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 21 januari 2012

Haworth in literary amber

The Haworth Parish Church has been able to raise the money for the reparations but it now seems that they need even more.We read on BBC News:

The Haworth housing development projects are discussed in a very good article in The Telegraph:

Railway investments

Although the public railway and the application of steam power to transport were pre-Victorian concepts, the widespread development of local, national and international railway networks was a Victorian phenomenon. The combination of great public enthusiasm, massive investment, highly skilled engineering and the application of modern technology ensured the rapid growth of railways in Britain and abroad. By 1850, 6000 miles of railway were in use, and throughout Victoria's reign British engineers were involved in railway construction and operation in many parts of the world, which in turn created new export markets for British locomotive and vehicle builders. 
Although the public railway and the application of steam power to transport were pre-Victorian concepts, the widespread development of local, national and international railway networks was a Victorian phenomenon. The combination of great public enthusiasm, massive investment, highly skilled engineering and the application of modern technology ensured the rapid growth of railways in Britain and abroad. By 1850, 6000 miles of railway were in use, and throughout Victoria's reign British engineers were involved in railway construction and operation in many parts of the world, which in turn created new export markets for British locomotive and vehicle builders.

Charlotte proclaims in a private letter that Emily was handling financial investments for the entire family:
Emily has made herself mistress of the necessary degree of knowledge for conducting the matter, by dint of carefully reading every paragraph & every advertisement in the news-papers that related to rail-roads and as we have abstained from all gambling, all mere speculative buying-in & selling-out—we have got on very dcently. claredunkle

"January 30th, 1846.
"MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, - I have not yet paid my visit to ----; it is, indeed, more than a year since I was there, but I frequently hear from E., and she did not fail to tell me that you were gone into Worcestershire; she was unable, however, to give me your exact address. Had I known it, I should have written to you long since. 
I thought you would wonder how we were getting on, when you heard of the railway panic, and you may be sure that I am very glad to be able to answer your kind inquiries by an assurance that our small capital is as yet undiminished. The York and Midland is, as you say, a very good line; yet, I confess to you, I should wish, for my own part, to be wise in time. I cannot think that even the very best lines will continue for many years at their present premiums; and I have been most anxious for us to sell our shares ere it be too late, and to secure the proceeds in some safer, if, for the present, less profitable investment. I cannot, however, persuade my sisters to regard the affair precisely from my point of view; and I feel as if I would rather run the risk of loss than hurt Emily's feelings by acting in direct opposition to her opinion. C.B.

The damage to the finances of the middle and upper classes was widespread. In the  words of Charlotte Bronte:
The business is certainly very bad–worse than I thought, and much worse than my  father has any idea of. In fact, the little railway property I possessed, ... scarcely any portion of it can with security be calculated on. ... However the matter may terminate, I ought perhaps to be rather thankful than dissatisfied. When I look at my own case, and compare it with that of thousands besides–I scarcely see room  for a murmur. Many–very many are–by the late strange Railway System deprived almost of their daily bread; such then as have only lost provision laid up for the future should take care how they complain.

Charlotte Bronte could afford a relatively calm view of the situation, since by the time of that letter she had achieved literary success, with her novel Jane Eyre one of the bestsellers of 1847. But most railway shareholders could not, and neither could she have had a 
few years earlier. 

Public transport in Victorian London

During Queen Victoria's reign, London's population grew at an astonishing rate and the central area became increasingly congested. The development of cheaper, horse-drawn public transport enabled more people to travel than ever before and this influenced the growth of the suburbs.
In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, public transport in London was expensive and offered passengers little choice. Short stage coaches ran regular services to the City from outlying villages like Camberwell, Paddington and Blackheath. Hackney carriages had a monopoly in the City, where they alone were permitted to set down or pick up passengers on demand. Travelling by short stage or hackney coach was expensive and could only be afforded by the better off, the most wealthy of whom owned their own carriages. Another key route was the river, where traffic continued as it had for centuries. Wherry boats or river taxis could be hailed from various parts of the riverbank. The vast majority of working people could not afford to use public transport at all and so were obliged to live within walking distance of their work.

An artist impression of Shillibeer's Omnibus, 1829.


