Понедельник, 24.04.2017, 12:21Главная | Регистрация | Вход

Меню сайта

Форма входа



«  Апрель 2017  »


            # # # # # #
              # # # # #

Charlotte Brontë and Her Circle by Clement King Shorter
Here, however, are glimpses of Emily Bronte on a more human side.


'_March_ 25_th_, 1844.

'DEAR NELL,--I got home safely, and was not too much tired on
arriving at Haworth. I feel rather better to-day than I have been,
and in time I hope to regain more strength. I found Emily and Papa
well, and a letter from Branwell intimating that he and Anne are
pretty well too. Emily is much obliged to you for the flower seeds.
She wishes to know if the Sicilian pea and crimson corn-flower are
hardy flowers, or if they are delicate, and should be sown in warm
and sheltered situations? Tell me also if you went to Mrs. John
Swain's on Friday, and if you enjoyed yourself; talk to me, in short,
as you would do if we were together. Good-morning, dear Nell; I
shall say no more to you at present.



'_April_ 5_th_, 1844.

'DEAR NELL,--We were all very glad to get your letter this morning.
_We_, I say, as both Papa and Emily were anxious to hear of the safe
arrival of yourself and the little _varmint_. {159} As you
conjecture, Emily and I set-to to shirt-making the very day after you
left, and we have stuck to it pretty closely ever since. We miss
your society at least as much as you miss ours, depend upon it; would
that you were within calling distance. Be sure you write to me. I
shall expect another letter on Thursday--don't disappoint me. Best
regards to your mother and sisters.--Yours, somewhat irritated,


Earlier than this Emily had herself addressed a letter to Miss Nussey,
and, indeed, the two letters from Emily Bronte to Ellen Nussey which I
print here are, I imagine, the only letters of Emily's in existence. Mr.
Nicholls informs me that he has never seen a letter in Emily's
handwriting. The following letter is written during Charlotte's second
stay in Brussels, and at a time when Ellen Nussey contemplated joining
her there--a project never carried out.


'_May_ 12, 1843.

'DEAR MISS NUSSEY,--I should be wanting in common civility if I did
not thank you for your kindness in letting me know of an opportunity
to send postage free.

'I have written as you directed, though if next Tuesday means
to-morrow I fear it will be too late. Charlotte has never mentioned
a word about coming home. If you would go over for half-a-year,
perhaps you might be able to bring her back with you--otherwise, she
might vegetate there till the age of Methuselah for mere lack of
courage to face the voyage.

'All here are in good health; so was Anne according to her last
account. The holidays will be here in a week or two, and then, if
she be willing, I will get her to write you a proper letter, a feat
that I have never performed.--With love and good wishes,


The next letter is written at the time that Charlotte is staying with her
friend at Mr. Henry Nussey's house at Hathersage in Derbyshire.


'HAWORTH, _February_ 9_th_, 1846.

'DEAR MISS NUSSEY,--I fancy this note will be too late to decide one
way or other with respect to Charlotte's stay. Yours only came this
morning (Wednesday), and unless mine travels faster you will not
receive it till Friday. Papa, of course, misses Charlotte, and will
be glad to have her back. Anne and I ditto; but as she goes from
home so seldom, you may keep her a day or two longer, if your
eloquence is equal to the task of persuading her--that is, if she
still be with you when you get this permission. Love from
Anne.--Yours truly,

_Wuthering Heights_ and _Agnes Grey_, 'by Ellis and Acton Bell,' were
published together in three volumes in 1847. The former novel occupied
two volumes, and the latter one. By a strange freak of publishing, the
book was issued as _Wuthering Heights_, vol. I. and II., and _Agnes
Grey_, vol. III., in deference, it must be supposed, to the passion for
the three volume novel. Charlotte refers to the publication in the next
letter, which contained as inclosure the second preface to _Jane
Eyre_--the preface actually published. {161} An earlier preface,
entitled 'A Word to the _Quarterly_,' was cancelled.


'_December_ 21_st_, 1847.

'DEAR SIR,--I am, for my own part, dissatisfied with the preface I
sent--I fear it savours of flippancy. If you see no objection I
should prefer substituting the inclosed. It is rather more lengthy,
but it expresses something I have long wished to express.

