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Charlotte Bronte
by [?]

I was not surprised, when I went down into the hall, to see that a brilliant June morning had succeeded to the tempest of the night, and to feel through the open glass door the breathing of a fresh and fragrant breeze. Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy. A beggar woman and her little boy, pale, ragged objects both, were coming up the walk, and I ran down and gave them all the money I happened to have in my purse–some three or four shillings: good or bad they must partake of my jubilee. The rooks cawed and blither birds sung, but nothing was so merry or so musical as my own rejoicing heart.

—Jane Eyre

Rumor has it that there be Americans who are never happy unless passing for Englishmen. And I think I have discovered a like anomaly on the part of the sons of Ireland–a wish to pass for Frenchmen. On Continental hotel-registers the good, honest name of O’Brian often turns queer somersaults, and more than once in “The States” does the kingly prefix of O evolve itself into Van or De, which perhaps is quite proper, seeing they all mean the same thing. One cause of this tendency may lie in the fact that Saint Patrick was a native of France; although Saint Patrick may or may not have been chosen patron saint on account of his nationality. But the patron saint of Ireland being a Frenchman, what more natural, and therefore what more proper, than that the whole Emerald Isle should slant toward the people who love art and rabbit-stew! Anyway, from the proud patronymic of Patricius to plain Pat is quite a drop, and my heart is with Paddy in his efforts to get back.

When Patrick Prunty of County Down, Ireland, shook off the shackles of environment, and the mud of the peat-bog, and went across to England, presenting himself at the gates of Saint John’s College, Cambridge, asking for admittance, I am glad he handed in his name as Mr. P. Bronte, accent on the last syllable.

There is a gentle myth abroad that preachers are “called,” while other men adopt a profession or get a job, but no Protestant Episcopal clergyman I have ever known, and I have known many, ever made any such claim. They take up the profession because it supplies honors and a “living.” Then they can do good, too, and all men want to do good. So they hie them to a divinity school and are taught the mysteries of theological tierce and thrust; and interviewing a clerical tailor they are ready to accept the honors and partake of the living. After a careful study of the life of Patrick Bronte I can not find that his ambition extended beyond the desirable things I have named–that is to say, inclusively, honors and a living.

He was tall, athletic, dark, and surely a fellow of force and ambition to set his back on the old and boldly rap for admittance at the gates of Cambridge. He was a pretty good student, too, although a bit quarrelsome and sometimes mischievous–throwing his force into quite unnecessary ways, as Irishmen are apt to do. He fell in love, of course, and has not an Irishman in love been likened to Vesuvius in state of eruption? We know of at least one charming girl who refused to marry him, because he declined, unlike Othello, to tell the story of his life. And it was assumed that any man who would not tell who “his folks” were, was a rogue and a varlet and a vagrom at heart. And all the while Monsieur Bronte had nothing worse to conceal than that he was from County Down and his name Prunty. He wouldn’t give in and tell the story of his life to slow music, and so the girl wept and then stormed, and finally Bronte stormed and went away, and the girl and her parents were sure that the Frenchman was a murderer escaping justice. Fortunate, aye, thrice fortunate is it for the world that neither Bronte nor the girl wavered even in the estimation of a hair.