In 1828 George Shillibeer, a London coachbuilder, visited Paris where he was impressed by the efficiency of its new horse-drawn bus service. The following year he imported the idea to London and began operating a single horse-drawn omnibus, connecting the suburbs of Paddington and Regent's Park to the City. This service was quite revolutionary: Shillibeer's omnibus ran to a strict timetable, regardless of whether it was full; it picked up and set down passengers anywhere along the route; and fares could be paid on board, unlike the short-stage coaches, which had to be booked in advance. The omnibus was pulled by three horses and carried 22 passengers, who sat inside protected from the weather. The fares of sixpence and one shilling were less than those charged by hackney cab and short-stage coach. Even so, travelling on Shillibeer's omnibuses was not cheap, and they were used mainly by the middle classes.
Nevertheless, the service proved very popular and other operators set up in fierce competition. Soon there were 90 omnibuses on the same route, sometimes racing each other to pick up the most passengers. After many complaints the operators set up an Omnibus Association, with Shillibeer as Chairman, to regulate the busy route. The operators realized that the number of passengers was limited so the Association agreed to reduce competition by restricting the number of omnibuses to 57, running at 3 minute intervals, with inspectors to enforce the new rules. The Association was London's first coordinated attempt to provide a regular bus service.

In 1832 the monopoly of the hackney carriages was removed, allowing horse buses to operate in the City. Within two years there were 620 licensed horse buses in London and by 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition, when business was booming due to an influx of visitors to London, this total had more than doubled and the number of routes had increased to 150. Service intervals varied from 5 to 20 minutes in Inner London to an hour or longer in the outlying suburbs.

Whilst many different omnibus companies existed, in 1856 several operators were taken over by the new London General Omnibus Company (LGOC), originally a French operator. After a year spent buying out rivals the LGOC had a fleet of 600 omnibuses and was the largest bus company in the world. Other larger operators included Thomas Tilling and the London Road Car Company. Major companies began to cooperate, forming associations to regulate buses, restricting their numbers, setting timetables and sharing revenue between owners.

donderdag 19 januari 2012

Anne Bronte 192nd birthday.

"Anne, dear gentle Anne was quite different in appearance from the others, and she was her aunt's favourite. Her hair was a very pretty light brown, and fell on her neck in graceful curls. She had lovely violet-blue eyes, fine pencilled eyebrows and a clear almost transparent complexion. She still pursued her studies and especially her sewing, under the surveillance of her aunt." (Ellen Nussey)

Anne's studies at home included music, which she always enjoyed, and drawing. Later, she began more formal studies at Roe Head School.

Little is known about the next year, but by 1839 Anne was actively looking for a teaching position. She left home on April 8, 1839, and travelled alone, at her own request, to Mirfield. There she began work as a governess at Blake Hall, the home of the Ingham family.

Anne seems to have assessed her situation quickly and accurately, and determined that she would make the best of it. An early letter home was summarized by Charlotte in a letter to Ellen Nussey:
"she expresses herself very well satisfiedand says that Mrs Ingham is extremely kind... both her pupils are desperate little duncesneither of them can read and sometimes they even profess a profound ignorance of their Alphabetthe worst of it is the little monkies are excessively indulged and she is not empowered to inflict any punishment " (Barker, p. 308)
Anne obtained a second post: this time as a governess to the children of the Reverend Edmund Robinson and his wife Lydia, at Thorp Green, a wealthy country house near York

Anne probably left home for Thorp Green on May 8, 1840. She could not know it at the time, but for the next 5 years she would spend no more than 5 or 6 weeks a year with her family, during holidays at Christmas and in June. The rest of her time would be spent with the Robinsons at their home Thorp Green, or on holiday with them in Scarborough. While living with the Robinsons, Anne first saw York Minster, which she found moving and inspirational. She also visited the seaside at Scarborough, and loved it for both its beauty and the benefits to her health. Her employers were satisfied with her work, and as Bessy and Mary Robinson grew older, Anne became close to them. Of all her sisters, Anne spent the most time away from Haworth, establishing fond associations elsewhere.