'Mr. Smith is kind indeed to think of sending me _The Jar of Honey_.
When I receive the book I will write to him. I cannot thank you
sufficiently for your letters, and I can give you but a faint idea of
the pleasure they afford me; they seem to introduce such light and
life to the torpid retirement where we live like dormice. But,
understand this distinctly, you must never write to me except when
you have both leisure and inclination. I know your time is too fully
occupied and too valuable to be often at the service of any one

'You are not far wrong in your judgment respecting _Wuthering
Heights_ and _Agnes Grey_. Ellis has a strong, original mind, full
of strange though sombre power. When he writes poetry that power
speaks in language at once condensed, elaborated, and refined, but in
prose it breaks forth in scenes which shock more than they attract.
Ellis will improve, however, because he knows his defects. _Agnes
Grey_ is the mirror of the mind of the writer. The orthography and
punctuation of the books are mortifying to a degree: almost all the
errors that were corrected in the proof-sheets appear intact in what
should have been the fair copies. If Mr. Newby always does business
in this way, few authors would like to have him for their publisher a
second time.--Believe me, dear sir, yours respectfully,

'C. BELL.'

When _Jane Eyre_ was performed at a London theatre--and it has been more
than once adapted for the stage, and performed many hundreds of times in
England and America--Charlotte Bronte wrote to her friend Mr. Williams as


'_February_ 5_th_, 1848.

'DEAR SIR,--A representation of _Jane Eyre_ at a minor theatre would
no doubt be a rather afflicting spectacle to the author of that work.
I suppose all would be wofully exaggerated and painfully vulgarised
by the actors and actresses on such a stage. What, I cannot help
asking myself, would they make of Mr. Rochester? And the picture my
fancy conjures up by way of reply is a somewhat humiliating one.
What would they make of Jane Eyre? I see something very pert and
very affected as an answer to that query.

'Still, were it in my power, I should certainly make a point of being
myself a witness of the exhibition. Could I go quietly and alone, I
undoubtedly should go; I should endeavour to endure both rant and
whine, strut and grimace, for the sake of the useful observations to
be collected in such a scene.

'As to whether I wish _you_ to go, that is another question. I am
afraid I have hardly fortitude enough really to wish it. One can
endure being disgusted with one's own work, but that a friend should
share the repugnance is unpleasant. Still, I know it would interest
me to hear both your account of the exhibition and any ideas which
the effect of the various parts on the spectators might suggest to
you. In short, I should like to know what you would think, and to
hear what you would say on the subject. But you must not go merely
to satisfy my curiosity; you must do as you think proper. Whatever
you decide on will content me: if you do not go, you will be spared a
vulgarising impression of the book; if you _do_ go, I shall perhaps
gain a little information--either alternative has its advantage.

'I am glad to hear that the second edition is selling, for the sake
of Messrs. Smith & Elder. I rather feared it would remain on hand,
and occasion loss. _Wuthering Heights_ it appears is selling too,
and consequently Mr. Newby is getting into marvellously good tune
with his authors.--I remain, my dear sir, yours faithfully,


I print the above letter here because of its sequel, which has something
to say of Ellis--of Emily Bronte.


'_February_ 15_th_, 1848.

'DEAR SIR,--Your letter, as you may fancy, has given me something to
think about. It has presented to my mind a curious picture, for the
description you give is so vivid, I seem to realise it all. I wanted
information and I have got it. You have raised the veil from a
corner of your great world--your London--and have shown me a glimpse
of what I might call loathsome, but which I prefer calling _strange_.
Such, then, is a sample of what amuses the metropolitan populace!
Such is a view of one of their haunts!

'Did I not say that I would have gone to this theatre and witnessed
this exhibition if it had been in my power? What absurdities people
utter when they speak of they know not what!

'You must try now to forget entirely what you saw.

'As to my next book, I suppose it will grow to maturity in time, as
grass grows or corn ripens; but I cannot force it. It makes slow
progress thus far: it is not every day, nor even every week that I
can write what is worth reading; but I shall (if not hindered by
other matters) be industrious when the humour comes, and in due time
I hope to see such a result as I shall not be ashamed to offer you,
my publishers, and the public.

