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Charlotte Bronte
by [?]

Bronte got through school and came out with tuppence worth of honors. When thirty, we find him established as curate at the shabby little town of Hartshead, in Yorkshire. Little Miss Branwell, from Penzance, came up there on a visit to her uncle, and the Reverend Mr. Bronte at once fell violently in love with her dainty form and gentle ways. I say “violently,” for that’s the kind of man Bronte was. Darwin says, “The faculty of amativeness is not aroused except by the unfamiliar.” Girls who go away visiting, wearing their best bib and tucker, find lovers without fail. One-third of all marriages in the United States occur in just this way: the bib and tucker being sprung on the young man as a surprise, dazzles and hypnotizes him into an avowal and an engagement.

And so they were married–were the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Miss Maria Branwell. He was big, bold and dictatorial; she was little, shy and sensitive. The babies came–one in less than a year, then a year apart. The dainty little woman had her troubles, we are sure of that. Her voice comes to us only as a plaintive echo. When she asked to have the bread passed, she always apologized. Once her aunt sent her a present of a pretty silk dress, for country clergymen’s wives do not have many luxuries–don’t you know that?–and Patrick Bronte cut the dress into strips before her eyes and then threw the pieces, and the little slippers to match, into the fireplace, to teach his wife humility. He used to practise with a pistol and shoot in the house to steady the lady’s nerves, and occasionally he got plain drunk. A man like Bronte in a little town with a tired little wife, and with inferior people, is a despot. He busies himself with trifles, looks after foolish details, and the neighbors let him have his own way and his wife has to, and the result is that he becomes convinced in his own mind that he is the people and that wisdom will die with him.

And yet Bronte wrote some pretty good poetry, and had faculties that rightly developed might have made him an excellent man. He should have gone down to London (or up, because it is south) and there come into competition with men as strong as himself. Fate should have seized him by the hair and bumped his head against stone walls and cuffed him thoroughly, and kicked him into line, teaching him humility, then out of the scrimmage we might have gotten a really superior product.

Mrs. Bronte became a confirmed invalid. A man can not always badger a woman; God is good–she dies. Little Maria Branwell had been married eight years; when she passed out she left six children, “all of a size,” a neighbor woman has written. Over her grave is a tablet erected by her husband informing the wayfarer that “she has gone to meet her Savior.” At the bottom is this warning to all women: “Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.”

Five of these motherless children were girls and one a boy.

As you stand there in that stone church at Haworth reading the inscription above Maria Branwell’s grave, you can also read the death record of the babes she left. The mother died on September Fifteenth, Eighteen Hundred Twenty-one; her oldest daughter, Maria, on May Sixth, Eighteen Hundred Twenty-five; Elizabeth, June Fifteenth, Eighteen Hundred Twenty-five; Patrick Branwell, on September Twenty-fourth, Eighteen Hundred Forty-eight; Emily, December Nineteenth, Eighteen Hundred Forty-eight; Anne, May Twenty-eighth, Eighteen Hundred Forty-nine; and Charlotte, on March Thirty-first, Eighteen Hundred Fifty-five. Those whom the gods love die young: the Reverend Patrick Bronte lived to be eighty-five years old.

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