The Atelophobic Twat

According to the American website  Atelophobia.org  Atelophobia  is:

A mental illness…  in which a person’s normal thinking, behaviors and responses to surroundings or certain circumstances are impaired.

Etymologically speaking the word atelophobia is composed of two greek words; the prefix Atelo(s) means imperfect and the postfix phobia means fear. Therefore the word Atelophobia literally means they fear of being imperfect. People who have this psychological conditioned are termed as Atelophobic. Atelophobia is classified as an anxiety disorder as are most phobias and therefore it is the specialty of mental health professionals.

 

Atelophobia is the fear of not doing something right or the fear of not being good enough. Quite simply put it’s a fear of imperfection. Persons suffering from this psychological disorder may be often depressed when their perceived expectations do not match reality.

An atelophobic has the fear that whatever he is doing is wrong in some way. Even making a call, writing something, eating or even talking in front of others is difficult for them as they are afraid they are making some kind of error in their task. This makes that person extremely self-conscious.

The person makes a goal, which he considers as perfect. Unfortunately, that goal cannot be reached. This makes that person miserable and he loses more self-confidence, strengthening his belief that he can never do anything correct.

 

I think that in the UK we would call not being able to get things right as  ‘Being a Bit of a Twat’

For the sake of argument let us assume that Atelophobia does exist as a genuine disorder but is it just an ‘Anxiety Disorder’, a neurosis,  is  it a ‘Syndrome’, a collection of different behaviours and psychological  traits that cause  the fear of not being ‘good enough or could there be such a thing as an Atelophobic Personality Trait?

How could such a Personality Trait be formed?

 

In a previous post that I wrote about the Brontes on ths blog  I  included the following  in Appendix A

APPENDIX A

Personality Adaptations

 

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 caregiver, 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.

Invalidation in an environment  is not just the product of abuse or violence in the home but by ongoing trauma or inattentive treatment.

 

Based on the book ‘Personality Adaptations’ by Van Joines and Ian Stewart

 

So, although the book does not mention an ‘Atelophobic’  Personality Trait  I wonder whether  if a child is raised in an environment in which the caregiver(s) negate or punish any attempt by that child to ‘prove’ or in any way demonstrate that it is special by, in ‘Transactional Analysis’ terms giving the child ‘cold prickly’ strokes instead of ‘warm fuzzy’ strokes or even by giving ‘extinguishing’ non-responses to  any demonstration of its ‘specialness’ the child could develop an Atelophobic personality’ in response to the lack of any validation for its own attempts to express its Individuality or psychological separation from the caregiver(s).  Is this a ‘Do Not Exist’ message from the Caregiver?

 The Invalidation comes from the overt message  in words of ‘I  love you and you are special’ and the covert message in behaviour of ‘I belittle any behaviour of yours to  demonstrate your specialness’.

.In these Transactions ‘power’ remains with the Caregiver(s),  a power that they will avidly guard and maintain and through which the child is kept in a permanant state of doubt and even paranoia as it strives for the unqualified acceptance that it ‘needs’ to thrive but his attempts are thwarted as he  is given ‘validation’ not by dint of it’s own actions but as a ‘favour’ or gift from the caregiver

The child’s situation can be made more fragile if it is given a ‘warm fuzzy’ stroke  when it does something that the caregiver approves of;  the stroke is given not for having acheived  but for acheiving something that causes pleasure to the Caregiver.

For example, a child tells it’s Caregiver, in expectation of a “Well Done”:

“I got a 90% score in this exam at school.”

but receives instead:

“You could have got 95%,  I expected such  of you” or, what is possibly more damaging to the young developing ego,  “Don’t brag about it.  Nobody likes a bighead.”

The description on the website says that:

An atelophobic has the fear that whatever he is doing is wrong in some way. Even making a call, writing something, eating or even talking in front of others is difficult for them as they are afraid they are making some kind of error in their task. This makes that person extremely self-conscious.

