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 An article on "Vanity Fair" and "Jane Eyre" had appeared in the Quarterly Review of December, 1848. Some weeks after, Miss Brontë wrote to her publishers, asking why it had not been sent to her; and conjecturing1 that it was unfavourable, she repeated her previous request, that whatever was done with the laudatory2, all critiques adverse3 to the novel might be forwarded to her without fail. The Quarterly Review was accordingly sent. I am not aware that Miss Brontë took any greater notice of the article than to place a few sentences out of it in the mouth of a hard and vulgar woman in "Shirley," where they are so much in character, that few have recognised them as a quotation4. The time when the article was read was good for Miss Brontë; she was numbed5 to all petty annoyances6 by the grand severity of Death. Otherwise she might have felt more keenly than they deserved the criticisms which, while striving to be severe, failed in logic8, owing to the misuse9 of prepositions; and have smarted under conjectures10 as to the authorship of "Jane Eyre," which, intended to be acute, were merely flippant. But flippancy11 takes a graver name when directed against an author by an anonymous12 writer. We call it then cowardly insolence13.  
Every one has a right to form his own conclusion respecting the merits and demerits of a book. I complain not of the judgment14 which the reviewer passes on "Jane Eyre." Opinions as to its tendency varied15 then, as they do now. While I write, I receive a letter from a clergyman in America in which he says: "We have in our sacred of sacreds a special shelf, highly adorned16, as a place we delight to honour, of novels which we recognise as having had a good influence on character OUR character. Foremost is 'Jane Eyre.'"
Nor do I deny the existence of a diametrically opposite judgment. And so (as I trouble not myself about the reviewer's style of composition) I leave his criticisms regarding the merits of the work on one side. But when—forgetting the chivalrous17 spirit of the good and noble Southey, who said: "In reviewing anonymous works myself, when I have known the authors I have never mentioned them, taking it for granted they had sufficient reasons for avoiding the publicity"—the Quarterly reviewer goes on into gossiping conjectures as to who Currer Bell really is, and pretends to decide on what the writer may be from the book, I protest with my whole soul against such want of Christian18 charity. Not even the desire to write a "smart article," which shall be talked about in London, when the faint mask of the anonymous can be dropped at pleasure if the cleverness of the review be admired—not even this temptation can excuse the stabbing cruelty of the judgment. Who is he that should say of an unknown woman: "She must be one who for some sufficient reason has long forfeited19 the society of her sex"? Is he one who has led a wild and struggling and isolated20 life,—seeing few but plain and outspoken21 Northerns, unskilled in the euphuisms which assist the polite world to skim over the mention of vice23? Has he striven through long weeping years to find excuses for the lapse24 of an only brother; and through daily contact with a poor lost profligate25, been compelled into a certain familiarity with the vices26 that his soul abhors27? Has he, through trials, close following in dread28 march through his household, sweeping29 the hearthstone bare of life and love, still striven hard for strength to say, "It is the Lord! let Him do what seemeth to Him good"—and sometimes striven in vain, until the kindly30 Light returned? If through all these dark waters the scornful reviewer have passed clear, refined, free from stain,—with a soul that has never in all its agonies cried "lama sabachthani,"—still, even then let him pray with the Publican rather than judge with the Pharisee.
"Jan. 10th, 1849.
"Anne had a very tolerable day yesterday, and a pretty quiet night last night, though she did not sleep much. Mr. Wheelhouse ordered the blister31 to be put on again. She bore it without sickness. I have just dressed it, and she is risen and come down-stairs. She looks somewhat pale and sickly. She has had one dose of the cod-liver oil; it smells and tastes like train oil. I am trying to hope, but the day is windy, cloudy, and stormy. My spirits fall at intervals32 very low; then I look where you counsel me to look, beyond earthly tempests and sorrows. I seem to get strength, if not consolation33. It will not do to anticipate. I feel that hourly. In the night, I awake and long for morning; then my heart is wrung34. Papa continues much the same; he was very faint when he came down to breakfast. . . . Dear E——, your friendship is some comfort to me. I am thankful for it. I see few lights through the darkness of the present time, but amongst them the constancy of a kind heart attached to me is one of the most cheering and serene35."
