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Charlotte Brontë and Her Circle by Clement King Shorter


The kindly, placid woman who will ever be remembered as Charlotte
Bronte's schoolmistress, had, it may be safely said, no history. She was
a good-hearted woman, who did her work and went to her rest with no
possible claim to a place in biography, save only that she assisted in
the education of two great women. For that reason her brief story is
worth setting forth here.

'I am afraid we cannot give you very much information about our aunt,
Miss Wooler,' writes one of her kindred. 'She was the eldest of a
large family, born June 10th, 1792. She was extremely intelligent
and highly educated, and throughout her long life, which lasted till
within a week of completing her ninety-third year, she took the
greatest interest in religious, political, and every charitable work,
being a life governor to many institutions. Part of her early life
was spent in the Isle of Wight with relations, where she was very
intimate with the Sewell family, one of whom was the author of _Amy
Herbert_. By her own family, she was ever looked up to with the
greatest respect, being always called "Sister" by her brothers and
sisters all her life. After she retired from her school at Roe Head,
and afterwards Dewsbury Moor, she used sometimes to make her home for
months together with my father and mother at Heckmondwike Vicarage;
then she would go away for a few months to the sea-side, either alone
or with one of her sisters. The last ten or twelve years of her life
were spent at Gomersall, along with two of her sisters and a niece.
The three sisters all died within a year, the youngest going first
and the eldest last. They are buried in Birstall Churchyard, close
to my parents and sister.

'Miss Bronte was her pupil when at Roe Head; the late Miss Taylor and
Miss E. Nussey were also her pupils at the same time. Afterwards
Miss Bronte stayed on as governess. My father prepared Miss Bronte
for confirmation when he was curate-in-charge at Mirfield Parish
Church. When Miss Bronte was married, Miss Wooler was one of the
guests. Mr. Bronte, not feeling well enough to go to Church that
morning, my aunt gave her away, as she had no other relative there to
do it.

'Miss Wooler kept up a warm friendship with her former pupil, up to
the time of her death.

'My aunt was a most loyal subject, and devotedly attached to the
Church. She made a point of reading the Bible steadily through every
year, and a chapter out of her Italian Testament each day, for she
used to say "she never liked to lose anything she had learnt." It
was always a pleasure, too, if she met with any one who could
converse with her in French.

'I fear these few items will not be of much use, but it is difficult
to record anything of one who led such a quiet and retiring, but
useful life.'

'My recollections of Miss Wooler,' writes Miss Nussey, 'are, that she
was short and stout, but graceful in her movements, very fluent in
conversation and with a very sweet voice. She had Charlotte and
myself to stay with her sometimes after we left school. We had
delightful sitting-up times with her when the pupils had gone to bed.
She would treat us so confidentially, relating her six years'
residence in the Isle of Wight with an uncle and aunt--Dr. More and
his wife. Dr. More was on the military staff, and the society of the
island had claims upon him. Mrs. More was a fine woman and very
benevolent. Personally, Miss Wooler was like a lady abbess. She
wore white, well-fitting dresses embroidered. Her long hair plaited,
formed a coronet, and long large ringlets fell from her head to
shoulders. She was not pretty or handsome, but her quiet dignity
made her presence imposing. She was nobly scrupulous and
conscientious--a woman of the greatest self-denial. Her income was
small. She lived on half of it, and gave the remainder to charitable

It is clear that Charlotte was very fond of her schoolmistress, although
they had one serious difference during the brief period of her stay at
Dewsbury Moor with Anne. Anne was home-sick and ill, and Miss Wooler,
with her own robust constitution, found it difficult to understand Anne's
illness. Charlotte, in arms for her sister, spoke out with vehemence,
and both the sisters went home soon afterwards. {262} Here are a bundle
of letters addressed to Miss Wooler.


'HAWORTH, _August_ 28_th_, 1848.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--Since you wish to hear from me while you are
from home, I will write without further delay. It often happens that
when we linger at first in answering a friend's letter, obstacles
occur to retard us to an inexcusably late period.

