The Life of Charlotte Bronte HTML version

Chapter 7
Miss Bronte left Roe Head in 1832, having won the affectionate regard both of her
teacher and her school-fellows, and having formed there the two fast friendships which
lasted her whole life long; the one with "Mary," who has not kept her letters; the other
with "E.," who has kindly entrusted me with a large portion of Miss Bronte's
correspondence with her. This she has been induced to do by her knowledge of the urgent
desire on the part of Mr. Bronte that the life of his daughter should be written, and in
compliance with a request from her husband that I should be permitted to have the use of
these letters, without which such a task could be but very imperfectly executed. In order
to shield this friend, however, from any blame or misconstruction, it is only right to state
that, before granting me this privilege, she throughout most carefully and completely
effaced the names of the persons and places which occurred in them; and also that such
information as I have obtained from her bears reference solely to Miss Bronte and her
sisters, and not to any other individuals whom I may find it necessary to allude to in
connection with them.
In looking over the earlier portion of this correspondence, I am struck afresh by the
absence of hope, which formed such a strong characteristic in Charlotte. At an age when
girls, in general, look forward to an eternal duration of such feelings as they or their
friends entertain, and can therefore see no hindrance to the fulfilment of any engagements
dependent on the future state of the affections, she is surprised that "E." keeps her
promise to write. In after-life, I was painfully impressed with the fact, that Miss Bronte
never dared to allow herself to look forward with hope; that she had no confidence in the
future; and I thought, when I heard of the sorrowful years she had passed through, that it
had been this pressure of grief which had crushed all buoyancy of expectation out of her.
But it appears from the letters, that it must have been, so to speak, constitutional; or,
perhaps, the deep pang of losing her two elder sisters combined with a permanent state of
bodily weakness in producing her hopelessness. If her trust in God had been less strong,
she would have given way to unbounded anxiety, at many a period of her life. As it was,
we shall see, she made a great and successful effort to leave "her times in His hands."
After her return home, she employed herself in teaching her sisters, over whom she had
had superior advantages. She writes thus, July 21st, 1832, of her course of life at the
"An account of one day is an account of all. In the morning, from nine o'clock till half-
past twelve, I instruct my sisters, and draw; then we walk till dinner-time. After dinner I
sew till tea- time, and after tea I either write, read, or do a little fancy- work, or draw, as I
please. Thus, in one delightful, though somewhat monotonous course, my life is passed. I
have been only out twice to tea since I came home. We are expecting company this
afternoon, and on Tuesday next we shall have all the female teachers of the Sunday-
school to tea."