Letter to Ellen Nussey, Brussels, ? July 1842
I began seriously to think you had no particular intention of writing to me again — however let us have no reproaches, thank you for your letter.
I consider it doubtful whether I shall come home in September or not — Madame Heger has made a proposal for both me and Emily to stay another half year — offering to dismiss her English master and take me as English teacher — also to employ Emily some part of each day in teaching music to a certain number of pupils — for these services we are to be allowed to continue our ‘studies’ in French and German — and to have board & c without paying for it — no salaries however are offered — the proposal is kind and in a great selfish city like Brussels and a great selfish school containing nearly ninety pupils (boarders & day-pupils included) implies a degree of interest which demands gratitude in return — I am inclined to accept it — what think you?
Your letter set my teeth on edge — I can but half divine the signification of a great part of it but what I guess makes me wish to know all you must speedily write again and explain yourself —
I don’t deny that I sometimes wish to be in England or that I have brief attacks of home-sickness — but on the whole I have borne a very valiant heart so far — and I have been happy in Brussels because I have always been fully occupied with the employments that I like — Emily is making rapid progress in French, German, Music and Drawing — Monsieur & Madame Heger begin to recognise the valuable points of her character under her singularities.
If the national character of the Belgians is to be measured by the character of most of the girls in this school, it is a character singularly cold, selfish, animal and inferior — they are besides very mutinous and difficult for the teachers to manage — and their principles are rotten to the core — we avoid them — which is not difficult to do — as we have the brand of Protestantism and Anglicism upon us.
People talk of the danger which protestants expose themselves to in going to reside in Catholic countries — and thereby running the chance of changing their faith — my advice to all protestants who are tempted to do anything so besotted as turn Catholic — is to walk over the sea on to the continent — to attend mass sedulously for a time — to note well the mum(m)eries thereof — also the idiotic, mercenary, aspect of all the priests — & then if they are still disposed to consider Papistry in any other light than a most feeble childish piece of humbug let them turn papists at once that’s all — I consider Methodism, Quakerism & the extremes of high & low Churchism foolish but Roman Catholicism beats them all.
At the same time allow me to tell you that there are some Catholics — who are as good as any christians can be to whom the bible is a sealed book and much better than scores of Protestants. Give my love to your Mother & Mercy — believe me present occasionally in spirit when absent in flesh.
From The Letters of Charlotte Brontë (1995)
By Charlotte Brontë