Page:The complete poems of Emily Bronte.djvu/29

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xxv
INTRODUCTORY ESSAY

mediately and changed it at a public house, and has employed it as was to be expected. Emily concluded her account by saying that he was a hopeless being. It is too true. In his present state it is scarcely possible to stay in the room where he is.' Madame Duclaux has also a very graphic account of a fire in which a drunken Branwell must have been burned to death had it not been that Emily entered the blazing room, and half carried in her arms, half dragged out, her besotted brother. This is no doubt part of the extremely questionable Brontë tradition. The legend is almost certainly based on a similar episode in Jane Eyre. Mr Swinburne had a special delight in the belief that Emily was kinder than her sisters, but, as Mr. Shorter has shown, there is no clear evidence for the fact. It is quite plain that she did less in the way of remonstrance than the others.

1845.—In autumn Charlotte accidentally lighted on a manuscript volume of verses in her sister's handwriting. She saw the value of the poems, and caught their new note. It was resolved that the sisters should publish a little volume together.

1846 (May).—Poems of the sisters Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell were published by Messrs.