This is the text of my commemoration of Branwell Bronte’s 200th birthday. I will post it on a Bronte site on 26th June!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRANWELL
The 26th of June 2017 marks Branwell Bronte’s 200th birthday and, coincidentally, my 63rd.
My original intention to commemorate this event was to write a, hopefully humorous, story about the much vilified ‘Bad Boy’ of the Bronte family, vindicating his behaviour and character and ‘proving’ that it was actually he that wrote ‘Wuthering Heights’ and much else besides that history and Charlotte has attributed to his sisters
But as I researched the topic of their lives I found an area that I feel if analysed further than it has been so far, could supply an explanation for the personalities of the whole family.
So, I here present, not, as I intended, a work of ‘faction’ about Branwell Bronte, but, instead, a ‘discussion document’ concerning the early lives of the Brontes with a hope of shedding some light onto their motivations and later behaviours.
I have not fully referenced my sources because most of the information that I present is widely available in Bronte literature, it is a matter of how one interprets that information that matters and I would encourage you to compare all source material and come to your own decisions about the Brontes (and me!).
I do pose some questions and put forward some ideas for you to ponder and reflect on.
Hopefully, if I am right (which you all know I am, even if you won’t admit it!) it will advance our understanding of the members of this troubled family and maybe view Branwell in a more compassionate light.
James Senior, in his biography of Patrick Bronte states that “to understand an author it is necessary to study the associations of his birth and youth; study his parentage and home, his education, the times he lived in, and the various influences unto which he was subjected…”
I shall follow Mr Senior’s advice by looking at the Brontes from 1820 onwards.
In 1820 the Bronte family moved from Thornton to nearby Haworth.
The reason for their move was that Patrick had been appointed to the church of ‘St Michael`s and All Angels’ in Haworth.
Within weeks of their arrival in that town the children contracted Scarlet Fever.
It is not known what impact this ‘Scarlatina’ had, medically or emotionally, on the Bronte children but what we do know is that Scarlet Fever was, in that era, an illness that could cause death in severe cases and could adversely affect the ongoing health of any child that recovered from it’ (The Bronte children endured chronic health problems throughout their short lives).
In September of 1821 their mother, Maria Bronte, succumbed to what is believed to have been a cancer of an Abdominal, Uterine or Ovarian tumour depending on which biographer you read; she died after months of a painful decline.
It would be disingenuous to ignore the effect on the children that losing a loving mother could have had and how the quality and nature of their upbringing could have shaped their developing personalities and identities.
Although I have been told by some ‘Bronte ‘fans’ with whom I was discussing my ideas about the family, to be aware that things were ‘much different then than compared to today’ and that in the in the early 19th century people dealt with death, adversity and trauma with greater equanimity that people do nowadays; that they viewed events as part of ‘God’s Plan’ and so weren’t as deeply affected as we would feel today, but, in the absence of any historical data to validate this point of view I maintain that, in the light of some 20th Century psychological research (cf Appendix A and B) it can be seen that the Bronte children in the egocentric psychological processes of childhood would have been traumatised by the death of their mother which they may have seen as an ‘abandonment’ of them by her and that, as her death came so soon after they had all been ill, that in some way they may have precipitated her demise.
From the trauma of these events I suggest, Patrick and his family did not have the opportunity to recover before the further calamities that followed within the next ten years, including the death of the two eldest children and Patrick’s health scare in 1830, caused debilitating levels of distress and uncertainty to them all that affected their psychological wellbeing negatively and chronically.
I should like to ‘set the scene’ by considering the question: “What was Haworth and the church of St Michael’s and All Angels like when the Brontes arrived in 11820?
Haworth was a semi-Industrialised town situated near the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Even when we consider the deprivations of the West Riding of Yorkshire at that time, Haworth was considered an unpleasant place.
Although the Worth valley below it provided good quality farmland on either side the town was flanked by mills, quarries and a nearby open cast coal-mine.
The streets of Haworth were, at best, cobbled or else made of dirt and loose stone. The main street being one of the steepest in Britain.
The nearest paved road was a Turnpike some 4 miles distant.
Above and behind the town the moors stretched for miles, windswept, barren and featureless.
Haworth suffered from frequent droughts in the summer months (during which typhus was endemic) and in wintertime was often cut off from the outside world by snow and bouts of severe weather.
From the parsonage that the Brontes moved into could be seen and smelt not only the mills and open sewers of the town below but also the people as they were sitting on the communal toilets which did not have walls or roof.
One of the latrines, sited on a mound at the top of the town, discharged its effluent and ‘night soil’ down the main street. Next to the outflow of this cess pit was one of the taps or faucets that served the townsfolk with drinking water. A water supply that flowed into the town through the churchyard. The churchyard in which the parsonage was built; some say, on the site of old graves.
A parsonage that it is also suggested by one biographer, had cellars.
The water for the parsonage was drawn from a well that was in the cemetery and it’s cesspit emptied into the graveyard too.
Many years later Patrick campaigned to have the tombstones turned vertically from their horizontal positions because they were impeding rain soakage into the soil thus preventing effective decomposition of the corpses beneath.
The church there, St Michael`s and All Angels, was not a parish in its own right; it was a part the larger Bradford Parish and was what was termed a `Chapel of Ease`; a semi-autonomous, subsidiary church, looked after by a curate, for use of those who would find the journey to the main Parish Church for worship too arduous or too far.
