The first letter to Monsieur Heger Charlotte Bronte wrote on November 18th,
“I may, then, write to you, without breaking my promise. The summer and winter have seemed very long to me; in truth, it has cost me painful efforts to endure up to now the privation I have imposed upon myself. You, for your part, cannot understand this! But, Monsieur, try to imagine, for one moment, that one of your children is a hundred and sixty leagues away from you; and that you are condemned to remain for six months, without writing to him; without receiving any news from him; without hearing anything about him; without knowing how he is; well, then you may be able to understand, perhaps, how hard is such an obligation imposed upon me.”
Monsieur Heger had not answered her November letter. She waited for a reply but when none came she wrote a second letter where she apologizes for it and tries to keep a temperate tone,
“Ah, Monsieur! I know I once wrote you a letter that was not a reasonable one, because my heart was chocked with grief; but I will not do it again! I will try not to be selfish; although I cannot but feel your letters the greatest happiness I know. I will wait patiently to receive one, until it pleases you, and it is convenient to write one. At the same time, I may write you a little letter from time to time; you authorized me to do that.”
No reply letters arrive to Charlotte Bronte but still in October she writes to him again convinced that his wife, Madame Heger will not allow him to receive her letters,
“October 24-Monsieur-I am quite joyous to-day. A thing that has not often happened during the last two years. The reason is that a gentleman amongst my friends is passing through Bruxelles, and he has offered to take charge of a letter for you, and to give this same letter into your hands; or else his sister will do this, so that I shall be quite certain that you receive it.”
Charlotte Bronte writes again, a longer final letter to Monsieur Heger on January 8, 1845 in an attempt to recapture the loss of his friendship,
“I submit to all the reproaches you may make against me; if my master withdraws his friendship from me entirely, I shall remain without hope; if he keeps a little for me (never mind though it be very little) I shall have some motive for living, for working.
Monsieur, the poor do not need much to keep them alive; they ask only for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table, but if these crumbs are refused them, then they die of hunger! For me too, I make no claim either to great affection from those I love; I should hardly know how to understand an exclusive and perfect friendship, I have so little experience of it! But once upon a time, at Bruxelles, when I was your pupil, you did show me a little interest: and just this small amount of interest you gave me then, I hold to and I care for and prize, as I hold to and care for life itself . . .
. . . I will not re-read this letter, I must send it as it is written. And yet I know, by some secret instinct, that certain absolutely reasonable and cool-headed people reading it through will say: ‘She appears to have gone mad.’ By way of revenge on such judges, all I would wish them is that they too might endure, for one day only, the sufferings I have borne for eight months-then, one would see, if they too did not ‘appear to have gone mad.’
One endures in silence whilst one has his strength to do it. But when this strength fails one, one speaks without weighing one’s words. I wish Monsieur all happiness and prosperity. “
Charlotte Bronte’s letter went unanswered and no other letters were sent that we know about! What we do know for certain, is that when it came to writing novels, Charlotte Bronte’s life experiences and those she knew, were incorporated into her works.
The Secret of Charlotte Bronte by Federika MacDonald, London, TC &EC, Jack, 1914
The Brontes Life and Letters by Clement Shorter, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1908
Please feel free to leave comments,