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Charlotte Bronte (1816 – 1855)


English novelist and the eldest of the three Brontë sisters whose novels have become enduring classics of English literature.
Charlotte Bronte
Yesterday I saw Mr. Thackeray. He dined here with some other gentlemen. He is a very tall man — above six feet high, with a peculiar face — not handsome, very ugly indeed, generally somewhat stern and satirical in expression, but capable also of a kind look. He was not told who I was, he was not introduced to me, but I soon saw him looking at me through his spectacles; and when we all rose to go down to dinner he just stepped quietly up and said “Shake hands”; so I shook hands. He spoke very few words to me, but when he went away he shook hands again in a very kind way. It is better, I should think, to have him for a friend than an enemy, for he is a most formidable-looking personage. I listened to him as he conversed with the other gentlemen. All he says is most simple, but often cynical, harsh, and contradictory.
Bronte quotes
Reader, I married him.
Bronte
Have you yet read Miss Martineau’s and Mr. Atkinson’s new work, Letters on the Nature and Development of Man? If you have not, it would be worth your while to do so. Of the impression this book has made on me, I will not now say much. It is the first exposition of avowed atheism and materialism I have ever read; the first unequivocal declaration of disbelief in the existence of a God or a future life I have ever seen. In judging of such exposition and declaration, one would wish entirely to put aside the sort of instinctive horror they awaken, and to consider them in an impartial spirit and collected mood. This I find difficult to do. The strangest thing is, that we are called on to rejoice over this hopeless blank — to receive this bitter bereavement as great gain — to welcome this unutterable desolation as a state of pleasant freedom. Who could do this if he would? Who would do this if he could? Sincerely, for my own part, do I wish to know and find the Truth; but if this be Truth, well may she guard herself with mysteries, and cover herself with a veil. If this be Truth, man or woman who beholds her can but curse the day he or she was born. I said however, I would not dwell on what I thought; rather, I wish to hear what some other person thinks,--someone whose feelings are unapt to bias his judgment. Read the book, then, in an unprejudiced spirit, and candidly say what you think of it. I mean, of course, if you have time — not otherwise.




Bronte Charlotte quotes
Yesterday I went for the second time to the Crystal Palace. We remained in it about three hours, and I must say I was more struck with it on this occasion than at my first visit. It is a wonderful place – vast, strange, new and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not consist in one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things. Whatever human industry has created you find there, from the great compartments filled with railway engines and boilers, with mill machinery in full work, with splendid carriages of all kinds, with harness of every description, to the glass-covered and velvet-spread stands loaded with the most gorgeous work of the goldsmith and silversmith, and the carefully guarded caskets full of real diamonds and pearls worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It may be called a bazaar or a fair, but it is such a bazaar or fair as Eastern genii might have created. It seems as if only magic could have gathered this mass of wealth from all the ends of the earth – as if none but supernatural hands could have arranged it this, with such a blaze and contrast of colours and marvellous power of effect. The multitude filling the great aisles seems ruled and subdued by some invisible influence. Amongst the thirty thousand souls that peopled it the day I was there not one loud noise was to be heard, not one irregular movement seen; the living tide rolls on quietly, with a deep hum like the sea heard from the distance.
Bronte Charlotte
All these relics gave... Thornfield Hall the aspect of a home of the past: a shrine to memory. I liked the hush, the gloom, the quaintness of these retreats in the day; but I by no means coveted a night's repose on one of those wide and heavy beds: shut in, some of them, with doors of oak; shaded, others, with wrought old-English hangings crusted with thick work, portraying effigies of strange flowers, and stranger birds, and strangest human beings, — all which would have looked strange, indeed, by the pallid gleam of moonlight.
Charlotte Bronte quotes
What have I to do with millions [of people]? The eighty I know despise me.
Charlotte Bronte
I recalled the voice I had heard; again I questioned whence it came, as vainly as before: it seemed in me — not in the external world. I asked, was it a mere nervous impression — a delusion? I could not conceive or believe: it was more like an inspiration.
Bronte Charlotte quotes
No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.
Bronte
This is a terrible hour, but it is often that darkest point which precedes the rise of day; that turn of the year when the icy January wind carries over the waste at once the dirge of departing winter, and the prophecy of coming spring.
Bronte Charlotte
Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns. These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is — I repeat it — a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.
Charlotte Bronte
Most true is it that "beauty is in the eye of the gazer." My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth, — all energy, decision, will, — were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me; they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me, — that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.




Charlotte Bronte quotes
"Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?"
I could risk no sort of answer by this time; my heart was full.
"Because," he said, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you — especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly."
Charlotte Bronte
Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal — as we are!
Bronte quotes
You ask about Queen Victoria's visit to Brussels. I saw her for an instant flashing through the Rue Royale in a carriage and six, surrounded by soldiers. She was laughing and talking very gaily. She looked a little stout, vivacious lady, very plainly dressed, not much dignity or pretension about her. The Belgians liked her very well on the whole. They said she enlivened the sombre court of King Leopold, which is usually as gloomy as a conventicle.
Bronte Charlotte
I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last.
Bronte Charlotte quotes
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.
Charlotte Bronte
The theatre was full — crammed to its roof: royal and noble were there; palace and hotel had emptied their inmates into those tiers so thronged and so hushed. Deeply did I feel myself privileged in having a place before that stage; I longed to see a being of whose powers I had heard reports which made me conceive peculiar anticipations. I wondered if she would justify her renown: with strange curiosity, with feelings severe and austere, yet of riveted interest, I waited. She was a study of such nature as had not encountered my eyes yet: a great and new planet she was: but in what shape? I waited her rising.
Charlotte Bronte quotes
“Better to be without logic than without feeling.”
Charlotte Bronte
I told him how we kept fewer forms between us and God; retaining, indeed, no more than, perhaps, the nature of mankind in the mass rendered necessary for due observance. I told him I could not look on flowers and tinsel, on wax- lights and embroidery, at such times and under such circumstances as should be devoted to lifting the secret vision to Him whose home is Infinity, and His being — Eternity. That when I thought of sin and sorrow, of earthly corruption, mortal depravity, weighty temporal woe — I could not care for chanting priests or mumming officials; that when the pains of existence and the terrors of dissolution pressed before me — when the mighty hope and measureless doubt of the future arose in view — _then_, even the scientific strain, or the prayer in a language learned and dead, harassed: with hindrance a heart which only longed to cry — "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"
Bronte Charlotte
If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.


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