'In my last I forgot to answer a question you asked me, and was sorry
afterwards for the omission; I will begin, therefore, by replying to
it, though I fear what I can give will now come a little late. You
said Mrs. Chapham had some thoughts of sending her daughter to
school, and wished to know whether the Clergy Daughters' School at
Casterton was an eligible place.

'My personal knowledge of that institution is very much out of date,
being derived from the experience of twenty years ago; the
establishment was at that time in its infancy, and a sad rickety
infancy it was. Typhus fever decimated the school periodically, and
consumption and scrofula in every variety of form, which bad air and
water, and bad, insufficient diet can generate, preyed on the
ill-fated pupils. It would not then have been a fit place for any of
Mrs. Chapham's children. But, I understand, it is very much altered
for the better since those days. The school is removed from Cowan
Bridge (a situation as unhealthy as it was picturesque--low, damp,
beautiful with wood and water) to Casterton; the accommodation, the
diet, the discipline, the system of tuition, all are, I believe,
entirely altered and greatly improved. I was told that such pupils
as behaved well and remained at school till their educations were
finished were provided with situations as governesses if they wish to
adopt that vocation, and that much care was exercised in the
selection; it was added they were also furnished with an excellent
wardrobe on quitting Casterton.

'If I have the opportunity of reading _The Life of Dr. Arnold_, I
shall not fail to profit thereby; your recommendation makes me
desirous to see it. Do you remember once speaking with approbation
of a book called _Mrs. Leicester's School_, which you said you had
met with, and you wondered by whom it was written? I was reading the
other day a lately published collection of the _Letters of Charles
Lamb_, edited by Serjeant Talfourd, where I found it mentioned that
_Mrs. Leicester's School_ was the first production of Lamb and his
sister. These letters are themselves singularly interesting; they
have hitherto been suppressed in all previous collections of Lamb's
works and relics, on account of the frequent allusions they contain
to the unhappy malady of Miss Lamb, and a frightful incident which
darkened her earlier years. She was, it appears, a woman of the
sweetest disposition, and, in her normal state, of the highest and
clearest intellect, but afflicted with periodical insanity which came
on once a year, or oftener. To her parents she was a most tender and
dutiful daughter, nursing them in their old age, when one was
physically and the other mentally infirm, with unremitting care, and
at the same time toiling to add something by needlework to the
slender resources of the family. A succession of laborious days and
sleepless nights brought on a frenzy fit, in which she had the
miserable misfortune to kill her own mother. She was afterwards
placed in a madhouse, where she would have been detained for life,
had not her brother Charles promised to devote himself to her and
take her under his care--and for her sake renounce a project of
marriage he then entertained. An instance of abnegation of self
scarcely, I think, to be paralleled in the annals of the "coarser
sex." They passed their subsequent lives together--models of
fraternal affection, and would have been very happy but for the dread
visitation to which Mary Lamb continued liable all her life. I
thought it both a sad and edifying history. Your account of your
little niece's naive delight in beholding the morning sea for the
first time amused and pleased me; it proves she has some
sensations--a refreshing circumstance in a day and generation when
the natural phenomenon of children wholly destitute of all pretension
to the same is by no means an unusual occurrence.

'I have written a long letter as you requested me, but I fear you
will not find it very amusing. With love to your little
companion,--Believe me, my dear Miss Wooler, yours affectionately and


'Papa, I am most thankful to say, continues in very good health,
considering his age. My sisters likewise are pretty well.'


'HAWORTH, _March_ 31_st_, 1848.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--I had been wishing to hear from you for some
time before I received your last. There has been so much sickness
during the last winter, and the influenza especially has been so
severe and so generally prevalent, that the sight of suffering around
us has frequently suggested fears for absent friends. Ellen Nussey
told me, indeed, that neither you nor Miss C. Wooler had escaped the
influenza, but, since your letter contains no allusion to your own
health or hers, I trust you are completely recovered. I am most
thankful to say that papa has hitherto been exempted from any attack.
My sister and myself have each had a visit from it, but Anne is the
only one with whom it stayed long or did much mischief; in her case
it was attended with distressing cough and fever; but she is now
better, though it has left her chest weak.