The person makes a goal, which he considers as perfect. Unfortunately, that goal cannot be reached. This makes that person miserable and he loses more self-confidence, strengthening his belief that he can never do anything correct.’but I would suggest that in the case of an Atelophobic Personality  it is not the neurotic pursuit of ‘perfection’ but in the belief that nothing that you do is good enough or adequate enough.   Such a person may be prone to Procrastination or to continual disappointment with their performance in a situation and  even if they ‘complete’ the task it will not be done well enough and will expose the person to ridicule.

I would dispute some of that description inasmuch as   I conject that the person has been taught  to believe  not that they have made an error or mistake but that whatever they have done  is not good enough.

 

Now, if we accept that Atelophobia is the fear or anxiety about not being able to complete a task ‘well enough’ the Atelophobic Personality Trait would be the ‘belief that the person is not ‘good enough,  not a neurosis about any task they may undertake but about they themself.

 

Think about it

 

Memories of my childhood in the 1960s

A Visit and a Surprise

 

I can still vividly recall the visits that my parents and I made each Saturday to my see my Uncle Bernie and Aunt Elsie who lived . in a terraced council house in Leytonstone in East London.

They weren’t ‘my’ uncle and aunt, they were my mum’s but we had visited them each week since my gran and grandad, my mum’s folks, had moved away to Cornwall and had never been heard of since; family legend was that they had been eaten by cannibals.

My cousin Ferdie lived with Uncle Bern  and Aunt Elsie  the  family legend also said that he had become  a bit touched in the head after he had visited my grandparents in Cornwall and had been to Camborne and seen things there  that no civilised man should witness.

Aunt Elsie kept the house spick and span.  As we got off the Green Line bus  in their road we could  see the net curtains in her front parlour shining  so white and neat that they looked like the wings. Of Angels in the windows.

I had never been in the Front Parlour, the  door to that room  was kept locked and it was only opened on a Sunday after lunch when my uncle and aunt would sit in there for a couple of hours while auntie  did some knitting and uncle read the ‘News of The World’ and on a Thursday morning Aunt Elsie would give the room its weekly hoovering, dusting  and polishing  and in the afternoon it was used to host the Man from the Pru’ when he called for his money.

On a Wednesday the man who brought the pools coupon was entertained in the back room, he was never allowed inside  the Front Parlour,  and on a Friday the Rent Man was dealt with on the doorstep; he was never allowed inside  the house.

Aunt Elsie kept that room sacrosanct and woe betide anyone that dirtied it; I remember Uncle Bernie telling me with guilty excitement how once when Elsie was spending a week at her sister’s in Southend he had crept into the house with a cigarette and blown smoke through the keyhole of the Front Parlour and the next two days sin a blue funk quirting air freshener into it to hide the smell of his fag…luckily his ruse worked and he never smoked in the house again.

Aunt Elsie said she kept the tidy  for special occasions like funerals and the such.  Uncle Bernie told my dad that if Aunt Elsie died first he would have her coffin in the front parlour with an ashtray on it and would sit in there and smoke a whole pack of cigarettes but he died first and Aunt Elsie missed him so much that she discovered there weren’t many joys to widowhood.

The Front Parlour was kept pristine for if the Queen popped in for a cup of tea.  It was Aunt Elsie’s  greatest hope that Her Majesty would call round and   her greatest dread was  that if The Queen  did call in she might want to need  a penny and have to the  outside loo by the backdoor with torn up pages of the Daily Mail (except for any pages with photos of the Royal Family on them) on a nail on the Privy door for use by those people not hardy  enough to risk using  the sheets of Jeyes Medicated paper in a box on the window ledge.   My uncle had worked as a caretaker at the local Community Centre for many years and when he retired the Council gratefully gave him  a gift of a Gold Watch and,  unknowingly, 200 boxes of loo paper which were now stored in my uncle’s airing cupboard!  He’d tried  selling them to his mates down the pub but no one was buying them.