Perpetual Curacies were poorly paid posts with a rent free house supplied for the length of the incumbency.
Such posts offered no opportunity for further advancement within the church hierarchy and were allocated to clerics of dubious social standing or of low family background.
Patrick would have known, as he moved to Howarth, that he had no prospects of promotion or progress within the Church and that the perpetual curacy was the best that the class conscious hierarchy of the 19th century Church of England were prepared to offer him.
So why did Patrick request or accept the incumbency of Haworth?
Patrick, living and working in the West Riding, could not have been unaware of the reputation of a previous curate of St Michael’s: The Reverend William Grimshaw who had served at St Michael’s some 80 years before Patrick and had become famous in the North of England for his religious zeal.
I should like to discuss Grimshaw as he is an important
Influence in Patrick’s life.
Grimshaw’s humble origins and the manner of his academic career were similar to Patrick’s and the tales of his fervent doings in the service of God were reflected in the energy and forthrightness of Patrick’s own activities.
Grimshaw had, like Patrick, studied for his ordination at Cambridge University.
Like Patrick, he had attended there as a Sizar; a ‘sizar’ being the term used in Cambridge to denote a student, usually from an impoverished background, who was allowed to pay reduced fees in return for acting as a servant to the other, more wealthy, students.
After his ordination, William Grimshaw become a cleric in Yorkshire. He was somewhat lacklustre at first until whilst serving at Todmorden near to Haworth he ‘Saw the Light’ and became ardently evangelical.
He moved to Haworth as Perpetual Curate and became involved in the Methodist movement (although not actually joining it.)
Both John and Charles Wesley both preached from the Pulpit at St Michael’s as did other prominent Methodists.
In Haworth Grimshaw’s brand of strident Christianity flourished. When he arrived at Haworth to take up his incumbency, according to J C Ryle’s biography of him the regular Sunday attendance at St Michael’s was about ten persons but within a few years it was so large that at one Communion Service when one of the Wesley brothers presided, the congregation was such that he had to use 35 bottles of wine for the Eucharist!
He was known as a deeply religious and charitable man; always willing to help those in need but a formidable opponent if crossed.
It is also said of Grimshaw that whilst the congregation were singing the first psalm or hymn of the Sunday service he would tour the church environs rounding up stragglers.
There is a tale of a visitor to the town, arriving on a Sunday morning seeing men diving out of the windows of the Black Bull Inn near the church and running away. Asking a passerby if the Inn was on fire and being told ‘No, the vicar’s just gone in the front door!’
If this story is true, one wonders how Grimshaw had failed to round up that ‘passerby’ on his way to the Inn to rout the boozers!)
Grimshaw’s sermons could last for up to 2 hours, he claimed: ‘for the benefit of the slow thinkers in the congregation.’
His sermons could also be fiery and tempestuous; Patrick likewise was prone to preaching such homilies, his sermon on the Divine causes and consequences to sinners of an earthquake that recently occurred in Yorkshire at that time provides one example.
Grimshaw was known to fall to his knees and pray for divine intercession and forgiveness if he encountered people arguing in the street and he was also known to wander the town dressed like a pauper and then berate anyone he met who did not offer him alms.
Grimshaw not only served Haworth but he informally toured the nearby areas of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire, preaching up to 30 times a week from pulpits hedgerows and fields.
Wherever he preached his words instilled great enthusiasm amongst his listenerss but much antipathy amongst his fellow clergymen who resented his encroachment upon their parishes and territories.
One particular cleric was so incensed that he not only complained to the local Bishop about Grimshaw’s behaviour but he published leaflets condemning the man and even organised gangs of vigilantes in his parish to assail him should he appear there again. (Which, according to Ryle, Grimshaw did regularly!)
William Grimshaw had been married twice and he eventually died of Typhus that he contracted whilst helping people in the town.
Patrick’s evangelical fervour and his history of using‘physical means ’ to deal with sinners were very like Grimshaw’s own methods.
Consider Patrick’s tussle with the drunkard who was trying to obstruct a church procession which Patrick was leading and the way he forcefully ejected from his church the bellringers who were practicing on a Sunday.
Also remember that it is claimed that he always carried a shillelagh or cudgel (one biography says ‘a swordstick!) and was nicknamed ‘Old Staff’ because of this habit.
Patrick’s relationships with other clergymen was not always of the most amicable, he had had arguments on various topics with vicars he had served under.
Patrick would have relished the chance of being his ‘own man’ in his own church; and to be able to do so in the church of the great William Grimshaw would have drawn him there like a moth to a flame.
.Although Patrick would have admired and identified with Grimshaw as a fellow Evangelical of stout character there was one significant difference between the two; Grimshaw was renowned for his charitable deeds but there are no accounts of Patrick behaving likewise.
Patrick has been described by some as being only interested in one person, that person being himself. He was, it is claimed, a selfish, boorish man who was frustrated with his lot in life and the choices that he had made or that he felt he had had thrust upon him.
Patrick would have had dreams of emulating Grimshaw but any such hopes would have been cruelly dashed within a short time of arriving at Haworth, never to rise again.
Was Patrick the ‘monster’ that some say he was, or was he the example of virtue that James Senior and Rev William Wright claim in their biographies of his youth?
There are many reports of his self centred behaviour that pre-exist his Curacy at Haworth but even if these tales were false the illness of his children and the death of his wife so soon after arriving at Haworth could have caused him such turmoil and distress that his dreams and ambitions as a pastor and father were shattered beyond repair.
