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 The moors1 were a great resource this spring; Emily and Charlotte walked out on them perpetually, “to the great damage of our shoes, but I hope, to the benefit of our health.”  The old plan of school-keeping was often discussed in these rambles2; but in-doors they set with vigour3 to shirt-making for the absent Branwell, and pondered in silence over their past and future life.  At last they came to a determination.  
“I have seriously entered into the enterprise of keeping a school—or rather, taking a limited number of pupils at home.  That is, I have begun in good earnest to seek for pupils.  I wrote to Mrs. --- ” (the lady with whom she had lived as governess, just before going to Brussels), “not asking her for her daughter—I cannot do that—but informing her of my intention.  I received an answer from Mr. --- expressive4 of, I believe, sincere regret that I had not informed them a month sooner, in which case, he said, they would gladly have sent me their own daughter, and also Colonel S.’s, but that now both were promised to Miss C.  I was partly disappointed by this answer, and partly gratified; indeed, I derived6 quite an impulse of encouragement from the warm assurance that if I had but applied7 a little sooner they would certainly have sent me their daughter.  I own I had misgivings8 that nobody would be willing to send a child for education to Haworth.  These misgivings are partly done away with.  I have written also to Mrs. B., and have enclosed the diploma which M. Héger gave me before I left Brussels.  I have not yet received her answer, but I wait for it with some anxiety.  I do not expect that she will send me any of her children, but if she would, I dare say she could recommend me other pupils.  Unfortunately, she knows us only very slightly.  As soon as I can get an assurance of only one pupil, I will have cards of terms printed, and will commence the repairs necessary in the house.  I wish all that to be done before winter.  I think of fixing the board and English education at 25l. per annum.”
Again, at a later date, July 24th, in the same year, she writes:—
“I am driving on with my small matter as well as I can.  I have written to all the friends on whom I have the slightest claim, and to some on whom I have no claim; Mrs. B., for example.  On her, also, I have actually made bold to call.  She was exceedingly polite; regretted that her children were already at school at Liverpool; thought the undertaking9 a most praiseworthy one, but feared I should have some difficulty in making it succeed on account of the situation.  Such is the answer I receive from almost every one.  I tell them the retired10 situation is, in some points of view, an advantage; that were it in the midst of a large town I could not pretend to take pupils on terms so moderate (Mrs. B. remarked that she thought the terms very moderate), but that, as it is, not having house-rent to pay, we can offer the same privileges of education that are to be had in expensive seminaries, at little more than half their price; and as our number must be limited, we can devote a large share of time and pains to each pupil.  Thank you for the very pretty little purse you have sent me.  I make to you a curious return in the shape of half a dozen cards of terms.  Make such use of them as your judgment11 shall dictate12.  You will see that I have fixed13 the sum at 35l., which I think is the just medium, considering advantages and disadvantages.”
This was written in July; August, September, and October passed away, and no pupils were to be heard of.  Day after day, there was a little hope felt by the sisters until the post came in.  But Haworth village was wild and lonely, and the Brontës but little known, owing to their want of connections.  Charlotte writes on the subject, in the early winter months, to this effect—
“I, Emily, and Anne, are truly obliged to you for the efforts you have made in our behalf; and if you have not been successful, you are only like ourselves.  Every one wishes us well; but there are no pupils to be had.  We have no present intention, however, of breaking our hearts on the subject, still less of feeling mortified14 at defeat.  The effort must be beneficial, whatever the result may be, because it teaches us experience, and an additional knowledge of this world.  I send you two more circulars.”
A month later, she says:—
“We have made no alterations15 yet in our house.  It would be folly16 to do so, while there is so little likelihood of our ever getting pupils.  I fear you are giving yourself too much trouble on our account.  Depend upon it, if you were to persuade a mamma to bring her child to Haworth, the aspect of the place would frighten her, and she would probably take the dear girl back with her, instanter.  We are glad that we have made the attempt, and we will not be cast down because it has not succeeded.”
There were, probably, growing up in each sister’s heart, secret unacknowledged feelings of relief, that their plan had not succeeded.  Yes! a dull sense of relief that their cherished project had been tried and had failed.  For that house, which was to be regarded as an occasional home for their brother, could hardly be a fitting residence for the children of strangers.  They had, in all likelihood, become silently aware that his habits were such as to render his society at times most undesirable17.  Possibly, too, they had, by this time, heard distressing18 rumours20 concerning the cause of that remorse21 and agony of mind, which at times made him restless and unnaturally22 merry, at times rendered him moody23 and irritable24.
In January, 1845, Charlotte says:—“Branwell has been quieter and less irritable, on the whole, this time than he was in summer.  Anne is, as usual, always good, mild, and patient.”  The deep-seated pain which he was to occasion to his relations had now taken a decided25 form, and pressed heavily on Charlotte’s health and spirits.  Early in this year, she went to H. to bid good-bye to her dear friend “Mary,” who was leaving England for Australia.
Branwell, I have mentioned, had obtained the situation of a private tutor.  Anne was also engaged as governess in the same family, and was thus a miserable26 witness to her brother’s deterioration27 of character at this period.  Of the causes of this deterioration I cannot speak; but the consequences were these.  He went home for his holidays reluctantly, stayed there as short a time as possible, perplexing and distressing them all by his extraordinary conduct—at one time in the highest spirits, at another, in the deepest depression—accusing himself of blackest guilt28 and treachery, without specifying29 what they were; and altogether evincing an irritability30 of disposition31 bordering on insanity32.
