Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Brontë Brussels Calendar: July 1842


1 July, Friday – Weather: 18 to 20 to 13 C, clouded, rain around 4 pm, stormy wind
After the heat of June the month of July brought nicer weather: lower temperatures and a welcome amount of rain on a number of days. It started poorly though, with a severe storm. 

2 July, Saturday – W: 11 to 20 C, clouded, rain around 7.25 am, strong wind

3 July, Sunday – W: 13 to 20 C, low clouds, grey sky

4 July, Monday – W: 12 to 24 C, clouded morning, quite bright afternoon
The Journal de Bruxelles had news again about Pierre-Jean-Joseph Parent ( 13 June). A second pamphlet he had written in June about the, in his view, show trial of March, was quickly seized by the police, but the text, posted at his house at Rue de la Madeleine 74, drew crowds of interested people. Now he had issued a third pamphlet, which was quickly confiscated again. This time Parent (not related to Zoë Parent) had gone too far, in insulting judges and other high “fonctionnaires public.” Not long afterwards he was sentenced to two years in prison. 
The same newspaper wrote about a ‘petition of a great number of noble habitants of the manufacturing districts of the north and northeast of Yorkshire, complaining about the distress of the people.

5 July, Tuesday – W: 17 to 22 to 14 C, pretty clouded, rain between 12 and 2 pm, a fine rainbow visible around 8.15 pm in the southeast
L’Indépendant gave figures for June of travelers from London to Ostend. On 39 journeys 620 people had been brought to Belgium. The number of passengers had sharply increased, due to lower tariffs, caused by the fact that the General Steam Navigation Company now had to compete with a Belgian company sailing between Antwerp and London. More ships had become available, and the average number of passengers per ship had increased by more than 50%.
The newspaper also had an advertisement for a cigar and tea shop. Maybe Heger bought his cigars there, at least sometimes. Twelve days later there was an ad for another cigar shop, at the Rue de l’Infirmerie. There will surely have been more shops where one could buy cigars.




Below it a dentist ad can be  seen. Dentists often advertised. There was one very close to the statue of Belliard too.


6 July, Wednesday – W: 11 to 20 C, partly clouded, rain in early afternoon
The King arrives back in Belgium, after cutting short his annual visit to Queen Victoria because of national unrest over sharply increased French import tariffs. Especially Flanders’ linen industry would be hard hit by these measures, announced at the end of June. 
L’Indépendant reported that in the Uccle district three new cemeteries had been established, in Ixelles, St Job and Boitsfort. The latter is probably the one where many years later the Hegers were buried.

7 July, Thursday – W: 11 to 21 C, sunny morning, clouded afternoon with a little bit of rain

8 July, Friday – W: 14 to 22 C, fairly clouded
Some people in Brussels may have awoken earlier than normal, as a very early partial solar eclipse had been predicted. It began at 5.09 am and ended at 7.02 am in Brussels, almost as predicted, but it was obscured by clouds and nothing could be seen of the spectacle. At the Observatory glimpses only of the very beginning and the very end were observed.

9 July, Saturday – W: 13 to 22 C, clouded, rain during most of the evening
L’Indépendant had the first of two long pieces about the distress in England, the new ‘pauperism’ created by the industrialization, and how Parliament debated about it. It featured the Irish MP Daniel O’Connell ( 15 June), who again was widely quoted in the papers of the 12th, about the parliamentary debates. For the first time (in this year at least) this piece was signed, albeit with only initials, “E. R.” Earlier we had already found out that this  author was Eugène Robin (1812-1848).

10 July, Sunday – W: 14 to 22 C, fairly clouded, rain at night
A ‘grand concert’ was given in the Park’s kiosque, performed by the ‘Régiment des guides.’ It was a charity concert, the entrance fee was only 30 centimes.

11 July, Monday – W: 11 to 22 C, quite sunny

12 July, Tuesday – W: 18 to 23 to 15 C, clouded, a heavy shower between 9.35 and 10.15 am

13 July, Wednesday – W: 11 to 23 C, cumulus clouds
First results of parliament elections in France came in. It should perhaps be remembered that Europe was still an unstable continent. The year 1840 had been quite revolutionary here and there, and it was only six years before 1848, the year that shook up Europe.

14 July, Thursday – W: 15 to 24 C, cumulus clouds
For some time it had already been known that the great actress Rachel, “l’illustre tragedienne,” was coming to Brussels. On this day l’Indépendant announced that her first performance would take place on the 22th of July, at the Théâtre Royal. The entrance fees varied from 60 centimes to 7 francs 75.



15 July, Friday – W: 12 to 23 C, fairly clouded
L’Indépendant was the first to report on the tragic death of the French crown prince, the Duc d’Orléans, on the 13th. A horse driving his carriage had gone out of control. The prince tried to jump out, but was fatally injured when he did. It was big news which continued to dominate in the next week or two. Next day, l’Indépendant, even expressed its worries for ‘the future of the European peace.’ On the the 17th the Belgian king and queen would leave Brussels to go to Paris. She was the sister of the deceased. In early June he had visited her, spending a few days in Brussels.

16 July, Saturday – W: 9 to 22 C, very sunny
Emily Jane Brontë finished her Lettre (Madame) essay on this day

17 July, Sunday – W: 12 to 23 C, almost cloudless
The people in Brussels were left with a good cliffhanger this day. L’Indépendant wrote about the rumour of London being in a ‘plain revolutionary state.’ And there would not be newspapers, with the latest news, on Monday.

