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 Early in March, 1841, Miss Brontë obtained her second and last situation as a governess.  This time she esteemed1 herself fortunate in becoming a member of a kind-hearted and friendly household.  The master of it, she especially regarded as a valuable friend, whose advice helped to guide her in one very important step of her life.  But as her definite acquirements were few, she had to eke2 them out by employing her leisure time in needlework; and altogether her position was that of “bonne” or nursery governess, liable to repeated and never-ending calls upon her time.  This description of uncertain, yet perpetual employment, subject to the exercise of another person’s will at all hours of the day, was peculiarly trying to one whose life at home had been full of abundant leisure.  Idle she never was in any place, but of the multitude of small talks, plans, duties, pleasures, &c., that make up most people’s days, her home life was nearly destitute3.  This made it possible for her to go through long and deep histories of feeling and imagination, for which others, odd as it sounds, have rarely time.  This made it inevitable4 that—later on, in her too short career—the intensity5 of her feeling should wear out her physical health.  The habit of “making out,” which had grown with her growth, and strengthened with her strength, had become a part of her nature.  Yet all exercise of her strongest and most characteristic faculties6 was now out of the question.  She could not (as while she was at Miss W---’s) feel, amidst the occupations of the day, that when evening came, she might employ herself in more congenial ways.  No doubt, all who enter upon the career of a governess have to relinquish7 much; no doubt, it must ever be a life of sacrifice; but to Charlotte Brontë it was a perpetual attempt to force all her faculties into a direction for which the whole of her previous life had unfitted them.  Moreover, the little Brontës had been brought up motherless; and from knowing nothing of the gaiety and the sportiveness of childhood—from never having experienced caresses8 or fond attentions themselves—they were ignorant of the very nature of infancy9, or how to call out its engaging qualities.  Children were to them the troublesome necessities of humanity; they had never been drawn10 into contact with them in any other way.  Years afterwards, when Miss Brontë came to stay with us, she watched our little girls perpetually; and I could not persuade her that they were only average specimens11 of well brought up children.  She was surprised and touched by any sign of thoughtfulness for others, of kindness to animals, or of unselfishness on their part: and constantly maintained that she was in the right, and I in the wrong, when we differed on the point of their unusual excellence12.  All this must be borne in mind while reading the following letters.  And it must likewise be borne in mind—by those who, surviving her, look back upon her life from their mount of observation—how no distaste, no suffering ever made her shrink from any course which she believed it to be her duty to engage in.  
“March 3rd, 1841.
“I told some time since, that I meant to get a situation, and when I said so my resolution was quite fixed13.  I felt that however often I was disappointed, I had no intention of relinquishing14 my efforts.  After being severely15 baffled two or three times,—after a world of trouble, in the way of correspondence and interviews,—I have at length succeeded, and am fairly established in my new place.
“The house is not very large, but exceedingly comfortable and well regulated; the grounds are fine and extensive.  In taking the place, I have made a large sacrifice in the way of salary, in the hope of securing comfort,—by which word I do not mean to express good eating and drinking, or warm fire, or a soft bed, but the society of cheerful faces, and minds and hearts not dug out of a lead-mine, or cut from a marble quarry16.  My salary is not really more than 16l. per annum, though it is nominally17 20l., but the expense of washing will be deducted18 therefrom.  My pupils are two in number, a girl of eight, and a boy of six.  As to my employers, you will not expect me to say much about their characters when I tell you that I only arrived here yesterday.  I have not the faculty19 of telling an individual’s disposition20 at first sight.  Before I can venture to pronounce on a character, I must see it first under various lights and from various points of view.  All I can say therefore is, both Mr. and Mrs. --- seem to me good sort of people.  I have as yet had no cause to complain of want of considerateness or civility.  My pupils are wild and unbroken, but apparently21 well-disposed.  I wish I may be able to say as much next time I write to you.  My earnest wish and endeavour will be to please them.  If I can but feel that I am giving satisfaction, and if at the same time I can keep my health, I shall, I hope, be moderately happy.  But no one but myself can tell how hard a governess’s work is to me—for no one but myself is aware how utterly22 averse23 my whole mind and nature are for the employment.  Do not think that I fail to blame myself for this, or that I leave any means unemployed24 to conquer this feeling.  Some of my greatest difficulties lie in things that would appear to you comparatively trivial.  I find it so hard to repel25 the rude familiarity of children.  I find it so difficult to ask either servants or mistress for anything I want, however much I want it.  It is less pain for me to endure the greatest inconvenience than to go into the kitchen to request its removal.  I am a fool.  Heaven knows I cannot help it!