Maria Bronte nee Branwell
Patrick’s wife, Maria, came from a family of merchants in Penzance in which she played a central and well respected role.
She was often called upon to make or ratify family decisions, she taught at a local Sunday School and had written, although not published, a paper on Christian Living
Maria met Patrick whilst she was on a visit to her uncle in Yorkshire. After a brief courtship and engagement she married Patrick and stayed with him in the West Riding.
There is little evidence of any communication between the Branwells in Cornwall and Patrick in Yorkshire either before or after Maria’s death.
It may be somewhat symbolic of Maria’s sunderment from her Cornish family that when she moved from Penzance to Yorkshire to be with Patrick all her worldly effects were lost when the ship carrying them there was wrecked on the coast of Devon.
Now she was married to a man whom she loved but who cared little for her intellectual abilities.
(One can imagine him saying on their wedding day: ‘Well my dear, now that we are married one of us is going to have giving up writing, and it isn’t going to be me!’)
After producing offspring with this man who may not have actually liked children and parenthood (he had previously given a stern lecture about avoiding such ‘evils’ to a friend who was contemplating marriage)
and after living in a number of dowdy Yorkshire mill towns she now lived in a cold, draughty and uncurtained Parsonage that to the rear was open to the bleak moors and, to the front, to the unhealthy town.
During her declining weeks Maria was confined to her bed and the children could only visit her singly and infrequently, at all other times they were instructed to be quiet and unobtrusive around the house.
Anne, the youngest of the children , was only some 8 months old when Maria died.
What was her infancy like?
Was Maria able adequately and comfortably to breast feed Anne during her final weeks or was the babe put to a Wet Nurse?
Did Anne sense being cared for and protected by her mother in these crucial early months of her life?
Did Maria die of a cancer, or did she die of complications following numerous, rapid childbirths, or of Consumption, or did she perhaps die of a broken heart?
During her last weeks Maria Bronte was nursed by her sister Elizabeth Branwell, who had travelled up from her home in Penzance in Cornwall to look after Maria and who intended eventually to return there when circumstances permitted. (Presumably after her sister’s demise).
After Maria’s death Elizabeth stayed in Yorkshire and she and, Patrick were the main ‘caregivers’ for the children; but both of them were somewhat aloof and detached from the children, showing only infrequent displays of affection or love towards them on an emotional or physical level (although one eminent biographer does suggest that there may have been instances of incest and abuse within the parsonage. Whether this abuse was parental or between siblings is not specified).
It could be argued that in response to the deprivation’ they suffered due to the illness and death of their mother (cf Appendix B) and because of the ‘inconsistent caregiving’ that they received from their father and aunt, the children, as a group, began to ‘split off’ from the real world, and live in imaginary lands. Whence came their artistic Inspiration.
In some of the hagiographic dramas based on the Brontes they are portrayed as somewhat socially withdrawn, needing little contact with the world outside of the family unit. However it could be construed, reading ‘between the lines’ of biographies that they were possibly a disliked, ‘odd bunch of reclusives’. The children reportedly were known to huddle together in a corner when there were visitors to the parsonage and that Emily would flee upstairs in ‘panic’ and it has been said that, later in life, Charlotte had stones thrown at her by children and that Emily wandered for hours alone on the moors. Or was Emily seeking , as one biographer suggests, love and acceptance by liaising with a beau whilst out walking; a relationship that ultimately failed.
Was Patrick a doting father, willingly supported, after his wife’s death by his sister in law, Elizabeth Branwell, as he encouraged his children in their literary pursuits, or was he an irascible drunken man struggling to maintain his sanity in the light of terrible tragedies?
Was Elizabeth a willing and contented member of the household or was she there under ‘protest’?
Was Emily a reclusive domestic angel or was she a deeply troubled sufferer of extreme social anxiety?
Was Charlotte a leading light and Anne a virtual non-entity?
Was Branwell a wastrel who drank away what little talent he had?
what drove them to live lives of seclusion and mutual self reliance?
Elizabeth was of the family in Penzance from whom Maria had been alienated by her marriage to Patrick.
Mayhap Elizabeth could have seen it as her sisterly and Christian duty to attend Maria in her dying days but was her continued sojourn in Yorkshire after her death a willing act?
We can imagine the distress this Cornish lass felt, far removed from her family and hometown of Penzance where she had been able to look out over the harbour to the sea, now her view was not of St Michael’s Mount and beyond that the sea but St Michael’s graveyard and beyond that the squalid town of Haworth.
Did she like Haworth, Patrick and the children?
It has been said that Elizabeth viewed her life in Yorkshire as a penance for previous sins; what sin so heinous could she have committed that required such a harsh retribution!
According to her entry in Wikipedia, unlike her sister Maria, she was a Calvinist in religious outlook, more akin to Patrick’s fundamentalism. She looked after the children from a sense of duty and was a stern woman who expected respect, rather than love.
There was little affection shown between her and the older children, it is reported that once, as a punishment, she locked Emily in a bedroom: coincidentally the room in which Maria had died. ( Could something have happened to Emily whilst locked in that room that gave rise to her later portrayal of Cathy’s ghost tapping at the window in Wuthering Heights, pleading to be let in?
It is reported elsewhere that Elizabeth spent a lot of her time in her own ‘bedsitting room’ in the parsonage and apart from reading the newspaper to Patrick when his eyesight began to deteriorate she had little contact with him.
