I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

vrijdag 6 december 2013

Dorothy Wordsworth: on a “dull, drizzly, Indian-inky day”.

The New Statesman lists the A-Z of northern fiction:
 
From the bonny beck to the kitchen sink and Heathcliff to the angry young men, Frances Wilson explores the personality of writing from the north of England, while Philip Maughan asks how the land lies today. (...)
I identify the north of my childhood reading with the heritage north catered for by the refurbished Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth and the dinky reconstruction of Wordsworth’s cottage in Grasmere. (...)
“We had the temerity to think we could write,” said Barstow, “but [with] no teachers and no models.” Heathcliff and Rochester had morphed into the daydreaming William Fisher in Waterhouse’s Billy Liar (1959), the upwardly mobile Joe Lampton in Braine’s Room at the Top (1957), Vic Brown in Barstow’s A Kind of Loving (1960) and the angry young Frank Machin, who leaves the pit to play league rugby in David Storey’s This Sporting Life(1960). (...)
Both Gaskell and Dickens set their stories in Manchester, which Dickens called Coketown and Gaskell called Milton. While Dickens wrote from the position of a Londoner, Mrs Gaskell, who now lived in the great Cottonopolis, understood, as Charlotte Brontë said, “the genius of the north”. (...)
Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), written as a homage to her friend after her death, fuelled the myth of the elemental northern writer. The book begins in wailing wind, with a description of the Leeds and Bradford railway running through “a deep valley of the Aire”; Gaskell arrives in Haworth on a “dull, drizzly, Indian-inky day”.
The Brontë family is described as carved out of the landscape – as Ted Hughes, raised on the Pennine moorland would also seem – and Charlotte’s story is told as though she were a character from one of her novels. Yet the Brontës had already constructed their own mythology.
In a letter to Wordsworth, Branwell Brontë had said that he, like the poet, lived in “wild
seclusion”, with only rocks and stones and trees for company. Haworth Parsonage was on the edge of the moor but it was not secluded; there was a village attached. Four miles away was Keighley, which, as Gaskell points out, with its “great worsted factories” and “rows of workmen’s houses”, could “hardly be called ‘country’”.
The Brontës’ model of the Romantic life came from the biographical sketches of Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy by Thomas De Quincey, a Mancunian – a scandalous series of articles written for Blackwood’s Magazine in 1837. Today, Wordsworth is largely presented as the asexual spokesman of leech-gatherers and idiot boys but De Quincey described the poet, who was bourgeois to his marrow, as barely civilised and semi-incestuous. With his teeth bared and his eyes flashing, Wordsworth was fuelled by “animal appetites”. Dorothy, who her brother would kiss on the mouth, was also “beyond any person I have known in this world . . . the creature of impulse”.
Emily Brontë, who read Blackwood’s Magazine, surely based her tale of barely civilised and semi-incestuous siblings on this account of the Wordsworths. When I read Wuthering Heights, I am reminded of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere journals, in which she describes the two and half years that she lived alone with her brother in Dove Cottage, before he married and was transformed from a wild, Heathcliff- like figure to a gentleman resembling the priggish Edgar Linton. The nature of Dorothy’s love for William, which is hard for us to understand, is replicated in Cathy’s well-known des cription of her love for Heathcliff. Less a pleasure than a necessity, it is like “the eternal rocks beneath”. (Frances Wilson) bronteblog

Dorothy Wordsworth Grasmere journals.

The delight of Dorothy's Grasmere journals, consigned to four notebooks between May 14, 1800, and January 16, 1803, is summed up in such passages as these.
The scenery she is observing is extraordinary enough; in this case, Nab Scar, between Grasmere and Ryedale in the Lakes. But the people she is observing it with are more extraordinary still: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, scrambling over the rocks and disputing about shade and sunlight, while in their minds lie the embryos of some of the deepest thought and finest poetry in English.
Infuriating, because Dorothy seems such a drudge, ironing, washing, planting, mending and baking, despite the headaches and bad bowels that send her early to bed; a woman who can translate German and snatches moments to read Shakespeare, who can catch the poetry in a scene before William, but whose life is bound up in cooking chops for him and soothing his hypochondria.
And disturbing, because her devotion to him goes further than a sister's usually does. How much further? That is the nub of Frances Wilson's sympathetic but intrusive study. Her account homes in on the three hectic, intense years covered by the journals, when Dorothy was at once her brother's servant, amanuensis, companion, eyes and ears. Within the journals Wilson's focus rests on two deleted sentences, describing what happened on the morning before William married Mary Hutchinson in October 1802: "I gave him the wedding ring - with how deep a blessing! I took it from my forefinger where I had worn it the whole of the night before - he slipped it again onto my finger and blessed me fervently." Those last few words might have read, "as I blessed the ring softly". As Frances Wilson says, the fervour is the same. Her book begins, and virtually ends, with this scene.
Other journal entries draw attention, too: Dorothy's admission that she "petted" William "on the carpet", her emotion when she sees his half-eaten apple core, her descriptions of his breathing, his shirts and his "cool & fresh" smell. Analysis of the relationship, with commentary from Freud and Camille Paglia, so dominates the book that poor Dorothy cannot admire the moon or the hawthorn blossom, or comment on the light or the rain, without revealing something about William and herself.
Walk-worn boots, mud-caked skirt and all, she is laid firmly on the couch.
Yet, thankfully, this is also a book informed by delicacy and common sense: the central chapter on incest is probably the best. Wilson's conclusion is that William and Dorothy were "finding and losing themselves in each other", in a devotion that was not sexual and which, in fact, survived William's marriage largely intact. It lasted through to Dorothy's half-mad old age, when her brother began, at last, to wait on her. telegraph/Dorothy-Wordsworth