'Have you not two classes of writers--the author and the bookmaker?
And is not the latter more prolific than the former? Is he not,
indeed, wonderfully fertile; but does the public, or the publisher
even, make much account of his productions? Do not both tire of him
in time?

'Is it not because authors aim at a style of living better suited to
merchants, professed gain-seekers, that they are often compelled to
degenerate to mere bookmakers, and to find the great stimulus of
their pen in the necessity of earning money? If they were not
ashamed to be frugal, might they not be more independent?

'I should much--very much--like to take that quiet view of the "great
world" you allude to, but I have as yet won no right to give myself
such a treat: it must be for some future day--when, I don't know.
Ellis, I imagine, would soon turn aside from the spectacle in
disgust. I do not think he admits it as his creed that "the proper
study of mankind is man"--at least not the artificial man of cities.
In some points I consider Ellis somewhat of a theorist: now and then
he broaches ideas which strike my sense as much more daring and
original than practical; his reason may be in advance of mine, but
certainly it often travels a different road. I should say Ellis will
not be seen in his full strength till he is seen as an essayist.

'I return to you the note inclosed under your cover, it is from the
editor of the _Berwick Warder_; he wants a copy of _Jane Eyre_ to

'With renewed thanks for your continued goodness to me,--I remain, my
dear sir, yours faithfully,


A short time afterwards the illness came to Emily from which she died the
same year. Branwell died in September 1848, and a month later Charlotte
writes with a heart full of misgivings:--


'_October_ 29_th_, 1848.

'DEAR ELLEN,--I am sorry you should have been uneasy at my not
writing to you ere this, but you must remember it is scarcely a week
since I received your last, and my life is not so varied that in the
interim much should have occurred worthy of mention. You insist that
I should write about myself; this puts me in straits, for I really
have nothing interesting to say about myself. I think I have now
nearly got over the effects of my late illness, and am almost
restored to my normal condition of health. I sometimes wish that it
was a little higher, but we ought to be content with such blessings
as we have, and not pine after those that are out of our reach. I
feel much more uneasy about my sisters than myself just now. Emily's
cold and cough are very obstinate. I fear she has pain in the chest,
and I sometimes catch a shortness in her breathing, when she has
moved at all quickly. She looks very, very thin and pale. Her
reserved nature occasions me great uneasiness of mind. It is useless
to question her--you get no answers. It is still more useless to
recommend remedies--they are never adopted. Nor can I shut my eyes
to the fact of Anne's great delicacy of constitution. The late sad
event has, I feel, made me more apprehensive than common. I cannot
help feeling much depressed sometimes. I try to leave all in God's
hands; to trust in His goodness; but faith and resignation are
difficult to practise under some circumstances. The weather has been
most unfavourable for invalids of late: sudden changes of
temperature, and cold penetrating winds have been frequent here.
Should the atmosphere become settled, perhaps a favourable effect
might be produced on the general health, and those harassing coughs
and colds be removed. Papa has not quite escaped, but he has, so
far, stood it out better than any of us. You must not mention my
going to Brookroyd this winter. I could not, and would not, leave
home on any account. I am truly sorry to hear of Miss Heald's
serious illness, it seems to me she has been for some years out of
health now. These things make one _feel_ as well as _know_, that
this world is not our abiding-place. We should not knit human ties
too close, or clasp human affections too fondly. They must leave us,
or we must leave them, one day. Good-bye for the present. God
restore health and strength to you and to all who need it.--Yours



'_November_ 2_nd_, 1848.

'MY DEAR SIR,--I have received, since I last wrote to you, two
papers, the _Standard of Freedom_ and the _Morning Herald_, both
containing notices of the Poems; which notices, I hope, will at least
serve a useful purpose to Mr. Smith in attracting public attention to
the volume. As critiques, I should have thought more of them had
they more fully recognised Ellis Bell's merits; but the lovers of
abstract poetry are few in number.

