On 11 March 1853 he writes a letter in Charleston, to Lucy Baxter in New York City (pp. 232-3): “So you are all reading Villette to one another – a pretty amusement to be sure – I wish I was a hearing of you and a smoakin of a cigar the while. “ That remark was followed by his opinion of the novel. On 5 April he wrote from New York City to a Mrs. Mayne in London (p. 253): “Here the reign of novels is for a brief season, indeed, and “My novel” [by Edward Bulwer-Lytton] and “Villette,” have long since had the better of Mr. Esmond and his periwigged companions.”

It is certain that Villette was much more popular in America than it was in England. Smith, Elder & Co seem to have published just two editions of the novel in the 1850s. The second one was published in 1855. Harper & Brothers, from New York, published six editions in the 1850s. Apart from the two previously mentioned books of 1853 they also had an edition in 1855, 1856, 1857 and 1859. There is also an 1857 edition of Derby & Jackson from New York & Cincinnati.

The popularity of Villette in America is also reflected in what we know of the first Brontë visitors to the Pensionnat. The three first known visitors (after Mrs. Gaskell) are Americans.  One of these early visitors, Adeline Trafton, in 1871 (see below), who was there with friends, wrote about their introduction at the Pensionnat, having been let in by a teacher. “’We are a party of American girls,’ we said, ‘who, having learned to know and love Charlotte Brontë through her books, desire to see the garden of which she wrote in Villette.’ ‘Oh, certainly,’ was the gracious response.  ‘Americans often come to visit the school and the garden.’” The anonymous author of the 1890 article in The World wrote that the Pensionnat “has become the Mecca of American travellers. The average Britisher is content with worshipping at the shrine of the Waterloo ballroom, but the literary Yankee finds out Charlotte Brontë’s school, searches in vain for the Allée Défendue, and carries away a leaf from one of the giant pear trees. “

And Marion Harland, in 1898 quoted a Pensionnat teacher who had let her in: “So many English and Americans, many more Americans than English, come here every year, and talk, oh, so much! of Mlle. Lucie and Mme. Beck and Mlle. Charlotte, and the Ghost” (Promised land, pp. 59, 68 and 80).

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1 opmerking:

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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