Page:The complete poems of Emily Bronte.djvu/45

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INTRODUCTORY ESSAY

the conception.' But every writer on the Brontës is brought up against the repellent figure of the miserable brother, Patrick Branwell Brontë. Most readers of Madame Duclaux's book have felt with Mr. Swinburne, that 'of that lamentable and contemptible caitiff—contemptible not so much for his commonplace debauchery as for his abject selfishness, his lying pretension, and his nerveless cowardice—there is far too much in this memoir.' But on close study it has to be admitted that this wretched creature had but too much influence on the minds of his sisters. Of their gifts he had not a particle. I have read many of his compositions, and there is scarcely a line in them that deserves to be printed. He comes into prominence because, unlike his sisters, he mingled but too freely with his neighbours, and with all who would make acquaintance with him. He was garrulous, boastful, coarse, and thankless. He spared his sisters nothing. He gave them in full detail the story of his debaucheries evidently with gross exaggeration so far as his own victories were concerned. They had to hear him, however reluctantly the listening might be, and it is plain that they believed the very worst. Of the monstrous theory that Branwell Brontë had anything to