St. Nicholas Cliff  c. 1935 An aerial view of the Scarborough locality most familiar to Anne, though, shown here some 86 years after she died. The Grand Hotel, which replaced Wood's Lodgings; and Christ Church, where Anne's funeral was conducted, are indicated. The Grand Hotel's three story 'down-the-cliff extension' is clearly visible. An almost identical extension was added to Wood's Lodgings in 1842 - the year of Anne's third visit to the resort. The Spa bridge, where Anne took many walks, is on the  left, with the Rotunda museum just beyond it (extreme left). In the foreground are the South Sands, where Anne loved to walk beside the sea, and that inspired some of the concluding scenes of her novel, Agnes Grey.

There is no question that she missed her home and family. "Lines Written at Thorp Green", vt. "Appeal", was written only a few months after her arrival there. It speaks of "loneliness" and "repining"; the identity of its longed for visitor has been much speculated upon. "Home" pleads for the "grey walls" of Haworth rather than the beautiful grounds of Thorp Green. Yet while Anne repeatedly writes of her depression and unhappiness, these are not her only emotions. In "Retirement, she turns from "earthly cares" and "restless wandering thoughts" to seek comfort in God. In "In Memory of a Happy Day in February" and "Music on Christmas Morning", she rejoices in her religious belief. She exults in the beauty and wildness of nature in "Lines composed in a Wood on a Windy Day".
The sisters went instead to York, where Anne showed her sister the York Minster. Emily, however, was more interested in playing at the Gondals than in any of the sights Anne wanted to show her. Emily describes the trip in her diary paper of July 31st, 1845.

"Anne and I went our first long Journey by ourselvesleaving Home on the 30th of Junemondaysleeping at Yorkreturning to Keighley Tuesday evening sleeping there and walking home on wedensday morningthough the weather was broken, we enjoyed ourselves very much except during a few hours at Bradford and during our excursion we were Ronald Macelgin, Henry Angora, Juliet Augusteena, Rosobelle Esraldan, Ella and Julian Egramont Catherine Navarre and Cordelia Fitzaphnold escaping from the Palaces of Instruction to join the Royalists who are hard driven at present by the victorious Republicans" (Barker, pp. 450-451)
After leaving her teaching position, she fulfilled her literary ambitions. She wrote a volume of poetry with her sisters (Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, 1846) and in short succession she wrote two novels. Agnes Grey, based upon her experiences as a governess, was published in 1847. Her second and last novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hallappeared in 1848. Anne's life was cut short with her death of pulmonary tuberculosis when she was 29 years old.


woensdag 18 januari 2012

This description from Elisabeth Gaskell is what the Bronte's saw when they came from Keighley ststion. Most of the time they have to walk this distance. Sometimes they could use a gig. When Charlotte and Anne wanted to go to London, to make clear to their publisher, that they were several writers ( and not one as some suggested) they were walking through heavy rain and arrived soaking wet at the station of Keighley. Part 7