“Now can you tell me whether it is considered improper26 for governesses to ask their friends to come and see them.  I do not mean, of course, to stay, but just for a call of an hour or two?  If it is not absolute treason, I do fervently27 request that you will contrive28, in some way or other, to let me have a sight of your face.  Yet I feel, at the same time, that I am making a very foolish and almost impracticable demand; yet this is only four miles from B---!”
“March 21st.
“You must excuse a very short answer to your most welcome letter; for my time is entirely29 occupied.  Mrs. --- expected a good deal of sewing from me.  I cannot sew much during the day, on account of the children, who require the utmost attention.  I am obliged, therefore, to devote the evenings to this business.  Write to me often; very long letters.  It will do both of us good.  This place is far better than ---, but God knows, I have enough to do to keep a good heart in the matter.  What you said has cheered me a little.  I wish I could always act according to your advice.  Home-sickness affects me sorely.  I like Mr. --- extremely.  The children are over-indulged, and consequently hard at times to manage.  Do, do, do come and see me; if it be a breach30 of etiquette31, never mind.  If you can only stop an hour, come.  Talk no more about my forsaking32 you; my darling, I could not afford to do it.  I find it is not in my nature to get on in this weary world without sympathy and attachment33 in some quarter; and seldom indeed do we find it.  It is too great a treasure to be ever wantonly thrown away when once secured.”
Miss Brontë had not been many weeks in her new situation before she had a proof of the kind-hearted hospitality of her employers.  Mr. --- wrote to her father, and urgently invited him to come and make acquaintance with his daughter’s new home, by spending a week with her in it; and Mrs. --- expressed great regret when one of Miss Brontë’s friends drove up to the house to leave a letter or parcel, without entering.  So she found that all her friends might freely visit her, and that her father would be received with especial gladness.  She thankfully acknowledged this kindness in writing to urge her friend afresh to come and see her; which she accordingly did.
“June, 1841.
“You can hardly fancy it possible, I dare say, that I cannot find a quarter of an hour to scribble35 a note in; but so it is; and when a note is written, it has to be carried a mile to the post, and that consumes nearly an hour, which is a large portion of the day.  Mr. and Mrs. --- have been gone a week.  I heard from them this morning.  No time is fixed for their return, but I hope it will not be delayed long, or I shall miss the chance of seeing Anne this vacation.  She came home, I understand, last Wednesday, and is only to be allowed three weeks’ vacation, because the family she is with are going to Scarborough.  I should like to see her, to judge for myself of the state of her health.  I dare not trust any other person’s report, no one seems minute enough in their observations.  I should very much have liked you to have seen her.  I have got on very well with the servants and children so far; yet it is dreary36, solitary37 work.  You can tell as well as me the lonely feeling of being without a companion.”
Soon after this was written, Mr. and Mrs. --- returned, in time to allow Charlotte to go and look after Anne’s health, which, as she found to her intense anxiety, was far from strong.  What could she do to nurse and cherish up this little sister, the youngest of them all?  Apprehension38 about her brought up once more the idea of keeping a school.  If, by this means, they three could live together, and maintain themselves, all might go well.  They would have some time of their own, in which to try again and yet again at that literary career, which, in spite of all baffling difficulties, was never quite set aside as an ultimate object; but far the strongest motive39 with Charlotte was the conviction that Anne’s health was so delicate that it required a degree of tending which none but her sister could give.  Thus she wrote during those midsummer holidays.