She was also in the habit of wearing indoors her ‘pattens’ (wooden blocks worn over the shoes to protect them from mud and such when outdoors.
The sound of this woman clattering over the slate floors of the building in her wooden overshoes was surely extremely irritating not just to other people but to herself. Consider when the Congregation of St Michael’s protested at one disliked cleric by clattering around the church in their pattens or clogs during a service he was conducting.
Would she wear such footwear and make such a noise if she were happy?
Some biographers maintain that the heroines in Charlotte’s books were motherless and that this may reflect the absence of a mother figure in her own life.
Branwell could have been made susceptible to his seduction by Lydia Robinson at Thorp Green, a lady much older than he was, by a similar process in his young life. He believed that this woman truly loved him and he was devastated by her rejection of him after her husband’s death, leading to his descent into a drug fuelled hell!
His poetry of that era indicates his fragility of personality and heart. (cf Appendix C and Appendix D
Patrick elected to ‘home tutor’ Branwell, but as Patrick himself had been a scholar of Divinity and Classics at Cambridge, Branwell’s education would have lacked a sufficient grounding in the sciences or in mathematics to enable him to be a success as a general tutor.
Was there no suitable school in Haworth for Branwell or was Patrick’s dread of the unhealthiness of Haworth why he kept Branwell away from the town, or did he feel that he was qualified enough and able to tutor the boy himself?
Patrick also tried to shield his daughters from the unhealthy atmosphere of Haworth by sending them to a boarding school.
Unfortunately his choice of school, Cowan Bridge, was owned and operated by a Christian martinet who believed in the inherent sinfulness and wickedness of children and treated them accordingly.
At this school, because of the harsh regime and poor care they received the two eldest children, Maria and Elizabeth, contracted and died of TB. Charlotte and Emily both suffered but survived.
How did the 2 girls psychological development respond to their being sent to this place and suffering the Same illness that killed their 2 elder siblings?
Certainly Charlotte expressed a great hatred for educational institutions in her later writings.
When in 1830/31 Patrick was found to be suffering from a respiratory complaint that was deemed potentially life threatening his future and that of his children would have given him grave ongoing cause for concern. Should he be unable to continue his ministry through ill health or were he to die, then his family would be penniless and homeless.
They needed to learn a trade or profession with which to support themselves in such an event.
Poor school reports from establishments that the girls subsequently attended and Branwell’s lack of success as a railway official and later as a tutor evidence the educational obstacles that the siblings had to deal with and try to overcome.
If it is so that the girls wanted to start a school in the Parsonage, despite their own lack of education , qualification and their negative attitudes to schools and students could they have contrived this scheme with the egging on of their father who it is claimed founded a school in his home village when only 16 years old and was barely literate himself.
When we consider these traumatic events of their early childhood and the atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety that they lived in we can see the root of their subsequent disillusionments and troubles.
For Patrick, was Maria’s death part of God’s Great Plan? Was it a punishment on her or on him? If it were a punishment on her could he, as a staunch Evangelical, mourn her, and if it were on him was it possibly for him being so presumptuous as to try to be like Grimshaw?
I that the children, in response to the ‘inconsistent caregiving’ that they received from their father and aunt, withdrew into themselves (cf Appendix A). In effect, as a group they split off from the real world, and lived in an imaginary land, one that Charlotte and Branwell invented, a land in which they assumed important personae.
It is also worthy of note that the invented lands of ‘Glassland’ and later ‘Angria’ were militaristic , colonial worlds. Was this their way of seeking order in their young lives or of seeking paternal ‘approval’ and validation by addressing their father’s thwarted desires to be a soldier?).
Emily later invented a land of magic and mystery that she named Gondal. Such was in keeping with her ‘fey’ nature or her schizoid personality style.
Their isolation and introversion was compounded by the inhospitability of the local villagers in this desolate place and by the refusal of their father to allow them to associate with any of the children in the unhealthy climes of Howarth (if there were any suitable playmates for a parson’s children among the assorted ragamuffins there.) or to play at such games as cards, or to indulge in dance, at home.
Reverend Bronte led a life separate from his children for most of the time, never dining with them but occasionally inviting them to take tea with him, likewise he led a life apart from the aunt, Elizabeth and he would remain in his Parlour during most of the day.
The girl children would be given, in the mornings, learning objectives for the day and checks would be kept on their progress. They did receive some education from Aunt Elizabeth or from a servant but this was of a domestic nature.
After Maria’s death Patrick sought to remarry, ostensibly to provide a new ‘mother’ for the children but his motives may be construed to be otherwise considering his first choice for a new wife was a woman he had tried to woo when he was a young curate in Essex.
When this women, whom he had jilted in days of yore, ignored his attempts to plight his troth he persuaded Elizabeth to remain in Haworth.
One biographer states that he declared his love for her but because of the church’s laws on incest he was not able to form an intimate relationship with her.
If he did have feelings for Elizabeth then despite the Reverend’s hellfire sermons that the children had to witness each Sunday they would sense the unrequited love (sic) that their father had for their dead mother’s sister.
Branwell, who was sharing a bedroom, possibly a bed, with his father would have experienced the man’s nocturnal tossings and turnings as he sought to quench or overcome his feelings.
Patrick’s interactions with his children were predominately intellectual and focussed on Branwell to the point that the girls received no education from him and he expressed little interest in them.