'I remember well wishing my lot had been cast in the troubled times
of the late war, and seeing in its exciting incidents a kind of
stimulating charm which it made my pulse beat fast only to think
of--I remember even, I think, being a little impatient that you would
not fully sympathise with my feelings on this subject, that you heard
my aspirations and speculations very tranquilly, and by no means
seemed to think the flaming sword could be any pleasant addition to
the joys of paradise. I have now outlived youth; and, though I dare
not say that I have outlived all its illusions, that the romance is
quite gone from life, the veil fallen from truth, and that I see both
in naked reality, yet, certainly, many things are not to me what they
were ten years ago; and amongst the rest, "the pomp and circumstance
of war" have quite lost in my eyes their factitious glitter. I have
still no doubt that the shock of moral earthquakes wakens a vivid
sense of life both in nations and individuals; that the fear of
dangers on a broad national scale diverts men's minds momentarily
from brooding over small private perils, and, for the time, gives
them something like largeness of views; but, as little doubt have I
that convulsive revolutions put back the world in all that is good,
check civilisation, bring the dregs of society to its surface--in
short, it appears to me that insurrections and battles are the acute
diseases of nations, and that their tendency is to exhaust by their
violence the vital energies of the countries where they occur. That
England may be spared the spasms, cramps, and frenzy-fits now
contorting the Continent and threatening Ireland, I earnestly pray!

'With the French and Irish I have no sympathy. With the Germans and
Italians I think the case is different--as different as the love of
freedom is from the lust of license.'


'HAWORTH, _September_ 27_th_, 1850.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--When I tell you that I have already been to
the Lakes this season, and that it is scarcely more than a month
since I returned, you will understand that it is no longer within my
power to accept your kind invitation.

'I wish I could have gone to you. I wish your invitation had come
first; to speak the truth, it would have suited me better than the
one by which I profited. It would have been pleasant, soothing, in
many ways beneficial, to have spent two weeks with you in your
cottage-lodgings. But these reflections are vain. I have already
had my excursion, and there is an end of it. Sir J. K. Shuttleworth
is residing near Windermere, at a house called "The Briary," and it
was there I was staying for a little while in August. He very kindly
showed me the scenery--_as it can be seen from a carriage_--and I
discerned that the "Lake Country" is a glorious region, of which I
had only seen the similitude in dream--waking or sleeping. But, my
dear Miss Wooler, I only half enjoyed it, because I was only half at
my ease. Decidedly I find it does not agree with me to prosecute the
search of the picturesque in a carriage; a waggon, a spring-cart,
even a post-chaise might do, but the carriage upsets everything. I
longed to slip out unseen, and to run away by myself in amongst the
hills and dales. Erratic and vagrant instincts tormented me, and
these I was obliged to control, or rather, suppress, for fear of
growing in any degree enthusiastic, and thus drawing attention to the
"lioness," the authoress, the artist. Sir J. K. Shuttleworth is a
man of ability and intellect, but not a man in whose presence one
willingly unbends.

'You say you suspect I have found a large circle of acquaintance by
this time. No, I cannot say that I have. I doubt whether I possess
either the wish or the power to do so. A few friends I should like
to know well; if such knowledge brought proportionate regard I could
not help concentrating my feelings. Dissipation, I think, appears
synonymous with dilution. However, I have as yet scarcely been
tried. During the month I spent in London in the spring, I kept very
quiet, having the fear of "lionising" before my eyes. I only went
out once to dinner, and was once present at an evening party; and the
only visits I have paid have been to Sir J. K. Shuttleworth and my
publishers. From this system I should not like to depart. As far as
I can see, indiscriminate visiting tends only to a waste of time and
a vulgarising of character. Besides, it would be wrong to leave papa
often; he is now in his 75th year, the infirmities of age begin to
creep upon him. During the summer he has been much harassed by
chronic bronchitis, but, I am thankful to say, he is now somewhat
better. I think my own health has derived benefit from change and