'Your last letter was very welcome, it was written with so kind an
intention: you made it so interesting in order to divert my mind. I
should have thanked you for it before now, only that I kept waiting
for a cheerful day and mood in which to address you, and I grieve to
say the shadow which has fallen on our quiet home still lingers round
it. I am better, but others are ill now. Papa is not well, my
sister Emily has something like slow inflammation of the lungs, and
even our old servant, who lived with us nearly a quarter of a
century, is suffering under serious indisposition.

'I would fain hope that Emily is a little better this evening, but it
is difficult to ascertain this. She is a real stoic in illness: she
neither seeks nor will accept sympathy. To put any questions, to
offer any aid, is to annoy; she will not yield a step before pain or
sickness till forced; not one of her ordinary avocations will she
voluntarily renounce. You must look on and see her do what she is
unfit to do, and not dare to say a word--a painful necessity for
those to whom her health and existence are as precious as the life in
their veins. When she is ill there seems to be no sunshine in the
world for me. The tie of sister is near and dear indeed, and I think
a certain harshness in her powerful and peculiar character only makes
me cling to her more. But this is all family egotism (so to
speak)--excuse it, and, above all, never allude to it, or to the name
Emily, when you write to me. I do not always show your letters, but
I never withhold them when they are inquired after.

'I am sorry I cannot claim for the name Bronte the honour of being
connected with the notice in the _Bradford Observer_. That paper is
in the hands of dissenters, and I should think the best articles are
usually written by one or two intelligent dissenting ministers in the
town. Alexander Harris {168a} is fortunate in your encouragement, as
Currer Bell once was. He has not forgotten the first letter he
received from you, declining indeed his MS. of _The Professor_, but
in terms so different from those in which the rejections of the other
publishers had been expressed--with so much more sense and kind
feeling, it took away the sting of disappointment and kindled new
hope in his mind.

'Currer Bell might expostulate with you again about thinking too well
of him, but he refrains; he prefers acknowledging that the expression
of a fellow creature's regard--even if more than he deserves--does
him good: it gives him a sense of content. Whatever portion of the
tribute is unmerited on his part, would, he is aware, if exposed to
the test of daily acquaintance, disperse like a broken bubble, but he
has confidence that a portion, however minute, of solid friendship
would remain behind, and that portion he reckons amongst his

'I am glad, by-the-bye, to hear that _Madeline_ is come out at last,
and was happy to see a favourable notice of that work and of _The
Three Paths_ in the _Morning Herald_. I wish Miss Kavanagh all
success. {168b}

'Trusting that Mrs. Williams's health continues strong, and that your
own and that of all your children is satisfactory, for without health
there is little comfort,--I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely,


The next letter gives perhaps the most interesting glimpse of Emily that
has been afforded us.


'_November_ 22_nd_, 1848.

'MY DEAR SIR,--I put your most friendly letter into Emily's hands as
soon as I had myself perused it, taking care, however, not to say a
word in favour of homoeopathy--that would not have answered. It is
best usually to leave her to form her own judgment, and _especially_
not to advocate the side you wish her to favour; if you do, she is
sure to lean in the opposite direction, and ten to one will argue
herself into non-compliance. Hitherto she has refused medicine,
rejected medical advice; no reasoning, no entreaty, has availed to
induce her to see a physician. After reading your letter she said,
"Mr. Williams's intention was kind and good, but he was under a
delusion: Homoeopathy was only another form of quackery." Yet she
may reconsider this opinion and come to a different conclusion; her
second thoughts are often the best.

'The _North American Review_ is worth reading; there is no mincing
the matter there. What a bad set the Bells must be! What appalling
books they write! To-day, as Emily appeared a little easier, I
thought the _Review_ would amuse her, so I read it aloud to her and
Anne. As I sat between them at our quiet but now somewhat melancholy
fireside, I studied the two ferocious authors. Ellis, the "man of
uncommon talents, but dogged, brutal, and morose," sat leaning back
in his easy chair drawing his impeded breath as he best could, and
looking, alas! piteously pale and wasted; it is not his wont to
laugh, but he smiled half-amused and half in scorn as he listened.
Acton was sewing, no emotion ever stirs him to loquacity, so he only
smiled too, dropping at the same time a single word of calm amazement
to hear his character so darkly portrayed. I wonder what the
reviewer would have thought of his own sagacity could he have beheld
the pair as I did. Vainly, too, might he have looked round for the
masculine partner in the firm of "Bell & Co." How I laugh in my
sleeve when I read the solemn assertions that _Jane Eyre_ was written
in partnership, and that it "bears the marks of more than one mind
and one sex."