The Leeds and Bradford railway runs along a deep valley of the Aire; a slow and sluggish stream, compared to the neighbouring river of Wharfe. Keighley station is on this line of railway, about a quarter of a mile from the town of the same name. 
In a town one does not look for vivid colouring; what there may be of this is furnished by the wares in the shops, not by foliage or atmospheric effects; but in the country some brilliancy and vividness seems to be instinctively expected, and there is consequently a slight feeling of disappointment at the grey neutral tint of every object, near or far off, on the way from Keighley to Haworth. The distance is about four miles; and, as I have said, what with villas, great worsted factories, rows of workmen's houses, with here and there an old-fashioned farm-house and outbuildings, it can hardly be called" country" any part of the way. 
For two miles the road passes over tolerably level ground, distant hills on the left, a "beck" flowing through meadows on the right, and furnishing water power, at certain points, to the factories built on its banks. The air is dim and lightless with the smoke from all these habitations and places of business. The soil in the valley (orbottom,' to use the local term) is rich; but, as the road begins to ascend, the vegetation becomes poorer; it does not flourish, it merely exists; and, instead of trees, there are only bushes and shrubs about the dwellings. 
Stone dykes are everywhere used in place of hedges; and what crops there are, on the patches of arable land, consist of pale, hungry-looking, grey-green oats.
 Right before the traveller on this road rises Haworth village; he can see it for two miles before he arrives, for it is situated on the side of a pretty steep hill, with a background of dun and purple moors, rising and sweeping away yet higher than the church, which is built at the very summit of the long narrow street. All round the horizon there is this same line of sinuous wave-like hills; the scoops into which they fall only revealing other hills beyond, of similar colour and shape, crowned with wild, bleak moors - grand, from the ideas of solitude and loneliness which they suggest, or oppressive from the feeling which they give of being pent-up by some monotonous and illimitable barrier, according to the mood of mind in which the spectator may be. 
For a short distance the road appears to turn away from Haworth, as it winds round the base of the shoulder of a hill; but then it crosses a bridge over the "beck," and the ascent through the village begins. The flag-stones with which it is paved are placed end-ways, in order to give a better hold to the horses' feet; and, even with this help, they seem to be in constant danger of slipping backwards. The old stone houses are high compared to the width of the street, which makes an abrupt turn before reaching the more level ground at the head of the village, so that the steep aspect of the place, in one part, is almost like that of a wall. 
But this surmounted, the church lies a little off the main road on the left; a hundred yards, or so, and the driver relaxes his care, and the horse breathes more easily, as they pass into the quiet little by-street that leads to Haworth Parsonage. The churchyard is on one side of this lane, the school-house and the sexton's dwelling (where the curates formerly lodged) on the other.
The parsonage stands at right angles to the road, facing down upon the church; so that, in fact, parsonage, church, and belfried school-house, form three sides of an irregular oblong, of which the fourth is open to the fields and moors that lie beyond. The area of this oblong is filled up by a crowded churchyard, and a small garden or court in front of the clergyman's house. As the entrance to this from the road is at the side, the path goes round the corner into the little plot of ground. Underneath the windows is a narrow flower-border, carefully tended in days of yore, although only the most hardy plants could be made to grow there. Within the stone wall, which keeps out the surrounding churchyard, are bushes of elder and lilac; the rest of the ground is occupied by a square grass plot and a gravel walk. The house is of grey stone, two stories high, heavily roofed with flags, in order to resist the winds that might strip off a lighter covering. It appears to have been built about a hundred years ago, and to consist of four rooms on each story; the two windows on the right (as the visitor stands, with his back to the church, ready to enter in at the front door) belonging to Mr. Brontë's study, the two on the left to the family sitting-room. Everything about the place tells of the most dainty order, the most exquisite cleanliness. The door-steps are spotless; the small old-fashioned window-panes glitter like looking-glass. Inside and outside of that house cleanliness goes up into its essence, purity. EG-Charlotte

Four miles is 6.4 kilometer ( for the Dutch readers) 

Old picture of the grave stone of Anne Bronte.

Old Pictures
On the Facebook site of Liliya Kobzar
I saw an old picture of the grave stone of Anne Bronte. 

dinsdag 17 januari 2012

Alone in the city. Part 6

'Punch' cartoon, depicting a Victorian woman travelling alone on a train
'Punch' cartoon, 1894: Train travel increased women's opportunities for independence 
The letters document key life events, such as Roper's engagement and first pregnancy, but they also record a multitude of incidental experiences, of journeys, meetings and conversations, which constitute the everyday in any historical period. Roper did not move widely around the city - her experience was defined by a limited number of routes, for a specific range of purposes.
In relating these journeys in her letters, however, she generates a different story of Victorian society from the one of confined womanhood that we so often hear about, and a new way of understanding women and the city in this period. In a postscript to a letter dated 4 January, 1856, Amelia revealed to her friend:
'When I had gone to the station on Tuesday, the train had gone so I walked to town. I had not gone far when a gentleman in a four-wheel chaise offered me a ride but I was like you bashful and said no. If you had been [there] I should [have] said yes.'
'It speaks of embarrassment, apprehension, and possibility.'
This apparently throwaway anecdote tells us so much. It shows a young woman who travels alone into the city and who takes decisions about her journey. It also describes an encounter with a male stranger. There is an exchange, a refusal and a momentary reflection on the alternative outcomes. It speaks of embarrassment, apprehension, and possibility.
Anyone who lives in or visits cities today is familiar with the need to negotiate social space and to read the identities of passing strangers from their dress and appearance. This was also the world of the Victorian city. Women of all kinds were part of this complex social environment, with its changing class and gender relations. The unpublished letters of Amelia Roper offer the historian unprecedented access to the everyday experience of this world.

