Saturday, January 5, 2008

On Dewsbury Moor

Charlotte Bronte to Miss Ellen Nussey

Dewsbury Moor, January 4th, 1838.

Your letter, Ellen, was a welcome surprise, though it contained something like a reprimand. I had not, however, forgotten our agreement. You were right in your conjectures respecting the cause of my sudden departure. Anne continued wretchedly ill, neither the pain nor the difficulty of breathing left her, and how could I feel otherwise than very miserable. I looked on her case in a different light to what I could wish or expect any uninterested person to view it in. Miss Wooler thought me a fool, and by way of proving her opinion treated me with marked coldness. We came to a little ├ęclaircissement one evening. I told her one or two rather plain truths, which set her a-crying; and the next day, unknown to me, she wrote papa, telling him that I had reproached her bitterly, taken her severely to task, etc. Papa sent for us the day after he had received her letter. Meantime I had formed a firm resolution to quit Miss Wooler and her concerns for ever; but just before I went away, she took me to her room, and giving way to her feelings, which in general she restrains far too rigidly, gave me to understand that in spite of her cold, repulsive manners, she had a considerable regard for me, and would be very sorry to part with me. If any body likes me, I cannot help liking them; and remembering that she had in general been very kind to me, I gave in and said I would come back if she wished me. So we are settled again for the present, but I am not satisfied. I should have respected her far more if she had turned me out of doors, instead of crying for two days and two nights together. I was in a regular passion; my “warm temper” quite got the better of me, of which I don’t boast, for it was a weakness; nor am I ashamed of it, for I had reason to be angry.

Anne is now much better, though she still requires a great deal of care. However, I am relieved from my worst fears respecting her. I approve highly of the plan you mention, except as it regards committing a verse of the Psalms to memory. I do not see the direct advantage to be derived from that. We have entered on a new year. Will it be stained as darkly as the last with all our sins, follies, secret vanities, and uncontrolled passions and propensities? I trust not; but I feel in nothing better, neither humbler nor purer. It will want three weeks next Monday to the termination of the holidays. Come to see me, my dear Ellen, as soon as you can; however bitterly I sometimes feel towards other people, the recollection of your mild, steady friendship consoles and softens me. I am glad you are not such a passionate fool as myself. Give my best love to your mother and sisters. Excuse the most hideous scrawl that ever was penned, and—Believe me always tenderly yours,
C. Bront├ź.

-from Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle by Clement Shorter (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1896) p. 78-79.

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