Page:The complete poems of Emily Bronte.djvu/44

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POEMS OF EMILY BRONTË

it was disagreeable. In fact the Athenæum admitted 'its truth to life in the remote nooks and corners of England.' The reviewer goes on to complain of the painful and exceptional subject, and especially of the descriptions of physical acts of cruelty. 'The brutal master of the lonely house on Wuthering Heights—a prison which might be pictured from life—has doubtless had his prototype in those ungenial and remote districts where human beings, like the trees, grow gnarled and dwarfed and distorted by the inclement climate; but he might have been indicated with far fewer touches, in place of so entirely filling the canvas that there is hardly a scene untainted by his presence.' The authors are warned against what is eccentric and unpleasant. 'Never was there a period in the history of Society when we English could so ill afford to dispense with sunshine.' The period of Wuthering Heights was in the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, the same as some of the stories in Mr. Hardy's Wessex Tales and A Group of Noble Dames. Mr. Swinburne's words are decisive: 'The book is what it is because the author was what she was; this is the main and central fact to be remembered. Circumstances have modified the details; they have not implanted