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and an old servant, Tabby, came, at this time, full of all kinds of traditional lore, for which she found delighted and enthusiastic listeners in the girls. There was a brother Branwell, also, a weak, fascinating, brilliant character, self-indulgent, and idolized by his sisters, and so winning in his ways and lively in conversation, that he was always summoned to the village inn when the passing traveler wanted amusement. The talent of the girls began to display itself in domestic literature. They wrote every kind of work, and imagined an island, like Hartley Coleridge's boyish fancy of a country, and had each their heroes among the living and eminent Englishmen of the time. Wellington was Charlotte's hero. He occupied her imagination, and all her contributions to the mimic domestic magazine purported to be written by Lord C. Wellesley, Lord C. A. F. Wellesley, Lord Charles Albert Florian Wellesley, etc.
It was now 1831. Charlotte was the oldest living child; very small in figure, calling herself "stunted," with soft, thick brown hair, and eyes of a reddishbrown. The rest of her features were large and plain, and she was altogether very quiet in manners and quaint in dress. She went to school to a kind, motherly woman, Miss Wooler, and amazed all the girls by knowing a great deal less and a great deal more than they did, by being moody and silent, then repeating long pages of poetry and declining to play ball. She stood on the play-ground and looked at the sky and the shadows of the trees, and talked politics furiously, or frightened the poor little girls out of their poor little wits, by telling horrible stories as they lay abed at night.
But the girls loved her, and Miss Wooler loved her, then and always afterward. After a year she went home again, and saw nobody but female teachers in the Haworth Sunday-school, and curates, passing her time in drawing, reading, and walking out among the "purple-black" moors with her sisters, and devising plans with them for the education of their brother, who was finally destined for a painter.
The three girls grew up togetherCharlotte sad and shy and religious; Emily with a suppressed vehemence of nature, and very reserved; Anne, the youngest, and mildest of all. They were what their parents and their life had
made them. Inheriting the paternal strength with the mother's gentleness, a youth bereaved of childhood had passed in solitude and gloom. They had undoubtedly that nervous sensitiveness which we call morbid, and all their lives were tinged by this temperament.
In 1835, Charlotte went as teacher, and Emily as pupil, to Miss Wooler's. But the intractable Emily chafed and pined for the bleak hillsides of home, to which she soon returned, and never again left it but twice. At home she baked and ironed, and studied German while she kneaded the dough.
Charlotte's duties were upon her health. She dreamed dreams and saw visions, and her religious sensibilities began to annoy her as if, poor child, she were chiefest of sinners. She wont home again and wrote to Southey for advice about a literary life, and he answered like the true, honest, literary hero that he was, wisely and calmly, and dissuadingly. Emily had returned from a hopeless effort to teach in the town of Halifax, and Anne began to sicken, and the futile fascinating brother Branwell began seriously to perplex his family with his shiftless irregularities.
In 1839, some person, faintly shadowed, perhaps, in the St. John of Jane Eyre," made Charlotte an offer of marriage which she quietly set aside. But something must be done; and Emily remained at home, while Charlotte and Anne went away to teach, once more, as private governesses. Charlotte's fate was hard. She fell upon a very Mrs. Reed, and quickly came home again, and shared the household drudgery with Emily. At this time the last happy glimpse of the brother Branwell flashes across this monotonously mournful story. He had an eager literary
ambition and wrote letters and verses to Wordsworth and Coleridge; often, doubtless, lighting up the melancholy home with a sparkling jest and a merry laugh, and running off to the ale-house at night, while Aunt Branwell read prayers to the Rev. Patrick Bronte and Tabby, and they three went to bed, while the three girls paced the parlor and wondered about the future. They wanted to keep a school, but they saw no way to do it. And so, for the second and last time, Charlotte became a governess, in a family of "good sort of people" who paid her twenty pounds a year, deducting four pounds for wash
ing. But they were mutually touched at parting, the next Christmas, when the four children met again at the damp Haworth parsonage.
It was clear that if Charlotte and Emily meant to keep school they must learn French, so they went to Brussels, to the school of M. and Madame Héger. She has told us everything about it in
Villette."-the strange, foreign life; the singular girls among strangers. They hurried home suddenly to see their dying aunt, but they arrived too late and presently Charlotte returned as teacher to the Hégers. Hard work followed, and in the midst came rumors of Branwell's irregularities and her father's failing sight. With M. Héger, Charlotte formed a warm friendship. He could not be blind or indifferent to her great abilities, and it was very hard to part with him. But she came wearily back again to Haworth, and with Emily tried to discover how they could undertake a school.