'You ask after Ellen Nussey. When I saw Ellen, about two months ago,
she looked remarkably well. I sometimes hear small fragments of
gossip which amuse me. Somebody professes to have authority for
saying that "When Miss Bronte was in London she neglected to attend
divine service on the Sabbath, and in the week spent her time in
going about to balls, theatres, and operas." On the other hand, the
London quidnuncs make my seclusion a matter of wonder, and devise
twenty romantic fictions to account for it. Formerly I used to
listen to report with interest and a certain credulity; I am now
grown deaf and sceptical. Experience has taught me how absolutely
devoid of foundations her stories may be.

'With the sincere hope that your own health is better, and kind
remembrances to all old friends whenever you see them or write to
them (and whether or not their feeling to me has ceased to be
friendly, which I fear is the case in some instances),--I am, my dear
Miss Wooler, always yours, affectionately and respectfully,



'HAWORTH, _July_ 14_th_, 1851.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--My first feeling on receiving your note was
one of disappointment; but a little consideration sufficed to show me
that "all was for the best." In truth, it was a great piece of
extravagance on my part to ask you and Ellen together; it is much
better to divide such good things. To have your visit in _prospect_
will console me when hers is in _retrospect_. Not that I mean to
yield to the weakness of clinging dependently to the society of
friends, however dear, but still as an occasional treat I must value
and even seek such society as a necessary of life. Let me know,
then, whenever it suits your convenience to come to Haworth, and,
unless some change I cannot now foresee occurs, a ready and warm
welcome will await you. Should there be any cause rendering it
desirable to defer the visit, I will tell you frankly.

'The pleasures of society I cannot offer you, nor those of fine
scenery, but I place very much at your command the moors, some books,
a series of "curling-hair times," and an old pupil into the bargain.
Ellen may have told you that I have spent a month in London this
summer. When you come you shall ask what questions you like on that
point, and I will answer to the best of my stammering ability. Do
not press me much on the subject of the "Crystal Palace." I went
there five times, and certainly saw some interesting things, and the
_coup d'oeil_ is striking and bewildering enough, but I never was
able to get up any raptures on the subject, and each renewed visit
was made under coercion rather than my own free-will. It is an
excessively bustling place; and, after all, it's wonders appeal too
exclusively to the eye and rarely touch the heart or head. I make an
exception to the last assertion in favour of those who possess a
large range of scientific knowledge. Once I went with Sir David
Brewster, and perceived that he looked on objects with other eyes
than mine.

'Ellen I find is writing, and will therefore deliver her own messages
of regard. If papa were in the room he would, I know, desire his
respects; and you must take both respects and a good bundle of
something more cordial from yours very faithfully,



'HAWORTH, _September_ 22_nd_, 1851.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--Our visitor (a relative from Cornwall) having
left us, the coast is now clear, so that whenever you feel inclined
to come, papa and I will be truly glad to see you. I _do_ wish the
splendid weather we have had and are having may accompany you here.
I fear I have somewhat grudged the fine days, fearing a change before
you come.--Believe me, with papa's regards, yours respectfully and


'Come soon; if you can, on Wednesday.'


'_October_ 3_rd_, 1851.

'DEAR NELL,--Do not think I have forgotten you because I have not
written since your last. Every day I have had you more or less in my
thoughts, and wondered how your mother was getting on; let me have a
line of information as soon as possible. I have been busy, first
with a somewhat unexpected visitor, a cousin from Cornwall, who has
been spending a few days with us, and now with Miss Wooler, who came
on Monday. The former personage we can discuss any time when we
meet. Miss Wooler is and has been very pleasant. She is like good
wine: I think time improves her; and really whatever she may be in
person, in mind she is younger than when at Roe Head. Papa and she
get on extremely well. I have just heard papa walk into the
dining-room and pay her a round compliment on her good-sense. I
think so far she has been pretty comfortable and likes Haworth, but
as she only brought a small hand-basket of luggage with her she
cannot stay long.

