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Full text of "The Brontèˆ sisters"

THE  BRONTE  SISTERS                           II
ism of these romantics, as opposed to the formalism of the
classic school represented by Pope. (They scarcely ever, for
example, use the classic heroic couplet in their verse.)
An important point about the Bronte parents is that they
had no relatives near at hand, with the exception of Mrs.
Bronte's cousin, in whose home the children stayed in early
life. Soon, however, she died, and the Brontes were left
isolated; they never formed part of a family group and had
no kin near by with whom to visit.
This loneliness was accentuated, and an original turn
given to the bent of the children's minds, when the family
moved to Haworth Parsonage.
To grasp what Haworth meant in the Bronte children's
lives, it is necessary to know something of the geography,
industrial history and people of the West Riding of York-
shire.
This district is filled with the surging heather-topped hills
of the Pennine Chain, the rocky spine of England, which
runs due north and south for one hundred and fifty miles
from the Scottish border. Poor farming land, but amply
provided with sheep and streams, the West Riding had for
some five hundred years been the seat of a woollen cloth
manufacture, which was in process of mechanizing itself
precisely at the time when Patrick Bronte entered Yorkshire.
Some of the more skilled cloth workers resisted the intro-
duction of machinery which threatened as they thought to
deprive them of employment; forming themselves into
bands known as Luddites, they attacked the inventors and
owners of the new machines and the mills where they were
housed. This resistance was acute in and about Hartshead
in 1812, when Patrick Bronte was curate of that parish.
But the workers could not stem the tide of progress; textile
mechanization spread rapidly to all branches of the industry
and led the way to the general Industrial Revolution.
Haworth was therefore in a state of transition during the
early part of the Brontes' lives. Surrounded by wild tracts
of moorland and innumerable steep interlocking hills, the