When, as an adult, Charlotte summoned up the courage to tell her father, 3 months after its publication, that she had written a book (Jane Eyre), he was at first dismissive then cursory in his response, telling the family ‘Charlotte has written a book and it’s better than I expected’.
Indeed the literary output of the entire family was achieved with little interest, encouragement or support from him.
I believe that Branwell’s poem ‘The End of All’ can provide an illustration of how he, and his family , were affected by Maria’s death.
In the poem Branwell has named the main character’s dead wife ‘Mary.’
In the poem Mary’s widower is struck with overwhelming grief at her loss and can find no purpose or meaning in his life without his wife beside him and although he tries to make plans for ventures, all crumble to dust and ashes without her.
I also ask you to compare that with Patrick’s naming, in his poem ‘Winter-Night Meditations’, a prostitute; ‘Maria’.
Patrick wrote this poem before he met Maria but he did not try to amend the naming of the prostitute and even named his first born daughter Maria.
I have copied out from a Public Domain website the whole poem but have highlighted the relevant section. (cf Appendix E)
Does Patrick’s poem ‘Cottager Maid’ (Cf Appendix F) provide an insight into his beliefs about the role of women in the family and so explain his dismissive attitudes towards his daughters’ literary efforts?
To understand this dysfunctional family it is necessary to look at the tragedies that struck them when they first moved to Haworth and how they were affected ed by them.
Think about it!
Personality develops in response to the social and family environment of a child and the standard and level of care it receives from the primary caregiver/s.
The child responds, not to the motives of the care giver, but to their behaviours and the child’s interpretation of them.
The child flourishes when there is consistency in its needs being met and fails to flourish when they are, for whatever reason, malevolent or accidental, not adequately met.
This process starts from birth (some believe that it starts even earlier than that) and affects all human beings.
The child cannot ask overtly for its needs to be ‘recognised’ and met by the caregiver, and an infant cannot even voice its needs but will ‘expect’ this recognition as a matter of course and will respond to it accordingly, be the care positive, negative or absent.
If the caregiving is not meeting the needs of the child for feeling loved, for having a sense of safety, belonging and a positive regard afforded to it as being an individual then the environment is termed ‘invalidating’.
Development of the Personality is adversely affected by an ‘invalidating environment’, one in which there is a failure by the caregiver to meet the needs of the child and what greater failure of caregiving can there be than parental death!
Invalidation in an environment is not just the product of abuse or violence in the home but by ongoing trauma or inattentive treatment.
One of the means a child uses to cope with invalidation, or to compensate for erratic or absent caregiving is by withdrawing from the world around it and seeking validation and recognition in an interior, self -made world where it’s needs can be, more or less, met ( albeit by dysfunctional or ultimately unsatisfactory methods). |This is termed the Schizoid Process.
A person with a schizoid personality trait will be ‘withdrawing’ in their relationship with others, they will be happy being on their own and will take a passive stance on issues, preferring the other person involved in any venture to make the first move or take responsibility and control of decision making. The person with a schizoid personality can be creative and artistic and aware of the needs of others but they can also become lost in their own imagined world view or interior world.
Based on the book ‘Personality Adaptations’ by Van Joines and Ian Stewart
For infants and toddlers, the “set-goal” of the attachment behavioral system is to maintain or achieve proximity to attachment figures, usually the parents.
Attachment theory is a psychological model that attempts to describe the dynamics of long-term and short-term interpersonal relationships between humans. However, “attachment theory is not formulated as a general theory of relationships. It addresses only a specific facet”: how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat. Essentially all infants become attached if provided any caregiver, but there are individual differences in the quality of the relationships. In infants, attachment as a motivational and behavioral system directs the child to seek proximity with a familiar caregiver when they are alarmed, with the expectation that they will receive protection and emotional support.
The most important tenet of attachment theory is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for the child’s successful social and emotional development, and in particular for learning how to effectively regulate their feelings. Fathers or any other individuals, are equally likely to become principal attachment figures if they provide most of the child care and related social interaction. In the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver, the infant will use the caregiver as a “safe base” from which to explore. It should be recognized that “even sensitive caregivers get it right only about 50 percent of the time. Their communications are either out of synch, or mismatched. There are times when parents feel tired or distracted. The telephone rings or there is breakfast to prepare. In other words, attuned interactions rupture quite frequently. But the hallmark of a sensitive caregiver is that the ruptures are managed and repaired.”
Attachments between infants and caregivers form even if this caregiver is not sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them. This has important implications. Infants cannot exit unpredictable or insensitive caregiving relationships. Instead they must manage themselves as best they can within such relationships. Based on her established Strange Situation Protocol, research by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1960s and 1970s found that children will have different patterns of attachment depending primarily on how they experienced their early caregiving environment. Early patterns of attachment, in turn, shape — but do not determine — the individual’s expectations in later relationships. Four different attachment classifications have been identified in children: secure attachment, anxious-ambivalent attachment, anxious-avoidant attachment, and disorganized attachment. Secure attachment is when children feel they can rely on their caregivers to attend to their needs of proximity, emotional support and protection. It is considered to be the best attachment style. Anxious-ambivalent attachment is when the infant feels separation anxiety when separated from the caregiver and does not feel reassured when the caregiver returns to the infant. Anxious-avoidant attachment is when the infant avoids their parents. Disorganized attachment is when there is a lack of attachment behavior.
In the 1980s, the theory was extended to attachment in adults. Attachment applies to adults when adults feel close attachment to their parents and their romantic partners.