"Jan. 15th, 1849.
"I can scarcely say that Anne is worse, nor can I say she is better. She varies often in the course of a day, yet each day is passed pretty much the same. The morning is usually the best time; the afternoon and the evening the most feverish36. Her cough is the most troublesome at night, but it is rarely violent. The pain in her arm still disturbs her. She takes the cod-liver oil and carbonate of iron regularly; she finds them both nauseous, but especially the oil. Her appetite is small indeed. Do not fear that I shall relax in my care of her. She is too precious not to be cherished with all the fostering strength I have. Papa, I am thankful to say, has been a good deal better this last day or two.
"As to your queries37 about myself, I can only say, that if I continue as I am I shall do very well. I have not yet got rid of the pains in my chest and back. They oddly return with every change of weather; and are still sometimes accompanied with a little soreness and hoarseness38, but I combat them steadily39 with pitch plasters and bran tea. I should think it silly and wrong indeed not to be regardful of my own health at present; it would not do to be ill NOW.
"I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward. This is not the time to regret, dread, or weep. What I have and ought to do is very distinctly laid out for me; what I want, and pray for, is strength to perform it. The days pass in a slow, dark march; the nights are the test; the sudden wakings from restless sleep, the revived knowledge that one lies in her grave, and another not at my side, but in a separate and sick bed. However, God is over all."
"Jan. 22nd, 1849.
"Anne really did seem to be a little better during some mild days last week, but to-day she looks very pale and languid again. She perseveres40 with the cod-liver oil, but still finds it very nauseous.
"She is truly obliged to you for the soles for her shoes, and finds them extremely comfortable. I am to commission you to get her just such a respirator as Mrs. —— had. She would not object to give a higher price, if you thought it better. If it is not too much trouble, you may likewise get me a pair of soles; you can send them and the respirator when you send the box. You must put down the price of all, and we will pay you in a Post Office order. "Wuthering Heights" was given to you. I have sent —— neither letter nor parcel. I had nothing but dreary41 news to write, so preferred that others should tell her. I have not written to —— either. I cannot write, except when I am quite obliged."
"Feb. 11th, 1849.
"We received the box and its contents quite safely to-day. The penwipers are very pretty, and we are very much obliged to you for them. I hope the respirator will be useful to Anne, in case she should ever be well enough to go out again. She continues very much in the same state—I trust not greatly worse, though she is becoming very thin. I fear it would be only self-delusion to fancy her better. What effect the advancing season may have on her, I know not; perhaps the return of really warm weather may give nature a happy stimulus42. I tremble at the thought of any change to cold wind or frost. Would that March were well over! Her mind seems generally serene, and her sufferings hitherto are nothing like Emily's. The thought of what may be to come grows more familiar to my mind; but it is a sad, dreary guest."
"March 16th, 1849.
"We have found the past week a somewhat trying one; it has not been cold, but still there have been changes of temperature whose effect Anne has felt unfavourably. She is not, I trust, seriously worse, but her cough is at times very hard and painful, and her strength rather diminished than improved. I wish the month of March was well over. You are right in conjecturing that I am somewhat depressed43; at times I certainly am. It was almost easier to bear up when the trial was at its crisis than now. The feeling of Emily's loss does not diminish as time wears on; it often makes itself most acutely recognised. It brings too an inexpressible sorrow with it; and then the future is dark. Yet I am well aware, it will not do either to complain, or sink, and I strive to do neither. Strength, I hope and trust, will yet be given in proportion to the burden; but the pain of my position is not one likely to lessen44 with habit. Its solitude45 and isolation46 are oppressive circumstances, yet I do not wish for any friends to stay with me; I could not do with any one—not even you—to share the sadness of the house; it would rack me intolerably. Meantime, judgment is still blent with mercy. Anne's sufferings still continue mild. It is my nature, when left alone, to struggle on with a certain perseverance47, and I believe God will help me."