The sickening shadows closed more nearly. Branwell had been to London as a tutor in the family of a man whose wife, twenty years older than the tutor, flattered him, and won and ruined him. The brilliant boy was infatuated with his mistress, and, coming home for the holidays, only longed to return, with an inexplicable feverish eagerness that alarmed his sisters. He went to London, but soon after appeared at Haworth, and on the day of his arrival received a letter from the injured husband forbidding his return. He was consumed with passion and disappointment, and tried to quench the fires of his soul with drink. Day by day he imbruted himself more and more. When, a few months after, the injured husband died, and left his fortune to his wife upon the condition that she would never see her paramour again, Branwell thought only of returning to her arms, and happiness; but a servant came post from her, telling him never to dare to visit her again. Stunned and lost, the unhappy boy reeled through every besotting debauchery to death. He had fearful attacks of delirium tremens; the pale sisters often listened for the report of a pistol in the dead of night. The tragedy dragged on for three years, and then he died, crying out to be raised to his feet, that he might die standing.
In 1846, the three sisters published a volume of poems, under the names of
Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, the initials being the same as their own. Of these poems Emily's are the most powerful, and were always preferred by Charlotte to the others. The book was not successful. but it is interesting to read it now with the new and full knowledge of the authors.
While the book failed and the brother died, the father's sight was almost gone, and he was taken to Manchester to have an operation performed upon his eyes. But the undaunted girls were busy in the midst of every affliction, and had each written a novel. Charlotte's was called "The Professor;" Emily's, " Wuthering Heights;" and Anne's, "Agnes Grey.' And even in Manchester, in 1846, during all the doubt and dismay of the surgical operation, the care and weariness of nursing, Charlotte began
Jane Eyre." She could not find a publisher for "The Professor," which will now, however, be soon in our hands. At home again, the sisters put away their work at nine in the evening, and paced the old parsonage parlor, talking over the stories which they were writing. "You cannot make a heroine interesting if she be not beautiful," said the fragile, desponding Anne. "I will prove to you that you are wrong," said the brave Charlotte; "I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as myself, who shall be as interesting as any of yours." She wrote her story with pencil, in little square paper books held close to her eyes, and with such passionate eagerness that she fell ill. On the 24th of August, 1847, "Jane Eyre" was sent to the publishers, and on the 16th of October it was issued. The little, shy, sad governess in Yorksire shook the world by the heart and said, "This is no goddess I bring you, but a governess. She owes none of your sympathy, if you give it, to the red of her cheeks or the yellow of her gold, but everything to the integrity and loyalty of her character."
The Reverend Brother Chadband is still, to this day, a little uncertain about the moral character of the novel of "Jane Eyre;" but Jane Eyre is still the most striking heroine in English fiction since Scott's Jeanie Deans, who is, doubtless, the finest female character in English literature since Shakespeare's women.
It is not essential that a woman should be plain and in unhappy circumstances:
it does not make a story moral, that the heroine resists temptation; nor democratic, that she is a governess or a dependent. Shakespeare's women are often princesses, usually nobles, always ladies. But the triumph of "Jane Eyre" is the splendor of its vindication of woman as woman, deprived of all the accessories which generally inveigle interest. And this was a victory achieved in the literature of a people among whom the prejudice of caste is most impregnable. A plain governess is the very ideal of that form of the sex which is most repugnant to the British mind. But the uncompromising story borrows no rainbow from romance. It depicts a poor, plain, dependent woman, sore beset by social scorn and suspicion, fighting her little battle of life, which was greater in the history of her soul than Marathon or Waterloo in the history of the world; and the story is so told, that the little battle becomes as poetic and pathetic as those greater combats; and every honest heart cries out: "God-speed!" The book is the book of a woman's life. Its strong, indignant tone is the wail of a thousand hearts in a thousand homes, where they are aliens and pariahs. It surpasses whole ranges of novels with one stroke, and that a stroke of nature. There is nothing more fearful, in all the Mrs Radcliffe ghostly machinery, than in the terrible reality of the scratching along the wall of the wife of Rochester. And nowhere among modern writers, except in Tennyson and Browning, is there such identification of the individual with the landscape, so that the book becomes entirely dramatic, and we see nature, as we see the men and women around her, with the eyes of the heroine. This is especially remarkable in the description of the pictures that interested Jane Eyre at Mrs. Reed's, and those she afterward painted at Mr. Rochester's. This is a touch from life. It is the Yorkshire loneliness of desolate halls pressing through the author's heart and mind, and finding the scenery of that mind to be its own melancholy reflection.
