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The Professor, a novel by Charlotte Bronte


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_ This little book was written before either "Jane Eyre" or
"Shirley," and yet no indulgence can be solicited for it on the
plea of a first attempt. A first attempt it certainly was not,
as the pen which wrote it had been previously worn a good deal in
a practice of some years. I had not indeed published anything
before I commenced "The Professor," but in many a crude effort,
destroyed almost as soon as composed, I had got over any such
taste as I might once have had for ornamented and redundant
composition, and come to prefer what was plain and homely. At
the same time I had adopted a set of principles on the subject
of incident, &c.;, such as would be generally approved in theory,
but the result of which, when carried out into practice, often
procures for an author more surprise than pleasure.

I said to myself that my hero should work his way through life as
I had seen real living men work theirs--that he should never get
a shilling he had not earned--that no sudden turns should lift
him in a moment to wealth and high station; that whatever small
competency he might gain, should be won by the sweat of his brow;
that, before he could find so much as an arbour to sit down in,
he should master at least half the ascent of "the Hill of
Difficulty;" that he should not even marry a beautiful girl or a
lady of rank. As Adam's son he should share Adam's doom, and
drain throughout life a mixed and moderate cup of enjoyment.

In the sequel, however, I find that publishers in general
scarcely approved of this system, but would have liked something
more imaginative and poetical--something more consonant with a
highly wrought fancy, with a taste for pathos, with sentiments
more tender, elevated, unworldly. Indeed, until an author has
tried to dispose of a manuscript of this kind, he can never know
what stores of romance and sensibility lie hidden in breasts he
would not have suspected of casketing such treasures. Men in
business are usually thought to prefer the real; on trial the
idea will be often found fallacious: a passionate preference for
the wild, wonderful, and thrilling--the strange, startling, and
harrowing--agitates divers souls that show a calm and sober

Such being the case, the reader will comprehend that to have
reached him in the form of a printed book, this brief narrative
must have gone through some struggles--which indeed it has. And
after all, its worst struggle and strongest ordeal is yet to come
but it takes comfort--subdues fear--leans on the staff of a
moderate expectation--and mutters under its breath, while
lifting its eye to that of the public,

"He that is low need fear no fall."


The foregoing preface was written by my wife with a view to the
publication of "The Professor," shortly after the appearance of
"Shirley." Being dissuaded from her intention, the authoress
made some use of the materials in a subsequent work--"Villette,"
As, however, these two stories are in most respects unlike, it
has been represented to me that I ought not to withhold "The
Professor" from the public. I have therefore consented to its


Haworth Parsonage,
September 22nd, 1856.

* _

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