donderdag 5 december 2013

On this day in 1809

 
Patrick Bronte began his curacy at Dewsbury
 
What brought Patrick Brontë to Dewsbury in the first place? Amateur local historian Graham Hardy explains that back in 1809 it seems that he was facing a choice between working in the West Riding or the much warmer climes of the West Indies. Perhaps surprisingly, Patrick chose Dewsbury! Why he made that decision to come here we'll perhaps never really know, but Graham believes it could be because Patrick and others believed it was fertile ground for 'spreading the word' of the Gospel: "They regarded Yorkshire - which was just going through the throes of the Industrial Revolution at that time - as The Promised Land, the land where they were going to save souls."

 
It wasn't long before Patrick Brontë made his mark on Dewsbury, according to Graham. He says there are many tales told about this young curate who certainly lived up to his reputation as "clever and good-hearted, but impetuous and hot-tempered" - as one Dewsbury lawyer described him at the time. Graham says: "There was the occasion when a drunk tried to stop a Sunday School procession and Patrick Brontë unceremoniously threw the drunk into the ditch at the side of the road. There was also another occasion when Patrick was doing his Sunday evening meditation in the old vicarage by the side of the Minster and the church bell ringers decided to have an extra practice. Patrick was so upset about this that he seized his shillelagh [a large stick], dashed up to the belfry and actually drove them out!" And Denis Ripley adds that as well as saving souls, Patrick also saved someone's life: "He was walking along the River Calder and he met a group who were acting silly. One boy pushed another into the river. Now, in spite of the fact that he couldn't swim, he jumped in and saved the boy. It was quite a famous incident."
"It was as a result of him coming here that the Yorkshire connection was launched and became famous worldwide!"
Denis Ripley on Patrick's legacy
Patrick Brontë was clearly no shrinking violet, but he was also - even in his early days in Dewsbury - a man of influence who wanted to right any wrongs which took place in the town. Graham explains: "There was a young man called William Nowell who was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. It was claimed by another young man that William had enlisted in the army at Lee Fair - a gathering just outside Dewsbury. William denied this...but he was hauled before the magistrates and flung into prison as a deserter. Patrick was very upset about this so he got together some of the prominent members of the town, credible witnesses, and he wrote to Lord Palmerston, who was Secretary of State for War but who Patrick had known at Cambridge. Palmerston intervened, as well as [social reformer and anti-slave trade supporter] William Wilberforce. Between them the case was reviewed, William Nowell was freed and the chap who'd given the false evidence was transported to the colonies!"
Graham Hardy says that as curate, Patrick Brontë was also well-known for travelling to all corners of his Dewsbury parish in an effort to spread the word on people's doorsteps: "He used to go around to people's houses and he used to preach there. In those days, of course, most churches in the outlying districts like Hanging Heaton, Dewsbury Moor and Batley Carr hadn't even been built. The Dewsbury parish was quite big so there were often important meetings held in people's houses."
It's obvious, then, that Patrick Brontë was an important figure in his own right - never mind the fact that his time in Dewsbury firmly established the roots of the Brontë family in West Yorkshire.
 

X-mas in Yorkshire


Victorian Christmas Weekend at Main Street, Haworth: Every year at Christmas time, Haworth is lit by twinkling fairy lights and festive shop windows. Each weekend in December the village hosts bands, choirs, carol singers and Father Christmas for visitors to enjoy with traders dressing in Victorian costume. The cobbled street is home to wonderful independant shops, tea rooms and public houses. yorkshire/christmas-markets

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway - Join the Santa Special at Oxenhope, Haworth or Keighley Stations for a ten-mile return journey on our steam train, lasting around an hour. Experience nostalgia and the magic of Christmas in our specially decorated coaches, with festive music to get you into the mood. Santa and his pixies visit each child during the journey, delivering presents and the grown-ups are served with a mince pie and seasonal drink: the perfect way for you and your family to start the Christmas season.

 
fairygobmother


The Apothecary Shop window on Haworth Main Street

voiceofthevalleys

Parsonage

Parsonage

Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte



Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.


O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!


Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,


To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.


With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.


Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.


There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.


--
Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Parents
Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

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