Anne had been delicate all her life; a fact which perhaps made them less aware than they would otherwise have been of the true nature of those fatal first symptoms. Yet they seem to have lost but little time before they sent for the first advice that could be procured48. She was examined with the stethoscope, and the dreadful fact was announced that her lungs were affected49, and that tubercular consumption had already made considerable progress. A system of treatment was prescribed, which was afterwards ratified50 by the opinion of Dr. Forbes.
For a short time they hoped that the disease was arrested. Charlotte—herself ill with a complaint that severely51 tried her spirits—was the ever-watchful nurse of this youngest, last sister. One comfort was that Anne was the patientest, gentlest invalid52 that could be. Still, there were hours, days, weeks of inexpressible anguish53 to be borne; under the pressure of which Charlotte could only pray and pray she did, right earnestly. Thus she writes on March 24th;—
"Anne's decline is gradual and fluctuating; but its nature is not doubtful. . . . In spirit she is resigned: at heart she is, I believe, a true Christian. . . . May God support her and all of us through the trial of lingering sickness, and aid her in the last hour when the struggle which separates soul from body must be gone through! We saw Emily torn from the midst of us when our hearts clung to her with intense attachment54. . . She was scarce buried when Anne's health failed. . . . These things would be too much, if reason, unsupported by religion, were condemned55 to bear them alone. I have cause to be most thankful for the strength that has hitherto been vouchsafed56 both to my father and to myself. God, I think, is especially merciful to old age; and for my own part, trials, which in perspective would have seemed to me quite intolerable, when they actually came I endured without prostration57. Yet I must confess that, in the time which has elapsed since Emily's death, there have been moments of solitary58, deep, inert59 affliction, far harder to bear than those which immediately followed our loss. The crisis of bereavement60 has an acute pang61 which goads62 to exertion63; the desolate64 after-feeling sometimes paralyses. I have learnt that we are not to find solace65 in our own strength; we must seek it in God's omnipotence66. Fortitude67 is good; but fortitude itself must be shaken under us to teach us how weak we are!"
All through this illness of Anne's, Charlotte had the comfort of being able to talk to her about her state; a comfort rendered inexpressibly great by the contrast which it presented to the recollection of Emily's rejection68 of all sympathy. If a proposal for Anne's benefit was made, Charlotte could speak to her about it, and the nursing and dying sister could consult with each other as to its desirability. I have seen but one of Anne's letters; it is the only time we seem to be brought into direct personal contact with this gentle, patient girl. In order to give the requisite69 preliminary explanation, I must state that the family of friends, to which E—— belonged, proposed that Anne should come to them; in order to try what change of air and diet, and the company of kindly people could do towards restoring her to health. In answer to this proposal, Charlotte writes:—
"March 24th.
"I read your kind note to Anne, and she wishes me to thank you sincerely for your friendly proposal. She feels, of course, that it would not do to take advantage of it, by quartering an invalid upon the inhabitants of ——; but she intimates there is another way in which you might serve her, perhaps with some benefit to yourself as well as to her. Should it, a month or two hence, be deemed advisable that she should go either to the sea-side, or to some inland watering-place—and should papa be disinclined to move, and I consequently obliged to remain at home—she asks, could you be her companion? Of course I need not add that in the event of such an arrangement being made, you would be put to no expense. This, dear E., is Anne's proposal; I make it to comply with her wish; but for my own part, I must add that I see serious objections to your accepting it—objections I cannot name to her. She continues to vary; is sometimes worse, and sometimes better, as the weather changes; but, on the whole, I fear she loses strength. Papa says her state is most precarious70; she may be spared for some time, or a sudden alteration71 might remove her before we are aware. Were such an alteration to take place while she was far from home, and alone with you, it would be terrible. The idea of it distresses72 me inexpressibly, and I tremble whenever she alludes73 to the project of a journey. In short, I wish we could gain time, and see how she gets on. If she leaves home it certainly should not be in the capricious month of May, which is proverbially trying to the weak. June would be a safer month. If we could reach June, I should have good hopes of her getting through the summer. Write such an answer to this note as I can show Anne. You can write any additional remarks to me on a separate piece of paper. Do not consider yourself as confined to discussing only our sad affairs. I am interested in all that interests you."
