The Anne Brontë Blog

Friday, 9 December 2011

Patrick Brontë

“Consider, moreover, the inadequacy of punishment. A man will be hanged for stealing a fat sheep, though he be hungry; - he will incur no greater punishment for murdering twenty men! In the name of common sense, what is the necessary tendency of this? Most undoubtedly, the man who robs, will find it [in] his interest to murder also, for by so doing, he will be more likely to prevent discovery, and will, at all events, incur no greater punishment.”
In his political opinions Patrick Brontë provided evidence of his liberalism – unexpectedly so for a man who has been both commended and contaminated with ardent Conservative views. Patrick Brontë is, in my opinion, the most remarkable Brontë. Caricatured and vilified in equal measure; the oppressive father and the frail old man who lived to have his worst fears realised. According to Juliet Barker’s exceptional biography The Brontës ‘he campaigned vigorously to get the criminal law reformed and its savagery moderated.’ The man who had such a significant impact on the lives and literature of his children; who wrote so eloquently and emotively on themes he himself would have found so interesting. It is difficult to divide fact from fiction with the Brontës. However, in my opinion, Patrick Brontë is an extraordinary quantity in Brontë mythology; a witness to the beginning, middle and end of a literary dynasty. The interest and admiration I have for Patrick Brontë stems from two branches, the most important reason being the fact that he came from an improvised background, to enter Cambridge at age twenty-five-years old and the fact that every accomplishment and achievement he gained originated from absolute strength of mind and intelligence.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Reverend William Weightman

In writing the following it was not my intention to add further to the conjectures of others regarding the relationship of Anne and the curate merely to demonstrate, what is at least in my opinion. An interesting fellowship between the famously secluded family and Reverend William Weightman:

‘I wish to scold you with a forty horse power for having told Martha Taylor that I had requested you “not to tell her everything”, which piece of information of course has thrown Martha into a tremendous ill-humour besides setting the teeth of her curiosity on edge with the notion that there is something very important in the wind which you and are especially desirous to conceal from her. Such being the state of matters I desire to take off any embargo I may have laid on your tongue, which I plainly see will not be restrained and to enjoin you to walk to Gomersal and tell her forthwith every individual incident you can recollect, including Valentines, “Fair Ellen, Fair Ellen”, “Away fond love”, “Soul divine” and all - likewise if you please the painting of Miss Cecilia Amelia Weightman’s portrait and that young lady’s frequent and agreeable visits-” Charlotte continues with a significant perceptiveness, “By the bye I enquired into the opinion of that intelligent and interesting young person respecting you - it was a favourable one. She thought you a fine looking and a very good girl into the bargain -” high commendation amongst the Brontë Sisters and Ellen Nussey one hypnotizes - “Have you received the newspaper which has been dispatched containing the notice of her lecture at Keighley? Mr. Morgan came, stayed three days and went - by Miss Weightman’s aid we got on pretty well- it was amazing to see with what patience and good temper the innocent creature endured that fat Welshman’s prosing - though she confessed afterwards that she was almost done up by his long stories.” her illusionary name for William Weightman, the female masquerade is again given mention in the following passage: “I am obliged to cut short my letter - every-body in the house unites in sending their love to you - Miss Celia Amelia Weightman also desires to be remembered to you - write soon again, and believe me yours unutterably…Charivari” The remarkable incident, none descript as it may well be, I believe demonstrates the accepted friendship between William Weightman and the Brontë family, described and illuminated as the family for whom effortless companionship and solace could solely be found within themselves and their kindred and for whom frivolity was scarce it presents an interesting view of William Weightman’s consequence as “a lively handsome young man.”

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A Small Selection of Anne Brontë Poetry

These poems was first published in the collection Poems By Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell beneath Anne Bronte’s penname 'Acton Bell' in 1846.


by Anne Brontë

Oh, I am very weary,
Though tears no longer flow;
My eyes are tired of weeping,
My heart is sick of woe;

My life is very lonely
My days pass heavily,
I'm weary of repining;
Wilt thou not come to me?

Oh, didst thou know my longings
For thee, from day to day,
My hopes, so often blighted,
Thou wouldst not thus delay!

A Reminiscence

Yes, thou art gone! and never more
Thy sunny smile shall gladden me;
But I may pass the old church door,
And pace the floor that covers thee,

May stand upon the cold, damp stone,
And think that, frozen, lies below
The lightest heart that I have known,
The kindest I shall ever know.