'The wise critics would certainly sink a degree in their own
estimation if they knew that yours or Mr. Smith's was the first
masculine hand that touched the MS. of _Jane Eyre_, and that till you
or he read it no masculine eye had scanned a line of its contents, no
masculine ear heard a phrase from its pages. However, the view they
take of the matter rather pleases me than otherwise. If they like, I
am not unwilling they should think a dozen ladies and gentlemen aided
at the compilation of the book. Strange patchwork it must seem to
them--this chapter being penned by Mr., and that by Miss or Mrs.
Bell; that character or scene being delineated by the husband, that
other by the wife! The gentleman, of course, doing the rough work,
the lady getting up the finer parts. I admire the idea vastly.

'I have read _Madeline_. It is a fine pearl in simple setting.
Julia Kavanagh has my esteem; I would rather know her than many far
more brilliant personages. Somehow my heart leans more to her than
to Eliza Lynn, for instance. Not that I have read either _Amymone_
or _Azeth_, but I have seen extracts from them which I found it
literally impossible to digest. They presented to my imagination
Lytton Bulwer in petticoats--an overwhelming vision. By-the-bye, the
American critic talks admirable sense about Bulwer--candour obliges
me to confess that.

'I must abruptly bid you good-bye for the present.--Yours sincerely,



'_December_ 7_th_, 1848.

'MY DEAR SIR,--I duly received Dr. Curie's work on Homoeopathy, and
ought to apologise for having forgotten to thank you for it. I will
return it when I have given it a more attentive perusal than I have
yet had leisure to do. My sister has read it, but as yet she remains
unshaken in her former opinion: she will not admit there can be
efficacy in such a system. Were I in her place, it appears to me
that I should be glad to give it a trial, confident that it can
scarcely do harm and might do good.

'I can give no favourable report of Emily's state. My father is very
despondent about her. Anne and I cherish hope as well as we can, but
her appearance and her symptoms tend to crush that feeling. Yet I
argue that the present emaciation, cough, weakness, shortness of
breath are the results of inflammation, now, I trust, subsided, and
that with time these ailments will gradually leave her. But my
father shakes his head and speaks of others of our family once
similarly afflicted, for whom he likewise persisted in hoping against
hope, and who are now removed where hope and fear fluctuate no more.
There were, however, differences between their case and
hers--important differences I think. I must cling to the expectation
of her recovery, I cannot renounce it.

'Much would I give to have the opinion of a skilful professional man.
It is easy, my dear sir, to say there is nothing in medicine, and
that physicians are useless, but we naturally wish to procure aid for
those we love when we see them suffer; most painful is it to sit
still, look on, and do nothing. Would that my sister added to her
many great qualities the humble one of tractability! I have again
and again incurred her displeasure by urging the necessity of seeking
advice, and I fear I must yet incur it again and again. Let me leave
the subject; I have no right thus to make you a sharer in our sorrow.

'I am indeed surprised that Mr. Newby should say that he is to
publish another work by Ellis and Acton Bell. Acton has had quite
enough of him. I think I _have_ before intimated that that author
never more intends to have Mr. Newby for a publisher. Not only does
he seem to forget that engagements made should be fulfilled, but by a
system of petty and contemptible manoeuvring he throws an air of
charlatanry over the works of which he has the management. This does
not suit the "Bells": they have their own rude north-country ideas of
what is delicate, honourable, and gentlemanlike.

'Newby's conduct in no sort corresponds with these notions; they have
found him--I will not say what they have found him. Two words that
would exactly suit him are at my pen point, but I shall not take the
trouble to employ them.

'Ellis Bell is at present in no condition to trouble himself with
thoughts either of writing or publishing. Should it please Heaven to
restore his health and strength, he reserves to himself the right of
deciding whether or not Mr. Newby has forfeited every claim to his
second work.