“Haworth, July 18th, 1841.
“We waited long and anxiously for you, on the Thursday that you promised to come.  I quite wearied my eyes with watching from the window, eye-glass in hand, and sometimes spectacles on nose.  However, you are not to blame . . . and as to disappointment, why, all must suffer disappointment at some period or other of their lives.  But a hundred things I had to say to you will now be forgotten, and never said.  There is a project hatching in this house, which both Emily and I anxiously wished to discuss with you.  The project is yet in its infancy, hardly peeping from its shell; and whether it will ever come out a fine full-fledged chicken, or will turn addle40 and die before it cheeps, is one of those considerations that are but dimly revealed by the oracles41 of futurity.  Now, don’t be nonplussed42 by all this metaphorical43 mystery.  I talk of a plain and everyday occurrence, though, in Delphic style, I wrap up the information in figures of speech concerning eggs, chickens etceatera, etcaeterorum.  To come to the point: Papa and aunt talk, by fits and starts, of our—id est, Emily, Anne, and myself—commencing a school!  I have often, you know, said how much I wished such a thing; but I never could conceive where the capital was to come from for making such a speculation44.  I was well aware, indeed, that aunt had money, but I always considered that she was the last person who would offer a loan for the purpose in question.  A loan, however, she has offered, or rather intimates that she perhaps will offer in case pupils can be secured, an eligible45 situation obtained, &c.  This sounds very fair, but still there are matters to be considered which throw something of a damp upon the scheme.  I do not expect that aunt will sink more than 150l. in such a venture; and would it be possible to establish a respectable (not by any means a showy) school, and to commence housekeeping with a capital of only that amount?  Propound46 the question to your sister, if you think she can answer it; if not, don’t say a word on the subject.  As to getting into debt, that is a thing we could none of us reconcile our mind to for a moment.  We do not care how modest, how humble47 our commencement be, so it be made on sure grounds, and have a safe foundation.  In thinking of all possible and impossible places where we could establish a school, I have thought of Burlington, or rather of the neighbourhood of Burlington.  Do you remember whether there was any other school there besides that of Miss ---?  This is, of course, a perfectly48 crude and random49 idea.  There are a hundred reasons why it should be an impracticable one.  We have no connections, no acquaintances there; it is far from home, &c.  Still, I fancy the ground in the East Riding is less fully34 occupied than in the West.  Much inquiry50 and consideration will be necessary, of course, before any place is decided51 on; and I fear much time will elapse before any plan is executed . . . Write as soon as you can.  I shall not leave my present situation till my future prospects52 assume a more fixed and definite aspect.”
A fortnight afterwards, we see that the seed has been sown which was to grow up into a plan materially influencing her future life.
“August 7th, 1841.
“This is Saturday evening; I have put the children to bed; now I am going to sit down and answer your letter.  I am again by myself—housekeeper and governess—for Mr. and Mrs. --- are staying at ---.  To speak truth, though I am solitary while they are away, it is still by far the happiest part of my time.  The children are under decent control, the servants are very observant and attentive53 to me, and the occasional absence of the master and mistress relieves me from the duty of always endeavouring to seem cheerful and conversable.  Martha ---, it appears, is in the way of enjoying great advantages; so is Mary, for you will be surprised to hear that she is returning immediately to the Continent with her brother; not, however, to stay there, but to take a month’s tour and recreation.  I have had a long letter from Mary, and a packet containing a present of a very handsome black silk scarf, and a pair of beautiful kid gloves, bought at Brussels.  Of course, I was in one sense pleased with the gift—pleased that they should think of me so far off, amidst the excitements of one of the most splendid capitals of Europe; and yet it felt irksome to accept it.  I should think Mary and Martha have not more than sufficient pocket-money to supply themselves.  I wish they had testified their regard by a less expensive token.  Mary’s letters spoke54 of some of the pictures and cathedrals she had seen—pictures the most exquisite
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