Yet, though I cannot see thee more,
'Tis still a comfort to have seen;
And though thy transient life is o'er,
'Tis sweet to think that thou hast been;

To think a soul so near divine,
Within a form so angel fair,
United to a heart like thine,
Has gladdened once our humble sphere.

A Word To The 'Elect'

You may rejoice to think YOURSELVES secure;
You may be grateful for the gift divine--
That grace unsought, which made your black hearts pure,
And fits your earth-born souls in Heaven to shine.

But, is it sweet to look around, and view
Thousands excluded from that happiness
Which they deserved, at least, as much as you.--
Their faults not greater, nor their virtues less?

And wherefore should you love your God the more,
Because to you alone his smiles are given;
Because He chose to pass the MANY o'er,
And only bring the favoured FEW to Heaven?

And, wherefore should your hearts more grateful prove,
Because for ALL the Saviour did not die?
Is yours the God of justice and of love?
And are your bosoms warm with charity?

Say, does your heart expand to all mankind?
And, would you ever to your neighbour do--
The weak, the strong, the enlightened, and the blind--
As you would have your neighbour do to you?

And when you, looking on your fellow-men,
Behold them doomed to endless misery,
How can you talk of joy and rapture then?--
May God withhold such cruel joy from me!

That none deserve eternal bliss I know;
Unmerited the grace in mercy given:
But, none shall sink to everlasting woe,
That have not well deserved the wrath of Heaven.

And, oh! there lives within my heart
A hope, long nursed by me;
(And should its cheering ray depart,
How dark my soul would be!)

That as in Adam all have died,
In Christ shall all men live;
And ever round his throne abide,
Eternal praise to give.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Early Life

The work of Anne Bronte is unfortunately and I fear indelibly cast into shadow by the toil of three sisters’ whose relationship has, understandably to certain degree, meant they are eternally entwined upon the moors, caught together in pathos. The distinction between them has become, I believe, in the passage of time ever more resonant. I chose to emphasise therefore Anne, though I do believe, with certainty, it would be resoluble, and disparaging not to reference the Bronte family, the parsonage or Anne’s relationships within.

The daughter of a poor Church of England curate, he himself a writer of not inconsiderable ability, she was born on 17 January 1820, at number 74 Market Street in the village of Thornton, Bradford, Yorkshire, England. At the time of Anne’s birth her father was the curate of Thornton, she was baptised there on the twenty-fifth of March 1820. Shortly thereafter, Anne’s father earned the post of perpetual curate of Howarth a secure though perhaps not intellectually stimulating post.

Patrick Bronte was born at Emdale, Drumballyrony, County Down, Patrick survived childhood the elder of ten children. A period of apprenticeship as a blacksmith terminated because of aptitude toward learning, this being principally self taught, encouraged him into a university education, this should be revered especially as the modest family of “Brunty” were financial paupers. Patrick’s own father, Hugh, was an agricultural labourer.

In April 1820, the Bronte family relocated to the Howarth parsonage. The five-roomed home, which is now an integral piece of the Bronte parsonage, cannot have appeared welcoming to such a family, indeed one would suppose, the essence of foreboding which remains today. Would have been sensed by all the young Bronte’s.

Maria Branwell died on the fifteenth of September 1821 the cause of her prolonged illness and subsequent death is conjectured to be uterine cancer. Concerned with the welfare of his young children, Patrick endeavoured to re-marry, but despite what can only be conjectured upon as considerable effort, remained without a wife, and mother to five daughters.

Maria’s sister, Elizabeth Branwell had resided at the parsonage throughout her sister’s illness, and subsequently and steadfastly remained until her death. Her resolve to care for the children was borne of a sense of Christian duty, love nor affection is discernable in the temperament of aunt Branwell her strict devoutly religious manner was a prominent characteristic of the children’s childhood and education. Despite the truth that the elder children were respectful but not loving, as was expected and I feel cultivated in there behaviour, but to Anne, her favoured rationally she is said to have had a bond. Anne shared a room with her aunt, they were close and this may have influenced Anne’s personality traits and religious belief’s beyond any further human relationship Anne shared.

