Monday 15 October 2018

The Brontë Brussels Calendar: September 1842

1 September, Thursday – Weather: 9 to 19 C, quite clouded, some evening rain, strong wind
On this day an art exhibition was opened in Koekelberg. The aim was to raise money for a new local church. “Les dames directrices,” the Journal de Bruxelles wrote on the fourth, “are Mesdames Goussaert, née Phelps, directress of the English pensionnat” and six other women. Two days later it wrote that the ‘beauty and freshness of most of the works excited the attention of all visitors.’ On the 20th l’Indépendant wrote that ‘many curious people go to Koekelberg each day to see the exhibition.’ It added that there was also a large number of works by women. The Brontë sisters may well have visited this exhibition, together with the Taylor sisters.
Rachel, accompanied by her mother and brother, left Brussels on this day, for Paris. With her 12 performances in the city and one in Gent she had earned more than 30,000 francs, l’Indépendent wrote the next day.

2 September, Friday – W: 12 to 18 C, clouded, rainy morning

3 September, Saturday – W: 15 to 23 C, clouded morning, bright afternoon
l’Indépendant had four extra pages about the debate in Parliament concerning the city of Brussels which had run into heavy debts. The city wanted to renegotiate the convention with the state of November 1841, which had not worked out well for Brussels. This debate dominated the newspapers around this time.

4 September, Saturday – W: 14 to 23 C, pretty clouded, rainy afternoon
‘They are going to demolish the pump in the rue d’Isabelle in order to construct a new one,’ l’Indépendant wrote. It possibly refers to the water well in the garden of the Pensionnat.

5 September, Sunday – W: 10 to 19 C, quite sunny
More than 5000 people visited the Salon on this day, including the King and Queen. There were also ever more foreigners who came to see the art exhibition. Paintings were still being added to the exhibition.

The Journal de Bruxelles had a Rue d’Isabelle advertisement.

Rue d’Isabelle 3 (at the corner with Rue Terarken) was also the ‘depot’ for the Paris Journal des Economistes (as the Moniteur belge wrote a week earlier). The Brontës obviously knew this bookshop well.
Here’s another ad from them (l’Indépendant, 23 January 1842):

6 September, Tuesday – W: 10 to 22 C, cumulus clouds
On this day, in Haworth, William Weightman died. He was buried on the 10th.

7 September, Wednesday – W: 14 to 24 C, somewhat clouded

8 September, Thursday – W: 18 to 22 C, clouded morning, quite sunny afternoon

9 September, Friday – W: 13 to 18 C, clouded, drizzle rain around midday, strong wind
‘We are signaling for the hundredth time,’ the Journal de Bruxelles wrote, ‘the speed with which the horse coaches are traveling at a gallop in the streets of the capital.’ Earlier complaints, and promises made by coach owners clearly hadn’t had any effect. ( 26 August)

10 September, Saturday – W: 14 to 18 C, fairly clouded, afternoon and evening rain

11 September, Sunday – W: 13 to 17 C, pretty clouded, continuous drizzle rain from 2 am onwards
The Journal de Bruxelles on this day observed that for some days now they were actively demolishing the two buildings opposite the Pensionnat, on either side of the Belliard Steps. The aim was to restore the old panoramic view of the city from the statue of Belliard (see this article).

12 September, Monday - W: 12 to 16 C, clouded, rain all evening, still a strong wind from the west

13 September, Tuesday – W: 13 to 20 C, somewhat clouded
The kiosk in the Parc was being renovated, l’Indépendant reported, for the nearby September festivities. And on this day (it wrote on the 15th) they began placing arcades in the Parc for “la grande illumination,” a part of these festivities later on in the month.
The paper also reported that on the streets in Brussels one could see “grandes affiches” announcing the concert Hector Berlioz was to give on the 26th. That is quite interesting, as one wouldn’t expect such large street posters at this time. There must then have been a good many more smaller affiches, for other cultural events.

