The Life of Charlotte Bronte
It was thought desirable about this time, to republish "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes
Grey", the works of the two sisters, and Charlotte undertook the task of editing them.
She wrote to Mr. Williams, September 29th, 1850, "It is my intention to write a few lines
of remark on 'Wuthering Heights,' which, however, I propose to place apart as a brief
preface before the tale. I am likewise compelling myself to read it over, for the first time
of opening the book since my sister's death. Its power fills me with renewed admiration;
but yet I am oppressed: the reader is scarcely ever permitted a taste of unalloyed pleasure;
every beam of sunshine is poured down through black bars of threatening cloud; every
page is surcharged with a sort of moral electricity; and the writer was unconscious of all
this--nothing could make her conscious of it.
"And this makes me reflect,--perhaps I am too incapable of perceiving the faults and
peculiarities of my own style.
"I should wish to revise the proofs, if it be not too great an inconvenience to send them. It
seems to me advisable to modify the orthography of the old servant Joseph's speeches;
for though, as it stands, it exactly renders the Yorkshire dialect to a Yorkshire ear, yet, I
am sure Southerns must find it unintelligible; and thus one of the most graphic characters
in the book is lost on them.
"I grieve to say that I possess no portrait of either of my sisters."
To her own dear friend, as to one who had known and loved her sisters, she writes still
more fully respecting the painfulness of her task.
"There is nothing wrong, and I am writing you a line as you desire, merely to say that I
AM busy just now. Mr. Smith wishes to reprint some of Emily's and Annie's works, with
a few little additions from the papers they have left; and I have been closely engaged in
revising, transcribing, preparing a preface, notice, etc. As the time for doing this is
limited, I am obliged to be industrious. I found the task at first exquisitely painful and
depressing; but regarding it in the light of a SACRED DUTY, I went on, and now can
bear it better. It is work, however, that I cannot do in the evening, for if I did, I should
have no sleep at night. Papa, I am thankful to say, is in improved health, and so, I think,
am I; I trust you are the same.
"I have just received a kind letter from Miss Martineau. She has got back to Ambleside,
and had heard of my visit to the Lakes. She expressed her regret, etc., at not being at