'How are _you_? Write directly. With my love to your mother, etc.,
good-bye, dear Nell.--Yours faithfully,



'_February_ 6_th_, 1852.

'Ellen Nussey, it seems, told you I spent a fortnight in London last
December; they wished me very much to stay a month, alleging that I
should in that time be able to secure a complete circle of
acquaintance, but I found a fortnight of such excitement quite
enough. The whole day was usually spent in sight-seeing, and often
the evening was spent in society; it was more than I could bear for a
length of time. On one occasion I met a party of my critics--seven
of them; some of them had been very bitter foes in print, but they
were prodigiously civil face to face. These gentlemen seemed
infinitely grander, more pompous, dashing, showy, than the few
authors I saw. Mr. Thackeray, for instance, is a man of quiet,
simple demeanour; he is however looked upon with some awe and even
distrust. His conversation is very peculiar, too perverse to be
pleasant. It was proposed to me to see Charles Dickens, Lady Morgan,
Mesdames Trollope, Gore, and some others, but I was aware these
introductions would bring a degree of notoriety I was not disposed to
encounter; I declined, therefore, with thanks.

'Nothing charmed me more during my stay in town than the pictures I
saw. One or two private collections of Turner's best water-colour
drawings were indeed a treat; his later oil-paintings are strange
things--things that baffle description.

'I twice saw Macready act--once in _Macbeth_ and once in _Othello_.
I astonished a dinner-party by honestly saying I did not like him.
It is the fashion to rave about his splendid acting. Anything more
false and artificial, less genuinely impressive than his whole style
I could scarcely have imagined. The fact is, the stage-system
altogether is hollow nonsense. They act farces well enough: the
actors comprehend their parts and do them justice. They comprehend
nothing about tragedy or Shakespeare, and it is a failure. I said
so; and by so saying produced a blank silence--a mute consternation.
I was, indeed, obliged to dissent on many occasions, and to offend by
dissenting. It seems now very much the custom to admire a certain
wordy, intricate, obscure style of poetry, such as Elizabeth Barrett
Browning writes. Some pieces were referred to about which Currer
Bell was expected to be very rapturous, and failing in this, he

'London people strike a provincial as being very much taken up with
little matters about which no one out of particular town-circles
cares much; they talk, too, of persons--literary men and women--whose
names are scarcely heard in the country, and in whom you cannot get
up an interest. I think I should scarcely like to live in London,
and were I obliged to live there, I should certainly go little into
company, especially I should eschew the literary coteries.

'You told me, my dear Miss Wooler, to write a long letter. I have
obeyed you.--Believe me now, yours affectionately and respectfully,



'HAWORTH, _March_ 12_th_, 1852.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--Your kind note holds out a strong temptation,
but one that _must be resisted_. From home I must not go unless
health or some cause equally imperative render a change necessary.
For nearly four months now (_i.e._ since I became ill) I have not put
pen to paper. My work has been lying untouched, and my faculties
have been rusting for want of exercise. Further relaxation is out of
the question, and I _will not permit myself to think of it_. My
publisher groans over my long delays; I am sometimes provoked to
check the expression of his impatience with short and crusty answers.

'Yet the pleasure I now deny myself I would fain regard as only
deferred. I heard something about your proposing to visit Scarbro'
in the course of the summer, and could I by the close of July or
August bring my task to a certain point, how glad should I be to join
you there for awhile!

'Ellen will probably go to the south about May to make a stay of two
or three months; she has formed a plan for my accompanying her and
taking lodgings on the Sussex Coast; but the scheme seems to me
impracticable for many reasons, and, moreover, my medical man doubts
the advisability of my going southward in summer, he says it might
prove very enervating, whereas Scarbro' or Burlington would brace and
strengthen. However, I dare not lay plans at this distance of time.
For me so much must depend, first on papa's health (which throughout
the winter has been, I am thankful to say, really excellent), and
second, on the progress of work, a matter not wholly contingent on
wish or will, but lying in a great measure beyond the reach of effort
and out of the pale of calculation.