14 September, Wednesday - W: 14 to 21 C, cumulus clouds

15 September, Thursday – W: 13 to 20 C, quite clouded
Charlotte and Emily may have gone to the Marché-aux Poissons, for the kermesse there. It attracted a lot of visitors, according to l’Indépendant.
The Journal de Bruxelles had an interesting letter from someone complaining about the deplorable, “vraiment scandaleuses” behaviour of guardsmen at the City’s Portes, especially towards women. It gives an idea what it was like for the sisters to leave or enter the city by one of the Portes, for instance when going to Koekelberg, or the Jenkinses, in Ixelles.

16 September, Friday – W: 9 to 18 C, sunny

17 September, Saturday – W: 10 to 20 C, sunny

18 September, Sunday – W: 14 to 22 C, pretty sunny

19 September, Monday – W: 15 to 20 C, pretty clouded, heavy rain shortly after midnight

20 September, Tuesday – W:  11 to 16 C, quite clouded
The Société Philharmonique gave its last Jardin Botanique concert of the season.

21 September, Wednesday – W: 8 to 16 C, quite clouded

22 September, Thursday – W: 8 to 16 C, cumulus clouds

23 September, Friday – W: 7 to 16 C, cumulus clouds
This day marked the beginning of the September festivities. There were concerts in the Park, the museums and the Salon were free to visit on this day, which began loudly, with 21 cannon shots at 8 am. The sisters could in these days have gone to the Dahlia flower show, to horse-racing, a theatre play at the Vaux-Hall, or the crossbow shooting, the tir à l’arbalete. They will have known about the Pensionnat’s garden origin as the Jardin des Arbalétriers.

24 September, Saturday – W: 7 to 15 C, more clouds as the day progresses, rain in the evening
Despite the rain a concert in the Park went ahead (choral works). It didn’t affect the number of visitors, the Journal de Bruxelles said.

25 September, Sunday – W: 10 to 17 C, quite clouded, rain from 4 pm onwards
The day started with a new salvo of 21 cannon shots, at 8 pm. At midday there was a concert in the Park by the military harmony orchestra, attended by many people. The sisters may also have witnessed a choir procession. Starting at the Champs de Mars, near the Porte de Namur, a number of choirs walked to the Temple des Augustins for a concours (Berlioz was one of the members of the jury). They were obviously already singing along the way. At several places in the city there were ‘popular games.’ The Société de la Grande Harmonie gave a concert in the Park, in the kiosk. There were few visitors surely, because of the rain. Reporters must have gone to a café instead, as both our newspapers have no concert review. The weather did also spoil the “grande illumination” in the Parc.
A banquet was offered to the men who got wounded in the uprising of September 1830, at the Champs-Elysees, which was close to where the Jenkinses were living.

26 September, Monday – W: 9 to 17 C, pretty clouded, rain all evening
The rain again spoilt the concert in the Parc in the evening, and the “grande illumination.’
Berlioz on that evening conducted the orchestra of the Société Royale de la Grande Harmonie. The program had been printed in l’Indépendant two days earlier.

27 September, Tuesday – W: 9 to 14 C, rain at night, clouded, rain beginning again around 2 pm
Because of the September “fêtes” there were no newspapers on this day. It was unfortunately another miserable weather day.

28 September, Wednesday – W: 8 to 12 C, rain continues until midday, quite clouded afternoon

29 September, Thursday – W: 8 to 12 C, clouded, but some late afternoon sunshine
The city celebrated the success of the choir of the Société Réunion Lyrique de Bruxelles at a national competition. Streets were adorned, the bells were ringing, the artillery fired salvos, and the winners marched in procession through the streets.
The Moniteur belge reported about education prizes, mentioning too Auguste Dement (joint first place) and Alfred Adan (honorary mention), both pupils of M. Heger at the Athenée.

30 September, Friday – W: 6 to 9 C, clouded

Eric Ruijssenaars

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