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The Life of Charlotte Bronte

Chapter 6
During the earlier months of this spring, Haworth was extremely unhealthy. The weather
was damp, low fever was prevalent, and the household at the Parsonage suffered along
with its neighbours. Charlotte says, "I have felt it (the fever) in frequent thirst and
infrequent appetite; Papa too, and even Martha, have complained." This depression of
health produced depression of spirits, and she grew more and more to dread the proposed
journey to London with Sir James and Lady Kay Shuttleworth. "I know what the effect
and what the pain will be, how wretched I shall often feel, and how thin and haggard I
shall get; but he who shuns suffering will never win victory. If I mean to improve, I must
strive and endure. . . . Sir James has been a physician, and looks at me with a physician's
eye: he saw at once that I could not stand much fatigue, nor bear the presence of many
strangers. I believe he would partly understand how soon my stock of animal spirits was
brought to a low ebb; but none--not the most skilful physician--can get at more than the
outside of these things: the heart knows its own bitterness, and the frame its own poverty,
and the mind its own struggles. Papa is eager and restless for me to go; the idea of a
refusal quite hurts him."
But the sensations of illness in the family increased; the symptoms were probably
aggravated, if not caused, by the immediate vicinity of the church-yard, "paved with rain-
blackened tomb-stones." On April 29th she writes:--
"We have had but a poor week of it at Haworth. Papa continues far from well; he is often
very sickly in the morning, a symptom which I have remarked before in his aggravated
attacks of bronchitis; unless he should get much better, I shall never think of leaving him
to go to London. Martha has suffered from tic-douloureux, with sickness and fever, just
like you. I have a bad cold, and a stubborn sore throat; in short, everybody but old Tabby
is out of sorts. When ---- was here, he complained of a sudden headache, and the night
after he was gone I had something similar, very bad, lasting about three hours."
A fortnight later she writes:--
"I did not think Papa well enough to be left, and accordingly begged Sir James and Lady
Kay Shuttleworth to return to London without me. It was arranged that we were to stay at
several of their friends' and relatives' houses on the way; a week or more would have
been taken up on the journey. I cannot say that I regret having missed this ordeal; I would
as lief have walked among red-hot plough-shares; but I do regret one great treat, which I
shall now miss. Next Wednesday is the anniversary dinner of the Royal Literary Fund
Society, held in Freemasons' Hall. Octavian Blewitt, the secretary, offered me a ticket for
the ladies' gallery. I should have seen all the great literati and artists gathered in the hall
below, and heard them speak; Thackeray and Dickens are always present among the rest.
This cannot now be. I don't think all London can afford another sight to me so
interesting."
 
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