 

When we visited the house we were taken into the back  room or ‘the Dining Room’ as Auntie Elsie called it.  In this room, apart from the dining table and chairs there was a sideboard on top of  which there was a bowl of sweets from which  I was allowed to have some… as long as I ‘didn’t take too many’,  and inside of which were two bottles of Mackeson that my auntie had bought from the off license that morning;  one each for Uncle Bern and my dad to drink while they watched the football results later in the day.  My dad didn’t like Mackeson but he drank it out of politeness and because it was free; I didn’t like the sweets very much but I ate them out of greed and because they were free.

The other fixtures in the room were a tv showing the wrestling and a sofa on which sat \Mad Cousin Ferdy reading the latest issue of The Hotspur.  As I sat beside him watching  the wrestling he would secretly pass me extra sweets from the bowl and old issues of his comic but he never spoke to me, or, indeed,  anyone else.

Cousin Ferdy was like a piece of furniture, a statue,  that sometimes occasionally moved.

Uncle Bern played a minor part in this weekly drama,  he would spend the day out in the garden digging the soil or turning his compost and if it was raining he would be in the shed chatting to my dad or  ‘Looking at his magazines and polishing his dibber’ as Aunt Elsie often explained.

So as I sat with cousin Ferdy watching tv and ruining my teeth,  my mum would be in the kitchen with Aunt Elsie.  And my dad would be outside with Uncle Bern

The women would be talking about ‘women’s things like knitting and babies and the joys of widowhood and the men would be talking about men’s things like cars and football and Mrs Joy the widow from round the corner.

I wouldn’t see the men until they came in to watch the football scores and drink their stout,  but every so often I would see Aunt Elsie as she broke off discussing  with my mum,  in a voice loud enough that ‘er next door’ could hear, the various shady goings on of ‘er next door’  to stick her head through the serving hatch to see who was on the tv.  Her particular delight was hating the shenanigans of Les Kellett.  She knew the wrestling was all fake but she still hoped someone would wring his neck for being such a naughty little scamp!

Every Tuesday night she went to play Bingo at the Town Hall but she hoped one day to go there and watch the wrestling and sit in the front row and get the chance to hit Jackie Pallow with her umbrella if she saw him cheating.

One afternoon when the wrestling was boring and Ferdy was away in North Africa fighting Rommel, mum was in the kitchen  with Auntie Elsie and my dad had gone to the newsagent to buy Uncle Bernie 20 Capstan Full Strength,  which he loved and Auntie loathed;  there came a gentle tapping on the window; there stood Uncle Bernie beckoning me outside.

‘Come  ere’ he mouthed to me.

I rushed out the kitchen door with Auntie Elsie shouting:

‘mind you wipe your feet when you come in’ at me as I flew past her to join Uncle Bernie in the garden.

“What could he want?”  I wondered, “he’s never spoken to me before!”

With the innocence and trust of a child I walked with him in silence  past the rows of peas and cabbages and potatoes that he lovingly tended,  past the garden shed, his man cave, and down  to the bottom of the garden where Aunt Elsie hung out the washing.

And there, in that secluded sunny spot in the garden where no one could see us,   Uncle Bernie put his hand on my shoulder and said slyly:

“I wanna show you summat boy,  but you mustn’t tell anyone what you’ve seen, it’ll be our little secret.  Promise?”

#I blurted out a ‘yes’.

“Look at these, ain’t they beautiful? They’re your aunt’s bloomers.”

Then he showed me,  in a flowerbed by the clothesline,  the magnificent chrysanthemums that  he had grown to give to his wife on her birthday the next week:

Aunt Elsie’s Big Pink Bloomers!

 

 

 

Bronte Mania

This is the text of my commemoration of Branwell Bronte’s 200th birthday.  I will post it on a Bronte site on 26th June!

Bronte Mania

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.

 

Patrick Bronte

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 Branwell

 

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

 

 

SCHOOLING

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!

 

APPENDIX A

Personality Adaptations

 

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

 

APPENDIX B

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”:[1] how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat.[2] 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.[4] 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.”[5]

 

Attachments between infants and caregivers form even if this caregiver is not sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them.[6] 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.[7] 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

 

Appendix C

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.