Attachment theory has become the dominant theory used today in the study of infant and toddler behavior and in the fields of infant mental health, treatment of children, and related fields.
Extract from ‘Attachment Theory’ in Wikipedia
The End of All
By Branwell Bronte
In that unpitying Winter’s night,
When my own wife — my Mary — died,
I, by my fire’s declining light,
Sat comfortless, and silent sighed,
While burst unchecked grief’s bitter tide,
As I, methought, when she was gone,
Not hours, but years, like this must bide,
And wake, and weep, and watch alone.
All earthly hope had passed away,
And each clock-stroke brought Death more nigh
To the still chamber where she lay,
With soul and body calmed to die;
But mine was not her heavenward eye
When hot tears scorched me, as her doom
Made my sick heart throb heavily
To give impatient anguish room.
“Oh now,” methought, “a little while,
And this great house will hold no more
Her whose fond love the gloom could while
Of many a long night gone before!”
Oh ! all those happy hours were o’er
When, seated by our own fireside,
I’d smile to hear the wild winds roar,
And turn to clasp my beauteous bride.
I could not bear the thoughts which rose
Of what had been, and what must be,
And still the dark night would disclose
Its sorrow-pictured prophecy;
Still saw I — miserable me —
Long, long nights else, in lonely gloom,
With time-bleached locks and trembling knee
Walk aidless, hopeless, to my tomb.
Still, still that tomb’s eternal shade
Oppressed my heart with sickening fear,
When I could see its shadow spread
Over each dreary future year.
Whose vale of tears woke such despair
That, with the sweat-drops on my brow,
I wildly raised my hands in prayer
That Death would come and take me now;
Then stopped to hear an answer given —
So much had madness warped my mind —
When, sudden, through the midnight heaven,
With long howl woke the Winter’s wind ;
And roused in me, though undefined,
A rushing thought of tumbling seas,
Whose wild waves wandered unconfined,
And, far-off surging, whispered, ”Peace.”
I cannot speak the feeling strange,
Which showed that vast December sea,
Nor tell whence came that sudden char.
From aidless, hopeless misery;
But somehow it revealed to me
A life — when things I loved were gone —
Whose solitary liberty
it suit me wandering tombward on.
‘Twas not that I forgot my love,
That night departing evermore;
‘Twas hopeless grief for her that drove
My soul from all it prized before;
That misery called me to explore
A new-born life, whose stony joy
Might calm the pangs of sorrow o’er,
might shrine their memory, not destroy.
I rose, and drew the curtains back
To gaze upon the starless waste,
And image on that midnight wrack
The path on which I longed to haste,
From storm to storm continual cast,
And not one moment given to view;
O’er mind’s wild winds the memories passed
Of hearts I loved — of scenes I knew.
My mind anticipated all
The things my eyes have seen since then;
I heard the trumpet’s battle-call,
I rode o’er ranks of bleeding men,
I swept the waves of Norway’s main,
I tracked the sands of Syria’s shore,
I felt that such strange strife and pain
Might me from living death restore.
Ambition I would make my bride,
And joy to see her robed in red,
For none through blood so wildly ride
As those whose hearts before have bled;
Yes, even though thou should’st long have laid,
Pressed coldly down by churchyard clay,
And though I knew thee thus decayed,
I might smile grimly when away;
Might give an opiate to my breast,
Might dream: — but oh! that heart-wrung groan
Forced from me with the thought confessed
That all would go if she were gone ;
I turned, and wept, and wandered on All restlessly — from room to room —
To that still chamber, where alone
A sick-light glimmered through the gloom.
The all-unnoticed time flew o’er me,
While my breast bent above her bed,
And that drear life which loomed before me
Choked up my voice — bowed down my head.
Sweet holy words to me she said,
Of that bright heaven which shone so near,
And oft and fervently she prayed
That I might some time meet her there;
But, soon enough, all words were over,
When this world passed, and Paradise,
Through deadly darkness, seemed to hover
O’er her half-dull, half-brightening eyes;
One last dear glance she gives her lover,
One last embrace before she dies ;
And then, while he seems bowed above her,
His Mary sees him from the skies.
Our Lady of Grief
By Branwell Bronte
When all our cheerful hours seem gone for ever,
All lost that caused the body or the mind
To nourish love or friendship for our kind,
And Charon’s boat, prepared, o’er Lethe’s river
Our souls to waft, and all our thoughts to sever
From what was once life’s Light; still there may be
Some well-loved bosom to whose pillow we
Could heartily our utter self deliver;
And if, towards her grave — Death’s dreary road —
Our Darling’s feet should tread, each step by her
Would draw our own steps to the same abode,
And make a festival of sepulture ;
For what gave joy, and joy to us had owed,
Should death affright us from, when he would her
By Patrick Bronte
Rude winter’s come, the sky’s o’ercast,
The night is cold, and loud the blast,
The mingling snow, comes driving down,
Fast whitening o’er the flinty ground.
Severe their lots, whose crazy sheds,
Hang tottering o’er their trembling heads:
Whilst blows through walls and chinky door,
The drifting snow across the floor:
Where, blinking embers scarcely glow,
And rushlight, only serves to shew
What well may move the deepest sigh,
And force a tear from pity’s eye.
You there may see a meagre pair,
Worn out with labour, grief and care:
Whose naked babes, in hungry mood,
Complain of cold, and cry for food;
Whilst tears bedew the mother’s cheek,
And sighs the father’s grief bespeak;
For, fire, or raiment, bed, or board,
Their dreary shed, cannot afford.