About the author

Professor Lynda Nead teaches history of art at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of Myths of Sexuality: Representations of Victorian WomenThe Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality and Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth Century London.

It was not considered quite proper for "genteel" unmarried young women to travel on public coaches unescorted. Part 5

It was not considered quite proper for "genteel" unmarried young women to travel on public coaches unescorted (Lady Catherine is even more severe: "I cannot bear the idea of two young women travelling post by themselves").

After the marriage proposal from Harris Bigg-Wither Jane announced her change of mind and left the house hurriedly in the Bigg-Wither carriage, accompanied by Cassandra, Alethea and Catherine, fleeing to her brother James and his wife Mary at Steventon. Alethea and Catherine bade a tearful farewell to the Austen sisters; Jane forcefully persuaded James to take her and Cassandra back to Bath the next day, refusing to tell James and Mary what the trouble was. By no way, Jane could have travel alone or with Cassandra, back to Bath. 

One of the most prominent features of the time period was the propriety expected between members of the opposite sex. This was the beginning of the social restrictions that were one of the defining characteristics of the Victorian period, which directly followed the Regency period. A young unmarried women should not be alone with a man without a chaperone; likewise, women were never to travel unescorted.  annemace.net
BUT Agnes Grey is traveling alone
""But the morning brought a renewal of hope and spirits. I was to depart early, that the conveyance which took me, (a gig, hired from Mr Smith, the draper, grocer, and tea-dealer of the village) might return the same day. I rose, washed, dressed, swallowed a hasty breakfast, received the fond embraces of my father, mother, and sister, kissed the cat, to the great scandal of Sally, the maid, shook hands with her, mounted the gig, drew my veil over my face, and then, but not till then, burst into a flood of tears.
The gig rolled onI looked backmy dear mother and sister were still standing at the door, looking after me, and waving their adieux: I returned their salute, and prayed God to bless them from my heart: we descended the hill, and I could see them no more""
And Anne Bronte was traveling alone
Charlotte was traveling alone
 and even talking to a gentleman

Charlotte's return from this short visit to her friend, she travelled with a gentleman in the railway carriage, whose features and bearing betrayed him, in a moment, to be a Frenchman. She ventured to ask him if such was not the case; and, on his admitting it, she further inquired if he had not passed a considerable time in Germany, and was answered that he had; her quick ear detected something of the thick guttural pronunciation, which, Frenchmen say, they are able to discover even in the grandchildren of their countrymen who have lived any time beyond the Rhine. EG-Charlotte

And so her journey back to Haworth, after the rare pleasure of this visit to her friend, was pleasantly beguiled by conversation with the French gentleman; and she arrived at home refreshed and happy.

maandag 16 januari 2012

Foreigners say that it is only English girls who can thus be trusted to travel alone, and deep is their wonder at the daring confidence of English parents and guardians. From Vilette. Part 4.

Vilette :
 ""My state of mind, and all accompanying circumstances, were just now such as most to favour the adoption of a new, resolute, and daring-- perhaps desperate--line of action. I had nothing to lose. Unutterable loathing of a desolate existence past, forbade return. If I failed in what I now designed to undertake, who, save myself, would suffer?""
Read  Vilette: villette/e-text/section2

PATERNOSTER ROW. The "Chapter Coffee House"".

Charlotte Bronte had intended to seek out the Chapter Coffee-house, where she had stayed before, and which would have been near the place where the steam-boats lay.......

The "Chapter Coffee House," at the corner of Chapter House Court, was in the last century famous for its punch, its pamphlets, and its newspapers. As lawyers and authors frequented the Fleet Street taverns, so booksellers haunted the "Chapter." Bonnell Thornton, in the Connoisseur, Jan., 1754, says:—"The conversation here naturally turns upon the newest publications, but their criticisms are somewhat singular. When they say a good book they do not mean to praise the style or sentiment, but the quick and extensive sale of it. That book is best which sells most."