 

 

 

Appendix D

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

restore?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix E

WINTER-NIGHT MEDITATIONS.

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.

 

 

 

Appendix F

 

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.

 

II.

 

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

Whatever betide.

 

III.

 

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?

 

IV.

 

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.

 

V.

 

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.

 

VI.

 

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.

 

VII.

 

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.

 

VIII.

 

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.

 

IX.

 

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.

 

X.

 

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.

 

XI.

 

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.

 

MAGPIES ARE EVIL

Magpies are Evil

 

I hate Magpies.

Everyone hates Magpies.

Magpies  are not nice.

Magpies  steal eggs from other bird’s nests,

Magpies  take shiny objects and the sound that they make when they sing is awful.

Magpies all over the world are evil but the ones in Wales are worse than that,:  they are rotten.

Let me explain.   The number of magpies that you see in a group presages some event in store for you. The rhyme explains how it works:   `One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl…etc.

So  if you see one magpie it foretells sorrow  is coming your way, but luckily  you can prevent the arrival of that  sadness by  greeting  the bird.

In some cultures all you have to do is wave at, or in some other way salute the bird.

In other places you need to hail it, in a voice loud enough for the bird to hear (unless it is deaf or ignoring you),   and  compliment it on its clothing and ask after it’s family’s health.

 

“ Good day Brother Magpie,”  you call to it,  “I hope your wife and children are in good health”

A simple enough task I’m sure you’ll agree but it is one  that causes me much distress because I wonder that,   If by hailing a solitary magpie you remove the threat  of impending  sadness,  then does greeting two magpies take away the promise of joy,  and so on up the scale?

Well, over the years I have studiously made sure that I greet every  magpie that  I see when it is on its own,  but not everyone  is aware of the importance of  doing this,  so people would give me strange looks and a wide berth if they heard me, all of a sudden, shout out `Hello, how are you`,  seemingly to no one!

They must have thought I was stark raving bonkers!

I well remember  what happened one day when I was walking along with a colleague  and we met a solitary bird,  I was debating whether to greet it  and risk appearing a loony to him or to ignore it and risk the inevitable misfortune that would await me,  when, imagine my surprise and delight,  when  I heard  him calling out a greeting  to the bird;  I have to admit that with that confirmation of my sanity I quickly followed suit!

You know, I’ve often  wondered:  “How close together do  two magpies need to stand to be deemed a pair?” 

 

Whether out of embarrassment or for   whatever reason  I don`t know,  I taught myself  how to call out a greeting to magpies  in Mandarin Chinese.

I would call out, in Chinese,  something that I hoped would be:-   ` Hello friend, I hope you are well!`  but that would probably sound to a Chinaman more like `My hovercraft is full of eels!

My assumption was that while the magpie  probably wouldn’t understand Chinese it would know that I was trying to be friendly!

By doing this I was happy and able to defend myself against any bad luck (alas  I had stopped doing   this ritual a little time before I met my first wife!)

Anyway, back to those Welsh magpies!

One day on Anglesey I was walking down a tree lined country lane and magpies were sitting all the way along it; but not all together in a large clump,    no, the little sods were sitting,  each on its own… or waere they?    They looked solitary but then they were also close enough to each other  that they might possibly be a pair!

There would be two birds sitting near to each other but on separate trees,  there would be  two  birds sitting in the same tree but on different sides of it or one at the top of the  tree and the other bird lower down and I noticed a couple of birds darting around on the ground, coming together occasionally.  Were they individuals  meeting  accidentally or were they a pair playing chase!

Well, you can understand my dilemma!

As I walked down that lane for some quarter of a mile I had to check each grouping of magpies before greeting them;   were there two birds together or were they  two individuals just   near to each other ?

You can appreciate that  I didn`t want to bring upon myself cartloads  of bad luck by ignoring so many single magpies in one day  or to possibly miss out on any joy that seeing two magpies might bring,  by greeting them ;   neither did I want any strangers I might pass on that lane, to think I was the type of  weirdo  that would shout at two magpies unnecessarily!?