When success was beyond question, Charlotte told her father she had written a novel, and showed him some of the reviews. The old gentleman said to the others: "Girls, do you know Charlotte has been writing a book, and it is much better than likely." Wuth
ering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" were published in December, but they had small comparative success.
The readers of England and America puzzled themselves to know whether a man or woman wrote Jane Eyre." But when the second edition appeared, dedicated to Thackeray, everybody said: "This is evidently a woman;" and that sagacious Bottom, "the world." pricked up its long ears and grunted under its bestial breath: "Ah! yes, I see a governess: hum! he is Rochester-she is his mistress."
The instinctive penetration of the scope and tendency of Thackeray's power is not the least of the many acute perceptions of Mrs. Brontë's genius. Her criticism of Miss Austen, her only rival among English female novelists, is singularly lucid and just; and her common-sense seems never to have been hoodwinked by enthusiasm in her literary estimates. When she went to London she saw Thackeray, and was satisfied. "It is sentiment," she writes, "sentiment jealously hidden, but genuine, which extracts the venom from that formidable Thackeray, and converts, what might be corrosive poison, into purifying elixir."
Branwell died in September. In November Emily was very ill. The savageness of the father was more untamed in her than in the others. She had all the symptoms of settled consumption. She would not own it. She would not see a doctor: when he came into the house she refused to meet him. Charlotte wrote to London for advice, but Emily would not listen to it. Stern and silent, she went on to meet death. The moors had been her home and her passion: a sprig of heather was the loveliest of flowers to her; but at length her dim and fading eyes could not even see the heather blooms that Charlotte brought her. One Tuesday morning, in December, she arose and dressed herself, unaided, with many a pause, with catching and rattling breath, while Charlotte, and Anne, and the servants, looked on speechlessly. At noon she said to Charlotte: "If you will send for a doctor I will see him now." At two o'clock she died. Charlottte loved her more than anybody in the world.
She was scarcely buried when Anne began to die. Gentlest of all the sisters, her delicate, drooping nature is strangely contrasted with Emily's. As she
slowly faded, Charlotte did not deceive herself. She took her to Scarborough in May, and she died there, tranquilly, on the edge of June. During all this time Charlotte was writing "Shirley." She had nearly finished the second volume of the tale when Branwell died, then Emily, then Anne. In the character of Shirley," which was published in November, 1849, she portrays her own conception of her sister Emily. The book was received with no less favor than "Jane Eyre" had been; but the inevitable Nemesis waited in the shadow, and a railway stock, in which she had shares, depreciated.
At home, she and her father and the old servant Tabby lived alone. Mr. Brontë dined alone in his room; Charlotte read, and worked, and wrote, and drifted about in a whirlpool of terrible recollections. She was famous, and people began to come to see Haworth and the scenes of "Shirley," and, above all, the author. This disposition brought her some pleasant friends, and she made rare and brief visits from home. She read with seriousness and profit, as every sensible author does, whatever was written about her books, and wrote many letters of all kinds to persons seeking advice or proffering compliment. Left alone with her father, they evidently eyed each other keenly, to detect the slightest unpromising symptom, but saying nothing about it, and each silent and busy. She traveled a little among the lakes, and read all the current literature which was sent to her by her publishers. She wrote a letter of friendly thanks to Sydney Dobell for speaking kindly of "Wuthering Heights," and passed some time with Miss Martineau. Going up to London again, she heard Thackeray's lectures on the humorists, and was lionized; she saw Rachel, "who is not a woman, but a snake;" heard the London preachers, and went to the Crystal Palace with Sir David Brewster; then went home to Haworth, and began "Villette." She was very ill at this time (the winter of 1852), but she was always busy. Reading "Henry Esmond," she severely criticises her great Thackeray, as all women criticise him, although she was just to him as few men or women are. Villette" was finished in November. When it was published, there was great doubt whether M. Paul Emanuel died at sea. But the doubt was
suffered in compliance with the feeling of Mr. Brontë, who could not bear to have a tale end sadly. The death at sea was as a fact to her, and she could only "veil the fact in oracular words."
One evening in December, 1852, her father's curate, Mr. Nicholls—a grave, conscientious man, who had watched her for years, and loved her long, with a trembling earnestness which touched and thrilled her asked her to marry him. She could not answer him at once, but half led, half put him out of the room. The next day she told her father and he, disliking marriages, vehemently opposed the suit. Charlotte yielded, and Mr. Nicholls resigned the curacy of Haworth, and went away.