Mrs. Gaskell has sketched the "Chapter" in 1848, with its low heavy-beamed ceilings, wainscoted rooms, and its broad, dark, shallow staircase. She describes it as formerly frequented by university men, country clergymen, and country booksellers, who, friendless in London, liked to hear the literary chat. Few persons slept there, and in a long, low, dingy room up-stairs the periodical meetings of the trade were held. "The high, narrow windows looked into the gloomy Row." Nothing of motion or of change could be seen in the grim, dark houses opposite, so near and close, although the whole width of the Row was between. The mighty roar of London ran round like the sound of an unseen ocean, yet every footfall on the pavement below might be heard distinctly in that unfrequented street.

The frequenters of the "Chapter Coffee House" (1797—1805) have been carefully described by Sir Richard Phillips. Alexander Stevens, editor of the "Annual Biography and Obituary," was one of the choice spirits who met nightly in the "Wittinagemot," as it was called, or the north-east corner box in the coffee-room. The neighbours, who dropped in directly the morning papers arrived, and before they were dried by the waiter, were called the Wet Paper Club, and another set intercepted the wet evening papers. Dr. Buchan, author of that murderous book, "Domestic Medicine," which teaches a man how to kill himself and family cheaply, generally acted as moderator. He was a handsome, white-haired man, a Tory, a good-humoured companion, and a bon vivant. If any one began to complain, or appear hypochondriacal, he used to say—

"Now let me prescribe for you, without a fee. Here, John, bring a glass of punch for Mr.— unless he likes brandy and water better. Now, take that, sir, and I'll warrant you'll soon be well. You're a peg too low; you want stimulus; and if one glass won't do, call for a second."
Dr. Gower, the urbane and able physician of the Middlesex Hospital, was another frequent visitor, as also that great eater and worker, Dr. Fordyce, whose balance no potations could disturb. Fordyce had fashionable practice, and brought rare news and much sound information on general subjects. He came to the "Chapter" from his wine, stayed about an hour, and sipped a glass of brandy and water. He then took another glass at the "London Coffee House," and a third at the "Oxford," then wound home to his house in Essex Street, Strand. The three doctors seldom agreed on medical subjects, and laughed loudly at each other's theories. They all, however, agreed in regarding the "Chapter" punch as an infallible and safe remedy for all ills.

The standing men in the box were Hammond and Murray. Hammond, a Coventry manufacturer, had scarcely missed an evening at the "Chapter" for forty-five years. His strictures on the events of the day were thought severe but able, and as a friend of liberty he had argued all through the times of Wilkes and the French and American wars. His Socratic arguments were very amusing. Mr. Murray, the great referee of the Wittinagemot, was a Scotch minister, who generally sat at the "Chapter" reading papers from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. He was known to have read straight through every morning and evening paper published in London for thirty years. His memory was so good that he was always appealed to for dates and matters of fact, but his mind was not remarkable for general lucidity. Other friends of Stevens's were Dr. Birdmore, the Master of the Charterhouse, who abounded in anecdote; Walker, the rhetorician and dictionary-maker, a most intelligent man, with a fine enunciation, and Dr. Towers, a political writer, who over his half-pint of Lisbon grew sarcastic and lively. Also a grumbling man named Dobson, who between asthmatic paroxysms vented his spleen on all sides. Dobson was an author and paradox-monger, but so devoid of principle that he was deserted by all his friends, and would have died from want, if Dr. Garthshore had not placed him as a patient in an empty fever hospital. Robinson, "the king of booksellers," and his sensible brother John were also frequenters of the "Chapter," as well as Joseph Johnson, the friend of Priestley, Paine, Cowper, and Fuseli, from St. Paul's Churchyard. Phillips, the speculative bookseller, then commencing his Monthly Magazine, came to the "Chapter" to look out for recruits, and with his pockets well lined with guineas to enlist them. He used to describe all the odd characters at this coffee-house, from the glutton in politics, who waited at daylight for the morning papers, to the moping and disconsolate bachelor, who sat till the fire was raked out by the sleepy waiter at half-past twelve at night. These strange figures succeeded each other regularly, like the figures in a magic lantern.
Alexander Chalmers, editor of many works, enlivened the Wittinagemot by many sallies of wit and humour. He took great pains not to be mistaken for a namesake of his, who, he used to say, carried "the leaden mace." Other habitués were the two Parrys, of the Courier and Jacobite papers, and Captain Skinner, a man of elegant manners, who represented England in the absurd procession of all nations, devised by that German revolutionary fanatic, Anacharsis Clootz, in Paris in 1793. Baker, an ex-Spitalfields manufacturer, a great talker and eater, joined the coterie regularly, till he shot himself at his lodgings in Kirby Street. It was discovered that his only meal in the day had been the nightly supper at the "Chapter," at the fixed price of a shilling, with a supplementary pint of porter. When the shilling could no longer be found for the supper, he killed himself.