'I will not write more at present, as I wish to save this post. All
in the house would join in kind remembrances to you if they knew I
was writing. Tabby and Martha both frequently inquire after Miss
Wooler, and desire their respects when an opportunity offers of
presenting the same.--Believe me, yours always affectionately and



'HAWORTH, _September_ 2_nd_, 1852.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--I have delayed answering your very kind letter
till I could speak decidedly respecting papa's health. For some
weeks after the attack there were frequent variations, and once a
threatening of a relapse, but I trust his convalescence may now be
regarded as confirmed. The acute inflammation of the eye, which
distressed papa so much as threatening loss of sight, but which I
suppose was merely symptomatic of the rush of blood to the brain, is
now quite subsided; the partial paralysis has also disappeared; the
appetite is better; weakness with occasional slight giddiness seem
now the only lingering traces of disease. I am assured that with
papa's excellent constitution, there is every prospect of his still
being spared to me for many years.

'For two things I have reason to be most thankful, viz., that the
mental faculties have remained quite untouched, and also that my own
health and strength have been found sufficient for the occasion.
Solitary as I certainly was at Filey, I yet derived great benefit
from the change.

'It would be pleasant at the sea-side this fine warm weather, and I
should dearly like to be there with you; to such a treat, however, I
do not now look forward at all. You will fully understand the
impossibility of my enjoying peace of mind during absence from papa
under present circumstances; his strength must be very much more
fully restored before I can think of leaving home.

'My dear Miss Wooler, in case you should go to Scarbro' this season,
may I request you to pay one visit to the churchyard and see if the
inscription on the stone has been altered as I directed. We have
heard nothing since on the subject, and I fear the alteration may
have been neglected.

'Ellen has made a long stay in the south, but I believe she will soon
return now, and I am looking forward to the pleasure of having her
company in the autumn.

'With kind regards to all old friends, and sincere love to
yourself,--I am, my dear Miss Wooler, yours affectionately and



'HAWORTH, _September_ 21_st_, 1852.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--I was truly sorry to hear that when Ellen
called at the Parsonage you were suffering from influenza. I know
that an attack of this debilitating complaint is no trifle in your
case, as its effects linger with you long. It has been very
prevalent in this neighbourhood. I did not escape, but the sickness
and fever only lasted a few days and the cough was not severe. Papa,
I am thankful to say, continues pretty well; Ellen thinks him little,
if at all altered.

'And now for your kind present. The book will be precious to
me--chiefly, perhaps, for the sake of the giver, but also for its own
sake, for it is a good book; and I wish I may be enabled to read it
with some approach to the spirit you would desire. Its perusal came
recommended in such a manner as to obviate danger of neglect; its
place shall always be on my dressing-table.

'As to the other part of the present, it arrived under these

'For a month past an urgent necessity to buy and make some things for
winter-wear had been importuning my conscience; the _buying_ might be
soon effected, but the _making_ was a more serious consideration. At
this juncture Ellen arrives with a good-sized parcel, which, when
opened, discloses the things I required, perfectly made and of
capital useful fabric; adorned too--which seemly decoration it is but
too probable I might myself have foregone as an augmentation of
trouble not to be lightly incurred. I felt strong doubts as to my
right to profit by this sort of fairy gift, so unlooked for and so
curiously opportune; on reading the note accompanying the garments, I
am told that to accept will be to confer a favour(!) The doctrine is
too palatable to be rejected; I even waive all nice scrutiny of its
soundness--in short, I submit with as good a grace as may be.

'Ellen has only been my companion one little week. I would not have
her any longer, for I am disgusted with myself and my delays, and
consider it was a weak yielding to temptation in me to send for her
at all; but, in truth, my spirits were getting low--prostrate
sometimes, and she has done me inexpressible good. I wonder when I
shall see you at Haworth again. Both my father and the servants have
again and again insinuated a distinct wish that you should be
requested to come in the course of the summer and autumn, but I
always turned a deaf ear: "Not yet," was my thought, "I want first to
be free--work first, then pleasure."

