The inn and church appeared to be in natural connection, and as the labours of the Temperance Society had then to begin, the interests of sobriety were not always consulted.
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A race also was frequent at the end. The race-course you will know to be anything but level.
Into the midst of this lawless, yet not unkindly population, Mr. Bronte brought his wife and six little children, in February, One wonders how the bleak aspect of her new home — the low, oblong, stone parsonage, high up, yet with a still higher back-ground of sweeping moors — struck on the gentle, delicate wife, whose health even then was failing. The Rev. Patrick Bronte is a native of the County Down in Ireland.
His father Hugh Bronte, was left an orphan at an early age. He came from the south to the north of the island, and settled in the parish of Ahaderg, near Loughbrickland. But about this neither he nor his descendants have cared to inquire. He made an early marriage, and reared and educated ten children on the proceeds of the few acres of land which he farmed.
This large family were remarkable for great physical strength, and much personal beauty. Even in his old age, Mr. Bronte is a striking-looking man, above the common height, with a nobly-shaped head, and erect carriage. In his youth he must have been unusually handsome. He was born on Patrickmas day March 17 , , and early gave tokens of extraordinary quickness and intelligence.
The Life of Charlotte Bronte
He had also his full share of ambition; and of his strong sense and forethought there is a proof in the fact, that, knowing that his father could afford him no pecuniary aid, and that he must depend upon his own exertions, he opened a public school at the early age of sixteen; and this mode of living he continued to follow for five or six years. He then became a tutor in the family of the Rev.
Tighe, rector of Drumgooland parish. Thence he proceeded to St.
The course of life of which this is the outline, shows a powerful and remarkable character, originating and pursuing a purpose in a resolute and independent manner. Here is a youth — a boy of sixteen — separating himself from his family, and determining to maintain himself; and that, not in the hereditary manner by agricultural pursuits, but by the labour of his brain. I suppose, from what I have heard, that Mr. Bronte has now no trace of his Irish origin remaining in his speech; he never could have shown his Celtic descent in the straight Greek lines and long oval of his face; but at five-and-twenty, fresh from the only life he had ever known, to present himself at the gates of St.
The Life of Charlotte Bronte / Elizabeth Gaskell
While at Cambridge, he became one of a corps of volunteers, who were then being called out all over the country to resist the apprehended invasion by the French. I have heard him allude, in late years, to Lord Palmerston as one who had often been associated with him then in the mimic military duties which they had to perform.
We take him up now settled as a curate at Hartshead, in Yorkshire- -far removed from his birth-place and all his Irish connections; with whom, indeed, he cared little to keep up any intercourse, and whom he never, I believe, re-visited after becoming a student at Cambridge. Hartshead is a very small village, lying to the east of Huddersfield and Halifax; and, from its high situation — on a mound, as it were, surrounded by a circular basin — commanding a magnificent view.
Bronte resided here for five years; and, while the incumbent of Hartshead, he wooed and married Maria Branwell. She was the third daughter of Mr. Thomas Branwell, merchant, of Penzance. Branwell would be living — their family of four daughters and one son, still children — during the existence of that primitive state of society which is well described by Dr.
Davy in the life of his brother.
The eldest son, if not allowed to remain an idle country squire, was sent to Oxford or Cambridge, preparatory to his engaging in one of the three liberal professions of divinity, law, or physic; the second son was perhaps apprenticed to a surgeon or apothecary, or a solicitor; the third to a pewterer or watchmaker; the fourth to a packer or mercer, and so on, were there more to be provided for. Visiting then was conducted differently from what it is at present. Dinner-parties were almost unknown, excepting at the annual feast-time. Christmas, too, was then a season of peculiar indulgence and conviviality, and a round of entertainments was given, consisting of tea and supper.
The lower class was then extremely ignorant, and all classes were very superstitious; even the belief in witches maintained its ground, and there was an almost unbounded credulity respecting the supernatural and monstrous. Even when I was a boy, I remember a house in the best street of Penzance which was uninhabited because it was believed to be haunted, and which young people walked by at night at a quickened pace, and with a beating heart.
Amongst the middle and higher classes there was little taste for literature, and still less for science, and their pursuits were rarely of a dignified or intellectual kind. Hunting, shooting, wrestling, cock-fighting, generally ending in drunkenness, were what they most delighted in. Smuggling was carried on to a great extent; and drunkenness, and a low state of morals, were naturally associated with it.
Whilst smuggling was the means of acquiring wealth to bold and reckless adventurers, drunkenness and dissipation occasioned the ruin of many respectable families. I have given this extract because I conceive it bears some reference to the life of Miss Bronte, whose strong mind and vivid imagination must have received their first impressions either from the servants in that simple household, almost friendly companions during the greater part of the day, retailing the traditions or the news of Haworth village; or from Mr.