Among other members of these pleasant coteries were Lowndes, the electrician; Dr. Busby, the musician; Cooke, the well-bred writer of conversation; and Macfarlane, the author of "The History of George III.," who was eventually killed by a blow from the pole of a coach during an election procession of Sir Francis Burdett at Brentford. Another celebrity was a young man named Wilson, called Langton, from his stories of the haut ton. He ran up a score of £40, and then disappeared, to the vexation of Mrs. Brown, the landlady, who would willingly have welcomed him, even though he never paid, as a means of amusing and detaining customers. Waithman, the Common Councilman, was always clear-headed and agreeable. There was also Mr. Paterson, a long-headed, speculative North Briton, who had taught Pitt mathematics. But such coteries are like empires; they have their rise and their fall. Dr. Buchan died; some pert young sparks offended the Nestor, Hammond, who gave up the place, after forty-five years' attendance, and before 1820 the "Chapter" grew silent and dull.

Read more british-history/report

Charlotte Bronte travelling alone to Brussels. The first time her father, Emily, Mary Taylor were her companions. But the second time she traveled alone. Part 3.

                                    The London & Birmingham Railway’s Euston Square Station in 1838

Towards the end of January, the time came for Charlotte to return to Brussels. Her journey thither was rather disastrous. She had to make her way alone; and the train from Leeds to London, which should have reached Euston-square early in the afternoon, was so much delayed that it did not get in till ten at night. She had intended to seek out the Chapter Coffee-house, where she had stayed before, and which would have been near the place where the steam-boats lay; but she seems to have been frightened by the idea of arriving at an hour which, to Yorkshire notions, was so late and unseemly; and taking a cab, therefore, at the station,

she drove straight to the London Bridge Wharf, and desired a waterman to row her to the Ostend packet, which was to sail the next morning. She described to me, pretty much as she has since described it in Villette her sense of loneliness, and yet her strange pleasure in the excitement of the situation, as in the dead of that winter's night she went swiftly over the dark river to the black hull's side, and was at first refused leave to ascend to the deck. "No passengers might sleep on board," they said, with some appearance of disrespect. She looked back to the lights and subdued noises of London--that "Mighty Heart" in which she had no place--and, standing up in the rocking boat, she asked to speak to some one in authority on board the packet. He came, and her quiet simple statement of her wish, and her reason for it, quelled the feeling of sneering distrust in those who had first heard her request; and impressed the authority so favourably that he allowed her to come on board, and take possession of a berth. The next morning she sailed; and at seven on Sunday evening she reached the Rue d'Isabelle once more; having only left Haworth on Friday morning at an early hour.

Mrs. Gaskell describes the Capter Coffeehouse as it was in those July days.
It had the appearance of a dwelling-house two hundred years old or so, such as one sometimes sees in ancient country towns; the ceilings of the small rooms were low, and had heavy beams running across them; the walls were wainscoted breast-high; the stairs were shallow, broad, and dark, taking up much space in the centre of the house. The gray-haired elderly man who officiated as waiter seems to have been touched from the very first by the quiet simplicity of the two ladies, and he tried to make them feel comfortable and at home in the long, low, dingy room upstairs. The high, narrow windows looked into the gloomy Row; the sisters, clinging together in the most remote window-seat (as Mr. Smith tells me he found them when he came that Saturday evening), could see nothing of motion or of change in the grim, dark houses opposite, so near and close, although the whole breadth of the Row was between. building history/inns/coffee-houses