Will no kind hand, confer relief;
And wipe away the tear of grief?
A little boon, it well might spare,
Would kindle joy, dispel their care:
Abate the rigour of the night,
And warm each heart–achievement bright!
Yea, brighter far, than such as grace
The annals of a princely race;
Where kings bestow a large domain,
But to receive as much again,
Or e’en corrupt the purest laws
Or fan the breath of vain applause.
Peace to the man, who stoops his head;
To enter the most wretched shed,
Who, with his condescending smiles,
Poor diffidence and awe beguiles:
Till all encouraged, soon disclose
The different causes of their woes–
The moving tale dissolves his heart;
He liberally bestows a part
Of God’s donation. From above,
Approving heaven, in smiles of love,
Looks on, and through the shining skies,
The Great Recording Angel flies,
The doors of mercy to unfold,
And write the deed in lines of gold;
There, if a fruit of Faith’s fair tree,
To shine throughout eternity,
In honour of that Sovereign’s dread,
Who had no place to lay his head,
Yet opened wide sweet mercy’s door,
To all the desolate and poor,
Who stung with guilt, and hard oppressed,
Groaned to be with him, and at rest.
Now, pent within the city wall,
They throng to theatre and hall,
Where gesture, look, and words conspire,
To stain the mind, the passions fire;
Whence sin-polluted streams abound,
That whelm the country all around.
Ah! Modesty, should you be here,
Close up the eye, and stop the ear;
Oppose your fan, nor peep beneath,
And blushing shun their tainted breath.
Here, every rake, exerts his art,
T’ ensnare the unsuspecting hearth.
The prostitute with faithless smiles,
Remorseless plays her tricks and wiles.
Her gesture bold, and ogling eye,
Obtrusive speech, and pert reply,
And brazen front, and stubborn tone,
Shew all her native virtue’s flown.
By her, the thoughtless youth is ta’en,
Impoverished, disgraced, or slain:
Through her, the marriage vows are broke,
And Hymen proves a galling yoke.
Diseases come, destruction’s dealt,
Where’er her poisonous breath is felt;
Whilst she, poor wretch, dies in the flame,
That runs through her polluted frame.
Once she was gentle, fair and kind,
To no seducing schemes inclined,
Would blush to hear a smutty tale,
Nor ever strolled o’er hill or dale,
But lived a sweet domestic maid,
To lend her aged parents aid–
And oft they gazed, and oft they smiled
On this their loved, and only child:
They thought they might in her be blest;
And she would see them laid at rest.
A blithesome youth, of courtly mien,
Oft called to see this rural queen:
His oily tongue, and wily art,
Soon gained Maria’s yielding heart.
The aged pair, too, liked the youth,
And thought him naught but love and truth.
The village feast, at length is come;
Maria by the youth’s undone–
The youth is gone; so is her fame;
And with it, all her sense of shame:
And, now, she practices the art,
Which snared her unsuspecting heart;
And vice, with a progressive sway,
More hardened makes her every day.
Averse to good, and prone to ill,
And dexterous in seducing skill;
To look, as if her eyes would melt;
T’ affect a love, she never felt;
To half suppress the rising sigh;
Mechanically to weep and cry;
To vow eternal truth, and then
To break her vow, and vow again.
Her ways, are darkness, death and hell;
Remorse, and shame, and passions fell,
And short-lived joy, and endless pain,
Pursue her, in a gloomy train.
O! Britain fair, thou Queen of isles!
Nor hostile arms, nor hostile wiles,
Could ever shake thy solid throne,
But for thy sins–thy sins alone,
Can make thee stoop thy royal head,
And lay thee prostrate, with the dead.
In vain Colossal England mows,
With ponderous strength, the yielding foes;
In vain Fair Scotia, by her side,
With courage flushed, and Highland pride,
Whirls her keen blade, with horrid whistle,
And lops off heads, like tops of thistle;
In vain, Brave Erin,* famed, afar,
The flaming thunderbolt of war,
Profuse of life, through blood does wade,
To lend her sister Kingdom, aid:
Our conquering thunders, vainly roar,
Terrific, round the Gallic shore;
Profoundest statesman, vainly scheme,
‘Tis all, a vain delusive dream,
If, treacherously, within our breast,
We foster sin, the deadly pest.
Where Sin abounds Religion dies,
And Virtue seeks her native skies;
Chaste Conscience, hides for very shame,
And Honour’s but an empty name.
Then, like a flood, with fearful din,
A gloomy host, comes pouring in.
First, Bribery, with her golden shield,
Leads smooth Corruption o’er the field;
Dissension wild, with brandished spear,
And Anarchy, brings up the rear:
Whilst Care, and Sorrow, Grief, and Pain,
Run howling o’er the bloody plain.
O, Thou, whose power, resistless fills
The boundless whole, avert these ills
We richly merit: purge away
The sins which on our vitals prey;
Protect with thine almighty shield,
Our conquering arms, by flood, and field,
Wheel round the time, when peace shall smile
O’er Britain’s highly-favoured Isle;
When all, shall loud hosannas sing,
To Thee, the Great Eternal King!
But hark! the bleak, loud whistling wind–
Its crushing blast, recalls to mind,
The dangers of the troubled deep;
Where, with a fierce, and thundering sweep,
The winds in wild distraction rave,
And push along the mountain wave
With dreadful swell, and hideous curl!
