Page:The complete poems of Emily Bronte.djvu/47

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xliii
INTRODUCTORY ESSAY

without her would be hell. What can the so-called love of her wretched, sickly husband be to her compared with mine?'


IV

But those who read with care the works of the three sisters will perceive that Branwell did not affect them in the same way. Charlotte Brontë, in one of her letters, contrasts Huntingdon (in Wildfell Hall), Rochester, and Heathcliff. She says that 'Heathcliff exemplifies the effects which a life of continual injustice and hard usage may produce on a natural, perverse, vindictive, and inexorable disposition, while Huntingdon is a sensual man, who never profits by experience, and Rochester lives for a time as too many other men live, but he does not like the degraded life, and is not happy in it.' The truth is that the more earthly side of passion is ignored by Emily. Anne Brontë takes facts as they are, and in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall gives a nearer rendering of Branwell and his associates as she conceived them than either of her sisters. Mr. Swinburne unerringly puts his finger on the place, and says that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 'as a study of utterly flaccid and invertebrate immorality bears signs of more faithful transcription from life than anything in Jane