18 July, Monday – W: 11 to 24 C, quite clouded
This Monday, marking the beginning of the Kermesse, was a holiday surely for the Pensionnat too. It was of origin a medieval religious feast, which manifested itself on this day with special church services. The next days would just see public entertainment.
On this Monday the renowned actress Rachel arrived in Brussels, having first arrived in Antwerp from London earlier that day. She was to give a series of theatre performances in Brussels.
Charlotte and Emily could have gone to a talk in English at the Société Philharmonique by a M. Rigaud, deputy of the London branch of the Society for Peace. He spoke about this Society, what it stood for, and its progress in England, America and France.

19 July, Tuesday – W: 15 to 26 C, quite clouded, rain in the evening
The newspapers had nothing about a revolutionary state in London. It had indeed just been a rumour.
Among today’s Kermesse’s events were the ‘jeu dit Ternoyen’ for men, and, elsewhere, the jeu d’oeufs for women. The latter is probably a race, in which the participants attempted to walk as fast as possible a certain distance while safely carrying an egg in a spoon. Because of the Kermesse, the newspapers wrote, cafes were allowed to stay open all night, and museums were opened for the public the whole week.
Because of the bad weather in the evening the ‘countryside feast’ (“fête champêtre”) the Société de la Grande Harmonie intended to give at Tivoli had to be postponed. Tivoli was outside the city walls, on the northeastern side.
L’Indépendant for once had a true headline.



After lengthy negotiations Belgium and France had reached a treaty, counterbalancing the effects of the French decree of 26 June on import tariffs. The tariff for Belgian linen was lowered, and Belgium lowered the import tariff for French wine.

20 July, Wednesday – W: 17 to 22 C, clouded with a whole lot of rain (27 mm!), thunderstorms around 1.15, 3.15 and and 3.40 pm
The Journal de Bruxelles reported about unrest in towns near Birmingham and Newcastle, with people shouting they would rather be shot by soldiers than see their children die of hunger. It also said that on Monday next a meeting was convened in Leeds for bankers, merchants and manufacturers to discuss the disastrous industrial situation and the misery of the country, and to appeal again to Parliament.
L’Indépendant carried an ad about a house for rent in the Rue d’Isabelle.



21 July, Thursday – W: 13 to 20 C, quite clouded, rainy evening, rain around 11 am, between 1 and 2 pm with a short thunderstorm and more showers in the afternoon and evening
Charlotte finished her Lettre d’invitation à une ecclesiastique devoir on this day.
Belgium celebrated King Leopold’s enthronement in 1831 on this day. A military parade had to be cut short though because of the bad weather.

22 July, Friday – W: 16 to 22 C, wholly clouded, quite a lot of rain at night and around noon
Franz Liszt arrived in Brussels on this day, to give a few concerts.
Rachel gave her first performance at the Royal Theatre, to “applaudissements frenetiques.” L’Indépendant had a lengthy review on the 25th (the day of her second performance), as they would have of all her performances in the coming weeks, as did the Moniteur belge. The Journal de Bruxelles on the other hand never wrote a word about Rachel.

23 July, Saturday – W: 12 to 19 C, pretty clouded

24 July, Sunday – W: 13 to 21 C, clouded
Liszt and others give a concert at the Temple des Augustins. Among the works performed were Beethoven’s seventh symphony. Robert Wallace in his article about ‘Emily Brontë and music’ (Brontë Society Transactions 1982) suggests that it was one of “three musical events so out of the ordinary that they would have impressed themselves on Emily Brontë’s imagination whether she heard them or not.” 
Wallace wrongly states this ‘gala concert’ was held on 26 July. It was on this Sunday, the 24th, as a review in L’Indépendant of the 26th makes clear.
Liszt seems to have given another concert on the next day, but the newspapers on this day wrote that the venue was still unknown. They didn’t report about it afterwards.

25 July, Monday – W: 10 to 20 C, quite clouded

26 July, Tuesday – W: 10 to 20 C, quite clouded
Emily finished her Lettre (Ma chere Maman) essay.

27 July, Wednesday – W: 9 to 20 C, clouded morning, fairly bright afternoon and evening
“The presence of Mlle Rachel in Brussels has attracted many strangers and replenished the theatre’s cash register,” L’Indépendant reported. Her first performance had made 7600 francs, and due to some problems there hadn’t even been a full audience. Rachel was the equivalent of a pop star of nowadays. The paper wrote about fans at her hotel. Charlotte Bronte had ambiguous feelings about such a famous actress as Rachel, yet at the same time  time the actress must also have been an inspiration for her, as she showed a woman could be a successful independent artist.

28 July, Thursday – W: 9 to 23 C, cumulus clouds
Emily finishes her poem ‘Had there been falsehood in my breast.’

29 July, Friday – W: 14 to 23 C, clouded, with some rain

30 July, Saturday – W: 11 to 18 C, quite some rain, in the early morning, afternoon and evening
The birthday of Emily Jane Brontë.

31 July, Sunday – W: 13 to 18 C, quite clouded, rain again at various times.
Charlotte finished her Imitation, Portrait de Pierre l’Hermite essay.

Somewhere in July the Wheelwright family moved to Brussels, and Frances, Sarah and Julia Wheelwright began to attend the Heger school. Joshua Green, who wrote an article about the Wheelwrights, wrote that Charlotte did “often spend Sundays with the Wheelwrights, and was welcome to come whenever she inclined. Emily they cordially disliked, and was most unsociable.”
An undated letter from Charlotte to Ellen Nussey was probably written during this month.

Eric Ruijssenaars

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