The Life of Charlotte Bronte
Her life at Haworth was so unvaried that the postman's call was the event of her day. Yet
she dreaded the great temptation of centring all her thoughts upon this one time, and
losing her interest in the smaller hopes and employments of the remaining hours. Thus
she conscientiously denied herself the pleasure of writing letters too frequently, because
the answers (when she received them) took the flavour out of the rest of her life; or the
disappointment, when the replies did not arrive, lessened her energy for her home duties.
The winter of this year in the north was hard and cold; it affected Miss Bronte's health
less than usual, however, probably because the change and the medical advice she had
taken in London had done her good; probably, also, because her friend had come to pay
her a visit, and enforced that attention to bodily symptoms which Miss Bronte was too apt
to neglect, from a fear of becoming nervous herself about her own state and thus infecting
her father. But she could scarcely help feeling much depressed in spirits as the
anniversary of her sister Emily's death came round; all the recollections connected with it
were painful, yet there were no outward events to call off her attention, and prevent them
from pressing hard upon her. At this time, as at many others, I find her alluding in her
letters to the solace which she found in the books sent her from Cornhill.
"What, I sometimes ask, could I do without them? I have recourse to them as to friends;
they shorten and cheer many an hour that would be too long and too desolate otherwise;
even when my tired sight will not permit me to continue reading, it is pleasant to see
them on the shelf, or on the table. I am still very rich, for my stock is far from exhausted.
Some other friends have sent me books lately. The perusal of Harriet Martineau's 'Eastern
Life' has afforded me great pleasure; and I have found a deep and interesting subject of
study in Newman's work on the Soul. Have you read this work? It is daring,--it may be
mistaken,--but it is pure and elevated. Froude's 'Nemesis of Faith' I did not like; I thought
it morbid; yet in its pages, too, are found sprinklings of truth."
By this time, "Airedale, Wharfedale, Calderdale, and Ribblesdale" all knew the place of
residence of Currer Bell. She compared herself to the ostrich hiding its head in the sand;
and says that she still buries hers in the heath of Haworth moors; but "the concealment is
but self-delusion." Indeed it was. Far and wide in the West Riding had spread the
intelligence that Currer Bell was no other than a daughter of the venerable clergyman of
Haworth; the village itself caught up the excitement.
"Mr. ----, having finished 'Jane Eyre,' is now crying out for the 'other book;' he is to have
it next week. . . . Mr. R ---- has finished 'Shirley;' he is delighted with it. John ----'s wife
seriously thought him gone wrong in the head, as she heard him giving vent to roars of
laughter as he sat alone, clapping and stamping on the floor. He would read all the scenes
about the curates aloud to papa." . . . "Martha came in yesterday, puffing and blowing,
and much excited. 'I've heard sich news!' she began. 'What about?' 'Please, ma'am, you've