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Full text of "The Brontèˆ sisters"

THE  BRONTE   SISTERS                            13
reserved Emily, who, 'stronger than a man, simpler than
a child5 in Charlotte's estimation, was ca native and nursling
of the moors . . . they were what she lived in and by as
much as the wild birds, their tenants, or as the heather, their
produce. . . . Liberty was the breath of Emily's nostrils'.
It would seem that Emily's poetry derived its austerely
magnificence cadence, and her philosophy its 'space-sweep-
ing' vision, from this wild and sombre moorland which
she so deeply loved.
The children's other great pleasure lay in the creations
of their own minds. A box of wooden soldiers given to
Branwell provided the starting-point for a whole day-
dream world, where these soldiers, animated into heroes,
underwent thrilling adventures and founded a series of
kingdoms, known as the Glass town Confederacy, on the
coast of Africa. The four little Brontes, the four Chief
Genii of this (world below', not only invented these
brilliantly contrived adventures but recorded them in prose
and verse—stories, biographies, magazines, poems lyric and
epic—in tiny handwriting on tiny hand-made booklets,
whose pages were sometimes only five by three centimetres
in size. Presently the children divided into pairs: Charlotte
and Branwell created another Glass Town kingdom,
Angria, to be conquered and ruled by their favourite Duke
of Zamorna and his wicked father-in-law Northangerland,
while Emily and Anne withdrew to an imaginary island in
the North Pacific named Gondal, the climate of which
singularly resembled that of Haworth. The adventures of
the stern Queen of Gondal, wild and wicked, were recog-
nized as such without apology; in Angria, however, the
many illicit love affairs of the Byronic Zamorna were
condoned and slyly enjoyed because forbidden by conven-
tion, and the continual treacheries of Northangerland
expressed the deep rebellion of Branwell's heart. Angria was,
in fact, a ^wish-fulfilment' world, a day-dream in the
Freudian sense, its events tainted with neurotic unreality.
Charlotte continued these written inventions at least till