'I have not yet read the second number of _Pendennis_. The first I
thought rich in indication of ease, resource, promise; but it is not
Thackeray's way to develop his full power all at once. _Vanity Fair_
began very quietly--it was quiet all through, but the stream as it
rolled gathered a resistless volume and force. Such, I doubt not,
will be the case with _Pendennis_.

'You must forget what I said about Eliza Lynn. She may be the best
of human beings, and I am but a narrow-minded fool to express
prejudice against a person I have never seen.

'Believe me, my dear sir, in haste, yours sincerely,


The next four letters speak for themselves.


'_December_ 9_th_, 1848.

'MY DEAR SIR,--Your letter seems to relieve me from a difficulty and
to open my way. I know it would be useless to consult Drs. Elliotson
or Forbes: my sister would not see the most skilful physician in
England if he were brought to her just now, nor would she follow his
prescription. With regard to Homoeopathy, she has at least admitted
that it cannot do much harm; perhaps if I get the medicines she may
consent to try them; at any rate, the experiment shall be made.

'Not knowing Dr. Epps's address, I send the inclosed statement of her
case through your hands. {173}

'I deeply feel both your kindness and Mr. Smith's in thus interesting
yourselves in what touches me so nearly.--Believe me, yours



'_December_ 15_th_, 1848.

'MY DEAR ELLEN,--I mentioned your coming here to Emily as a mere
suggestion, with the faint hope that the prospect might cheer her, as
she really esteems you perhaps more than any other person out of this
house. I found, however, it would not do; any, the slightest
excitement or putting out of the way is not to be thought of, and
indeed I do not think the journey in this unsettled weather, with the
walk from Keighley and walk back, at all advisable for yourself. Yet
I should have liked to see you, and so would Anne. Emily continues
much the same; yesterday I thought her a little better, but to-day
she is not so well. I hope still, for I _must_ hope--she is dear to
me as life. If I let the faintness of despair reach my heart I shall
become worthless. The attack was, I believe, in the first place,
inflammation of the lungs; it ought to have been met promptly in
time. She is too intractable. I _do_ wish I knew her state and
feelings more clearly. The fever is not so high as it was, but the
pain in the side, the cough, the emaciation are there still.

'Remember me kindly to all at Brookroyd, and believe me, yours



'_December_ 21_st_, 1848.

'MY DEAR ELLEN,--Emily suffers no more from pain or weakness now.
She will never suffer more in this world. She is gone, after a hard,
short conflict. She died on _Tuesday_, the very day I wrote to you.
I thought it very possible she might be with us still for weeks, and
a few hours afterwards she was in eternity. Yes, there is no Emily
in time or on earth now. Yesterday we put her poor, wasted, mortal
frame quietly under the church pavement. We are very calm at
present. Why should we be otherwise? The anguish of seeing her
suffer is over; the spectacle of the pains of death is gone by; the
funeral day is past. We feel she is at peace. No need now to
tremble for the hard frost and the keen wind. Emily does not feel
them. She died in a time of promise. We saw her taken from life in
its prime. But it is God's will, and the place where she is gone is
better than she has left.'


'_December_ 25_th_, 1848.

'MY DEAR SIR,--I will write to you more at length when my heart can
find a little rest--now I can only thank you very briefly for your
letter, which seemed to me eloquent in its sincerity.

'Emily is nowhere here now, her wasted mortal remains are taken out
of the house. We have laid her cherished head under the church aisle
beside my mother's, my two sisters'--dead long ago--and my poor,
hapless brother's. But a small remnant of the race is left--so my
poor father thinks.

'Well, the loss is ours, not hers, and some sad comfort I take, as I
hear the wind blow and feel the cutting keenness of the frost, in
knowing that the elements bring her no more suffering; their severity
cannot reach her grave; her fever is quieted, her restlessness
soothed, her deep, hollow cough is hushed for ever; we do not hear it
in the night nor listen for it in the morning; we have not the
conflict of the strangely strong spirit and the fragile frame before
us--relentless conflict--once seen, never to be forgotten. A dreary
calm reigns round us, in the midst of which we seek resignation.