Whilst hung aloft, in giddy whirl,
Or dropt beneath the ocean’s bed,
The leaky bark, without a shred
Of rigging, sweeps through dangers dread.
The flaring beacon points the way
And fast, the pumps loud clanking play:
It ‘vails not–hark! with crashing shock,
She’s shivered ‘gainst the solid rock,
Or by the fierce, incessant waves,
Is beaten to a thousand staves;
Or, bilging at her crazy side,
Admits the thundering hostile tide,
And down she sinks!–triumphant rave
The winds, and close her wat’ry grave!
The merchant’s care, and toil, are vain,
His hopes lie buried in the main–
In vain the mother’s tearful eye,
Looks for its sole remaining joy–
In vain fair Susan walks the shore,
And sighs for him she’ll see no more–
For deep they lie in Ocean’s womb,
And fester in a wat’ry tomb.
Now, from the frothy, thundering main,
My meditations, seek the plain,
Where, with a swift fantastic flight,
They scour the regions of the night,
Free, as the winds that wildly blow
O’er hill and dale, the blinding snow,
Or, through the woods, their frolics play,
And whirling, sweep the dusty way;
When summer shines with burning glare,
And sportive breezes skim the air,
And Ocean’s glassy breast is fanned
To softest curl, by Zephyr bland.
But Summer’s gone, and Winter here,
With iron sceptre rules the year–
Beneath this dark, inclement sky,
How many wanderers faint and die!
One, flouncing o’er the treacherous snow,
Sinks in the pit that yawns below!
Another numbed; with panting lift,
Inhales the suffocating drift!
And creeping cold, with stiffening force,
Extends a third, a pallid corse!
Thus death, in varied dreadful form,
Triumphant, rides along the storm:
With shocking scenes assails the sight,
And makes more sad, the dismal night!
How blest the man, whose lot is free
From such distress and misery;
Who sitting by his blazing fire,
Is closely wrapped in warm attire;
Whose sparkling glasses, blush with wine,
Of mirthful might, and flavour fine;
Whose house compact, and strong, defies
The rigour of the angry skies!
The ruffling winds, may blow their last,
And snows come driving on the blast;
And frosts their icy morsels fling,
But all within is mild as spring!
How blest is he!–blest did I say?
E’en sorrow here oft finds its way.
The senses numbed by frequent use
Of criminal, absurd abuse
Of heaven’s blessings; listless grow,
And life is but a dream of woe.
Oft fostered on the lap of ease,
Grow racking pain, and foul disease,
And nervous whims, a ghastly train,
Inflicting more than corpor’al pain:
Oft, gold, and shining pedigree,
Prove only splendid misery.
The king who sits upon his throne,
And calls the kneeling world his own,
Has, oft, of cares a greater load,
Than he who feels his iron rod.
No state is free from care, and pain,
Where fiery passions, get the rein,
Or, soft indulgence, joined with ease,
Beget a thousand ills to teaze:
Where fair Religion, heavenly maid,
Has slighted still her offered aid.
Her matchless power, the will subdues,
And gives the judgment, clearer views:
Denies no source of real pleasure,
And yields us blessings out of measure;
Our prospect brightens, proves our stay,
December turns to smiling May;
Conveys us to that peaceful shore,
By raging billows lashed no more,
Where endless happiness remains,
And one eternal summer reigns.
The Cottager Maid
By Patrick Bronte
My food is but spare,
And humble my cot,
Yet Jesus dwells there
And blesses my lot:
Though thinly I’m clad,
And tempests oft roll,
He’s raiment, and bread,
And drink to my soul.
His presence is wealth,
His grace is a treasure,
His promise is health
And joy out of measure.
His word is my rest,
His spirit my guide:
In Him I am blest
Since Jesus is mine,
Adieu to all sorrow;
I ne’er shall repine,
Nor think of to-morrow:
The lily so fair,
And raven so black,
He nurses with care,
Then how shall I lack?
Each promise is sure,
That shines in His word,
And tells me, though poor,
I’m rich in my Lord.
Hence! Sorrow and Fear!
Since Jesus is nigh,
I’ll dry up each tear
And stifle each sigh.
Though prince, duke, or lord,
Ne’er enter my shed,
King Jesus my board
With dainties does spread.
Since He is my guest,
For joy I shall sing,
And ever be blest
In Jesus my King.
With horrible din
Afflictions may swell,
They cleanse me from sin,
They save me from hell:
They’re all but the rod
Of Jesus, in love;
They lead me to God
And blessings above.
Through sickness and pain
I flee to my Lord,
Sweet comfort to gain,
And health from His word;
Bleak scarcities raise
A keener desire,
To feed on His grace,
And wear His attire.
The trials which frown,
Applied by His blood,
But plait me a crown,
And work for my good.
In praise I shall tell,
When throned in my rest,
The things which befell
Were always the best.
Whatever is hid
Shall burst on my sight
When hence I have fled
To glorious light.
Should chastisements lower,
Then let me resign;
Should kindnesses shower,
Let gratitude shine.
Hence! Sorrow and Fear!
Since Jesus is nigh,
I’ll dry up each tear,
And stifle each sigh:
And clothed in His word
Will conquer my foes,
And follow my Lord
Wherever He goes.
My friends! let us fly
To Jesus our King;
And still as we hie,
Of grace let us sing.
Through pleasure and pain,
If faithful we prove,
For cots we shall gain
A palace above.