A little bird has told me that those evil Welsh magpies had been sitting together in a bunch idly chatting about things like the weather and what various dastardly deeds  they were going to get up to later,  when the blighters  saw me start walking down the lane and so decided to space themselves in the trees in such a way as to ruin my day.

Needless to say, that after that fiasco, the next day, to avoid looking like a fool I took with me a big bag of walnuts I had in the house and threw them up into the trees as I walked whilst shouting  `clear off you buggers!`  as loud as I could as I passed by each tree in the avenue.   (I actually shouted ‘Pwowdee’.  That’s not a Chinese word ,  but in the argot we used when I was a lad it meant,  with emphasis:  GO AWAY!)

No,   I made sure that those beastly birds  didn’t   make me look and act stupid  that day!

The End

Eddie

A Very Happy Birthday

Here is my latest bit of flash fiction writing.

 

Birthday Party

 

Midnight!   A new day!  His birthday!

 

He had just taken over the Watch from his colleague  on the Lighthouse

He was alone for the next four hours and could enjoy his big day!

From the parcel she had sent him  he took out the little cake she had made, the  birthday card she had written  that smelled of her perfume, the one that she wore in bed, the one that drove him mad!  also a framed photo of them together, a small bottle of brandy, a deflated balloon and a tin of his favourite pipe tobacco.

It was now Party Time!

He blew up the balloon and taped it to a cupboard door, made a cup of coffee and added a tot of brandy to it.  put the cake on the table next to the photo and card and lit his pipe.

Sitting back in his chair  he pulled on his pipe and gazed  at the photo while he drank his coffee.

His mouth was alive with the rich, round  taste of the baccy and his nose revelled in the warm smell of her perfume from the card and his eyes  delighted in the picture of them both sat in a field with a speck of a skylark soaring in the distance.

His heart soared like that skylark, trilling a song of love unbounded…for her.

After singing ‘Happy Birthday’  he ate the cake, downed the rest of the brandy and went, with his pipe and coffee to the top of the Lighthouse.

With the photo in his shirt pocket next to his heart  he  leant on the railings of the Gallery, lit his pipe, drank some  coffee and looked about him.

Above , in the  cloudless, moonless sky twinkled a myriad stars, one of them named for her.  He looked in its direction and blew a kiss.

Behind him the Light Lens sparkled and glistened like diamonds flying .  On the horizon were the lights of the mainland and to the seaward the lights of ships,  Together  matching the stars in  brightness though not in number.

Looking  down at the ocean  he could see the water, calm, so uncommon for this place, only the strength of the tide flowing it past the tower,  filled with the blue phosphorescent glow of numerous sea creatures.

As he stood watching the  scene, his head  bursting with thoughts  of love for her,  the sky speckled  with lights  from ‘the  fire-folk sitting there’  and around him the darkness of the horizon illumined with the lights of ships and  of the coast that made him think of her,  and   beneath him the sealights  dancing  and prancing , reflecting the mood in his heart.

Surrounded as he was by so many lights shining for his birthday,  with so many delicious tastes and smells bursting in his mouth and nose and in his heart the eruptions of loving sensations of her he knew, as he felt it all, that birthday parties didn’t come much better than this.

 

My Piles Will be the Death of Me!

 


 

Someone once said that when they die they feel that it will be next to a pile of  books that they had bought but not read and that the pile would be taller than them. I have the same fear about myself  except that my pile is growing larger all the time and I can’t stop it!

I have various catagories of books; the saddest catagory  is ‘books I have given away, regretted parting with  and had to buy a new copy of.

It is not really accurate to describe many, if any, of my books as ‘unread’ for I have read bits of all of them and all of some of them!

 

I used to think I was a bookworm but have recently discovered that I suffer from ‘abibliophobia’ the morbid fear of having nothing to read!

May God have mercy on my soul!  I know that he will.  I’ve got it written in a book somewhere.  Hang on; I’ll just go and find it on my bookshelves… I’ll be back in a mo