This aunt was older than Mrs. Bronte, and had lived longer among the Penzance society, which Dr. Davy describes. But in the Branwell family itself, the violence and irregularity of nature did not exist. They were Methodists, and, as far as I can gather, a gentle and sincere piety gave refinement and purity of character.
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He and his wife lived to see all their children grown up, and died within a year of each other — he in , she in , when their daughter Maria was twenty-five or twenty-six years of age. I have been permitted to look over a series of nine letters, which were addressed by her to Mr. Bronte, during the brief term of their engagement in They are full of tender grace of expression and feminine modesty; pervaded by the deep piety to which I have alluded as a family characteristic.
I shall make one or two extracts from them, to show what sort of a person was the mother of Charlotte Bronte: but first, I must state the circumstances under which this Cornish lady met the scholar from Ahaderg, near Loughbrickland. In the early summer of , when she would be twenty-nine, she came to visit her uncle, the Reverend John Fennel, who was at that time a clergyman of the Church of England, living near Leeds, but who had previously been a Methodist minister.
Miss Branwell was extremely small in person; not pretty, but very elegant, and always dressed with a quiet simplicity of taste, which accorded well with her general character, and of which some of the details call to mind the style of dress preferred by her daughter for her favourite heroines. Bronte was soon captivated by the little, gentle creature, and this time declared that it was for life. In her first letter to him, dated August 26th, she seems almost surprised to find herself engaged, and alludes to the short time which she has known him.
Morgan, another clergyman — were of the party; all since dead, except Mr. There was no opposition on the part of any of her friends to her engagement. Fennel sanctioned it, and her brother and sisters in far-away Penzance appear fully to have approved of it. In a letter dated September 18th, she says I have many times felt it a disadvantage, and although, I thank God, it has never led me into error, yet, in circumstances of uncertainty and doubt, I have deeply felt the want of a guide and instructor. Bronte, that she has informed her sisters of her engagement, and that she should not see them again so soon as she had intended.
Fennel, her uncle, also writes to them by the same post in praise of Mr. There was no reason either why the engagement should be prolonged. They were past their first youth; they had means sufficient for their unambitious wants; the living of Hartshead is rated in the Clergy List at L. I have been told by the will of her father.
So, at the end of September, the lovers began to talk about taking a house, for I suppose that Mr.
Bronte up to that time had been in lodgings; and all went smoothly and successfully with a view to their marriage in the ensuing winter, until November, when a misfortune happened, which she thus patiently and prettily describes On Saturday evening, about the time when you were writing the description of your imaginary shipwreck, I was reading and feeling the effects of a real one, having then received a letter from my sister giving me an account of the vessel in which she had sent my box being stranded on the coast of Devonshire, in consequence of which the box was dashed to pieces with the violence of the sea, and all my little property, with the exception of a very few articles, being swallowed up in the mighty deep.
If this should not prove the prelude to something worse I shall think little of it, as it is the first disastrous circumstance which has occurred since I left my home. The last of these letters is dated December the 5th. Miss Branwell and her cousin intended to set about making the wedding- cake in the following week, so the marriage could not be far off. And so Maria Branwell fades out of sight; we have no more direct intercourse with her; we hear of her as Mrs.
Bronte, but it is as an invalid, not far from death; still patient, cheerful, and pious. The writing of these letters is elegant and neat; while there are allusions to household occupations — such as making the wedding-cake; there are also allusions to the books she has read, or is reading, showing a well-cultivated mind. Bronte must have been, I imagine, that unusual character, a well-balanced and consistent woman.
I do not think that Mrs. Bronte remained for five years at Hartshead, in the parish of Dewsbury. There he was married, and his two children, Maria and Elizabeth, were born. At the expiration of that period, he had the living of Thornton, in Bradford Parish. Some of those great West Riding parishes are almost like bishoprics for their amount of population and number of churches. Thornton church is a little episcopal chapel of ease, rich in Nonconformist monuments, as of Accepted Lister and his friend Dr. The neighbourhood is desolate and wild; great tracts of bleak land, enclosed by stone dykes, sweeping up Clayton heights.
The church itself looks ancient and solitary, and as if left behind by the great stone mills of a flourishing Independent firm, and the solid square chapel built by the members of that denomination. Altogether not so pleasant a place as Hartshead, with its ample outlook over cloud-shadowed, sun-flecked plain, and hill rising beyond hill to form the distant horizon.
Here, at Thornton, Charlotte Bronte was born, on the 21st of April, After the birth of this last daughter, Mrs. It is hard work to provide for the little tender wants of many young children where the means are but limited.