'My father and my sister Anne are far from well. As for me, God has
hitherto most graciously sustained me; so far I have felt adequate to
bear my own burden and even to offer a little help to others. I am
not ill; I can get through daily duties, and do something towards
keeping hope and energy alive in our mourning household. My father
says to me almost hourly, "Charlotte, you must bear up, I shall sink
if you fail me"; these words, you can conceive, are a stimulus to
nature. The sight, too, of my sister Anne's very still but deep
sorrow wakens in me such fear for her that I dare not falter.
Somebody _must_ cheer the rest.

'So I will not now ask why Emily was torn from us in the fulness of
our attachment, rooted up in the prime of her own days, in the
promise of her powers; why her existence now lies like a field of
green corn trodden down, like a tree in full bearing struck at the
root. I will only say, sweet is rest after labour and calm after
tempest, and repeat again and again that Emily knows that now.--Yours


And then there are these last pathetic references to the beloved sister.


'_January_ 2_nd_, 1849.

'MY DEAR SIR,--Untoward circumstances come to me, I think, less
painfully than pleasant ones would just now. The lash of the
_Quarterly_, however severely applied, cannot sting--as its praise
probably would not elate me. Currer Bell feels a sorrowful
independence of reviews and reviewers; their approbation might indeed
fall like an additional weight on his heart, but their censure has no
bitterness for him.

'My sister Anne sends the accompanying answer to the letter received
through you the other day; will you be kind enough to post it? She
is not well yet, nor is papa, both are suffering under severe
influenza colds. My letters had better be brief at present--they
cannot be cheerful. I am, however, still sustained. While looking
with dismay on the desolation sickness and death have wrought in our
home, I can combine with awe of God's judgments a sense of gratitude
for his mercies. Yet life has become very void, and hope has proved
a strange traitor; when I shall again be able to put confidence in
her suggestions, I know not: she kept whispering that Emily would
not, _could_ not die, and where is she now? Out of my reach, out of
my world--torn from me.--Yours sincerely,


'_March_ 3_rd_, 1849.

'MY DEAR SIR,--Hitherto, I have always forgotten to acknowledge the
receipt of the parcel from Cornhill. It came at a time when I could
not open it nor think of it; its contents are still a mystery. I
will not taste, till I can enjoy them. I looked at it the other day.
It reminded me too sharply of the time when the first parcel arrived
last October: Emily was then beginning to be ill--the opening of the
parcel and examination of the books cheered her; their perusal
occupied her for many a weary day. The very evening before her last
morning dawned I read to her one of Emerson's essays. I read on,
till I found she was not listening--I thought to recommence next day.
Next day, the first glance at her face told me what would happen
before night-fall.

'_November_ 19_th_, 1849.

'MY DEAR SIR,--I am very sorry to hear that Mr. Taylor's illness has
proved so much more serious than was anticipated, but I do hope he is
now better. That he should be quite well cannot be as yet expected,
for I believe rheumatic fever is a complaint slow to leave the system
it has invaded.

'Now that I have almost formed the resolution of coming to London,
the thought begins to present itself to me under a pleasant aspect.
At first it was sad; it recalled the last time I went and with whom,
and to whom I came home, and in what dear companionship I again and
again narrated all that had been seen, heard, and uttered in that
visit. Emily would never go into any sort of society herself, and
whenever I went I could on my return communicate to her a pleasure
that suited her, by giving the distinct faithful impression of each
scene I had witnessed. When pressed to go, she would sometimes say,
"What is the use? Charlotte will bring it all home to me." And
indeed I delighted to please her thus. My occupation is gone now.
'I shall come to be lectured. I perceive you are ready with
animadversion; you are not at all well satisfied on some points, so I
will open my ears to hear, nor will I close my heart against
conviction; but I forewarn you, I have my own doctrines, not
acquired, but innate, some that I fear cannot be rooted up without
tearing away all the soil from which they spring, and leaving only
unproductive rock for new seed.

'I have read the _Caxtons_, I have looked at _Fanny Hervey_. I think
I will not write what I think of either--should I see you I will
speak it.