Mrs. Gaskell went down to see her in September, and copies a charming letter of her own, written at the time, describing the place, and the life in itthe little snug parlor of Miss Brontë; the clean home; the ticking clock in the kitchen; the grand and stately father; the little Miss Brontë, knitting and talking; and, "oh! those high, wild, desolate moors, up above the whole world, and the very realms of silence!"
The grand and stately father gradually yielded. In April she was engaged to Mr. Nicholls, who was to resume the curacy of Haworth, and live at the parsonage as one of the family. Charlotte Brontë was now thirty-eight years of age. The flush of youth was passed. Her feeling for Mr. Nicholls was evidently one of great tenderness and respect-not at all romantic, but grave and conscientious. She began to set the little parsonage in order for the wedding; went to make a few visits before her marriage, and to buy the few things she needed. She was to be married on the 29th of June. On the evening before, the whimsicality of the old father broke out again, and he announced that he should not go to the church to the wedding. But Miss Brontë's old friend Miss Wooler was there to give her away; and, the next morning, wearing a dress of white embroidered muslin, with a lace mantle, and white bonnet trimmed with green leaves, she was married to the man who had loved her so long and faithfully.
In happy travel, in kind society of husband and friends-with chastened memories and wise hopes-in earnest endeavor and thoughtful sympathythe few months of her married life went
by. But, as they passed, the wife, who was to be a mother, slowly sickened and failed. The long-loving, faithful husband was "the tenderest nurse, the kindest support, the best earthly comfort that ever woman had." Surely no husband could hear or remember sweeter words than those. In the last days of March she whispered faintly in his ear -We have been so happy!" and, on the 31st of March, 1855, the old bell of Haworth church tolled for the death of Charlotte Brontë Nicholls.
There is sometimes a summer day, beginning with clouds, and sultriness, and suppressed thunder, which develops through no transparent, increasing dawn, no jubilant morning, but begins at once, as if it were only sultry yesterday, which had been suspended for a few dark hours-and, glooming and threatening, dropping heavy rain, and flashing lightning, with long intervals of mournful silence, wears through the weary hours. Then, toward evening, as if the fury of its passion were over, and the unwilling conflict done, the wild glare, and moauing tempest, and dreadful
silence cease; the clouds break into softer forms-into tender depths and gleams of heavenly peace—until, in the very moment of sunset, the refluent clouds toss back upon the sky the kindling glory of which it has been all day bereaved; while, transfiguring the world and indemnifying years of sorrow by a momentary opening of the gates of heaven, the sun shines out calm, in unutterable splendor, and, even as we gaze, sinks slowly, slowly, and is seen
In many a lonely valley among mountains, by many a shore of sounding waves, by man, and woman, and child, will this book be read this summer, with touched hearts and tearful eyes.
And whoever remembers the patient faithfulness, and steady care, and humble service, that saw, without a sigh, the great prizes of ease, and comfort, and content, forever out of reach, will owe, to this woman's record of a woman's life, a summer lesson that will not fade with its flowers, but bloom forever in a gentler sympathy and more Christian patience.
JOHN SCHENCK, with twelve oth- ing, stretching or shrinking, will clothe
ers, set out one night to commit what proper people call a depredation" upon a neighboring melon-patch: They went to fetch water-melons. In a manner well known to New Jersey farmers of that and the present period, but not known to John Schenck or his companions, the patch was planted with an alternation of pumpkins, which in that, as in all similar cases (at least to boyish eyes), throve the better of the brethren. The night was dark, and the work was wordless; and as each boy secured his prize, he stole off at a run to the rendezvous. When all were assembled it became known to the party that twelve boys had stolen pumpkins, and one boy had a watermelon. course that boy was John Schenck. That is the history of John Schenck's life; he always had a watermelon to every pumpkin-to every man's pumpkin. According to Carlyle's "outer garb or sensuous covering of things," this detailed circumstance, with a little patch
every event that may be found upon the inclined plane of John's existence.
Of the many who may read this paragraph, at least ten thousand will know John Schenck personally. He lives in every city, and every little village in the United States; he is a cosmopolitan and more; for he not only lives in all lands, but has been known in every age -a Cagliostro. He dances an almost eternal tight-rope, stretched from the two poles of nothing-it is as impossible to say where he began, as it would be imaginary to point to where he will terminate. Yet may we mark his first positive appearance to our eyes-premising that, in the mutations of time, he has suffered a change of name-and we would say other changes, also, but there may be the deceit of distance of the view down the long vista of ages. His name was Endymion :
"I've thought upon this boy, Endymion, Until the music of his name has gone Into my being."