Charlotte and Emily suffered acutely from his mysterious behaviour.  He expressed himself more than satisfied with his situation; he was remaining in it for a longer time than he had ever done in any kind of employment before; so that for some time they could not conjecture33 that anything there made him so wilful34, and restless, and full of both levity35 and misery36.  But a sense of something wrong connected with him, sickened and oppressed them.  They began to lose all hope in his future career.  He was no longer the family pride; an indistinct dread37, caused partly by his own conduct, partly by expressions of agonising suspicion in Anne’s letters home, was creeping over their minds that he might turn out their deep disgrace.  But, I believe, they shrank from any attempt to define their fears, and spoke38 of him to each other as little as possible.  They could not help but think, and mourn, and wonder.
“Feb. 20th, 1845.
“I spent a week at H., not very pleasantly; headache, sickliness, and flatness of spirits, made me a poor companion, a sad drag on the vivacious39 and loquacious40 gaiety of all the other inmates41 of the house.  I never was fortunate enough to be able to rally, for as much as a single hour, while I was there.  I am sure all, with the exception perhaps of Mary, were very glad when I took my departure.  I begin to perceive that I have too little life in me, now-a-days, to be fit company for any except very quiet people.  Is it age, or what else, that changes me so?”
Alas42! she hardly needed to have asked this question.  How could she be otherwise than “flat-spirited,” “a poor companion,” and a “sad drag” on the gaiety of those who were light-hearted and happy!  Her honest plan for earning her own livelihood43 had fallen away, crumbled44 to ashes; after all her preparations, not a pupil had offered herself; and, instead of being sorry that this wish of many years could not be realised, she had reason to be glad.  Her poor father, nearly sightless, depended upon her cares in his blind helplessness; but this was a sacred pious45 charge, the duties of which she was blessed in fulfilling.  The black gloom hung over what had once been the brightest hope of the family—over Branwell, and the mystery in which his wayward conduct was enveloped46.  Somehow and sometime, he would have to turn to his home as a hiding place for shame; such was the sad foreboding of his sisters.  Then how could she be cheerful, when she was losing her dear and noble “Mary,” for such a length of time and distance of space that her heart might well prophesy47 that it was “for ever”?  Long before, she had written of Mary T., that she “was full of feelings noble, warm, generous, devoted48, and profound.  God bless her!  I never hope to see in this world a character more truly noble.  She would die willingly for one she loved.  Her intellect and attainments49 are of the very highest standard.”  And this was the friend whom she was to lose!  Hear that friend’s account of their final interview:—
“When I last saw Charlotte (Jan. 1845), she told me she had quite decided to stay at home.  She owned she did not like it.  Her health was weak.  She said she should like any change at first, as she had liked Brussels at first, and she thought that there must be some possibility for some people of having a life of more variety and more communion with human kind, but she saw none for her.  I told her very warmly, that she ought not to stay at home; that to spend the next five years at home, in solitude50 and weak health, would ruin her; that she would never recover it.  Such a dark shadow came over her face when I said, ‘Think of what you’ll be five years hence!’ that I stopped, and said, ‘Don’t cry, Charlotte!’  She did not cry, but went on walking up and down the room, and said in a little while, ‘But I intend to stay, Polly.’”
A few weeks after she parted from Mary, she gives this account of her days at Haworth.
“March 24th, 1845.
“I can hardly tell you how time gets on at Haworth.  There is no event whatever to mark its progress.  One day resembles another; and all have heavy, lifeless physiognomies.  Sunday, baking-day, and Saturday, are the only ones that have any distinctive51 mark.  Meantime, life wears away.  I shall soon be thirty; and I have done nothing yet.  Sometimes I get melancholy52 at the prospect53 before and behind me.  Yet it is wrong and foolish to repine.  Undoubtedly54, my duty directs me to stay at home for the present.  There was a time when Haworth was a very pleasant place to me; it is not so now.  I feel as if we were all buried here.  I long to travel; to work; to live a life of action.  Excuse me, dear, for troubling you with my fruitless wishes.  I will put by the rest, and not trouble you with them.  You must write to me.  If you knew how welcome your letters are, you would write very often.  Your letters, and the French newspapers, are the only messengers that come to me from the outer world beyond our moors; and very welcome messengers they are.”
One of her daily employments was to read to her father, and it required a little gentle diplomacy56 on her part to effect this duty; for there were times when the offer of another to do what he had been so long accustomed to do for himself, only reminded him too painfully of the deprivation57 under which he was suffering.  And, in secret, she, too, dreaded58 a similar loss for herself.  Long-continued ill health, a deranged59 condition of the liver, her close application to minute drawing and writing in her younger days, her now habitual60 sleeplessness61 at nights, the many bitter noiseless tears she had shed over Branwell’s mysterious and distressing conduct—all these causes were telling on her poor eyes; and about this time she thus writes to M. Héger:—
“Il n’y a rien que je crains comme le désoeuvrement, l’inertie, la léthargie des facultés.  Quand le corps62 est paresseux l’esprit souffre cruellement; je ne connaîtrais pas cette léthargie, si je pouvais écrire.  Autrefois je passais des journées, des semaines, des mois entiers à écrire, et pas tout-à-fait sans fruit, puisque Southey et Coleridge, deux de nos meilleurs auteurs, à qui j’ai envoyé certains manuscrits, en ont bien voulu témoigner leur approbation63; mais à présent, j’ai la vue trop faible; si j’écrivais beaueoup je deviendrais aveugle.  Cette faiblesse de vue est pour moi une terrible privation; sans cela, savez-vous ce que je ferais, Monsieur?  J’écrirais un livre et je le dédierais à mon maître de littérature, au seul maître que j’............
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