"April 5th, 1849.
"My dear Miss ——,—I thank you greatly for your kind letter, and your ready compliance74 with my proposal, as far as the WILL can go at least. I see, however, that your friends are unwilling75 that you should undertake the responsibility of accompanying me under present circumstances. But I do not think there would be any great responsibility in the matter. I know, and everybody knows, that you would be as kind and helpful as any one could possibly be, and I hope I should not be very troublesome. It would be as a companion, not as a nurse, that I should wish for your company; otherwise I should not venture to ask it. As for your kind and often-repeated invitation to ——, pray give my sincere thanks to your mother and sisters, but tell them I could not think of inflicting76 my presence upon them as I now am. It is very kind of them to make so light of the trouble, but still there must be more or less, and certainly no pleasure, from the society of a silent invalid stranger. I hope, however, that Charlotte will by some means make it possible to accompany me after all. She is certainly very delicate, and greatly needs a change of air and scene to renovate77 her constitution. And then your going with me before the end of May, is apparently78 out of the question, unless you are disappointed in your visitors; but I should be reluctant to wait till then, if the weather would at all permit an earlier departure. You say May is a trying month, and so say others. The earlier part is often cold enough, I acknowledge, but, according to my experience, we are almost certain of some fine warm days in the latter half, when the laburnums and lilacs are in bloom; whereas June is often cold, and July generally wet. But I have a more serious reason than this for my impatience79 of delay. The doctors say that change of air or removal to a better climate would hardly ever fail of success in consumptive cases, if the remedy were taken IN TIME; but the reason why there are so many disappointments is, that it is generally deferred80 till it is too late. Now I would not commit this error; and, to say the truth, though I suffer much less from pain and fever than I did when you were with us, I am decidedly weaker, and very much thinner. My cough still troubles me a good deal, especially in the night, and, what seems worse than all, I am subject to great shortness of breath on going up-stairs or any slight exertion. Under these circumstances, I think there is no time to be lost. I have no horror of death: if I thought it inevitable82, I think I could quietly resign myself to the prospect83, in the hope that you, dear Miss ——, would give as much of your company as you possibly could to Charlotte, and be a sister to her in my stead. But I wish it would please God to spare me, not only for papa's and Charlotte's sakes, but because I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have many schemes in my head for future practice—humble84 and limited indeed—but still I should not like them all to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose. But God's will be done. Remember me respectfully to your mother and sisters, and believe me, dear Miss ——, yours most affectionately,
It must have been about this time that Anne composed her last verses, before "the desk was closed, and the pen laid aside for ever."
    "I hoped that with the brave and strong
    My portioned task might lie;
    To toil86 amid the busy throng87,
    With purpose pure and high.
    "But God has fixed88 another part,
    And He has fixed it well:
    I said so with my bleeding heart,
    When first the anguish fell.
    "Thou God, hast taken our delight,
    Our treasured hope, away;
    Thou bid'st us now weep through the night
    And sorrow through the day.
    "These weary hours will not be lost,
    These days of misery,—
    These nights of darkness, anguish-tost,—
    Can I but turn to Thee.
    "With secret labour to sustain
    In humble patience every blow;
    To gather fortitude from pain,
    And hope and holiness from woe89.
    "Thus let me serve Thee from my heart,
    Whate'er may be my written fate;
    Whether thus early to depart,
    Or yet a while to wait.
    "If Thou should'st bring me back to life,
    More humbled90 I should be;
    More wise—more strengthened for the
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