Letter of Patrick Brontë to Charles Longley, Bishop of Ripon, later Archbishop of Canterbury.
Lambeth Palace Library MS. 4545, ff.208-209
April 10th 1855
My Lord Bishop,
Amongst the various letters of kind sympathy which we have received, Your Lordships Letter gives us especial pleasure – It is worthy of One who is justly esteemed the Father of His Clergy, and I will retain it amongst my most valued treasures, as long as I shall live. “A word in due season, how good is it”. And most assuredly, if a season of sorrow, needs a word of consolation and support ours is that season. I have lived long enough to bury a beloved wife, and six children – all that I had. I greatly enjoyed their conversation and company, and many of them were well fitted for being companions to the wisest and best. Now they are all gone. Their image and memory remain, and meet me at every turn – but they themselves have left me a bereaved old man. I hop’d and wish’d that the Lord would spare them, to see me laid in my grave, but the Lord has ordered it otherwise, and I have seem them all laid, in that place “where the wicked cease from troubling And the weary are at rest”. I have not only my own sorrow to bear, but I am distress’d for Mr. Nicholls whose grief is very great. His union with My Daughter was a happy one. They were well fitted for each other, and naturally look’d forward, to future scenes of happiness for a long time to come – but the Lord gave, and the Lord took early away. May we both be able from our hearts to say blessed be the name of the Lord. But I have often found and find in this last sad trial, that it is frequently extremely difficult to walk entirely by faith, and sincerely, to pray, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. Mr. Nicholls, who is every thing I could desire, to the Church and to me, intends to stay with me, during the brief remainder of my life. May we beg that your Lordship will sometimes remember us in your prayers?
I remain, My Lord Bishop,
Your Lordship’s Most
Obedient Humble servant,
What a fine man Mr Brontë was. In a few lines he brings down all those theories about his wickedness. But we already knew he was an affectionate father, didn't we? And it's such an honest gesture to admit 'that it is frequently extremely difficult to walk entirely by faith' and also to read what he has to say about his initially unwanted son-in-law. This is an unforgettable letter, though not exactly unique in content.
See an image of this sad, sincere letter here and read more on its background here.
Categories: Patrick Brontë, Brontëana