'Take a hundred, take a thousand of such works and weigh them in the
balance against a page of Thackeray. I hope Mr. Thackeray is

'The _Sun_, the _Morning Herald_, and the _Critic_ came this morning.
None of them express disappointment from _Shirley_, or on the whole
compare her disadvantageously with _Jane_. It strikes me that those
worthies--the _Athenaeum_, _Spectator_, _Economist_, made haste to be
first with their notices that they might give the tone; if so, their
manoeuvre has not yet quite succeeded.

'The _Critic_, our old friend, is a friend still. Why does the pulse
of pain beat in every pleasure? Ellis and Acton Bell are referred
to, and where are they? I will not repine. Faith whispers they are
not in those graves to which imagination turns--the feeling,
thinking, the inspired natures are beyond earth, in a region more
glorious. I believe them blessed. I think, I _will_ think, my loss
has been _their_ gain. Does it weary you that I refer to them? If
so, forgive me.--Yours sincerely,


'Before closing this I glanced over the letter inclosed under your
cover. Did you read it? It is from a lady, not quite an old maid,
but nearly one, she says; no signature or date; a queer, but
good-natured production, it made me half cry, half laugh. I am sure
_Shirley_ has been exciting enough for her, and too exciting. I
cannot well reply to the letter since it bears no address, and I am
glad--I should not know what to say. She is not sure whether I am a
gentleman or not, but I fancy she thinks so. Have you any idea who
she is? If I were a gentleman and like my heroes, she suspects she
should fall in love with me. She had better not. It would be a pity
to cause such a waste of sensibility. You and Mr. Smith would not
let me announce myself as a single gentleman of mature age in my
preface, but if you had permitted it, a great many elderly spinsters
would have been pleased.'

The last words that I have to say concerning Emily are contained in a
letter to me from Miss Ellen Nussey.

'So very little is known of Emily Bronte,' she writes, 'that every
little detail awakens an interest. Her extreme reserve seemed
impenetrable, yet she was intensely lovable; she invited confidence
in her moral power. Few people have the gift of looking and smiling
as she could look and smile. One of her rare expressive looks was
something to remember through life, there was such a depth of soul
and feeling, and yet a shyness of revealing herself--a strength of
self-containment seen in no other. She was in the strictest sense a
law unto herself, and a heroine in keeping to her law. She and
gentle Anne were to be seen twined together as united statues of
power and humility. They were to be seen with their arms lacing each
other in their younger days whenever their occupations permitted
their union. On the top of a moor or in a deep glen Emily was a
child in spirit for glee and enjoyment; or when thrown entirely on
her own resources to do a kindness, she could be vivacious in
conversation and enjoy giving pleasure. A spell of mischief also
lurked in her on occasions when out on the moors. She enjoyed
leading Charlotte where she would not dare to go of her own
free-will. Charlotte had a mortal dread of unknown animals, and it
was Emily's pleasure to lead her into close vicinity, and then to
tell her of how and of what she had done, laughing at her horror with
great amusement. If Emily wanted a book she might have left in the
sitting-room she would dart in again without looking at any one,
especially if any guest were present. Among the curates, Mr.
Weightman was her only exception for any conventional courtesy. The
ability with which she took up music was amazing; the style, the
touch, and the expression was that of a professor absorbed heart and
soul in his theme. The two dogs, Keeper and Flossy, were always in
quiet waiting by the side of Emily and Anne during their breakfast of
Scotch oatmeal and milk, and always had a share handed down to them
at the close of the meal. Poor old Keeper, Emily's faithful friend
and worshipper, seemed to understand her like a human being. One
evening, when the four friends were sitting closely round the fire in
the sitting-room, Keeper forced himself in between Charlotte and
Emily and mounted himself on Emily's lap; finding the space too
limited for his comfort he pressed himself forward on to the guest's
knees, making himself quite comfortable. Emily's heart was won by
the unresisting endurance of the visitor, little guessing that she
herself, being in close contact, was the inspiring cause of
submission to Keeper's preference. Sometimes Emily would delight in
showing off Keeper--make him frantic in action, and roar with the
voice of a lion. It was a terrifying exhibition within the walls of
an ordinary sitting-room. Keeper was a solemn mourner at Emily's
funeral and never recovered his cheerfulness.'

© Митрофанова Екатерина Борисовна, 2009 |