Page:The complete poems of Emily Bronte.djvu/43

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xxxix
INTRODUCTORY ESSAY

which were intended to do for the Irish what Scott had done for the Scottish in his Waverley Novels. But this is all conjecture. On the other hand, we know that Charlotte Brontë, the most truthful of women, says that the materials for Wuthering Heights were gathered in Yorkshire. Her words must be quoted: 'Though her feeling for the people round was benevolent, intercourse with them she never sought; nor, with very few exceptions, ever experienced. And yet she knew them: knew their ways, their language, their family histories; she could hear of them with interest, and talk of them with detail, minute, graphic, and accurate; but with them she rarely exchanged a word. Hence it ensued that what her mind had gathered of the real concerning them was too exclusively confined to those tragic and terrible traits of which, in listening to the secret annals of every rude vicinage, the memory is sometimes compelled to receive the impress. Her imagination, which was a spirit more sombre than sunny, more powerful than sportive, found in such traits materials whence it wrought creations like Heathcliff, like Earnshaw, like Catherine.' It is worthy of note that the contemporary critics objected to the book, not so much because it was improbable, as because