Women and Urban Life in Victorian Britain By Lynda Nead. Part 2

Current views concerning Victorian femininity continue to be dominated by the 19th-century concept of domestic purity and the associated figure of the ideal woman, the 'angel in the house', carrying out her mission as wife, mother and daughter.
But we should not allow this particular conception of Victorian femininity to blind us to the existence of different, sometimes conflicting, versions of female respectability in this period. Are we really to believe that upstanding women of the Victorian middle classes did not travel alone in the city? That they did not walk to visit friends and relatives, or travel on the omnibus or underground railway?
'Respectability was not as clear-cut as Victorian domestic values would suggest.'
It is time to take the angel out of the house and place her back on the pavements of the city - not as a victim, but as a confident pedestrian. Evidence of the everyday presence of ordinary women on the city streets can be found in many historical sources from the period.
Women were evidently quick to exploit the new opportunities offered by technology and industrialisation. One lithograph from the 1860s (London Transport Museum) depicts King's Cross, one of the original stations of the underground railway. The focus is on the architecture and the engine, but the incidental details of the figures on the platform show women of respectable dress and appearance, on their own, travelling independently across the city. Indeed, female use of the underground was so extensive that the Illustrated London Newswelcomed the publication, in 1868, of a new railway map which 'appears to be exactly that for which the British matrons are urgent'.
Image of Kings Cross station, Metropolitan Railway, 1863
Kings Cross station, Metropolitan Railway, 1863 ©
But respectability was not as clear-cut as Victorian domestic values would suggest. The urban crowd brought together strangers of all classes in greater numbers than ever before and offered unprecedented opportunities for social interaction. So we can begin to imagine women as far more active and independent participants in the social and economic world of Victorian cities. Certainly there were dangers in the city (as there still are) but there were also immense possibilities and sources of pleasure and excitement.

I am always surprised, when I read how free, without male escort, the Bronte Sisters could travel by train or by carriage through the country and abroad. I always thought it was not allowed in the Victorian period. I'll search the Internet for an answer. What was the situation in the period 1800 - 1900 when a woman wanted to travel? Part 1

First some information about the public transport in the period 1800-1900.

The railways moved goods, foods and people faster than canals or horse drawn wagons. They were the greatest factor in transforming Britain into an industrial nation. They were a huge employer of people either on the railways, building new tracks or being a goods delivery service. Government legislation was affected as suddenly Members of Parliament could get to London with relative ease from far flung country regions.

The lives of millions were changed as suddenly the masses were able to travel further than ten miles in one direction. Now all could manage rare day trips to the new coastal seaside.

Left - The Railway Station 1862 by William Frith.  (Paddington, London, UK)
Carriages were divided into categories called classes and the 1st class rail carriage was designed like a horse drawn coach. It had foot warmers, oil lamps and closed sides and roof. 2nd class carriages were roofed, but open sided. 

To Brighton and Back for 3s and 6d by Charles Rossiter.
3rd class carriages were simple unroofed trucks without seats. In third class, passengers could be blistered by sparks and choked. In the open sided carriage illustrated above an umbrella and a parasol are used for protection. The man protects his top hat from flying sparks and another man dons a blanket to keep off the chill and dusty smoke. 
By 1846 all carriages had to be roofed by law. 

The Omnibus
“Omnibus” is a Latin word meaning “For all”. These buses (yes, that’s what they are, horse-drawn buses!) were popular from the early 19th century until the early 20th century, when the first motorised buses took their place. Horse-drawn omnibuses were either one or two-decker buses pulled by a pair of horses along fixed omnibus lines within crowded cities, and they were an effective way to move large numbers of people quickly around a city along a predetermined and fixed route.
Keighley railway station.
The Bronte Sisters traveled by train from the station of Keighley. They walked to the station or travelled by the town gig. 

First opened in March 1847 by the Leeds and Bradford Extension Railway (although rebuilt on the present site in 1883),[1] the station is located on the Airedale Line 17 miles (27 km) north west of Leeds. It is managed by Northern Rail, who operate most of the passenger trains serving it. Electric trains operate frequently from Keighley towards Bradford Forster SquareLeeds and Skipton. Longer distance trains on the Leeds to Morecambe Line andSettle to Carlisle Line also call here.
Keighley is also the northern terminus of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. This is a heritage branch-line railway run by volunteers that was originally built by the Midland Railway and opened in 1867. 

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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