BronteSisters1

In this family I am regarded a washout, so much so, that I actually washed myself out of this portrait. I actually painted this portrait of all of us when I was seventeen, so you can see that I certainly had a talent for painting.

I used to be in that space in the middle, but maybe that is apt, as some of the family do regard me as a waste of space. I don't think my sisters liked their portraits much, they said it wasn't lifelike. They said I'd made them look too serious and that I should have shown them smiling. But they hardly ever smiled and they were always serious, so I just painted the truth. After all what is there to smile about, living in this God forsaken place?

"Made you look too serious?" I said, "Well, too bad because that's how you do look!" After all, when I was in Bradford, I used to earn my living creating likenesses of people. Nobody refused to pay, so I must have made them look authentic. Well, I did flatter some of the richer ones a bit I suppose, painted their best side you might say. I wanted them to be satisfied so they'd pay me well and then I'd have some money in my pocket to buy a few jugs of ale.

I think those three are jealous of my talent, that's why they criticised my picture, and that's why I scrubbed myself out of it. They know that I could always make my living by painting, but God knows what they'll all do to support themselves once father has gone, it will be the poor house probably. I do worry about their future, they have so little talent. Oh, they harp on about going to London to find a publisher for their stories and selling them, but it is all a fantasy.

And anyway, they're women. Women don't write novels that anyone wants to publish or read, so they're wasting their time. Why do they think people will want to read anything written about the Yorkshire Moors anyway? Such a dreary and dismal place!

Even as children, they were serious. Scribbling away like little mice, hardly ever stopping to talk, or if they did they had such a strange way of speaking, that only they could understand what was being said. I think they wanted to keep me out. When we were small, Father bought us twelve wooden soldiers to play with. We called them "The Young Men " and gave them all names. We all used to make up fantasy stories and pretend that the soldiers were real people. My sisters even made and wrote special tiny books for the soldiers to read. They wrote stories about secret worlds they called Glass Town and Angria and Gondal, but they didn't always include me. They did watch over me though. Well, I was the only boy, but I don't think they ever understood me really.

I missed my mother and Elizabeth and Maria so much. I was very sad when they were all taken, their loss was so very hard to bear. Father stayed in his room, writing his sermons, he even ate by himself. Aunt Branwell was kind and did her best and I loved her in my way, but she wasn't my mother. I can well remember my mother's kind smile even though I was only four when she died. I was eight when my beloved sisters followed her within six weeks of each other. I wondered if one of my other sisters would be the next but then I thought perhaps it could be my turn.

I wish now I had gone to London and applied to study painting at the Academy like I was expected to do. I had the interview arranged and all my paintings to show them. I do not know why I did not continue to study and use my ability. I had the talent, I really did, many people said so. So, I missed my best opportunity to get away from here, but there again, I seem to have spent my life making too many mistakes.

It wasn't my fault I lost that job with the railway. I wasn't born to be an accountant anyway! All that misery and shame over £1-1s-6d! I do not know how the discrepancy in the books occurred. I had no intention to defraud, if it was through my carelessness, then it was just a simple error, an oversight, but nevertheless everyone was upset with me when I had to come home in disgrace. Father was particularly upset as I was expected to help to support my sisters and had been earning £130 a year, just been promoted too!

Then there was Lydia, I was sorely let down by her. I was tutor for her children. I really thought we would have a future together .Well, obviously not when she was still married, but after her husband, Robinson, died, he was not a well man. I was sent home again in disgrace and heartbroken. Then, within three years Robinson died. I went to see her again, to rekindle our love. But she told me that his will stipulated she must not marry again or she would lose all of her inheritance. So, she picked money over me. I have since learned that there was no such clause, it was just an excuse to get rid of me.

But how I loved her! I feel I was sorely betrayed, I haven't really trusted anyone after that, so have ended up loveless like Anne and Emily.

Charlotte and Anne are angry with me, they think I have become a wastrel, Emily tries to understand but I must try her patience too. I feel most upset about Father. He had such expectations of his only son and what a disappointment I have turned out to be. I think he would have liked me to become a man of the cloth but that was never going to happen. I do try to talk to him sometimes but I am aware how disappointed he is in me. All he talks about is, vicarage, vicarage, vicarage, or the sad state of the gravestones. Sometimes he mourns the death of some rich parishioner, but I can see the glint in his eye. He's hoping that he has done enough to ingratiate himself to earn a mention in their will. God knows though, that without all this obnoxious creeping and crawling to the gentry for money, we'd be poorer than the church mice. Sometimes I think that life here has affected Father.

One day he will get himself into trouble with that pistol he keeps by his pillow. "In case we are attacked!" he says. Every morning, he discharges it out of the window to hit the wall of the church. It used to scare me to death but I'm used to it now, waiting for it almost, it wakes me up anyway. I tell him that he'll kill someone one day, either by shooting them dead as they are passing by, or by the church wall collapsing on them as they walk past, it's so riddled with bullet holes now.

As for those three straight laced spinsters, not a laugh or a joke between them, too busy scribbling. Is it any wonder that I go down to The Bull's Head where Bridey gives a welcome to a fellow? There's a bit of life and laughter there but those three pen pushers can't abide it. "Drunk," they say I am. How would they know? Not a drop of liquor has ever passed their pursed lips. When I get home, they certainly show their disapproval, eyes rolling up to heaven, if there is one, which I am beginning to doubt.

Those three are virtual prisoners, three little mice eating tiny morsels of mutton, that's all! No wonder they're always ailing! A good drop of the hard stuff and a thick slice of steak and ale pie from Bridey's kitchen would see them right.

And what do they find to write about? They write stories about people like me that like to escape reality with a few draughts of beer or a glass or two of wine. They write about how such people can become violent, but they always exaggerate. Well, I might lose my temper sometimes but honestly, their" holier than thou," attitude, is enough to make anyone angry, always criticising , never a good word to say about me. But, I can write too, especially when I have partaken of my favourite snuff from the apothecary. Very powerful stuff it is, made from poppies apparently, but it makes me feel better, makes me forget my problems for a while.

Here are some of my verses, equally as good as any of my sisters wrote.

I'm no more a little child I am entering on Life's open tide

O'er shadowed by thine angel wing So farewell, childhood's shores divine,

My very dreams seem far from wild, And Oh my Father, deign to guide,

Than those my slumbers used to bring. Through these wide waters, Caroline.

See, I told you I had talent, it's just a pity I can't remember who Caroline is now, but she is obviously someone I must have known. This poppy stuff can make it difficult to remember things, or even think straight sometimes, but there again, I don't want to think too much about the mess I have made of my life and myself. Sometimes, I can't even look at myself in the mirror without crying.

BranwellBronte