'I venture to send by Ellen a book which may amuse an hour: a Scotch
tale by a minister's wife. It seems to me well told, and may serve
to remind you of characters and manners you have seen in Scotland.
When you have time to write a line, I shall feel anxious to hear how
you are. With kind regards to all old friends, and truest affection
to yourself; in which Ellen joins me,--I am, my dear Miss Wooler,
yours gratefully and respectfully,



'HAWORTH, _October_ 8_th_, 1852.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--I wished much to write to you immediately on
my return home, but I found several little matters demanding
attention, and have been kept busy till now.

'I reached home about five o'clock in the afternoon, and the anxiety
which is inseparable from a return after absence was pleasantly
relieved by finding papa well and cheerful. He inquired after you
with interest. I gave him your kind regards, and he specially
charged me whenever I wrote to present his in return, and to say also
that he hoped to see you at Haworth at the earliest date which shall
be convenient to you.

'The week I spent at Hornsea was a happy and pleasant week. Thank
you, my dear Miss Wooler, for the true kindness which gave it its
chief charm. I shall think of you often, especially when I walk out,
and during the long evenings. I believe the weather has at length
taken a turn: to-day is beautifully fine. I wish I were at Hornsea
and just now preparing to go out with you to walk on the sands or
along the lake.

I would not have you to fatigue yourself with writing to me when you
are not inclined, but yet I should be glad to hear from you some day
ere long. When you _do_ write, tell me how you liked _The Experience
of Life_, and whether you have read _Esmond_, and what you think of
it.--Believe me always yours, with true affection and respect,



'BROOKROYD, _December_ 7_th_, 1852.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--Since you were so kind as to take some
interest in my small tribulation of Saturday, I write a line to tell
you that on Sunday morning a letter came which put me out of pain and
obviated the necessity of an impromptu journey to London.

'The _money transaction_, of course, remains the same, and perhaps is
not quite equitable; but when an author finds that his work is
cordially approved, he can pardon the rest--indeed, my chief regret
now lies in the conviction that papa will be disappointed: he
expected me to earn 500 pounds, nor did I myself anticipate that a
lower sum would be offered; however, 250 pounds is not to be
despised. {275}

'Your sudden departure from Brookroyd left a legacy of consternation
to the bereaved breakfast-table. Ellen was not easily to be soothed,
though I diligently represented to her that you had quitted Haworth
with the same inexorable haste. I am commissioned to tell you,
first, that she has decided not to go to Yarmouth till after
Christmas, her mother's health having within the last few days
betrayed some symptoms not unlike those which preceded her former
illness; and though it is to be hoped that those may pass without any
untoward result, yet they naturally increase Ellen's reluctance to
leave home for the present.

'Secondly, I am to say, that when the present you left came to be
examined, the costliness and beauty of it inspired some concern.
Ellen thinks you are too kind, as I also think every morning, for I
am now benefiting by your kind gift.

'With sincere regards to all at the Parsonage,--I am, my dear Miss
Wooler, yours respectfully and affectionately,

'_P.S._--I shall direct that _Esmond_ (Mr. Thackeray's work) shall be
sent on to you as soon as the Hunsworth party have read it. It has
already reached a second edition.'


'HAWORTH, _January_ 20_th_, 1853.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--Your last kind note would not have remained so
long unanswered if I had been in better health. While Ellen was with
me, I seemed to revive wonderfully, but began to grow worse again the
day she left; and this falling off proved symptomatic of a relapse.
My doctor called the next day; he said the headache from which I was
suffering arose from inertness in the liver.

