The Life of Charlotte Bronte HTML version

Chapter 2
The next year opened with a spell of cold dreary weather, which told severely on a
constitution already tried by anxiety and care. Miss Bronte describes herself as having
utterly lost her appetite, and as looking "grey, old, worn and sunk," from her sufferings
during the inclement season. The cold brought on severe toothache; toothache was the
cause of a succession of restless miserable nights; and long wakefulness told acutely
upon her nerves, making them feel with redoubled sensitiveness all the harass of her
oppressive life. Yet she would not allow herself to lay her bad health to the charge of an
uneasy mind; "for after all," said she at this time, "I have many, many things to be
thankful for." But the real state of things may be gathered from the following extracts
from her letters.
"March 1st.
"Even at the risk of appearing very exacting, I can't help saying that I should like a letter
as long as your last, every time you write. Short notes give one the feeling of a very small
piece of a very good thing to eat,--they set the appetite on edge, and don't satisfy it,--a
letter leaves you more contented; and yet, after all, I am very glad to get notes; so don't
think, when you are pinched for time and materials, that it is useless to write a few lines;
be assured, a few lines are very acceptable as far as they go; and though I like long
letters, I would by no means have you to make a task of writing them. . . . I really should
like you to come to Haworth, before I again go to B----. And it is natural and right that I
should have this wish. To keep friendship in proper order, the balance of good offices
must be preserved, otherwise a disquieting and anxious feeling creeps in, and destroys
mutual comfort. In summer and in fine weather, your visit here might be much better
managed than in winter. We could go out more, be more independent of the house and of
our room. Branwell has been conducting himself very badly lately. I expect, from the
extravagance of his behaviour, and from mysterious hints he drops (for he never will
speak out plainly), that we shall be hearing news of fresh debts contracted by him soon.
My health is better: I lay the blame of its feebleness on the cold weather, more than on an
uneasy mind."
"March 24th, 1847.
"It is at Haworth, if all be well, that we must next see each other again. I owe you a
grudge for giving Miss M---- some very exaggerated account about my not being well,
and setting her on to urge my leaving home as quite a duty. I'll take care not to tell you
next time, when I think I am looking specially old and ugly; as if people could not have
that privilege, without being supposed to be at the last gasp! I shall be thirty-one next
birthday. My youth is gone like a dream; and very little use have I ever made of it. What
have I done these last thirty years? Precious little."