The Life of Charlotte Bronte
Immediately after the republication of her sisters' book she went to Miss Martineau's.
"I can write to you now, dear E----, for I am away from home) and relieved, temporarily,
at least, by change of air and scene, from the heavy burden of depression which, I
confess, has for nearly three months been sinking me to the earth. I never shall forget last
autumn! Some days and nights have been cruel; but now, having once told you this, I
need say no more on the subject. My loathing of solitude grew extreme; my recollection
of my sisters intolerably poignant. I am better now. I am at Miss Martineau's for a week.
Her house is very pleasant, both within and without; arranged at; all points with
admirable neatness and comfort. Her visitors enjoy the most perfect liberty; what she
claims for herself she allows them. I rise at my own hour, breakfast alone (she is up at
five, takes a cold bath, and a walk by starlight, and has finished breakfast and got to her
work by seven o'clock). I pass the morning in the drawing-room--she, in her study. At
two o'clock we meet--work, talk, and walk together till five, her dinner-hour, spend the
evening together, when she converses fluently and abundantly, and with the most
complete frankness. I go to my own. room soon after ten,--she sits up writing letters till
twelve. She appears exhaustless in strength and spirits, and indefatigable in the faculty of
labour. She is a great and a good woman; of course not without peculiarities, but I have
seen none as yet that annoy me. She is both hard and warm-hearted, abrupt and
affectionate, liberal and despotic. I believe she is not at all conscious of her own
absolutism. When I tell her of it, she denies the charge warmly; then I laugh at her. I
believe she almost rules Ambleside. Some of the gentry dislike her, but the lower orders
have a great regard for her. . . . I thought I should like to spend two or three days with
you before going home, so, if it is not inconvenient to you, I will (D. V.) come on
Monday and stay till Thursday. . . . I have truly enjoyed my visit here. I have seen a good
many people, and all have been so marvellously kind; not the least so, the family of Dr.
Arnold. Miss Martineau I relish inexpressibly."
Miss Bronte paid the visit she here proposes to her friend, but only remained two or three
days. She then returned home, and immediately began to suffer from her old enemy,
sickly and depressing headache. This was all the more trying to bear, as she was obliged
to take an active share in the household work,--one servant being ill in bed, and the other,
Tabby, aged upwards of eighty.
This visit to Ambleside did Miss Bronte much good, and gave her a stock of pleasant
recollections, and fresh interests, to dwell upon in her solitary life. There are many
references in her letters to Miss Martineau's character and kindness.
"She is certainly a woman of wonderful endowments, both intellectual and physical; and
though I share few of her opinions, and regard her as fallible on certain points of
judgment, I must still award her my sincerest esteem. The manner in which she combines