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HOME > Biographical > The Life of Charlotte Bronte > CHAPTER XXV
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 The reader will remember that Anne Brontë had been interred1 in the churchyard of the Old Church at Scarborough. Charlotte had left directions for a tombstone to be placed over her; but many a time during the solitude2 of the past winter, her sad, anxious thoughts had revisited the scene of that last great sorrow, and she had wondered whether all decent services had been rendered to the memory of the dead, until at last she came to a silent resolution to go and see for herself whether the stone and inscription3 were in a satisfactory state of preservation4.  
"Cliffe House, Filey, June 6th, 1852.
"Dear E——, —I am at Filey utterly5 alone. Do not be angry, the step is right. I considered it, and resolved on it with due deliberation. Change of air was necessary; there were reasons why I should NOT go to the south, and why I should come here. On Friday I went to Scarborough, visited the churchyard and stone. It must be refaced and relettered; there are five errors. I gave the necessary directions. THAT duty, then, is done; long has it lain heavy on my mind; and that was a pilgrimage I felt I could only make alone.
"I am in our old lodgings6 at Mrs. Smith's; not, however, in the same rooms, but in less expensive apartments. They seemed glad to see me, remembered you and me very well, and, seemingly, with great good will. The daughter who used to wait on us is just married. Filey seems to me much altered; more lodging-houses—some of them very handsome—have been built; the sea has all its old grandeur7. I walk on the sands a good deal, and try NOT to feel desolate8 and melancholy9. How sorely my heart longs for you, I need not say. I have bathed once; it seemed to do me good. I may, perhaps, stay here a fortnight. There are as yet scarcely any visitors. A Lady Wenlock is staying at the large house of which you used so vigilantly10 to observe the inmates11. One day I set out with intent to trudge12 to Filey Bridge, but was frightened back by two cows. I mean to try again some morning. I left papa well. I have been a good deal troubled with headache, and with some pain in the side since I came here, but I feel that this has been owing to the cold wind, for very cold has it been till lately; at present I feel better. Shall I send the papers to you as usual. Write again directly, and tell me this, and anything and everything else that comes into your mind.—Believe me, yours faithfully,
"Filey, June 16th, 1852.
"Dear E——, —Be quite easy about me. I really think I am better for my stay at Filey; that I have derived14 more benefit from it than I dared to anticipate. I believe, could I stay here two months, and enjoy something like social cheerfulness as well as exercise and good air, my health would be quite renewed. This, however, cannot possibly be; but I am most thankful for the good received. I stay here another week.
"I return ——'s letter. I am sorry for her: I believe she suffers; but I do not much like her style of expressing herself. . . . Grief as well as joy manifests itself in most different ways in different people; and I doubt not she is sincere and in earnest when she talks of her 'precious, sainted father;' but I could wish she used simpler language."
Soon after her return from Filey, she was alarmed by a very serious and sharp attack of illness with which Mr. Brontë was seized. There was some fear, for a few days, that his sight was permanently15 lost, and his spirits sank painfully under this dread16.
"This prostration17 of spirits," writes his daughter, "which accompanies anything like a relapse is almost the most difficult point to manage. Dear E——, you are tenderly kind in offering your society; but rest very tranquil18 where you are; be fully13 assured that it is not now, nor under present circumstances, that I feel the lack either of society or occupation; my time is pretty well filled up, and my thoughts appropriated. . . . I cannot permit myself to comment much on the chief contents of your last; advice is not necessary: as far as I can judge, you seem hitherto enabled to take these trials in a good and wise spirit. I can only pray that such combined strength and resignation may be continued to you. Submission19, courage, exertion20, when practicable—these seem to be the weapons with which we must fight life's long battle."
I suppose that, during the very time when her thoughts were thus fully occupied with anxiety for her father, she received some letter from her publishers, making inquiry21 as to the progress of the work which they knew she had in hand, as I find the following letter to Mr. Williams, bearing reference to some of Messrs. Smith and Elder's proposed arrangements.
"July 28th, 1852.
"My dear Sir,—Is it in contemplation to publish the new edition of 'Shirley' soon? Would it not be better to defer22 it for a time? In reference to a part of your letter, permit me to express this wish,—and I trust in doing so, I shall not be regarded as stepping out of my position as an author, and encroaching on the arrangements of business,—viz.: that no announcement of a new work by the author of 'Jane Eyre' shall be made till the MS. of such work is actually in my publisher's hands. Perhaps we are none of us justified23 in speaking very decidedly where the future is concerned; but for some too much caution in such calculations can scarcely be observed: amongst this number I must class myself. Nor, in doing so, can I assume an apologetic tone. He does right who does his best.
"Last autumn I got on for a time quickly. I ventured to look forward to spring as the period of publication: my health gave way; I passed such a winter as, having been once experienced, will never be forgotten. The spring proved little better than a protraction of trial. The warm weather and a visit to the sea have done me much good physically25; but as yet I have recovered neither elasticity26 of animal spirits, nor flow of the power of composition. And if it were otherwise, the difference would be of no avail; my time and thoughts are at present taken up with close attendance on my father, whose health is just now in a very critical state, the heat of the weather having produced determination of blood to the head.—I am, yours sincerely,
Before the end of August, Mr. Brontë's convalescence27 became quite established, and he was anxious to resume his duties for some time before his careful daughter would permit him.
