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Full text of "The Brontèˆ sisters"

12                          THE  BRONTE   SISTERS
people of Haworth communicated with the outer world
only by walking, by a carrier's cart or by a hired gig; but
the railway carne to Keighley and Hebden Bridge four miles
and ten miles away respectively in the 1840*5. Up in the
folds of the hills, at the end of rough stony pack-horse
tracks, still lived farmers and hand-loom weavers of fiercely
independent character, who had never had any master save
themselves; but down in the valley three large mechanized
mjlk were at work, busily creating on the one hand a class
of wage-earning operatives, on the other the new industrial
middle class, rising to wealth on the wings of steam and
aspiring to gentility with the characteristic ostentation of
the nouveau riche.
Because of its isolation, Haworth remained intensely
Yorkshire. The Brontes were bilingual, writing Irish brogue
or Yorkshire dialect with equal ease; they were also, so to
say, bilingual in mind. The Yorkshire character (descended
partially from Scandinavian elements) forms a great con-
trast to the Irish; it is vigorous, practical, prosaic, stubborn,
broadly humorous and sparing of speech where the Irish
is melancholy, passionate, proud, restless, eloquent, and
witty. This striking contrast between the Brontes' heredity
and their environment played, as we shall see, a highly
important part in forming the nature of their work.
A somewhat stern and dominant father, a strict aunt and
a lack of suitable young society threw the Brontes entirely
oil their own devices for solace and amusement. The moors
which surged around them formed the children's great
resource. The purple heather, the black rock, the pale
tough grass, the bold sweeping contours, offered an aesthetic
pleasure which moulded their taste to a fine austerity; the
untouched moorland wildness, the strong winds ever blow-
ing there powerfully and freely, provided a moral inspira-
tion. On the moors one could escape from all conventional
restraint, and battle freely with earth and sky. These moors
exalted the spirit of the Brontes, nourished in their souls
the love of liberty. Especially was this the case with the