"Anne, dear gentle Anne was quite different in appearance from the others, and she was her aunt's favourite. Her hair was a very pretty light brown, and fell on her neck in graceful curls. She had lovely violet-blue eyes; fine pencilled eyebrows and a clear almost transparent complexion. She still pursued her studies and especially her sewing, under the surveillance of her aunt."

Education and Imagination

Anne’s studies at the parsonage evidently encompassed music and drawing, she was also instructed by the Keighley parish organist in piano play, her studies also included Art which she was taught by John Bradley of Keighley. Her aunt wished that all of her nieces were educated as to the practical and serviceable methods of running a household. But their intelligence toward literature prevailed, their father and his academically powerful library was a main source of knowledge. They are believed to have read, The Bible, Shakespeare, Virgil, Milton and Byron etcetera. Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Fraser's Magazine, and The Edinburgh Review. In addition, they read history, geography and biographies.

Those readings evidently allied the Bronte’s imagination, in 1826. Patrick presented his young son with a set of toy soldiers. They each chose a soldier, named this solider, and gave them each character. These soldiers were named “The twelve’s” This subsequently evolved into the children’s imaginary African kingdom “Angria” There were map illustrations and watercolour interpretations, the children eventually devised plots and situations for the inhabitants of “Angria”, and indeed it’s capital city “Glass Town” renamed the perhaps less ingenious Verreopolis, and lastly , Verdopolis.

These illusionary creations, the worlds and kingdoms, acquired the characteristics of the world outside of their parsonage.

“—sovereigns, armies, heroes, outlaws, fugitives, inns, schools and publishers. For these peoples and lands the children created newspapers, magazines and chronicles, all of which were written out in extremely tiny books, with writing that was so small it was difficult to read without the aid of a magnifying glass. These juvenile creations and writings served as the apprenticeship of their later, literary talents."

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Anne’s Signature

This signature was taken from one of Anne’s educational textbooks, which she used while employed at Thorp Green in the position of governess, dated 19th. September 1843, in her twenty-third year.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Realism in the work of Anne Brontë

Anne’s writing method is often described as realism “Literary realism most often refers to the trend, beginning with certain works of nineteenth-century French literature and extending to late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors in various countries, towards depictions of contemporary life and society "as they were." In the spirit of general "realism," Realist authors opted for depictions of everyday and banal activities and experiences, instead of a romanticized or similarly stylized presentation.” It is perhaps a little more defined with this quote "the faithful representation of reality" The author than must seek not to write of dramatized events and circumstance. Anne Brontë wrote, I believe, with vast observational skill, emotional intelligence and a belief that human nature was more enthralling and intricate even in its most repellent and malicious form, as for example Arthur Huntingdon, that dramatization simply was not found wanting nor sought after:

Doubter's Prayer

The eternal Power, of earth and air!
Unseen, yet seen in all around,
Remote, but dwelling everywhere,
Though silent, heard in every sound.
If e'er thine ear in mercy bent,
When wretched mortals cried to Thee,
And if, indeed, Thy Son was sent,
To save lost sinners such as me:

Then hear me now, while, kneeling here,
I lift to thee my heart and eye,
And all my soul ascends in prayer,
Oh, give me -¬ give me Faith! I cry.

Without some glimmering in my heart,
I could not raise this fervent prayer;
But, oh! A stronger light impart,
And in Thy mercy fix it there.

While Faith is with me, I am blest;
It turns my darkest night to day;
But while I clasp it to my breast,
I often feel it slide away.

Then, cold and dark, my spirit sinks,
To see my light of life depart;
And every fiend of Hell, methinks,
Enjoys the anguish of my heart.

What shall I do, if all my love,
My hopes, my toil, are cast away,
And if there be no God above,
To hear and bless me when I pray?

If this be vain delusion all,
If death be an eternal sleep,
And none can hear my secret call,
Or see the silent tears I weep!

Oh, help me, God! For thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not: it is thine own,
Though weak, yet longing to believe.

Oh, drive these cruel doubts away;
And make me know, that Thou art God!
A faith, that shines by night and day,
Will lighten every earthly load.

If I believe that Jesus died,
And, waking, rose to reign above;
Then surely Sorrow, Sin, and Pride,
Must yield to Peace, and Hope, and Love.

And all the blessed words He said
Will strength and holy joy impart:
A shield of safety o'er my head,
a spring of comfort in my heart.