'Thank God, I now feel better; and very grateful am I for the
improvement--grateful no less for my dear father's sake than for my

'Most fully can I sympathise with you in the anxiety you express
about your friend. The thought of his leaving England and going out
alone to a strange country, with all his natural sensitiveness and
retiring diffidence, is indeed painful; still, my dear Miss Wooler,
should he actually go to America, I can but then suggest to you the
same source of comfort and support you have suggested to me, and of
which indeed I know you never lose sight--namely, reliance on
Providence. "God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," and He will
doubtless care for a good, though afflicted man, amidst whatever
difficulties he may be thrown. When you write again, I should be
glad to know whether your anxiety on this subject is relieved. I was
truly glad to learn through Ellen that Ilkley still continued to
agree with your health. Earnestly trusting that the New Year may
prove to you a happy and tranquil time,--I am, my dear Miss Wooler,
sincerely and affectionately yours,



'_January_ 27_th_, 1853.

'MY DEAR MISS WOOLER,--I received your letter here in London where I
have been staying about three weeks, and shall probably remain a few
days longer. _Villette_ is to be published to-morrow. Its
appearance has been purposely delayed hitherto, to avoid discourteous
clashing with Mrs. Gaskell's new work. Your name was one of the
first on the list of presentees, and directed to the Parsonage, where
I shall also send this letter, as you mention that you are to leave
Halifax at the close of this week. I will bear in mind what you say
about Mrs. Morgan; and should I ever have an opportunity of serving
her, will not omit to do so. I only wish my chance of being useful
were greater. Schools seem to be considered almost obsolete in
London. Ladies' colleges, with professors for every branch of
instruction, are superseding the old-fashioned seminary. How the
system will work I can't tell. I think the college classes might be
very useful for finishing the education of ladies intended to go out
as governesses, but what progress little girls will make in them
seems to me another question.

'My dear Miss Wooler, I read attentively all you say about Miss
Martineau; the sincerity and constancy of your solicitude touches me
very much. I should grieve to neglect or oppose your advice, and yet
I do not feel that it would be right to give Miss Martineau up
entirely. There is in her nature much that is very noble. Hundreds
have forsaken her, more, I fear, in the apprehension that their fair
names may suffer if seen in connection with hers, than from any pure
convictions, such as you suggest, of harm consequent on her fatal
tenets. With these fair-weather friends I cannot bear to rank. And
for her sin, is it not one of those which God and not man must judge?

'To speak the truth, my dear Miss Wooler, I believe if you were in my
place, and knew Miss Martineau as I do--if you had shared with me the
proofs of her rough but genuine kindliness, and had seen how she
secretly suffers from abandonment, you would be the last to give her
up; you would separate the sinner from the sin, and feel as if the
right lay rather in quietly adhering to her in her strait, while that
adherence is unfashionable and unpopular, than in turning on her your
back when the world sets the example. I believe she is one of those
whom opposition and desertion make obstinate in error, while patience
and tolerance touch her deeply and keenly, and incline her to ask of
her own heart whether the course she has been pursuing may not
possibly be a faulty course. However, I have time to think of this
subject, and I shall think of it seriously.

'As to what I have seen in London during my present visit, I hope one
day to tell you all about it by our fireside at home. When you write
again will you name a time when it would suit you to come and see me;
everybody in the house would be glad of your presence; your last
visit is pleasantly remembered by all.

'With kindest regards,--I am always, affectionately and respectfully


A note to Miss Nussey written after Charlotte's death indicates a fairly
shrewd view on the part of Miss Wooler as regards the popularity of her


'MY DEAR MISS ELLEN,--The third edition of Charlotte's Life has at
length ventured out. Our curate tells me he is assured it is quite
inferior to the former ones. So you see Mrs. Gaskell displayed
worldly wisdom in going out of her way to furnish gossip for the
discerning public. Did I mention to you that Mrs. Gibson knows two
or three young ladies in Hull who finished their education at Mme.
Heger's pension? Mrs. G. said they read _Villette_ with keen
interest--of course they would. I had a nice walk with a Suffolk
lady, who was evidently delighted to meet with one who had personally
known our dear C. B., and would not soon have wearied of a
conversation in which she was the topic.--Love to yourself and
sisters, from--Your affectionate,

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