The Life of Charlotte Bronte HTML version
I have always been much struck with a passage in Mr. Forster's Life of Goldsmith.
Speaking of the scene after his death, the writer says:--
"The staircase of Brick Court is said to have been filled with mourners, the reverse of
domestic; women without a home, without domesticity of any kind, with no friend but
him they had come to weep for; outcasts of that great, solitary, wicked city, to whom he
had never forgotten to be kind and charitable."
This came into my mind when I heard of some of the circumstances attendant on
Few beyond that circle of hills knew that she, whom the nations praised far off, lay dead
that Easter mooring. Of kith and kin she had more in the grave to which she was soon to
be borne, than among the living. The two mourners, stunned with their great grief,
desired not the sympathy of strangers. One member out of most of the families in the
parish was bidden to the funeral; and it became an act of self-denial in many a poor
household to give up to another the privilege of paying their last homage to her; and those
who were excluded from the formal train of mourners thronged the churchyard and
church, to see carried forth, and laid beside her own people, her whom, not many months
ago, they had looked at as a pale white bride, entering on a new life with trembling happy
Among those humble friends who passionately grieved over the dead, was a village girl
who had been seduced some little time before, but who had found a holy sister in
Charlotte. She had sheltered her with her help, her counsel, her strengthening words; had
ministered to her needs in her time of trial. Bitter, bitter was the grief of this poor young
woman, when she heard that her friend was sick unto death, and deep is her mourning
until this day. A blind girl, living some four miles from Haworth, loved Mrs. Nicholls so
dearly that, with many cries and entreaties, she implored those about her to lead her along
the roads, and over the moor-paths, that she might hear the last solemn words, "Earth to
earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal
life, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Such were the mourners over Charlotte Bronte's grave.
I have little more to say. If my readers find that I have not said enough, I have said too
much. I cannot measure or judge of such a character as hers. I cannot map out vices, and
virtues, and debatable land. One who knew her long and well,--the "Mary" of this Life--
writes thus of her dead friend:--