On September the 14th the "great duke" died. He had been, as we have seen, her hero from childhood; but I find no further reference to him at this time than what is given in the following extract from a letter to her friend:—
"I do hope and believe the changes you have been having this summer will do you permanent good, notwithstanding the pain with which they have been too often mingled28. Yet I feel glad that you are soon coming home; and I really must not trust myself to say how much I wish the time were come when, without let or hindrance29, I could once more welcome you to Haworth. But oh I don't get on; I feel fretted—incapable—sometimes very low. However, at present, the subject must not be dwelt upon; it presses me too hardly—nearly—and painfully. Less than ever can I taste or know pleasure till this work is wound up. And yet I often sit up in bed at night, thinking of and wishing for you. Thank you for the Times; what it said on the mighty30 and mournful subject was well said. All at once the whole nation seems to take a just view of that great character. There was a review too of an American book, which I was glad to see. Read 'Uncle Tom's Cabin': probably, though, you have read it.
"Papa's health continues satisfactory, thank God! As for me, my wretched liver has been disordered again of late, but I hope it is now going to be on better behaviour; it hinders me in working—depresses both power and tone of feeling. I must expect this derangement32 from time to time."
Haworth was in an unhealthy state, as usual; and both Miss Brontë and Tabby suffered severely33 from the prevailing34 epidemics35. The former was long in shaking off the effects of this illness. In vain she resolved against allowing herself any society or change of scene until she had accomplished36 her labour. She was too ill to write; and with illness came on the old heaviness of heart, recollections of the past, and anticipations37 of the future. At last Mr. Brontë expressed so strong a wish that her friend should be asked to visit her, and she felt some little refreshment38 so absolutely necessary, that on October the 9th she begged her to come to Haworth, just for a single week.
"I thought I would persist in denying myself till I had done my work, but I find it won't do; the matter refuses to progress, and this excessive solitude presses too heavily; so let me see your dear face, E., just for one reviving week."
But she would only accept of the company of her friend for the exact time specified39. She thus writes to Miss Wooler on October the 21st:—
"E—— has only been my companion one little week. I would not have her any longer, for I am disgusted with myself and my delays; and consider it was a weak yielding to temptation in me to send for her at all; but in truth, my spirits were getting low—prostrate40 sometimes—and she has done me inexpressible good. I wonder when I shall see you at Haworth again; both my father and the servants have again and again insinuated41 a distinct wish that you should be requested to come in the course of the summer and autumn, but I have always turned rather a deaf ear; 'not yet,' was my thought, 'I want first to be free;' work first, then pleasure."
Miss ——'s visit had done her much good. Pleasant companionship during the day produced, for the time, the unusual blessing42 of calm repose43 at night; and after her friend's departure she was well enough to "fall to business," and write away, almost incessantly44, at her story of Villette, now drawing to a conclusion. The following letter to Mr. Smith, seems to have accompanied the first part of the MS.
"Oct. 30th, 1852.
"My dear Sir,—You must notify honestly what you think of 'Villette' when you have read it. I can hardly tell you how I hunger to hear some opinion besides my own, and how I have sometimes desponded, and almost despaired, because there was no one to whom to read a line, or of whom to ask a counsel. 'Jane Eyre' was not written under such circumstances, nor were two-thirds of 'Shirley'. I got so miserable45 about it, I could bear no allusion46 to the book. It is not finished yet; but now I hope. As to the anonymous47 publication, I have this to say: If the withholding48 of the author's name should tend materially to injure the publisher's interest, to interfere49 with booksellers' orders, etc., I would not press the point; but if no such detriment50 is contingent51, I should be most thankful for the sheltering shadow of an incognito52. I seem to dread the advertisements—the large-lettered 'Currer Bell's New Novel,' or 'New Work, by the Author of Jane Eyre.' These, however, I feel well enough, are the transcendentalisms of a retired53 wretch31; so you must speak frankly54. . . . I shall be glad to see 'Colonel Esmond.' My objection to the second volume lay here: I thought it contained decidedly too much history—too little story."
In another letter, referring to "Esmond," she uses the following words:—
"The third volume seemed to me to possess the most sparkle, impetus55, and interest. Of the first and second my judgment56 was, that parts of them were admirable; but there was the fault of containing too much History—too little story. I hold that a work of fiction ought to be a work of creation: that the REAL should be sparingly introduced in pages dedicated57 to the IDEAL. Plain household bread is a far more wholesome58 and necessary thing than cake; yet who would like to see the brown loaf placed on the table for dessert? In the second volume, the author gives us an ample supply of excellent brown bread; in his third, only such a portion as gives substance, like the crumbs59 of bread in a well-made, not too rich, plum-pudding."
Her letter to Mr. Smith, containing the allusion to 'Esmond,' which reminded me of the quotation60 just given continues:—
"You will see that 'Villette' touches on no matter of public interest. I cannot write b............
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